1972 Australian Post Delivery Van

2 04 2017

This is something like one of those famous „barn findings“: A 1972 Volkswagen panel van that started out as delivery van for the Australian Postal service, at that time (and until 1975) still called the Post Master General’s Department or PMG. In 1975 it had an accident, was put aside and forgotten. When I saw the van at a VW garage in Geelong in December 2015, the owner had bought it still with the accident marks (rear right corner bumped in), but otherwise in very original (and very dusty) condition, and the plan was to keep it original as well. The damage to the rear right corner was fixed already. A different engine was built in as a temporary fix (not sure if the original engine was lost or beyond repair). The van was already registered and roadworthy, with a “Victoria club permit” for classic cars. The speedometer showed 35.935 miles which may really have been the true mileage, seeing that the van was only on the road between 1972 to 1975. It also showed hardly any serious rust, and what rust there was looked like surface rust rather than a deeper problem, e.g. on the roof in the rear right.

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This kombi is one of the “T2ab hybrid” buses from 1971/72 with a mix of features from both of the early bay window T2a buses (indicators on the front still down, front bumper still of the rounder type and end serving as door steps) and the late bay window T2b buses (more rectangular air intakes on the sides in the rear, rectangular and not oval back lights). Not sure if the T2b hub cups here are original, thought that the T2ab buses still came with the cups from the early bay buses (see e.g. this early bay van) . The letters “PMG” for Post Master General on the front doors were probably officially removed when the van was taken out of service, but they are still faintly visible on the front doors.

Some interesting details: Aluminum-coated insulation mats on the walls in the rear. Wonder if this was original at the time? Perhaps for the Australian market with the local hotter temperatures? Nice and probably also original feature: Little plate with “Accident free driving is our aim”, white on postal-red background, in the center of the dashboard. Otherwise no frills, probably typical for vans bought for the public service: Glove box without lid, no radio and the slot still closed with original cover. Small triangle windows in the front doors cannot be opened. In Germany, at least for the late bay window busses, such minimally equipped panel vans came with the outer rear view mirrors and the wheels and hub cups sprayed in the same color as the car (instead of chrome or silver color coat).





Costa Rica Kombi Billboard

18 03 2017

My old friend and kombi correspondent Siggi has been traveling Costa Rica again and has sent these cool photos: A bay window bus serving as an advertising sign for the restaurant Patrón’s in Dominical, Costa Rica. Seems to be not unusual to re-use old buses as billboards over there in Costa Rica: check also this older post, also on a bus spotted by Siggi.

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Interesting how they got it in place up there. From the photo showing the underfloor, it seems there are two strong iron beams running the length of the car from the house to the front axle. They appear to carry the whole weight of the car and probably end in the column behind the bus. With a European eye, this VW bus looks very much like a T2ab, a hybrid between the early bay window buses (1967-1971, front indicators down, roundish bumper bars and front bumper extending into the step for the front doors) and the late bay window buses (1972-1979, front indicators higher up, rear lights bigger and more rectangular, and air intakes in the back not crescent-shaped anymore). Following this German Wikipedia entry, the T2ab hybrids (or, in German, “Zwitters”) were built between August 71 and July 1972. But the various VW bus generations manufactured by Volkswagen in Brazil and Mexico were built a lot longer (production of the T2 ended only in 2013).  And they mixed different parts from T1, T2a and T2b buses. So I am not sure at all how old this bus may be. Siggi organizes trips to Costa Rica – if you are interested, check out his web site. Thanks for the great photos, Siggi!





A Happy New Year, with a Finnish Canadian Beauty!

7 01 2017

Hope you all had a great start into 2017! Here comes a wonderful bus spotted during a ten-day-vacation in Finland in July 2016. We spent the first week on the southern coast near the small town of Porvoo.  Flying to Finland and taking a rental car turned out to be cheaper than doing the trip from Berlin with our kombi, and the two-day drive through Poland and the Baltic countries would have been unfair towards our one-year-old. So we cruised through Finland in a boring but comfortable Toyota Auris station wagon. I spotted the early bay window below in a driveway of a house on one of the trips around Porvoo. The owner kindly interrupted his dinner and came out for some kombi talk. It is a 1971 T2a which he imported from Canada some years ago. The campervan cionversion is all original Westfalia. The air inlets at the back (not crescent-shaped any more) and the larger rear lights show it is actually already one of the T2a/T2b hybrids which were built around 1971/72. The color is most likely Sierra yellow (VW color code L11H). Extra side indicators only in the back, not the front. Thought so far that models for the US had both – perhaps Canada was different. This beauty made my evening back in Finland. Hope you enjoy it, too!

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Surf Coast Wedding Bus

17 11 2015

We went down to the coastal town of Lorne to catch up with friends and spend an early summer day on the beach. Lorne is a small town at the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, about 70 km south of Geelong. And look what a beautiful bus we saw on the highway: A bay window T2a/b hybrid kombi, set up as a wedding limousine! From the sticker in the rear window, it belongs to Coastal Kombi Weddings, so you can hire this beauty for the purpose. Following their web site, its name is Dormy, and the fold-up roof would fit to an earlier life as Dormobile campervan. Dormobile is a campervan conversion company in the UK which still exists and is known for their sideways opening fold-up roofs. The beige and white paint job looks perfect for weddings, bright, elegant and friendly. The interior also comes in bright colors (gray or beige) with two benches in the back facing each other. Fantastic for the job. What a beautiful idea to earn a living with a kombi!

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Great Ocean Road going into Lorne.

Great Ocean Road going into Lorne.

Beach and pier in Lorne.

Beach and pier in Lorne.





Bay Window Meeting

27 10 2015

Nice encounter on an autobahn rest place last August close to Leipzig: Early Bay window bus pulling up next to Taiga Lily. It is actually one of the hybrid buses from the transition phase between early and late bay, so from about 1971/1972: front still from the first generation (indicators down and front bumper ending in door steps), but the back already with the air intakes of the late bay (would be more crescent shaped for the pure early bays). I saw the silver T5 on the left only now when I prepared the photos. Would have been nice to take that one into the photo as well. Sorry to all T5 owners for my ignorance!

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Last of its kind

26 10 2013

Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this bus some two weeks ago at a sports event in Berlin. An eight seater early bay, probably from around 1971/72 (air intakes in the back already from the ´72 late bay). The sticker on the front says it’s the operation control van of the Red Cross ambulance service at that event. Spoke to the driver and learnt it was the last one of its kind at the Berlin Red Cross. And that no, it was not for sale. Great to see it still in action!

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PS, added July 1st, 2014: This kombi is actually pretty famous: When you google for “Berlin Rotes Kreuz Bulli”, there is an avalanche of entries about it. It had its 40-years-in-service anniversary in 2012. It is from 1972, features the 1.6L 50 h.p. engine which is still original, consumption stated as 14L/100 km. It is featured in a couple of news paper articles (like this article one from the Berlin newspaper BZ) and there is this nice mini video from its 40th birthday party: