1954 Barn Door Kombi

18 01 2016

I found this awesome split-window kombi in April 2014 in Geelong. I had knocked on the door of a shed to ask if I could take a few photos of an old rusty late bay in the backyard. Turned out this was the workshop of a panel beater who loves kombis and has restored quite a few over the years. On that day the hall housed two splitties and a late bay in various stages of restoration. This blue-and-white T1 was about to be completed. It is a VW bus kombi from 1954, so one of the very first kombis ever built, and I was told there may be only a handful of these early ones with right-wheel-steering left in Australia. A lot of panels were rusted trough and had to be made from scratch. All welding was done with the ambition that even an expert from Volkswagen should not be able to recognize which parts were original and which had been replaced later.

The split-window bus or Volkswagen T1 was built in Germany from 1950 till 1967. Over the years, the rear doors of the T1s changed most strongly: the very first models came with a very large door for the engine bay (“big as a barn door”). The photo below shows that the large engine bay also housed the petrol tank (on the left) and the spare wheel (on a shelf above the engine). Over the years the engine bay and its lid became smaller and smaller and a door above was introduced as access to the cargo area. This upper door also changed in size over the various facelifts. The latest splitties (1964 onwards) already feature the same large rear doors which from 1967 onwards were then also used in the T2s or bay window buses.

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The paint job was carried out with normal glossy paint on the inside, but with matt finish on the outside, to avoid the shiny and polished finish of a fully restored van. With a bit of wear and tear this bus will quickly develop some patina. It also comes a bit lowered and with Porsche Fuchs wheels – tribute to modern coolness.

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VolksAir, a Geelong-based VW Garage

12 01 2016

Three weeks ago I had a chance to visit VolksAir, a garage specialised on air-cooled Volkswagens in North Geelong, where a wrecked blue-and-white kombi at the entrance shows the way. For those interested, I will add the address and telephon number in the VW garage list above. It is always exciting to enter a workshop filled with kombis, and it was great chatting with the owner, Frank, who has been a kombi mechanic and fan for decades. I had already visited this garage during our last visit to Australia in April 2014, so below are some photos from December 2015 (with a blue and white Sopru camper on the left) and two snapshots from April 2014 (with two campers and a highroof kombi). The yellow Sopru camper is from 1975 and there are some more photos of it in this older blog post. Thanks to Frank for taking the time to show me around!

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A Subway / MuzzBuzz Coffee Van

9 01 2016

This kombi used to park at an intersection in Geelong on a corner shared by a Subway restaurant and Muzz Buzz, a drive-through coffee place. Interesting paintjob: Depending on the angle you look at it, it would look like a billboard for Subway or like a Muzz Buss coffee van (love the “Mobile Caffeine Response Unit”). Perhaps they served the coffee out of this van before the little coffee shop on the site was erected? I believe this was originally a Sopru camper. Suddenly I see Soprus everywhere. The pop-up roof looks like a Sopru, and the typical Sopru front roo bar has been chopped down to a front wheel support. The seats are newly upholstered in the Muzz Buzz colors. When I took these photos in April 2014, it was retired from active service, parked in a corner and had suffered from a break-in (window in driver’s door smashed and shattered over the front seats, fixed with a plexiglass). Now, 18 months later, it is gone. Hope it is on good hands and perhaps has started its next life.





Happy New Year!

1 01 2016

We thought it cannot get any better with seeing VW buses everywhere in Australia, and then we saw this: A parade of eighteen kombis set up in the front garden of a property on the Bellarine Peninsula, a few kilometers east of Geelong. We did not have much time, so I just took a few snapshots from the fence and did not ring the bell to ask what this is all about. But googling for the address later on solved the mystery: This is the head quarters of “Hire-a-kombi”, a new VW rental company which recently moved here from Melbourne. Their website shows they have five VW buses on the road and ready for rental. So the rest will be future additions to the fleet or sources of spare parts. Wishing you all a great New Year and all the best for you and your families and friends!

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A Christmas kombi!

24 12 2015

If Santa drove a kombi, this could be it! Spotted two days ago in Melbourne, with beautiful new paint job in what is probably chianti red (L31H) and pastel white. Judging from the red paint coat on the wheels, inside the wheel houses and on the inside of the van, it probably started its life as an all-red kombi and the white top was added later. The paint job has been customized with a fine white-on-red line running around the car and “VW” written small and in cursive in orange-on-red at the front and back of the van, see photo below. Several details are non-stock, but nicely done: Front seats and back bench upholstered in a beautiful combination of red vinyl and red velour. Door panels and wall panels covered with the same material. Dash board resprayed in red instead of black. Chrome bumper in the back with a different shape than the original one.

Dating this kombi is interesting: Front indicators and rear air vents make it a late bay, so 1972 or younger. The indicator and windscreen wiper switches are of the older variety, from before 05/1974. The speedo is in miles per hour, updated later with a sticker to km/h.  Based on this educational video from 1974 on the conversion to the metric system in Australia, km/h was introduced to Australia on July 1, 1974. Chianti red as a color option was available only in 1971 and 1972. This should mean that this kombi is from between 1972 and mid-74, and most probably from 1972. Merry Xmas to everyone out there!

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Aireys Billboard Kombi

21 12 2015

Taiga Green late bay campervan used as eye-catcher for the restaurant “The Captain of Aireys” in Aireys Inlet, located between Angle Sea and Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. Rear roo bars look like from a Sopru camper, but the front bars are more massive than the Soprus I have seen so far. The pop-up roof also looks different. Jalousie window with only two tiles, opposite the sliding door. Haven’t seen one of those before. Plastic extensions on the rear air inlets for the engine to get more air funneled into the engine bay, for better cooling. Certainly caught my eye!

 

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Marino Yellow Geelong Campervan

17 12 2015

Here is a late bay Volkswagen campervan spotted some weeks ago in Geelong. It comes with a massive, more modern looking roo bar at the front which includes the front bumper and replaces the original one. The color is probably Marino Yellow and Creme White (more buses with this beautiful color scheme here). No pop-up roof, but with a door for a gas bottle and with ventilation slits for a fridge on the side. Peeping  in the drivers cabin showed it comes with an automatic gearbox, an additional oil temperature gauge under the instrument unit and it was originally delivered as a deluxe or L bus (airvent channels along the front doors and seats with the respective basket weave pattern). Cool bus!

 

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