If you are into Type 34 Karmann Ghia's, chances are that at some point you would have come across the name Mick Percy. If the name sounds familiar to you it's probably because you have spent some time over at Type34.com or as it's more commonly known The Type 34 Registry where Mick has been the resident webmaster for the past ten years. You might also know him from right here on VDubber.
The build of Mick's '65 Sunroof Type 34 spans some 18 years, two continents and several changes in direction.
Here's Mick to tell you a little more ...
My love of Type 34's goes way back to around 1992/3 when me and a mate were touring around Europe in a '73 Westy. We had made camp in a University car park just outside of Paris in a place called Cretail which coincidentally was the meeting place for a local VW club. We were invited on their cruise and ended up spending the evening with them. One of the cars was a white Type 34, lowered and rolling on polished cookie cutters. The owner was a trimmer for a VW shop and had completely re-trimmed the Ghia in Pigalle coloured leather, it looked absolutely stunning. It was the first Type 34 I had ever seen and at that moment I just knew I had to own one.
A few years later I was at the at the Sandown Park show with a mate looking for a Type 34 for sale, after a few inquiries my mate managed to find out through a mutual friend that Jeff "the buffer" Caton was selling a half finished Type 34 project to finance the purchase of a Tatra. Fortunately Jeff had a stall at the show so we went and spoke to him and arranged to go view the car the next week. The Ghia was located in his lock up at Leigh and was basically a rolling shell with several boxes of parts. Once I had seen it a deal was quickly struck and the car was mine.
Interestingly, the mutual friend who put us on to Jeff was actually a bloke named Andy Barry (you may recall Andy's black Ghia from Volkworld a few years back), my mate Rob used to work with him at Richie Kings place back in the '80s, it turns out that Andy had done the bodywork on the Ghia in exchange for Jeff doing a loft conversion at Andy's house, hence the reason that he knew of the car. The result was that body work was all done and there was very little prep work needed to get the car in paint, all I really had to do was source some of the missing parts and put it back together. Easy huh!?
Having restored and rebuilt a few cars before I decided that with this build I was not going to compromise. Every time I built a car I started off with writing my wish list of parts and somewhere along the way, usually due to cost, the list would get edited and shortened until the car ended up only vaguely like I originally imagined it. So this time I was determined to see the project through as originally intended, even if this meant taking a bit longer.
My plans were big Type 4 turbo power, Porsche 5 speed, Porsche brakes and suspension. This car was going to be nuts. Visually I was inspired by the Outlaw 356 cars that Emory Motorsports were building, in particular the Emory special coupe with the shortened 4 Cylinder 911 engine and the cool 'secret' Porsche wheels. The car was going to be used as a road / circuit car with plans to do a bit of weekend racing in the classic class. This would be interspaced with some strip time at the RWYB events.
Over time I had a 2.7 Type 4 built by Jim at Stateside Engineering, bought a RayJay turbo and nitrous kit from Barny at Big Boys Toys, managed to find out what the wheels were that Emory Motorsport had used on their Emory Special, and even sourced a set of 5 of them from the states. I also sourced a pair of 944 turbo front hubs and full rear suspension along with 968/911 front and Boxter rear callipers along with a 915 5-speed gearbox from Porscheapart in the UK.
I converted the rear suspension set up to use the early aluminium 944 turbo suspension arms and fabricated the gearbox mounts for the 915 gearbox, but by this time progress had slowed to a stop as I was spending more and more time working overseas. With the help of a friend I managed to get the Ghia painted by Gav Jones whilst I was working in Australia but by 2006 things slowed to a complete stop with the project, mostly as I was over the other side of the world, having taken a contract working in Australia. I eventually decided that I wanted to stay there so I returned back to the UK to fix up the house and ship my stuff off. Seeing the Ghia painted for the very first time was pretty exciting, Gav did an awesome job and not surprisingly he's gone on to be pretty successful with Trailer Queen Restorations.
After I shipped the Ghia to Adelaide it sat in storage for a few years until I eventually met my wife and we bought a place with a garage. After we moved in one of the first things on the agenda (for me at any rate) was getting the Ghia into it's new home. Being reunited with the Ghia again I was inspired to get stuck back in and get things moving with the rebuild. I started off by making some bearing adaptors to be able to fit the 944 turbo front hubs to the VW spindles, I also made some calliper adaptors to fit the 'big red' callipers. I sourced a local trimmer here in Adelaide Winners Products to take care of the re-upholstery which he re-trimmed in a combination of silver grey leather for the seats and vinyl with original style heat seams for the door cards. I then moved on the rear suspension but soon found that the wheel offset for the 'secret' Porsche wheels meant that the wheels protruded from the arches, I was also having some trouble with the 915 gearbox linkage alignment. I eventually decided to completely rebuild the rear end as a coil over set up removing the torsion bar housing to allow for the 915 box to be mounted higher up and the rear wheels to be mounted further inwards, but after struggling with getting the new rear end finished I got a bit disheartened with the Ghia and left it for a while.
For those of you not in South Australia you would probably not be aware that modifications carried out on your car have to be approved by a formal engineering review process. This makes it extremely hard to get cars like this on the road, in fact it is generally regarded as nigh-on impossible. With a 60kph speed limit, no motorways, one circuit and no drag strip it was starting to look like getting the car through Regency (The SA Motor Rego Centre) was going to be more trouble that it was worth. Pretty much every petrol head I spoke to echoed the same advice. Things were not looking good. Fortunately I was soon to have an epiphany.
In 2009 I took a trip to Lake Gairdner to visit Speedweek, South Australia's version of Bonneville. I was completely blown away. It was an absolutely awesome event and one that I was keen to get in on the action. I decided that as trying to get the Ghia through engineering with a 2.7 turbo engine and extensive suspension and drivetrain mods was not going to be an easy task and making the Ghia compliant for salt racing would require too many modifications I would take the engine and box and build a dedicated salt flat car instead. So after managing to source a '56 oval, the engine and box were removed from the Ghia never to be fitted again.
Fortunately I had recently bought a 2180 kit from a mate for another project, so this was conveniently re-purposed for the Ghia. I bought a scrap fastback to use as a donor for the IRS, engine tin and gearbox and set about finally getting the Ghia on the road. The stock VW IRS was used with the 944 backing plates allowing the Boxter brakes to be bolted straight on. As the car was originally swing axle, I had to fabricate some engine mount hangers to allow the stock Type 3 engine bar to be used, I also added a rear roll bar for good measure.
A 944 master cylinder drives the big Porsche calipers and a Saco hydraulic kit takes care of the stage 2 Kennedy clutch. I fitted Koni shocks all around, and to take care of the wheel offset issue sourced a set of 'Wintercults' from the UK or 'bottle tops' as they are sometimes called. Wintercults are a winter wheel for the 928 sold in markets such as Sweden where they run summer and winter tyres. More importantly they have the correct offset for the Type 3.
The engine is 82mm x 92mm (2180cc) running on twin weber IDF's mounted on CB short manifolds. It has 40mm x 35mm heads, a Scat C35 cam, Scat H-beam rods and runs full flow with a remote filter and fan assisted cooler mounted up above the gearbox. A Pertronix dizzy takes care of sparking duties and exhaust gasses exit through a stainless over the top style system from classic veedub. I built the engine myself, and at this stage I have not had it on the dyno yet; I'd say the main jet probably needs to come down one size as it's a bit rich, but it pulls hard and makes for a fun car to drive.
One good thing is that over the 18 or 19 years that I have had the car I have had plenty of time to source some trinkets. The Ghia has a rare TS badge and side marker badges which were only fitted for the Canadian market, it also has an original Type 34 tacho; a rare dealer option and also sports an original Australian rear venetian. The car also has one or two custom touches with shaved sill trims, badges as well as passenger and rear hatch locks. Of course the best option is the electric sunroof, especially in the Aussie weather.
If you want to read more, checkout Micks build blog at http://www.vdubber.com/blogs/categories/categories/listings/type 34
You can also see lots more photos at http://www.vdubber.com/photos/mick/album?albumid=669