Sexy 1964 Ghia Convertible
Turbocharged, full custom, 1964 Ghia convertible from Arizona
As Arizona’s Chris Yeater tells the story, there has always been a VW in his family, starting as far back as 1968. That year, his parents bought a Westfalia camper off the showroom in Germany, and then their family travelled around Europe for a year in it before shipping it to their home in the U.S. — talk about a vacation! That camper served many more faithful years of duty, until it was finally retired in 1976. After that Chris owned several Beetles of various years and modifications, and really got involved with VWs as a hobby. When Chris married Mitzi in 1998, she wasn’t a car fanatic like him. It wasn’t until 2004, when they found a ’64 Karmann Ghia convertible in a friend’s garage, that her interest spiked. This car had been sitting for several years, and the Karmann quickly became her “as-is” driver, which Mitzi enjoyed for several years. But as the years took its toll on the ‘vert, the Yeaters soon decided it was time to breathe some fresh life into their cruiser, and they did it in a HUGE fashion!
Not having time to do the transformation themselves, they delivered the Ghia to Competition Engineering in Phoenix, Arizona for what would end up being a five-year project. But during that period the car would be transformed from a stock driver to an incredible driver, and show-winning standout. And it all started with Dan Lawson and the CE crew stripping the car bare, separating the pan from the body, and then taking the body shell to Deluxe Customs in nearby Tempe for a complete makeover. There, Matt Howard and team stripped the body to bare metal, then repaired the various dings, dents, and rusted areas. After media blasting, many coats of primer, and considerable block sanding to ensure all panels were arrow-straight, the spray gun was filled with Pro-Spray base in a Chrysler PR4 Red, then meticulously applied. Finally, the red was topped-off with several coats of Virtus clear for a dazzling shine.
While the body was being prepped, the CE crew was busy refurbishing the pan, which was also media blasted and repaired. Before powercoating, dual fuel lines were added (pressure and return) in anticipation of a future fuel injection system. Assembly began with mostly refurbished stock components, with the exception of CB Performance’s 2-inch narrowed beam, 2-1/2-inch drop spindles, and disc brakes that were drilled and cross-slotted. Rear suspension received Porsche 944 rotors that were also drilled and cross-slotted, as well as Sway-A-Way axles and custom rear engine mount.
One area that this project went a little over the top was the engine compartment. Built by Dan Lawson and Mike Fischer, this 2332cc powerhouse features both fuel injection and a turbocharger. Starting with a hi-roof aluminum case from Bugpack, they added a RevMaster 84mm forged crank with VW rod journals that were nitrided for strength. From there, RevMaster’s forged 4340 I-beam rods were added, which hold forged Cima 94mm pistons topped with Total Seal rings. Valve timing is managed by an Engle FK-7 camshaft, pushing Manton .058-inch-wall chromoly pushrods and CE’s own 1.4:1 ratio rocker arms. The rocker arms in turn open and close stainless steel 40mm intake and 35.5mm exhaust valves in 044 heads that were ported and polished by Mike Fischer. These heads also feature dual 4047 springs and titanium retainers, 65.2cc shaped chambers, and Competition Engineering’s special True Torque head bolts. Fuel is supplied through trick CE-fabbed aluminum hard lines to a custom EFI system consisting of polished aluminum Redline throttle bodies atop matching manifolds. Air is compressed by a hide-away T3/TO4 hybrid turbocharger, which is neatly tucked under the right rear corner, and routed to the top of the throttle bodies via large diameter tubing. Controlling both the fuel injection and ignition is a Redline ECU, which works in conjunction with custom built by CE crank-fired distributor and four-post coil. The turbo header system is another one-off, built completely from scratch — including the muffler. Other engine details include complete balancing, “zero-fit” flywheel to crank connection, shuffle pins, sand seal, Kennedy Stage 2 clutch, and CE’s 911-style carbon fiber fan housing. Helping get the estimated 260 horsepower to the pavement with ease is a Berg 5-Speed transaxle, assembled by Arizona Transaxle Exchange in Phoenix.
Another area this beauty of a Ghia excels in is the upholstery — we’re talking full brown leather and tan velour, crafted by Chris Hawkins at V.I.P. European Interiors in Tempe. The brown and tan material was stretched over two front 2006 Motorsports seat frames, as well as custom made door panels with hidden door pulls. A “cognac” German loop carpet covers the floor, as well as the rear seat area which is wrapped on the sides with the brown leather. There is also a hidden compartment in the rear, which houses the stereo sub-woofer. This warm and inviting interior also features a Budnik leather-wrapped 2-spoke steering wheel, along with matching leather sun visors and shifter boot. Further appointments include a tan velour headliner with glass rear window, Berg 5 shifter, Alpine 9836M stereo with Alpine 400 IX amp Memphis Audio speakers, Auto Meter Designer speedo, tach and fuel gauges in the dash, and several smaller Auto Meter Sport Comp gauges mounted below the dash.
Finishing this beauty off in style is a detailed trunk, chromed Porsche “Phone Dial” wheels wrapped with Fuzion HRi tires — 185/55R15 front and 195/55R15 rear — full chrome bumpers, PIAA H4 flat lens headlights, and a custom canvas convertible top. The spare tire is also a 7-inch Porsche Phone Dial — custom narrowed all the way to 4-1/2 inches to fit!
While they haven’t taken it to the dragstrip to test its performance yet, Mitzi’s Ghia has already received a bunch of awards, such as Best paint, Best Engine, Best Interior, Promoter’s Choice, and Best of Show at a variety of area shows. And after a long five-year rebuilding process, you can imagine the thrill of cruising down the highway on a sunny Arizona afternoon, with the top down on this powerhouse of a Sexy ’64.
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BAGGED & BEAUTIFULThe December 2014 issue of Hot VWs features Josh Allred's beautifully built '66 convertible, with a mirror-straight black body, red Ultra-Leather interior and air ride suspension. Details abound on this custom. Be sure to check-out all the features in the December issue, on-sale now at newsstands everywhere!