Hire-a-Kombi on the Bellarine, Victoria

16 04 2017

Last weekend was a special treat for me as the kombi fan in the family. Our friends Jodi and Campbell rented a campervan from Hire-a-Kombi and we spent a camping weekend together on the Mornington peninsula. So last Saturday, we picked up the camper together. Hire-a-Kombi are located on the Bellarine highway (1830 Bellarine Hwy, Marcus Hill VIC 3222). On that day, three of their eight kombis were getting ready for pick-up: In addition to our campervan “Clancy”, an orange-and-white 1974 Westfalia camper, two eight-seater buses were ready for use as wedding limousines: Layla is a mustard-yellow T2ab hybrid from 1972. Harriett is a cream white T2b late bay window bus.

Image_1

Clancy, our 1974 Westfalia campervan

Image_2a

Layla (mustard yellow) and Harriett (cream white), the two wedding limousines

Image_2b

And there was another beautiful kombi that looked ready for action, an orange Sopru campervan (see this older post on another Sopru). The color could be Riverina Orange (Australian VW color code CLR722). She is not yet on the web site of Hire-a-Kombi, but perhaps about to join the fleet soon?

Image_4

The Sopru campervan

In addition to these ready-to-drive kombis, there was an amazing armada of old kombis and campervans, lined up along one side of the property. Some are future projects, some others may serve as spare part supplies. We had stumbled over this kombi parade already at the end of 2015, see this older blog post, but it was, again, an impressive sight. Great start into our “kombi weekend” – more to come soon!

 

 





Back in Australia!

28 03 2017

We are back in Australia! We made the long trip from Berlin to Melbourne two days ago, this time with a stopover in Abu Dhabi instead of Singapore. Now we are slowly getting over the jetlag. And we have four weeks ahead of us to visit family and friends, in Geelong and Melbourne. Australia gave us a warm welcome, with late summer temperatures in the mid- to high twenties. First time this year that we are all wearing sunscreen, sunnies and T-shirts. And kombi-crazy Australia did not let me down either, with a first T2 Westfalia campervan sighting already on the way from Melbourne airport to Geelong. Looking forward to seeing many Volkswagen buses in the next couple of weeks!

Image_2

Late summer day in Geelong.

Image_1

Image_3

First Aussie kombi spotting in 2017 🙂





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!

image_1

image_2





1969 US Westfalia Camper with an East German History

30 08 2016

 

Here is another beautiful van from the Berlin Bus Festival 2016. It is an early bay window (or T2a) Westfalia campervan from 1969. I learnt a bit about its history when I had a chat with the owner, a friendly elderly gentleman. The bus was originally built for the US market and also exported to the US. From the paper work he found in the bus, he thinks it was brought to Germany in 1972 by a student from the US who used it to tour Europe. It probably broke down in East Germany – I guess not necessarily a standard tourist destination for an American tourist in the seventies, as you had to apply for visas etc. to get behind the iron curtain. The bus then stayed in East Germany, changed hands three times in the seventies or early 80ies until in 1982 the current owner bought it in East Berlin. He said it was quite run down at that time and needed a lot of repair, which was hard work, with very limited access to spare parts from West Germany. Seven years later the wall came down, and another 27 years later he still owns the bus and proudly keeps it running. What an amazing history!

A couple of interesting details: A sticker in the driver’s door indicates the bus was once maintained by Herb’s Garage in Newark, Delaware, southwest of Philadelphia. The label on the electricity inlet is in English (and expects 110 V instead of 240V) and the speedometer is in MPH instead of km/h, but interestingly the reminder on the steering wheel attachment, below the speedo, is in German (“Fahren nur mit verriegelter Schiebetür” / “Drive only when sliding door is locked”). The original middlewave/MW radio is still in its place in the dashboard. A more useful FM radio is installed below the dashboard. Stick-on headrest for the driver – I actually remember those from a Lada when we were visiting friends in East Germany in the 1980ies! The back indicators looked unusual. Turns out they are made in GDR (label “DDR Ruhla”) and in fact are the front indicators of a late model Trabant, the prototypical East German car. The additional rear fog and reverse lights may also be of East German origin, then.

 

 





New Kid on the block: T3 Joker

22 05 2016

A new bus in our neighborhood! It is a VW T3 (or T25 or Vanagon) which was produced in Germany between 1979 and 1992. And it is a Joker, a campervan which was sold directly by Volkswagen, but with a camper conversion from Westfalia. The German T3 Wikipedia page lists the different T3 Westfalia campervan conversions sold by Volkswagen as the models Camping (till autumn 1983), Joker, Joker Plus, California and Atlantic. So the Joker is a predecessor of the first California, which VW builds up to now, and nowadays independent of Westfalia. There is a beautiful blog post by WildAboutScotland on the history of the California. With the extra front grill below the head light grill this bus already comes with a water-cooled engine, so it is rather from post-1982. The early T3s still came with air-cooled flat four engines taken over from the late T2/bay window buses. Wikipedia is not very informative on the different T3 Joker generations, but the Volkswagen Westfalia T3 Camper van site provides a lot of background information. Looking at the available color options at the time, this bus is ivory beige (German elfenbeinweiß, VW color code L567). The high top version here was apparently added to the model range only in the late 1980s (model Joker 3 or Joker 4, depending on the interior set up). The earlier Jokers rather came with pop-up roofs instead of hard tops. Interesting that the head lights are round and not yet rectangular. Anyway, welcome to our neighborhood, good to have more kombis around!

Image_7





Sage Green Berlin Westfalia Camper

30 04 2016

We are back in Germany, so no more Australian Soprus or Sunliners. Westfalia is again the dominant camper van conversion, if you lucky to see a bay window bus on the road at all. Here is a particularly beautiful example, spotted last October in Berlin, when walking wonder-daughter home from Kindergarden. It comes with a Late Bay Westfalia fold-up roof with an additional roof rack on the top. FIAMMA Carry Bike bike rack on the rear door, same we have for our Taiga Lily. Beautiful fresh paint job in authentic 1970ies sage green (Taiga Grün, L63H). Advertising for “Bushaltestelle.berlin” (German for Bus Stop Berlin) – look at this, another VW bus specialist garage in Berlin! Beautiful green Westfalia plaid seat covers on all seats and benches. Original-looking Westfalia kitchen block. Left side with a louvered or jalousie window in the middle (looks old/original) and a sliding window in the rear (probably newer version, added later). I admit I am slightly biased when it comes to sage green kombis, but this is a fantastic bus!

PS: Small world, and small Berlin: Met the owner of this very same bus two years ago when we parked next to him at a local DIY market, for a sage green family meeting.

Image_1

 

Image_6





1970s Mercedes Westfalia Campervan

24 04 2015

Here comes another one of these old machines: I assume the basis of this vintage camper is also a Mercedes 206 or 207, produced between 1970 and 1977, like the one I posted yesterday. This one parked last October around the corner from our place here in Berlin. I talked a bit to the truck driver: Seems it was just purchased by a new owner and was now on its way to its new home in South Germany. In addition to the groovy 1970s color scheme this one is apparently an original Westfalia conversion of which just a handful still exist. It needs a lot of restoration, with rust present around the wheel houses and probably in many other places. But when it will be done, someone will own a quite unique campervan!

Image_3

Image_2

Image_6

Image_5

Image_4

Image_1