Vintage Volkswagens – Luke Pell

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Vintage Volkswagens, and especially split windscreen Kombis, are in vogue at the moment. One person who knows a bit about these vehicles after spending most of his life with either his head under the engine lid or his foot on the accelerator of one is Luke Pell. FOCUS caught up with him in his garage to talk about his love of the vee dub and this year’s bi–annual Volkswagen Spectacular.  

How young were you when you started messing around with cars?

My father is a mechanic, and he specialised in Volkswagens. I was very young, probably only crawling from what I have been told, and I would follow him around everywhere – up ladders, under cars; so I guess it started from there.

You were born into it then?

I remember making up excuses to get out of school to go with Dad in his truck and collect people’s cars. Getting myself as dirty as possible on a Sunday morning, so that I wouldn’t have to go to church. Then the day I was legally old enough, I left school and went to work with him. I couldn’t have been happier.

Vintage Volkswagens, especially older model split screen Kombis, have become very popular over the last few years. Why do you think this is?

I think a lot of people had them when they were younger, or would have liked to. These people now have the money to buy one and have it restored. A lot of people I know garage them through the week and then drive around in them on the weekend.

Many will own modern versions and drive these during the week or use them for their work.

What sort of investment would you be looking at to have a split screen Kombi sitting in your garage?

It is the same as buying a new car, and the price is reflection of this. If, as most people, you want something different or specialised, then that amount increases dramatically. Over the last few years more parts have been re-made for the Kombis, in places like Columbia. They are producing most of the parts that are needed for an entire restoration. Also, Volkswagen in Germany recently began to offer restoration services, and they too are beginning to re-make parts … though, the days of finding an ‘old’ Kombi laying in someone’s backyard are sadly gone.

Tell us a bit about your Kombi …

It’s a 1967 Double Cab Utility Kombi that I found lying in a paddock in Bathurst, where it had been sitting for 15 years.

How long did it take to restore?

About 12 months. I replaced and restored everything on the vehicle. I had assistance from a lot of talented friends and sourced parts from all over Australia, USA and Europe. It was a lot of work, but every time I start it up and drive it, I know it was worth it … puts a smile on my face.

You are one of the organisers of the Volkswagen Spectacular car show. Tell us a bit about that?

The Volkswagen Spectacular is a 4-day event held bi-annually at Valla Park. It attracts over 400 cars from all over Australia. People travel from as far away as Perth in the west and Tasmania in the south. I think it’s the biggest Volkswagen car show in Australia and maybe the Southern Hemisphere. This year the event is held from 2 – 6 August.

Further information:

Volkswagen Spectacular

The 19th Volkswagen Spectacular will take place this year on 2 – 6 August at the Valla Beach Tourist Park.

If you love Volkswagens

or are just looking for an enjoyable weekend, head to the beautiful Nambucca Valley and check out the action. The event draws Volkswagen enthusiasts from all over the country to the Nambucca Valley.

They arrive, driving all makes and models of Volkswagens, including split window Kombis, Karman Ghias, Notch Backs, Fast Backs, Station Wagons, T4s, Kubel Wagens, Manx Buggies and of course, the original car of the people – the Beetle. This makes it possible to observe every incarnation of Volkswagen imaginable over the event’s duration – and then some.

Many of the V Dubbers begin to arrive on Wednesday and stay in the 2448 postcode until the following Monday.

Thursday is the start of the racing at Raleigh Raceway. Several of the drivers endeavour to put on a show for the punters, slipping and sliding all over the track. Grab a picnic basket, the family and ‘get your backside – trackside’.

During the evening, participants enjoy a casual welcome dinner and cruise around the Nambucca Township.

Friday is the second day of racing at Raleigh Raceway. Late arrivals and those who posted less than impressive lap times have a chance to impress. Then it’s back to Valla Beach Tourist Park for a bistro and event registration.

Saturday morning is the spectacle of the Spectacular, with all of the participating vehicles joining in a parade into the local township of Nambucca Heads. The convoy travels along the Pacific Highway under escort of the local police and arrives in the main street. It is one of the only events in NSW where the police stop traffic on the highway for such a convoy.

If you have the chance, it’s worth grabbing yourself a decent vantage point to view the parade as it rolls into town. The sight of 400 odd cars snaking their way up the hill is a memorable one.

Upon arrival, the cars are all parked in the main street, that is blocked off to traffic during the Saturday morning. During these hours, the public and fellow enthusiasts have the chance to check out the amazing collection of VWs.

If all this Volkswagen fever gets you inspired to join the ranks of the motley crew of enthusiasts, then head out to the Valla Beach Tourist Park.

At the resort through the duration of the weekend, you will find a collection of everything you need at the swap meet to become a bona fide V Dubber – from chrome plated wheel nuts, to underwear with strategically placed beetles. There will also be local markets and a great array of food available on Saturday, so bring the kids and make a day of it.

A charity auction is held on Saturday night, with all proceeds being donated to local charities and support groups i.e. Local VRA, Nambucca Lions Club, Nambucca Rotary. In past years, these auctions have raised upwards of $30,000.

Saturday evening, a fancy dress/costume themed dance and dinner are scheduled. This is for registered participants of the weekend and not for the general public, unfortunately.

Sunday will see the cars on display at the Valla Beach Tourist Park, for the judging of the trophy categories for the weekend.

The judging and presentation gives the public and participants an opportunity to check out the best of the best.

Sunday afternoon things begin to wind down, and everyone begins to think about packing up and heading home. There will be a fireworks display at Valla Beach Tourist Park on Sunday night to signal the end of the weekend’s events.

Mark it on your calendar and be sure not to miss the 19th Volkswagen Spectacular, 2 – 6 August 2012.

For more info

This story was published in issue 20 of Coffs Coast Focus

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