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My 1963 Volkswagen Kombi

WHERE Are They Now shows generally wheel out faded actors who few viewers remember. Not this time. Arguably the star of the 2009 Western Australian-based movie - and based on a succesful stage play - Bran Nue Dae, a 1963 Volkswagen Kombi is still a happy and colourful member of the Perth southern coastal city of Rockingham.

"It's a car that makes people smile," says owner Amanda Williams, 22, an estimator with builder Shelford Homes.  The Kombi has been hers for four years and was planned for restoration.

"It was one colour - green - before I heard a company wanted a Kombi for a movie," she says.  "I put my Kombi up and the company agreed to rent it. My Dad, who has a panel shop, did a base red and white coat before it went up to Broome."

It was there that local artists set to work with hippie-inspired murals on the flat panels.  The Kombi was then the central point to a road trip by characters played by Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins and Tom Budge.

"When it came back with the artwork on it, I thought 'wow' - I was so happy with it I wasn't going to change it," Amanda says. 

The 1963 splitscreen Kombi is the second in the Williams family.  "We had one in New Zealand but we sold it before we came here," she says.

"My Dad bought a splitscreen when we came to Rockingham and because I love Kombis, I wanted one. I found this in the country. It had no rust and a 1.5-litre engine - it runs really well and I've had no problems with it."

The Kombi came with standard-issue WA number plates but these were changed for the movie.  As a present for her 21st birthday, Amanda's father gave her personalised plates with the same registration as the hand-made plates used inthe movie.

The Kombi is used for camping and "cruising", says Amanda, with her Suzuki GSX-R 750 used for day-to-day travel.  "Yes, it has more power than the Kombi."


  • The Kombi, officially known as the Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter, was introduced in 1950 and picked up numerous nicknames including "microbus", "minibus", "kombi" and because of its popularity during the 1960s, "hippie van".
  • The first model was the Commercial (a van) and the Kombi (with side windows and seats) but variants such as the Microbus, Deluxe Microbus and ambulance were soon added. A single-cab ute was available from 1952. From 1955 it received a tailgate.
  • Engines started with the Beetle's 18kW 1.1-litre air-cooled flat-four. In 1953 this was upgraded to a 22kW 1.2-litre version and to 30kW in 1959. The 1963 model introduced a 38kW 1.5-litre engine, upped to 40kW from 1967.
  • The 1964 model had a wider rear door and optional sliding - rather than hinged barn-door - side door.
  • The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroen H Van, are among the first forward-control vans in which the driver was placed above the front wheels and soon started a trend in Europe.
  • The "split screen" ended production in 1967, superceded by the "bay window" range.
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist
GoAutoMedia Cars have been the corner stone to Neil’s passion, beginning at pre-school age, through school but then pushed sideways while he studied accounting. It was rekindled when he started contributing to magazines including Bushdriver and then when he started a motoring section in Perth’s The Western Mail. He was then appointed as a finance writer for the evening Daily News, supplemented by writing its motoring column. He moved to The Sunday Times as finance editor and after a nine-year term, finally drove back into motoring when in 1998 he was asked to rebrand and restyle the newspaper’s motoring section, expanding it over 12 years from a two-page section to a 36-page lift-out. In 2010 he was selected to join News Ltd’s national motoring group Carsguide and covered national and international events, launches, news conferences and Car of the Year awards until November 2014 when he moved into freelancing, working for GoAuto, The West Australian, Western 4WDriver magazine, Bauer Media and as an online content writer for one of Australia’s biggest car groups. He has involved himself in all aspects including motorsport where he has competed in everything from motocross to motorkhanas and rallies including Targa West and the ARC Forest Rally. He loves all facets of the car industry, from design, manufacture, testing, marketing and even business structures and believes cars are one of the few high-volume consumables to combine a very high degree of engineering enlivened with an even higher degree of emotion from its consumers.
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