Phar Warner (pharwarner) wrote,
Phar Warner

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Perhaps I should explain...

I bought a Karmann Ghia a few months back. Too good to refuse. Seen for sale in Mandurah and mentioned to me as something I needed to see. I saw. I fretted... Not possible. Was egged on. Haters said no. They screamed no. The right haters to make me buy it and wave it under their noses.

But to have room for it meant that I needed to get rid of my first car. And that happened a while before the Karmann Ghia came along. It was hard for us all. That 1956 Beetle held memories for the whole family. My Grandfather taught me to drive in it. As most of us did, I turned up to highschool in it and parked next to others 50s cars (Morris Minors) and we all had a good look. I went on to University in it, when 50s cars were what so many of us had. (Why?) My rivalry with the guy in the grey '55 Vauxhall Wyvern, looking down my nose at the other guy in the '62 Beetle as it was soooooo new! And that dent in his hubcap... I was truly impressed by the crew that had the nice black Wolseley though. Piling out in their long back trenchcoats. That had me beat... Driving in the fog and the rain in that car, making proposals, having them accepted, rejected, as we all do. So much of our lives are lived in our cars. But she had to go. Not being driven, rusting to hell and back in what seemed like 6 months from a shiny black paint job to rust everywhere. So she went to a bricklayer who saw her in the garage and just had to have her. And I had to have brickwork... An honest exchange to someone who had that glint in their eye. And no idea as to how badly she was rusted, how unoriginal she was and how she'd only run for 2 hours in the last 5 years. It needed someone like that to get her up and running. But really,he'd be better off to break her up for parts. :OP

So the spot in the garage was filled by the Ghia. A beauty. And it makes me think that my lifelong interest in Volkswagens, which came from my family can be satisfied with the two I have now. A 1962 1/2 Beetle, and the 1961 Ghia. One made in Australia, the other delivered to Australia within a year of each other. At the beginning of Australian production of the Volkswagen, a time when the future looked bright for Volkswagen (Australasia) Pty Ltd. When the Ghia was imported in its greatest numbers.

That brief, stupid window when the decisions and promises of the Menzies government and their Labor predecessors meant than tariffs on imported cars (VW had concessions on the fully imported Karmann Ghia commensurate on local Beetle production) could make local manufacture "economic". Investment was huge. Tens of millions of 1950s/60s pounds. A factory was established that still operates today as part of GM, making high performance vehicles. Still with a VW logo on top covered in concealing plastic. But VW began to offload it to Datsun beginning in 1967. 5 years of "local" production at phenomenal expense.

So today... Ford is to shut down Australian production in 2016 (iirc) GM (Holden, it Oztraaalian, honest!) will surely be put out of its misery in the next two years. Toyota too. No one wants their tax dollars appropriated to support someone's job. I wish museum curators ( ie. me) had their jobs guaranteed and supported as an endangered species and so important as a relic worthy of the industrial museum. When what VW did of its own accord without begging for a taxpayer's dollar in 1967 happens to Ford, GM, and Toyota in the next year or so, all of the owners of those makes in Australia can do what I do in my 1962 Beetle.

We can sit happily in our cars as relics of an immediate post war economic disaster with that wonderful little round sticker in our back windows proudly proclaiming "MADE IN AUSTRALIA" as relics of a bygone age.
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