1961 VW Kombi: Our Shed

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Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi
Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi
Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi
Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi Dave Morley's VW Kombi

Keeping it as original as possible, it's just a rust and rubber resolution for Morley's 1961 Kombi

1961 VW Kombi: Our Shed
Dave Morley's VW Kombi


1961 VW Kombi

It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? It’s more than a decade since I saw my 1961 11-window Kombi on a VW-tragic website. It wasn’t even for sale, but I contacted the guy anyway and asked the question. Turns out, for the right money, anything’s for sale. So I drove 800km interstate, got stopped by the fuzz on the way (something about my rented trailer having a dodgy numberplate - I don’t remember the specifics) and loaded the ’61 on board.

On the way back to the Melbourne Bloke Centre, I rounded up a stooge in a Nissan Pintara on a short section of dotted line. I was towing the rig with my Falcon Turbo ute (which has now gone) so I dropped the hammer to get round safely. And as I pulled in, I noticed we were doing about 125km/h and I looked at the Kombi in the mirrors and thought, "That’s the fastest you’re ever travelled."

Anyway, the original plan was to straight-axle it at the rear, drop the front beam and plug in a mild street engine. The paint was going to be some 1960s bathroom green and away we’d go. But other projects got in the way and it was lucky they did. Because to do that to an unmolested Kombi now would not be doing the right thing by the vehicle.

See, I reckon the old girl is now worth more (spiritually and fiscally) with most of its original paint intact and just the rust and ropey windscreen rubbers replaced. So that’s what’s happening right now. Trust me, you don’t see Kombis this original any more or, if you do, they’re rusted hulks that need to be replaced from the door-handles down. And when I say this car’s original, I mean it. You can still just make out the hand-painted name of the
property it once lived on and the Tare and Aggregate weight numbers that commercially registered vehicles once needed by law.

A mate of a mate, Stewie, runs a business turning old VWs back into whole cars and, having seen what he did with a US-import Kombi that turned out – under the nice new eBay paintjob – to be proper tea-bag, he’s the man to fix my ’61. Not that there was a lot to fix beyond both inner and outer sills, the battery tray and a couple of holes in the cargo floor. And while I can usually stick two bits of metal together with a welder, that level of artisanship is beyond me. And besides, it was fixing this relatively small amount of rot that stalled the whole project ten years ago.

So now it’s moving again and the wheels are now at the sand-blasters having about 50 coats of house-paint removed (funnily, only the wheels copped the annual hand-painting treatment). I still need to patch up the bench seat and source a set of window rubbers as the old ones were totally perished when I got the VW, and then fit a motor of some sort. I have a late-model one that would do, but if I can find an earlier flat-four, I’ll fit that to keep it as pukka as possible.

Of course, the conundrum here is that then, although I’ll have maximised the monetary value of the thing, it won’t be the Kombi I’d always envisaged for myself. It’ll still have the reduction-hub gearbox, for instance and it’ll be flat out at 80km/h. And it won’t look as cool – to my eyes – as a lowered bus on fat steelies with a fast engine in its bum.

But I just can’t bring myself to modify what is the last of the Mohicans. Maybe I should swap the one good Kombi for a pair of roughies which need saving. Which I guess is how guys like Stewie stay in business.



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