Bob Spencer's Karmann Ghia

Bob Spencer's Karmann Ghia
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Bob Spencer's

Karmann Ghia

By Dave Brackett

a070394bDave Brackett

I met Bob Spencer in 2002, when I joined the pit crew of Randy Bradford's AA Fuel Altered. We traveled together with the race car and I started to realize he had special talents. Bob was a fireman by trade, but loved cars, especially paint, body work, or metal fabrication. I had
003a an occasion to visit his home and was amazed at the car restoration projects he did in a one car garage and small workshop. In addition to fabricating parts for the fuel altered and the trailer, I was aware of other projects he did for friends. He helped restore a 1957 Chevy for friend Marc Buehler, and talked of many other projects, but he recently redid a car for himself that is a tribute to his talent and creativity.

We all remember the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, or type 14, marketed from 1955-74. This less than adequate sports car, made a very small splash in the automotive world, but what Bob did to his 1971 will amaze you and is worthy of competing in style with modern sports cars. 

Bob started by adding steel flares to the fenders and molding them into attached running boards.He then replaced the front turn signals with frenched LED lights and changed the rear lights to 1960 style tail lights. He added a Porsche air intake to the engine cover, fabricated side air vents to the engine compartment, sculptured the bumpers to follow the body lines and replaced the heater channels and floor pans.
 

Two and a half inch dropped spindles, a front and rear sway bar, front and rear disc brakes were added, and he ran new fuel lines through the tunnel. KYB shock absorbers were installed front and rear, and the chassis was completed by Anson 14 inch wheels with 215-60 BF Goodrich tires.

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4Bob's wife Linda, who has always done the upholstery for his projects, outdid herself with the fabulous interior. Her work compliments the full length center console, restyled dash with Auto Meter guages, auxillary heater blowers and a Berg shifter. Junk yard front seats and split rear seats were upholstered, as were the custom door panels concealing electric operated windows. 

Bob went all out on the engine, utilizing a new aluminium high roof case, 84mm stroker crank, and 94mm cylinders, which create 2276 cc's of power. AJ Sims pocket port heads with 40mm intakes and 37mm exhaust valves are opened by chromemoly push rods, run by an Engle FK-7 cam through 1.4 to 1 ratio rocker arms. Bob installed a deep oil sump with 30mm full flow pump, remote oil cooler with electric fan, and a remote oil filter. A 12 pound chromemoly flywheel holds a Kennedy 1700 lb. clutch. All that was finished with a Prosche fan and Bob's own exhaust system. 

He created his own fuel delivery system using a 52mm fuel injection throttle body, CB Performance manifolds and his own custom intake manifold. A Mega Squirt computer for fuel and spark control, LC-1 Inovate wide band O2 sensor, 22 lb. High Impedance injectors. Summit electronic fuel pump and Ford electronic distributerless ignition system, complete the package.

Bob's Ghiaa

Southern California VW tranny genius Dave Folts put together a single

 side cover, super transalxe, with super beetle gears, including 3.88 to 1 ring and pinion. Bob then added cruise control with brake and clutch override, electronic speedometer and tachometer, with air fuel mixture gauge, air horns and more goodies.

This unusual car was completed with Bob's own paint and body work, his specialty. He used black paint covered with a red pearl, which looks fantastic in the sunlight. Everything except the transaxle, was created by Bob and Linda. This unique automobile originated as a so-so foreign car from the 70's, and has been transformed into an extremely functional, high performance, modern work of art.