With the news production of the Volkswagen Kombi will
cease at the end of next year, we called for readers to share
their Kombi travel stories. Dunedin couple Barry and Jo Love
and Dunedin man David Honeyfield recall their European
adventures in the 1980s.
In July 1987, Jo and I met in a most unlikely place - Gold
Diggers, a nightclub in the Wiltshire town of Chippenham,
owned by Sir Richard Branston.
She had a tent, and I had a little Citroen and five weeks
later we started what became three seasons of continental
touring together, before getting married and settling in New
Among other adventures, we spent three ski seasons in
On our return to the UK to stock up on resources, following
the initial foray, we gave some thought to continuing our
continental exploration in a little more luxury ... and
bought our 1973 Westfalia Kombi DNU507L in Nottingham, in
September 1988 for £1300.
Westfalias are converted from new before export from Germany.
We were immediately impressed with the driveability of the
Kombi, very civilised it was, with adequate performance.
Our first venture, in December 1988, took us through Belgium
and northern France and then further west through Heilbronn,
Nuremberg, and Eichstatt (where we had lived the previous
year), then through Bavaria, including a visit to Mad
Ludvig's castle, and on to Austria, where we woke up in a
forest next to a frozen waterfall.
A journey from Dobiacco south with the Kombi on a rail
carriage through a tunnel brought us to the region of
Cortina, before a pilgrimage to the Bimota factory (Rimini)
and then the Ducati factory (Bologna).
Our next destination was Toulon, where an old friend awaited
our 3am arrival with the latest boujelais nouveau, followed
by Beaumes de Venise muscat. This hospitable old Frenchman's
sole command of English was "Stand up!" but that proved no
barrier as he plied us with more from the vine and took us on
hunting trips into the hills - always with a Gauloise
cigarette hanging from his mouth as we swerved around
mountainous curves in his Renault R4.
After a week in Toulon we rolled into Andorra for our second
Lashed along the side-window tops of our intrepid Kombi were
our skis. At the top of the winding road of Arkalis we parked
at our usual spot and skied down to the lift. After a day on
the slopes, mounds of road-cleared snow provided a ramp to
literally ski through the side door of the van and snap out
through the toe bindings and on to the carpet, enjoying hot
soup and/or a coldy, G and T, deck chairs or the barbie.
The odd "bus run" down to Barcelona to pick up mates and
parents kept the cobwebs away.
After six months of skiing and a bit of bar work to keep the
coins coming, it was time to really enjoy the Kombi, which we
did in earnest for the next seven weeks. Leaving Andorra in
July 1989, this time accompanied by our mirror twin, a
left-hand drive 1969 Westfalia owned by Nigel and Suzie, from
Ashburton, we visited many interesting places. They included
Interlaken, Jungfrau Lago, di Como, and Venice, before we
headed on to the Adriatic, visiting places recommended by
Nigel and Suzie, who had been there the previous season.
A highlight was a rendezvous with Jo's parents, who had
travelled to meet us at a remote alpine resort in Yugoslavia.
We drove them down to the coast for the second part of their
holiday at Budva. Next was sunny Greece, then Turkey, where
we had plenty of time and sunshine to enjoy the history and
fantastic natural geography, including Istanbul, Gallipoli,
Troy, Bergamon (where we bought two Turkish carpets),
Ephesis, Bodrum and Pamukale, a phenomenal limestone outcrop
among Roman and Greek ruins.
At about this point there were mechanical forebodings when
the balance pulley shattered and we received a tow from local
students in their 1963 Mercedes 220 fintail to get the
replacement part from Izmir.
On our homeward leg a Yugoslavian man accommodated us in his
home for three days while he and I stripped and resprayed the
Kombi for a bargain 160. We filled to the brim on cheaper
Yugoslavian petrol before heading through Italy to the town
of Breganze to visit the famous Laverda motorcycle factory
(another pilgrimage for this Australian 12,000 miles from
home, while the girlfriend looked out the wind-up window).
It was time then to set course for ye sunny olde England,
this time getting honked and flashed by the Ferraris and
Lamborgs as we entered the fast lane of the Autostrada with
our maximum 74mph.
Soon the crankshaft was moving fore and aft in the engine and
showering the rear of our newly painted Kombi with black oil.
Arriving back in the UK, broke and blown up, we got the old
girl fixed with the dregs of our cash, shelling out £405 for
a new engine.
We settled in North London, where, after some deliberation
about our next season in Andorra, we decided that some other
person should enjoy the Kombi. We sold her for £1600 to a
young man whom we hoped would enjoy her as we did.
• Barry and Jo Love now run a business from