Saturday, January 23, 2010

Karmann Ghia, v1.0

I felt a little low energy last weekend, so put in a classic flick and put up my feet. The choice was a favored Hitchcock classic, "Vertigo". My wife eventually joined me and we watched as though seeing it for the first time. At one point, I felt like I was back in movie appreciation class in college, where we dissected the Hitchcock thriller, "North by Northwest". While I like both movies, I've always preferred Jimmy Stewart's ragged edge everyman to Carey Grant's smooth commedic gentleman in Hitch's films. Stewart's psychosis laden role in Vertigo gets the nod with me, and the movie visuals are further enhanced by the San Franciscan street scenes with all the classic cars, which definitely helps puts me in the movie's 'moment'. As for the segments that feature the Karmann Ghia...well....this time I actually stopped the film, grabbed a camera and snapped this shot of Barbara Bel Geddes in her role as 'Midge'. Midge is shown here behind the wheel of her '57 L-330 Trout Blue Karmann Ghia Coupe. In the scene, she's wryly muttering over love lost...but if I was there, I'd tell her she doesn't need that. As long as she has her Ghia, everything's going to be ok. Because EARLY Ghia Girls ROCK!!! Need further proof? Molly Ringwald in 'Pretty in Pink'.

Midge's car is an early Karmann Ghia with a body style commonly referred to as a 'low light Ghia'. Volkswagen's own description of the car includes the word 'pontoon', which has always amused me because the car is anything but watertight or sea-worthy. A good rain storm exibits a leaky design at every corner and unintended fresh air ventilation through any available dash gap. Yeah, as if the Nautilus will fare any better, LOL! Anyway, what I think they were really getting at is the way the front fender bodywork is shaped so that the headlights are actually in a lower position than those on the front fenders of later Ghias. This makes for a more dramatic arc atop the front fenders and a more abrupt treatment of the trailing edge of the front wheel openings. I quite prefer the looks of the older cars--but then I can hardly fault the changes introduced on the 1960 Ghias. I once again spent a few minutes describing the Ghia body changes to my wife, but her rapt attention rapidly waned into glazed expression and thinned patience at my umpteenth repetition of the details. I referred to Michael Gregory of the House of Ghia's car, pictured at left. Then, sensing my point was quite 'over-made', restarted the movie.

Midge's car is definitely way high up on my list of all time favorite Ghias. While the pretentious and purist might furrow brows, I still mentally refer to the early cars as the 'droop snout' Ghias.