The packing’s begun in earnest at Red Clay Hill, and the Karmann Ghia was finally unearthed from the barn, where it sat for decades after a significant tragedy. All kinds of grand plans for it swirled in the ether for years: Rebuild! Turn it into an electric car! Sell it for big bucks!, but in the end I think the shell is going to meet the rather ignoble end of being listed on Craig’s List.
From the Mattek Family Greatest Hits: The middle son Chris bought the car, a 36 HP, 6 volt motor for how much is anyone’s guess. It was his car, but because he was one of five kids his siblings drove it too. Father and son converted the engine to a 12 volt, which led to windshield wiper issues (read: the driver was forced to squeegee the windshield from the driver’s seat when it rained.) There was a hole in floorboard, which proved handy for disposing contraband when pulled over by the police. The doors tended to fly open when making turns. It wasn’t heated, so the drivers had to use a blanket in the winter to keep warm. There were times when Chris had to pour water out the window for the purpose of hitting air scoops to cool it down.
Obviously, this was a high-caliber vehicle.
The final blow came one evening when the car literally caught on fire. A bolt had come off the carburetor, which caused a gas leak, and you can take it from there. Quite close to home, Chris ran away from it when he spotted the flames and neighbors helped him put out the fire. He put the gas cap back on, which reignited the fire. Chris and neighbor had to literally pull the gas tank out of the car to extinguish the blaze. Which is what ultimately killed the car.
I never drove a car that caught on fire. I have to say, I’m jealous I don’t have a story like this in my bag of tricks.