It defies the imagination that someone paid $81,000 for one of these old bangers.

My old man had one of them from around the same period and believe me it was a dog to drive.

Talk about over the hill — it couldn’t get over the hill.

He must have loved it though because he bought another one in later years, put his paints and easel in the back and head off to find a quiet location where he could be creative.

Did I mention he was an artist? (he’s still alive by the way).

Anyway, the Queensland-delivered 1957, 11-Window 1957 Volkswagen Kombi Van was expected to fetch between $55,000 and $65,000 when it went under the hammer this week.

Presented in largely unrestored condition, it capitalised on the world-wide surge of interest in early VW commercial vehicles to sell eventually for $81,000 on Monday night.

The Volkswagen Type 2 — better known around the world as the Kombi — was introduced in 1949 with the same reliable running gear as found in the Beetle (the Type 1) and soon carved a niche as a reliable, versatile and endearing workhorse.

The Kombi’s bodywork was of unitary construction and was available as a van, bus or ute, although as time went on these basic models were expanded into a bewildering array of offshoots, including the Microbus, the Samba Bus and the Transporter.

First seen in Australia in 1953 and sold as Completely Knocked Down vehicles assembled from kits at the Clayton plant in Melbourne from 1954, the Kombi proved a huge success here and for years they were a common sight on Australia’s roads.

The original Kombi featured a split, windscreen body style (retrospectively termed T1) and initially kicked off with an 1131cc engine, later enlarged to 1192cc with 30bhp (22.4kW) for 1953.

With higher compression in 1955, output jumped to 34bhp (25.3kW) while the body also came in for some revisions that year, the resultant T1B having a smaller engine bay cover (previous models are called ‘barn doors’), changed roofline and 15-inch wheels.

The original Type 2 remained in production until 1979 and has a cult following around the world today.

Once the vehicle of choice for hippies in search of cheap transport, the Kombi has become highly collectable and early split window models like the van on offer here are highly prized.

Dad used it to take us to soccer in Sydney’s northern district bible belt in the 60s.

CHECKOUT: Kombi comes chock full of memories

CHECKOUT: Beetle goes bye-bye forever?


Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.