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My 1940 Ford Woody and 1962 VW Kombi

The 46-year-old Gold Coast earthmoving contractor has wisely used Australia's high dollar to negotiate good prices on a couple of classic surfing vehicles from America - a 1940 Ford Woody wagon and a 1962 split-windscreen VW Kombi.

"They take you back to a time when life was simple," he said. He and wife Fiona bought the Woody six months ago for about $30,000 and already they have knocked back an offer of $120,000 while the Kombi cost $35,000 and has attracted offers up to $80,000.

"The guy who sold me the Woody sent it with two Malibu surfboards and I drove around for five days before I realised he had also left a Beach Boys greatest hits CD in the stereo for me," he said. 

"That was the heart-melting moment of that car. He was just so in touch with what we wanted.

"Every time we take these vehicles out someone offers money or wants a photo taken with them. They bring out the child in people." 

Shannons Insurance national auction manager Chris Boribon confirmed the trend toward collecting surf-culture cars, especially "Woodies" which are wagons with a wood panel down the side. 

"A good Woody left in its original state and not modified is definitely a very collectible car," he said. "They have some style about them and they give us fond memories of the surf culture back in the '50s and '60s."

However, Boribon warned that restorers of Woodies would not only need mechanical knowledge, but also woodworking skills. 

Some US internet sites are advertising Woodies at up to $200,000, but Boribon suggested more-affordable Australian Woodies worth collecting include the Ford XL and XM Falcon Squire wagon. 

"They are a very collectible thing, but they are quite hard to find," he said. Watson will add his surf-culture cars to his growing collection of classic vehicles which he plans to hire through his new business, Woody's Surf Car Hire, catering for private functions such as weddings, as well as movie props. 

Watson says he has bought and sold more than 100 vehicles since his parents gave him a HT Holden station wagon at the age of 15. "I grew up in a family where my father and brothers worked for GMH at Acacia Ridge and were Holden men through and through," he said. 

"I'm not a diehard Holden fan. I appreciate all the cars." Yet his collection says otherwise with a 1968 HK Monaro GTS, 1971 HQ drag car and 1969 HG panel van also in his garage.