Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vintage Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1300 by Century/AMR/Danhausen

I love collecting Volkswagens but the casting of the VW Beetle is dime a dozen, all diecast manufacturers are sure to have their own rendition of the very lovable VW.  I have a good collection of vintage and classic VW Beetles but I have always wanted to get a Karmann Ghia casting.  I always try to get the rare items and I try to build my collection little by little by getting only the diecast that I really like.  The things I like are the rare, vintage and a bit hard to find.   I told myself before that if I concentrate on the vintage ones, i will only buy something like one or two diecast a month because of the rarity and the premium price these diecast commands.   I was wrong.  Here I am concentrating on vintage items and still buying something like 6 to 8 pieces a month.  I do not do ebay and I buy all my toys in Japan.  Sometimes the toys in EBAY are cheaper but I still prefer to hold, caress and bring home the item right away.  I cannot stand the wait of a package to arrive from another part of the world, the suspense would kill me!

Now, back to my recent treasure find, a very desirable, hard to find CENTURY VOLKSWAGEN KARMANN GHIA 1300.    I saw this box in one of my favorite hobby shop in Japan and I was curious on what was inside.  I asked the salesperson and he told me that the item is a very heavy 1:43 diecast, the same league as KAWABATAKIKAKU  models that I also love.  The Century model I got was quite unique, The casting was made in France by AMR Paris and then was shipped to Germany for assembly and detailing.   Hand made and hand assembled diecast is very special to me.  Most toys are made by machines but this beautifully crafted Karmann Ghia started as a block of metal in Paris and ended up as a beautiful handmade item finished in Germany.    This beautiful piece of work ended in Japan and probably stayed in a Japanese home for a while and now, this car is in Manila, where it will stay  with me for a long time( or with a very serious VW collector).

Enough with my story, here is the real deal.  My CENTURY VOLKSWAGEN KARMANN GHIA 1300 in 43 scale.  (PS:  the wipers are not yet attached to the model)

Andre-Marie Ruf (AMR)  in action

Coming soon in Diecast Japan!

Comments are always welcome!   Thank you to all my friends all over the world!

Brian Vespa


  1. Hi Brian, you in Japan next week? I am coming to Tokyo for toy car hunting.

  2. GGT, I am back in Manila but flying back in Japan on June 1st week. I got to have some summer rest at home.

  3. Man you really are lucky, that casting of a Karman Ghia is so perfect and so rare!! Congrats Bri!!

  4. Salamat Mike! Sometimes i really think I am lucky in some way but my wallets seems to be getting thinner every time I visit the shops.

    Looks like I need to go on a diet :)

  5. This is a series of repost from Technophobia, Manila's premiere authority in diecast history and probably has the best diecast collection in the Philippines.

    The AMR/Century/Dannhausen-collaborated white metal Karmann Ghia convertible would be considered truly "coachbuilt". If my faulty memory serves me right, in the late eighties or very early nineties the Century company issued a Karmann Ghia coupe. Evidently the model was sent "across the border" to the Dannhausen facility in Germany to get its top "chopped off" so it could be converted to a cabriolet variant. AMR and Century models were never high volume items, because model builder Andre Marie Ruf went about his business with a very "small scale" (no pun intended) approach because he liked to take his time in drafting, designing and building the models on his own, with ostensibly very little outside assistance. This is probably why Dannhausen had to complete your particular model, which I am sure is characterized by a very small production total. Rare and expensive, yes. Ordinary? Certainly not!

  6. part 2

    AMR and Century as I recall, were separate entities. Obviously Andre Marie Ruf designed, engineered and built all the AMR models [including a good number of items issued in both factory-built and kit form], but I am not sure if he was responsible for the design, engineering and production of all the Century modelcars. Both AMR and Century went out of business around the same time (the early nineties), and sadly, Andre Marie Ruf died some years back, so with his passing, the beautiful scale models he created are sure to increase exponentially in value in the coming years.

    AMR was best known for classic Italian exotics. I was lucky to be "at the right place at the right time" when two AMR kits were offered at a modelcar swapmeet in New Jersey about two decades ago. One was an AMR 1964 Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso kit, sealed in a grey molded styropor container with an acetate "window" cover, which remains unbuilt and mint, and is still in my mom's house in New Jersey. And being a long-time Opel fan, I couldn't resist an AMR 1978-79 Opel Bitter SC kit, which I built soon after purchase, and is now prominently displayed in my little Opel diecast collection shelf here in the Philippines. Those kits set me back $60.00 each, which was, even at the time, a relative bargain since AMR kits went for an average of $100.00 a pop, and factory built AMRs could go as high as $200.00 per model! My favorite AMR model, however, is the venerable Mercedes-Benz 500SEC AMG Widebody coupe. I was able to grab a built-up one at a modelcar swapmeet in 1993 for about $65.00. I am not aware if my model is factory-built or is a built-up kit. But it does have some sort of unintelligible "initial" on the baseplate. What I do know is that the factory-built AMR 500SEC AMG Widebody model has a total production of only 110 pieces, and one recently changed hands at Evilbay for the princely sum of USD$355.00! Nevertheless, if you're crazy like me about Classic AMG Mercs built before the Daimler acquisition, the AMR AMG SEC Widebody model is a must-have, because it's the only metal model replica of what is a very rere, very desirable, very potent motor vehicle.

  7. Century, on the other hand, issued replicas of a diverse, eclectic range of cars. They built American musclecars, most noteworthy of which is the 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner. The company also came out with a pair of truly outstanding Mercedes-Benz vehicles: the C107 450SLC coupe, and the R107 500SL roadster of the eighties [not to be confused with the abominable, unlamented R129 500SL roadster of the nineties]. Then, of course, there was the VW Karmann Ghia. What makes the model in this thread so very special is the fact that the original item was modified and finished by Dannhausen, which makes it one of the rarest and most valuable of the handbuilt Karmann Ghia models of all time.

    White metal models, like Kawabatakikaku, Century, AMR, and the more popular Brooklin line, are so much fun to own because when you show them off to your ADULT visitors and ask them to CAREFULLY hold the model in the palms of BOTH hands, the look of bewilderment because of the sheer WEIGHT of the model is truly PRICELESS. The models are called white metal because generally the castings are set in a combination of aluminum, lead and zinc, which are considered "white" metals. This is what gives the models their heft. But even if they are heavy, white metal models must be handled with utmost care, because the resulting metallurgy is very SOFT. It is this same soft characteristic which makes white metal the material of choice with the ultra-small-scale (again no pun intended) "cottage industry" modelmakers. The use of white metal, because of the soft consistency of the metal, makes it easier (and consequently less expensive) to work with in the casting process. [Another material, namely RESIN, as in epoxy resin more popularly used in many modern handbuilt models such as Spark, Redline, Bizaare, the DISM Resin line whose most popular model is the '80s Lancer Boxtype, Premium X, etc., is also easy to use in the casting process, but as we all know, Resin does not have the heft and feel of white metal, which is a more expensive material to begin with.]

    Kudos on finding your latest modelcar treasures, Brian! Enjoy your toys in good health!

  8. Oh I’m drooling profusely! You’re one lucky collector, Bri :-) this is a beauty!

    I'm looking forward to the Passat!

  9. Thanks Komenda! more VW features later.

  10. nice karmann ghia! the white colour looks appealing!

  11. Totally perfect Karmann. I'm speechless when I saw this car because I'm also VW collector. It is so beautiful. Congratulation! Let me see more VW in your collection please.

  12. Hi Brian,

    Vintage car is like a piece of artwork & like wine , the oldest the better & also more value.

    "Nice Topless classic".