Me & My Car: Happiness is a Karmann Ghia
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Cafe owner Francesca Mazza and her 1970 Karmann Ghia
What are you driving?
A 1970, red, left-hand drive, manual gearbox Karmann Ghia, it seats two. (Plus one person sideways or a black dog in the back.) I bought it from a guy who was nuts about Karmann Ghias but was selling up to move to Brisbane. I’ve always wanted a Karmann.
Why this car?
Italian design and German engineering. No other car looks like this.
How do you describe the sound?
Like a drunk woodwind section from an Italian orchestra.
How does it fit your personality?
Unpredictable yet reliable. Fast, stylish. Not obvious.
Who else drives your car?
Anyone who is game enough is welcome to take it for a drive. The whole left-hand manual thing seems to scare most people off, but I love it.
What do you always keep in it?
Chocolate, because it’s always a surprise to find it in the glove box, even if it’s melted into goop.
How often do you clean it?
I live with an obsessive-compulsive car-cleaning person, so it’s always magically clean.
First car you owned?
A 1992 Fiat Tempra 1992, and I loved it! It was such a piece of crap, but I thought it was cool, and fast.
Any cars you regretted selling?
No regrets, the only regrets are the cars that I didn’t buy when I had the chance.
Who taught you to drive?
My dad taught me to drive in the back streets of Ponsonby. I was 22, and it started well, but ended with us both swearing at each other in Italian — not unusual. Best advice he gave me was “don’t wear Jandals in the bloody car when you’re driving”.
Any tips for young drivers?
Don’t wear Jandals in the bloody car when you’re driving.
If you could go anywhere, in any car, with any foodie?
I would definitely go to Rome in a 1969 Fiat Bambina with the compulsive car cleaner. We would eat squid ink pasta, drink espresso, eat a bunch of cannoli and speed down the side streets.
Favourite car movie scene?
1971 French Connection — nail biting edge of your seat harrowing car chase scene.
Scariest that has happened to you in a car?
It involved a dog, a husband, a gang and a car. We still have the dog and the husband.
And what do you listen to when you’re driving?
Black Sabbath is the only CD I have in the Karman, it’s on repeat. The obsessive car cleaner is to blame.
Do you judge people by what they drive?
I try not to because I know people who own amazing cars but during the week drive any old thing.
Are you more a classic cars type of person than modern?
So, then what about technology and cars, embrace it or loathe it?
I love technology, especially when I go to work at 5am, but I love the challenge of driving a car that requires all my concentration and skill, having said that I’m complete Sci-Fi geek, so am waiting for my AI car.