I've been a bit remiss in updating the progress of the Karmann Ghia restoration. In December the car was stripped back to bare metal, revealing its true condition. It exposed a lot of rust in the usual sections where Karmann Ghia's normally rust - the sills, bottom of the doors, bottom of the engine boot lid, and the bottom of the front and rear quarters. This was not entirely unexpected. The upper surfaces of the car and the body pan however were in excellent condition. The strip down also exposed some "unusual" repair work done by previous owners.
The rust in the left had front quarter and sill had been repaired with tons of filler. A previous owner had installed a replacement sill and plastered over the whole thing in filler as it was not set at the correct angle.
Chopping into the panel work
A previous owner had sealed the torsion bar inspection hole, probably to stiffen the rear quarter as the chassis/heater tube is badly rusted.
More dubious repairs. Prior to installing the new sills, a previous owner had welded a series of steel strips along the sill rail. Each strip is about six inches long and was obviously intended to stiffen the sill rail, which was rusted along its outer edge. As the strips were simply tacked onto the sill rail, the outer sill could not be fitted correctly. The owner compensated for this by attaching the outer sill incorrectly and using filler to shape it into the line of the body.
Fortunately the floor is in good condition.
The dodgy repair work is removed.
New replacement steel is installed to stiffen the sills.
Ready for the outer sill
Inspection hole is restored
Outer sill kit is ready to be installed.
And now all fixed up.
The right side was not as bad as the left side.
Now fixed up.
Along the bottom inch of both doors, rust holes had been filled with bog. Whilst filler seems like a quick means of solving the rust problem, it ultimately will only make things worse. The filler blocks all the drainage holes in the doors, trapping water in the door cavities and increasing rust damage. You can also see in this picture that the entire sill has been plastered over and shaped in filler.
The doors are removed and the bottom inch and a half is ready to be removed.
Yep, the bottom of the doors are badly rusted. This will all be replaced with a new steel strip.
The rear panels
Both rear panels had been repaired at some point in the past - badly. Neither was correctly lined up with the line of the car and this had been disguised with filler. This is the right rear panel. It is not as badly damaged as the left rear panel, but has only been tack welded in place and then plastered with filler. This will be replaced.
The left rear quarter panel highlights the quality of some of the earlier work done on the car. It is quite apparent that the replacement bottom panel does not align with the car, has been twisted into place and then shaped over with filler.
It looks even worse when looking from below.
The panel is chopped out - it is almost completely full of filler!
All new rear panels are welded in. A much better job!
Damage to the nose is quite common in Karmann Ghias. Fortunately for us, this car's nose is almost pristine. It has never been knocked in or otherwise damaged. There is only a small amount of filler on the exterior of the nose smoothing out minor dents.
There was however a smallish rust hole over the air vent.
Which is now patched
Underneath the nose section, where the spare wheel sits, however, there was some damage, possibly caused by driving over some obstacle.
A small section was cut out and replaced.
The replacement panel
In absolute terms, the engine boot lid was in the worst condition. This photo says it all. The entire bottom edge was composed of rust held together by a thin film of paint. You could probably have snapped the bottom edge off by hand. However, the top of the lid was in great condition. The vent grills were dead straight and undamaged.
I managed to source a replacement boot lid. It was not perfect by any stretch. The top of the lid had been patched - twice - but the bottom section was in good condition.
So, the two lids were cut up and stitched together to form one good lid. This view of the inside shows the seam. The weld will be ground down shortly.
But from the top - the lid looks perfect. The new lid fits like a glove.
I've got to congratulate Karson and the team at K-Paz Spray Painting for the fantastic job they've done on the Karmann. Pretty soon the panel work will be complete and we'll move on to the painting. We can't wait!
Update 24 March 2014 We're now prepped for paint!
God, it's come such a long way!
And now the paint....
And now COMPLETE!