PLAYS COOL

Unique Cars - - 23-WINDOW - WORDS & PHO­TOS STEVE NALLY

VW’S TYPE 2 WAS DE­SIGNED AS A CHEAP AND SIM­PLE COM­MER­CIAL. BUT TO­DAY’S ROCK-STAR STA­TUS MEANS THERE’S COOL CHAR­AC­TER IN VW’S CARGO CAR­RIER AND COLIN HYETT’S IS ONE OF THE BEST

"WHEN HE WAS FOUR, COLIN TOLD HIS MUM: 'THAT’S MY DREAM CAR! I WANT ONE OF THOSE!’"

In Fe­bruar y 2015 jaws dropped around the countr y when a 1960 23-win­dow Volk­swa­gen Kombi Samba sold at auc­tion for $202,000 ! Yes, it is t he most col­lectable of V W’s once-hum­ble peo­ple movers but t wo hun­dred grand for a Kombi? Well, sus­pend your dis­be­lief be­cause the Kombi you are look ing at has been va lued in ex­cess of t hat record­brea k ing auc­tion price. It be­longs to Colin Hyett, a V W tragic since child­hood and even if you hap­pen to have a la z y $200k ly ing around, it’s not for sa le.

Colin’s air-cooled ad­dic­tion be­gan when he was four. He re­mem­bers the day it hap­pened. “We were sit­ting at t he tra f f ic lights op­po­site t he ceme­ter y in Frankston and I looked up and saw this Kombi and said, ‘That’s my dream car, Mum, I want one of those one day’. It was a 23-win­dow Mi­crobus Deluxe in duck-egg blue and ivor y and she said, ‘Get your head out of t he clouds, Colin’.”

Colin’s me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer fat her was no fan of Volk­swa­gens eit her; he pre­ferred t he his­toric Porsche, Lo­tus and Cor vette race cars he worked on. But his work­shop backed onto V W spe­cia lists Ed­wards & Rug­gero Mo­tors in the Mel­bourne bay­side sub­urb of Seaford and young Colin spent a lot of time t here ogling Beet les and Kom­bis. At 16 he bought his f irst car from t hem, an a ll-orig­i­nal a labaster-on-red 1957 Beet le, scrap­ing to­gether the $700 it cost by mow­ing law ns and do­ing gar­den­ing jobs.

But his fat her’s dis­dain for t he litt le Ger­man cars meant Colin didn’t have the ner ve to tell him he’d bought a Bee­tle and he ini­tia lly stored it at Ed­wards & Rug­gero. When he did tell him, he was made to park it three houses away from the fam­ily home. “He was ver y em­bar­rassed by it and used to ca ll it t he Kraut wagon,” shrugs Colin, who

"IT’S AB­SO­LUTELY AMAZ­ING TO DRIVE. EVERY­ONE TOOTS, WAVES OR FLASHES THE PEACE SIGN AT YOU"

still has t hat now ver y va lu­able V W. And t he last laugh.

By t he time he was at univer­sit y Colin a lso had a ’58 Kombi – bought for $ 900 – which he lived in af­ter his fat her k icked him out of home. “That was great fun, it was my mo­bile home, I could park it any where and not feel like I was camp­ing at any­one’s house,” he reca lls. “I even­tua lly sold it for $18,000 to f und a t rip to Ita ly”.

The ’58 Kombi was fol­lowed by a 1965 Mi­crobus Delu xe Sa­fari but it was a LHD Amer­i­can im­port and he wanted an Aus­tra lian-de­liv­ered Kombi so it too was a lso sold to f und an­other overseas trip. When he re­turned he bought his f irst mod­ern Volk­swa­gen, an early Golf, and had his Bee­tle re­stored by Delu xe Kus­toms. He also owns a ’61 Kar­mann Ghia and a ’94 Golf Con­vert­ible (by Kar­mann) and says his Volk­swa­gen col­lec­tion is com­plete.

Which brings us to the amaz­ing Kombi you see here, again paid for by do­ing law n and gar­den­ing jobs – big gar­den­ing jobs. Colin is now a land­scape gar­dener, based in Lang war­rin out­side Mel­bourne.

He found this 1961 23-win­dow Mi­crobus Sa­fari on the in­ter­net nine years ago and paid a lmost $ 95,000 for it. “I rang around the Volk­swa­gen club to f ind out if any­one

"VOLK­SWA­GENS – YOU CAN DRIVE THEM ANY­WHERE AND ANY­ONE CAN FIX ONE"

k new the car,” he ex­plains. “Some­one said it was a great car so I got some­one in Perth to look over it. I wanted to make sure t he body was fine. It needed some en­gine work but the body was in amaz­ing con­di­tion. It was re­stored 31 years be­fore I bought it and hasn’t been touched since; it was a ver y good restora­tion.”

He es­ti­mates he is only its fourt h owner. “I just k new it was t he right one,” he smiles. “It is the ultimate Kombi and my dream car and t hey are so rare. I just wanted one. It’d been for sa le for a while be­cause of its high price but t he owner wouldn’t ne­go­ti­ate so I said, ‘Fair enough’ and had it trucked from Perth to Mel­bourne.”

When Colin’s dream car ar­rived, it more t han met his ex­pec­ta­tions. “It looked brand new. It was t he per­fect colour, Pa­prika over Ivor y – t he orig­i­nal colour t hat was stamped on the car – and I thought, ‘I don’t need an­other car, t his is it’. I drove it home and the next day I took it to Ed­wards & Rug­gero to have the en­gine re­built and for them to go over the whole car and con­vert t he elect rics to 12 volt.”

Colin reck­ons his Mi­crobus cost £ 3800 new in 1961, a for­tune at t he time for a t hinly veiled com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle wit h few crea­ture com­forts, but 'Splitt ies' like his are now the most sought af­ter. He has a lready k nocked back an of­fer for t wice what he paid for it and reck­ons t he ex­pe­ri­ence of own­ing and driv ing this prize-win­ning Mi­crobus is price­less.

“It’s ab­so­lutely amaz­ing to drive,” he

"IT IS THE ULTIMATE KOMBI AND MY DREAM CAR AND THEY ARE SO RARE"

smiles. “It’s like be­ing in the open air, or in a ski boat, fresh air just fills the cabin. Every­one will too tor wave or flash the‘ peace sign’ and it takes me for­ever to get any where. If I go to get petrol, 10 peo­ple will talk tome; it’s great fun. I knew it was go­ing to be slow, I knew it would at­tract at­ten­tion but the good thing about Volk­swa­gens is you can drive them any where and find parts and any­one can fix one .”

The only thing that would make his Kombi even more per­fect would be a dif­fer­ent colour, he says. “I would have liked the duck-egg blue and white that

I first saw when I was four and that’s why I bought the num­ber plate‘ R2DTWO’ be­cause it’s a Type 2 Kombi and StarWars char­ac­ter R2-D2 was a blue and white type -2 ro­bot .”

This cool Kombi has even won over Colin’s doubt­ing mother and she likes to drive it .“I think it’s the look-at-me thing ,” he laughs. Colin Hyett is no longer a dreamer.

TOP known as the Sta­tion Wagon or Bus (de­pend­ing on where it was sold) and ini­tially pro­duced in two vari­ants: the ba­sic Kombi, with side win­dows and three bench seats and the Com­mer­cial panel van.

LEFT Unique brake pedal tra­jec­tory takes get­ting used to.

TOP Near flat twospoke tiller and min­i­mal­ist gauges.

TOP Hyett be­lieves his car was orig­i­nally shipped new into Syd­ney and bought by a re­sort to chauf­feur guests.

ABOVE The Kombi has more win­dows than most homes.

BE­LOW Air-cooled flat-four isn't fast, but sure will last.

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