Clamps of Berlin

23 05 2020

In the last few years, wheel clamps (German: Autokralle) have really taken off here in Berlin. Modern VW buses have been in the top-ten of cars most stolen in Germany for many years. But recently, also the older VW bus generations have become the objects of car theft, and the owners have geared up accordingly. Now many buses feature wheel clamps, and often additionally steering wheel locks. So here is a little collection of wheel clamps of Berlin!

T3 Joker with pop-up roof and Nemesis clamp

Nemesis clamp from FullStop Security

A high roof T3 Joker, also with a Nemesis clamp

T4 high-roof camper with a different clamp…

… and a serious-looking steering wheel lock (“Disklok”).

Similar yellow clamp on a T5 panel van camper.

T4 window bus with a Nemesis clamp.

T5 California Camper with a smaller clamp.


The Beetle Clinic is no more

21 05 2020

My favorite Berlin VW workshop ceased to exist. The Beetle Clinic is no more. And it left already some long time ago. The end came quietly, at least for me. In May 2016, they still helped us bringing Taiga Lily through the TUEV, the German bi-annual roadworthy certificate. In 2017 we did not need a pit stop all year. With only short-distance camping weekends around Berlin and at the coast and the occasional shopping, we nowadays drive Taiga Lily not more than 3500 km per year. So only when 2018 came and she needed the next roadworthy certificate, I noticed that the Beetle Clinic had closed shop, probably already at the end of 2016.
The Beetle Clinic was situated on a mostly empty industry space in Wilhelmstrasse in the Western suburb of Berlin-Spandau. As with so many places in Berlin, this area has an interesting history. It was the site of the former Spandau Prison where in Nazi Germany Hitler locked up critical journalists and opponents, and where after the end of World War II and the Nuremberg trials, a number of Nazi top brass were imprisoned by the British, American, French and Russian forces. In my childhood in the 1970s and 1980s the bizarre situation was that it was kept in action only for one last prisoner, Rudloph Hess. When he passed away in 1987, it was demolished.
Sometime later the Beetle Clinic must have started out. I met them first in 2000. I had just arrived in Berlin and was happy and releaved to have found a workhop with knowledge, love and enthusiasm for air-cooled Volkswagens. They knew the cars, and they knew where to get the parts. And over the years they did some good work for me. The Old Lady received an egine overhaul  and a catalytic converter in 2002. In 2007, they took out the partition wall behind the front seats and installed two pilot seats. When Taiga Lily entered our family in 2010 and the front axle body was rusted through in 2014, they installed a new front axle body (here and here), and in 2016 a beautiful tow bar. They understood these old cars, and they did good work. And each time I dropped one of our buses off, it was exciting to look around what other cars and buses were around, like this T1, this early bay window brewery van or the beauties below. It is a sad this place with all its expertise is gone. All the best to Georg and Micha for their next adventures!

Taiga Lily with a Wulle Brewery van, 2014.

Karmann Ghia convertible, 2016.


Georg’s 1985 Karmann Gipsy T3 Campervan, waiting for its “H registration”

Volkswagen Type 3 notchback, photo taken 2015 at Beetle Clinic Berlin


Pre-1956 23-window barndoor Samba Bus under restoration. Photo taken in 2016 at Beetle Clinic, Berlin.


Back in Germany

23 04 2016

It has been a long time with no blog posts. In mid-January our three-month parental leave in Australia came to an end and we returned to Germany. We had a fantastic time catching up with family and friends in Australia. Thanks to all of you who made us feel so welcome, shared your houses with us, trusted us with your cars and your caravan and helped with baby sitting. After lots and lots of sleepovers with her cousins and friends, our four-year-old had fully flipped from German to English. It took a full 4 weeks for her in Germany to flip back to German. In Australia our little one had changed from a 5-month-old small baby to an 8-month-old big baby. She got her first two teeth, learnt how to sit and started to crawl. The start in Germany was pretty rough, with several sad developments which took my thoughts fully away from kombis. But we are now back on track. Berlin has finally moved on from a long gray winter to a sunny spring, and the green returns to the city. So there will be more going on in this blog again in the next couple of weeks. Promised!

Roaring down the road…in the slow lane

10 09 2015

Yes, we do know the feeling 🙂

Zero to Sixty . . .Eventually

This funny image came to me from Tom.  Pretty accurate representation of how quite a few bus pilots interpret highway speed limit signs, when we bother to notice them anyway.


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Peppa and the Campervan, Part II

10 03 2015

Yay! Our wonder daughter got Peppa Pig and a campervan as a birthday present from Nanna in Australia! These toys have not yet made it to the shops in Germany, but Peppa Pig (German: Peppa Wutz) is already on air on the Kinder Kanal. The little bus beautifully picks up some of the design feats of the T1 split-window and T2 bay window VW buses (spare wheel on front, bi-color color scheme, friendly front with crescent-shaped line similar to the T1 “V”). The episode with Peppa and her family going camping with this campervan was featured in this older blog post (with Youtube link). Many thanks to Rhonda for thinking of us and our little big girl!



Sad News from Last Edition Kombi 0222

23 01 2015

I am in pain. Look what my daily Ebay search just found. Number 0222 of the Brazlian Last Limited Edition kombis made it to Germany, but is very badly injured. Looks like someone drove her into an obsticle at head height. How very, very sad! Anyone out there who would want to bring her back to life? Then please go to this Ebay auction and rescue her!


$_57 (1)

$_57 (2)

Happy New Year from Berlin!

31 12 2014

Two days ago the snow arrived in Berlin! Two days later, it’s mostly gone again. But we had two great winter days, with lots of pulling our 3-year-old on a sled around our block and through the nearest park. No winter pictures of our buses, so below is a beautifully snowed in T3/T25 Atlantic Vanagon from our neighborhood. Thanks for coming to my blog and following it over the last year. Wishing you all the best for the New Year!



Anti-Theft Protection, Old School

21 12 2014

Beautiful and probably brand new Volkswagen T5 Multivan, spotted last winter in Berlin, with down-to-earth no-nonsense anti-theft protection: Wheel clamp on the rear left wheel, and the front right wheel chained like a bicycle to a street tree guard. New VW buses make it into the top-ten of most stolen cars in Germany every year, and Berlin has the highest rate of stolen cars (per number of insured vehicles) of any German city. So probably not a bad idea if you have to park your precious van on the street. Nice re-use of the chain a few days later in a different spot, locking up the steering wheel to the A-pillar handhold.





Back into winter sleep

11 12 2014

I used a dry and not too cold weekend in November to get Taiga Lily ready for her winter break. We actually did not drive the bus much for the last couple of weeks. Now I found a beautiful little surprise when I took down the roof rack and bike rack: Someone had planted a little Brekina VW bus model in the roof railing, packed in the original little plastic box and wrapped in sticky tape, hidden behind a foot of the roof rack. Thank you, dear anonymous spender! This one is going straight to the pool room! Not much time on this weekend to bring her to perfect condition, but at least I gave her a thorough overall wash. Then visited two Ikea stores which re-charged the battery hopefully a bit, filled the tank to the top (this year with Ethanol-free petrol, zerotosixty), drove her into her garage and disconnected the battery. See you next year!

All clean and shiny again!

All clean and shiny again!






More Flea Market Findings!

28 11 2014

Look what I bought myself! Found these three little buses a while ago on a flea market in Berlin. The blue one is an early bay window Dormobile Volkwagen camper from Matchbox (Series 23, © 1970, Made in England) with an English number plate. I guess there may once have been some kind of canvass attached to the fold up roof. The late bay window police bus says it is a Majorette No. 214 (“Fourgon VW, Made in France”, scale 1:60). Fourgon seems to be French for panel van. The other late bay window from the German Red Cross in Nuremberg is from Schuco (Made in Germany, scale 1:66, Model 817010) and proudly announces 60 PS and a top speed of 125 km/h. Love the scratches and how they turn out in these close-up photos. Original patina from decades of hard playing!