Home » Packaging Porn: Cold Start

Packaging Porn: Cold Start

Cs T34 Pack1

More than an actual functioning person, I think sometimes that perhaps I’m really more of a collection of automotive fetishes crammed into a bio-mechanical framework to move those fetishes from place to place, powered by Diet Cokes and salami. I think by now you’re familiar with these fetishes, one of which is vehicular packaging. That’s why a picture like the one above, which doesn’t even feature an actual car, really, draws me in like ham to a powerful ham-magnet. It’s a physical diagrammatic representation of a Volkswagen Type 34 Karmann-Ghia, and it’s glorious.

You know about the Type 34 Ghia, right? Also known as the Type 3 Ghia, or the VW 1500 Ghia, it was another take on the Karmann-Ghia formula: take a mass-market car chassis and stick a much prettier body on it. VW did this with the Beetle chassis and the original Karmann-Ghia, which I once talked about on video:

…and then they did it again, in a more up-market version, on their Type 3 platform, and with new, crisp, “razor’s edge” styling, as you can see in a page from the same 1963 brochure I got the packaging picture from:

Cs T34 Pack3

It’s a handsome car! But, I’m here to obsess over packaging, and that’s what I’m gonna do, since this thing had fantastic packaging. The basic VW flat-four engine was modified for the Type 3s by having the cooling fan mounted low on the crankshaft, the result of which was that the engine package became really flat, like a suitcase. This was crammed under the rear floor, giving most Type 3s trunks at front and rear.

Cs T34 Pack4

The Type34 Ghia was even a bit different, because it was one of the very few car with three separate cargo areas: front trunk, rear trunk (which was admittedly pretty shallow, but still) and a third enclosed compartment behind the rear seat. The top pic shows the rear seat folded down, making an interior large luggage platform, full of Louis Vitton bags, and the black bag over the trunk, but another page shows the seat up, with a kid and his favorite birdcage (?) sitting there:

Cs T34 Pack2

Behind the kid is a suitcase in the behind-the-seat luggage well, and behind that is the trunk over the engine. Amazing! All that cargo room in a small sports coupé! I love it!

Also, a bird in a cage to entertain a kid on a road trip? I bet that kid bought a ton of Game Boys about 20 years later, just to make up for that.

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24 Responses

    1. Once when we were into Zebra Finches, I brought a cage in to decorate my (very white-collar) office. My supervisor said no way!
      I was disappointed and disillusioned regarding my place of work. With the passage of time (and attendant maturity), I came to see his point.

    2. I guess the entertainment is seeing how much food pellets and white feces the bird can get through it’s cage and onto you by the end of the drive, then trying to break that record next time.

  1. Nothing like that feeling of driving a Ghia, that feeling of the front wheels leaving the road as you get up to speed, thanks to the lightweight body and the flowing shape.

  2. No need to be ashamed of your automotive fetishes. Torch, I enjoy your writing because you embrace them! I have a thing for both inline-6s and electric drive systems. I once owned a Mercedes 300 SDL and currently still have a Triumph GT6, the latter of which was converted to electric. I still have its engine.

    The VW Karmann Ghia makes a great EV donor chassis. Relative to other production cars of its time, it had some decently slippery aero, with a drag coefficient of 0.39. Being that the complete ICE powered donor weighs in around 1,800 lbs, you could shove a modern Tesla system and an entry level Model 3 pack into it and get a 200 mile range. This is seriously a 200 Wh/mile car converted, stock body without any aerodynamic modifications or low rolling resistance tires. However, hobbyists who converted these cars in the 1990s cut the drag significantly with nothing but a front air dam and a smooth underbody tray and could get Wh/mile figures closer to 150-ish, and lop off another 20 Wh/mile or so with LRR tires.

    When I was looking for a donor chassis to convert to electric back in high school, a Karmann Ghia was at the top of the list of candidates. It’s a shame Karmann Ghias have gotten so rare and expensive. It doesn’t take a lot of power to make them go fast.

      1. Well yes. That goes into an overall fetish for two things:

        1) Performance
        2) Fuel efficiency

        I like them both in the dame vehicle. The way cars are designed deliberately makes these traits mutually exclusive, but there are plenty of prototypes that have been demonstrated that proves this doesn’t need to be so and in fact they can reinforce each other. The more efficient something is via load reduction, the less power it takes for that vehicle to go fast.

  3. Karmann Ghias are one of my favorite small cars of the 1960’s, but I’d never seen or heard of the Type 34 until today and I am absolutely floored. That is, hands down, the most beautiful VW ever made. I would love to have one of those converted to an EV, as Toecutter indicated above.

    Thanks for letting us know about this amazing little car, Torch!

  4. In her 50s, my grandmother traded her 1956 Willys Jeep Station wagon for an original VW Karmann Ghia, of which, she eventually owned three. Nana was not a small woman, so I can positively attest to VW’s packaging expertise in its Ghia models designs. Affectionately referring to each as “my Ghia,” Nana happily and comfortably buzzed around in her last coupe until late into her 70s when VW had dropped the Karmann Ghia from its line up. She passed along her Ghia to my sister and never drove again.

  5. Those abstractions look exactly like the Karmann Ghia my friend used to have. The body completely rusted away, just the engine, some seats and a few interior bits left. I think he sold it to Wonder Woman.

  6. To me the Type 34 is one of the best looking cars, period. I found one in a yard many years ago neglected. The owner bought it new in Switzerland on their honeymoon and eventually ended up in the US and it had some problems, so let it sit. No sale. That owner died and I talked to the kid. Tarped up and still neglected. No sale. I tried for over a decade. No sale. I don’t know its current state or fate. What a waste.

    1. It makes total sense as it’s from an alternate timeline where Jason’s parents, who are also die hard VW enthusiasts, got rich investing in the tail light industry.

  7. Since the bird is with the nice couple and their stylish luggage on the first picture, I think the boy might be the bird’s pet, in the second.
    At least nice to see someone with their priorities in order!

    I’d love to have a sixties Porsche version of the Type 3 engine cooling layout, so we fancy types could have a (hot) rear trunk as well.

    1. Agreed on the boy as the bird’s pet, but I also want to note that the couple is in the exact same position in both photos. This suggests that they refused to be in the same room as the child, so the kid was photographed separately and added later. Good on them for enforcing their contract clause preventing them from interacting with children.

    2. The kid is actually in the first image holding the bird cage as well. His mom is a witch and she turned him into a suitcase to shut him up for the long drive. It also makes him easier to stack. More packaging magic.

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