Foreign buyers are paying top dollar for classic VW Kombis and shipping them back to Europe where they can get even more money for them.
Forget classic Ferraris and fine wines. The latest collectors items are old Volkswagen Kombi vans.
An immaculately restored Kombi that is almost half a century old sold for a staggering $158,000 at a classic car auction this week.
While that might seem expensive, it is in fact only the second-highest price paid after another pristine example of the iconic love bus sold for $202,000 earlier this year.
A lot of foreign buyers have been coming over here and buying our Kombis in almost any condition
Classic car experts say foreign buyers are snapping up Kombis in any condition in Australia because they have stood the test of time in our dry climate.
"Most of the old Kombis in the UK and Europe have deteriorated beyond repair due to all the salt they put on the roads in winter, they just rust out," says Ray Black, the president of the Volkswagen Classic and Vintage Club of Australia.
"So a lot of foreign buyers have been coming over here and buying our Kombis in almost any condition."
The latest big dollar result was for a 1967 "11-window" Kombi assembled in Australia that had just two owners throughout its 48-year history.
Classic car auction house Shannons said the price was "nearly double" its pre-auction estimate.
The identities of the seller and the buyer of the red and white 1967 Kombi were not revealed.
But a spokesman for the auction house said the iconic machine was "pursued relentlessly by two floor bidders, who matched each other bid-for-bid before the hammer fell to applause from the large auction crowd".
VW has been teasing enthusiasts with the return of the modern Kombi for 15 years
Meanwhile, Volkswagen's plans to introduce a modern Kombi may be delayed again as the German car giant diverts its investment dollars into fixing the diesel crisis.
The VW Group says it will push back certain models and has already set aside 1 billion Euros ($1.46 billion) to rectify more than 11 million diesel and petrol cars with software that can cheat vehicle emissions tests.
VW has been teasing enthusiasts with the return of the modern Kombi for 15 years, since the "Microbus Concept" was unveiled at the 2001 Detroit motor show.
After that project was axed, VW unveiled a smaller box-shaped hatchback concept 10 years later, at the 2011 Geneva motor show, dubbed "Bulli". But that model too is yet to see a showroom.
The closest fans have gotten to a modern Kombi is a limited edition two-tone passenger van unveiled in Germany earlier this year.
Would you spend $158,000 on a classic Kombi? Give us your best price in the comments below.