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Words by Nick Skinner Photography by Ryan Cox RCX Media

Simplicity is sometimes the best way into beauty, but occasionally what seems simple is actually the result of hundreds of hours of work – subtle pieces of elegance seamlessly finding their way into something that makes you step back and admire every fine detail. That is probably the best way to sum up this 1964 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type34 “Mohawk Razor Edge”.

This car belongs to Robert “Rorky” O’Rourke. A master in his craft, he runs the now world-renowned O’Rourke Coachtrimmers. But along with retrimming some of the world’s most sought-after classics and rarities, Rorky has been a Volkswagen guy from his earliest driving days. Maybe due to the influence of watching Herbie from a young age or the numerous other VWs in pop culture, his and his sister’s first cars were Beetles. The classic Volkswagen theme ran through his early driving years, with friends having a mixture of air-cooled runarounds which, when they weren’t being used for adventures such as Bug Jam and Run to the Sun, were unfortunately taken from this world with the help of speed, bad brakes and lampposts …

Rorky’s had a few air-cooled classics under his belt. Along with a handful of Beetles (one being finished in full psychedelic paintwork and suicide doors), he’s owned a pair of Porsche 356s and this Type34 Razor. This car is one of his dream cars, along with a Lowlight Convertible.

How did he end up with this incredible car and what’s the story of how it went from an unfinished project to one of the best looking and finished Type34s we’ve seen? It’s all to do with friends over the span of four years.

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Rorky’s friend Daniel (known as Smiley Bisskwit to his friends) knew about the project due to another friend – Steve Custance. Daniel mentioned the car to Rorky, who expressed an interest in getting hold of the car. Steve had unfortunately suffered a serious injury to his pelvis while helping another friend out, and because of this he had to move the Razor on. So, after a bit of back and forth, the Type34 was on its way to Rorky’s place in Surrey to begin its transformation into what you see here.

Once it arrived at its new home, Rorky took stock of what lay before him after the entire shell had been blasted. Overall it was pretty straight, with just a small bit of damage to the left side of the rear panel. Oh, and it was rotten in all the normal places you would expect from a 50+-year-old sports car. Rorky also tried to do some digging into the car’s past, as it came with no history except a set of number plates from a college in the US. The search was fruitless, meaning the car was essentially a blank slate to work from.

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Rorky was adamant about working as much as he could himself on the car, sharpening his skills in all aspects to add to his status as a master trimmer. Not only is Rorky a genius at automotive interiors, but he is also a truly talented fabricator.

Taking influence and inspiration from the automotive world, Rorky drew upon guys like Jez Parsons at Carrera Performance and Geoff Cousins from GC Engineering in order to make something as individual as this Mohawk Razor. The great thing about this is that they both actually ended up helping Rob with some of the mechanical and engineering aspects on the car itself such as setting up the suspension.

With the body in bare metal, Rorky could begin working on the car. All of the crucial metalwork was carried out to get the Razor back into shape before the changes to the car were started…

One of the first jobs was to give the Type34 its namesake – The Mohawk. Rorky cut a channel into the roof before skilfully grafting the “mohawk” into the panel with a seamless finish to perfectly complement the “razor” sharp body line in the bonnet that flows into the matching ridge on the bootlid. After this had been grafted into the bodywork, Rorky could begin to tackle other subtle and elegant changes to the bodywork of the Razor. The bumpers were cut, sectioned and reworked to become one piece units, allowing for a better uninterrupted flow of the trim to work with the sleek and elegant lines of the car that they are matched to.

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One of the big changes to the car isn’t noticeable at first, but once you find out about it it lends another level of admiration for this project. This car was originally LHD. Rorky took on the job of converting the whole thing to the other side of the car and with that, every single component and system which would have to make the move along with the steering wheel.

Other very simple but beautiful modifications were the changes to the metalwork needed to put the Porsche 356 indicators into the bodywork of the Razor without having them stick out like a sore thumb. They look beautiful and only add to the overall look that Rorky has aimed for.

Once the metalwork was complete, it was time for the project to be refined, shaped and perfected before even the first whispers of paint would find their way onto the body.

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The Razor didn’t have to travel far when it was transferred over to Mototechnique, a world-class restoration shop which handles the paint and bodywork for some of the upper echelons of the classic car world. Also it has the added benefit of being owned by Rob’s dad. So the Razor moved onto Mototechnique to begin the next phase of its rebirth.

Rorky would head over during the weekends and evenings, stealing away as many minutes and hours as possible to work on the car while also being present and invested in his relationships outside of the car, namely his fiancé Pony and his two daughters, Bonnie and Nancy.

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With the car being worked on in the endless pursuit for total perfection, it was finally pushed into the Mototechnique paint booth for the colour of this classic Type34 to be laid down. The colour? Well, that’s a colour made especially for this car – Serpini Green paired with gold and pearl cream. Again, a tasteful and suitable colour combination for a build of this calibre.

After being polished and totally finished off, the car was taken back to Rorky’s place to begin its reassembly, ahead of making the trip to O’Rourke Coachtrimmers so Rorky could get the interior looking as good as the outside. But before any cloth would begin to touch the Razor, there was a lot of work to do.

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Any of the parts needed for the car were sourced by Rorky or through his network of friends like Simon Mann and Pieter Graber, tracking down those hard to come by or nearly non-existent parts, while any off-the-shelf brand new bits and pieces were sent over from Limebug, VW Heritage and California Classics.

With the help of the guys at California Classics, Volkshaus and a massive group of supportive friends and family, the running gear made its way into the car. A Limebug narrowed front beam fitted with a set of dropped spindles, paired with the IRS kit in the rear, all running Koni shocks, handled the altitude of the Mohawk Razor. All of this was hidden behind the beautiful set of Radars wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres in a size that Rorky describes as “whatever meant they fit under the arches without rubbing!” They also hid a Wildwood disc brake setup to help slow down the one-off Ghia for what the end result of the next phase would mean. Anything that caused an issue was consulted on by Geoff Cousins at GC Engineering who carried out the machining work needed.

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All that show had to be balanced with a correct amount of go. So a brand-new 1777cc “big torque” twin-port engine – running the classic setup of twin Weber 40s – was sourced and mounted up to a 4-speed gearbox with a taller 4th gear for better top end cruising (less revs means happier engine) and for his more “spirited drives”. Along with that setup was a bigger oil cooler and a beautiful custom exhaust from Mikie from Volkshaus created specifically for the Mohawk Razor. The final piece of the puzzle which lay beneath the car’s artistry was getting a brand new wiring loom to make sure that it electrically matched up with the rest of the work done to the car as well as upgrading certain aspects of the car.

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Finally, the car could get the inside matching the outside. Rorky, along with his guys at the trim shop, especially AJ who Rorky says was a key part of the project in sourcing and finishing the car, worked on getting the one-off bespoke interior made and expertly fitted into the Type34. Just like the bodywork and the paintwork, close enough is not perfect. Custom parts were fabricated specifically for the car to give it that extra level of detail, while also adding in and incorporating the Webasto heater, the stereo and the heated seats. The colour choices and materials went into the car to complement and enhance the hard work put into the exterior, a stylish and modern take on classic choices with varying shades of green used to add highlights and depth where needed.

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Then, once everything was put together and the car “finished”, it was sent over to Jez Parsons at Carrera Performance to have the suspension and engine set up so the car worked in harmony with all the separate systems and would be totally usable when the time came.

Now with the car finished and ready to be used, Rorky has plans to use his Razor. Granted, in his own world “when the weather looks good”, but he still intends to take some European trips such as another visit to Ninove after some years away, along with showing at his local favourite, Volksworld.

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Rorky has a long list of people he would like to thank, involved directly or indirectly with the car. The whole car is dedicated to his daughters, but he wants to thank Jez Parsons, Geoff Cousins, Mikie from Volkshaus, California Classics, Tim Greening, Dan Smith, Steve Custance, his dad and the whole team at Mototechnique, AJ Pink and the team at O’Rourke Coachtrimmers, Simon Mann, Pieter Garber and, he says, “my family for putting up with me living in the shed for the last few years”.

This beautiful Type34 “Mohawk” Razor is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.