Volkswagen Kombi Overview
Modern Volkswagen Kombi cars are about as cool as mullet haircuts. But the old air-cooled stuff is a different story. What's perhaps most amazing about the retro VW Kombi's cult status is that it started life in very much the opposite direction; as a beast of burden for small businesses the world over. Air-cooled Kombi cars fall into two main categories these days. You have the later version with the single-piece windscreen (known around the traps as the `bay window') and then there's the Uber-Cool early model with the two-piece windscreen (known as a “splitty”). The later ones are better cars to drive because they're bigger and faster with better brakes and handling. But nothing this side of an iceberg shaped like Clint Eastwood is cooler than a splitty. They're getting on a bit now, but their values continue to rise in proportion to the difficulty of finding a really good VW kombi.
Volkswagen Kombi Road Test
Get ready to slow down and take in the world at Volkswagen Kombi pace. Don't worry about trying to overtake the car in front as it'll eventually run out of petrol or its driver will die of old age. You need to be Zen to drive a VW Kombi because nothing is going to happen in a hurry. Given the handling, this is no bad thing. Later bay windows will sit on the legal limit okay, but even then, grip is marginal. And if it's a splitty you're piloting, you better enjoy travelling everywhere at 80km/h, because that's where they're happiest. Fuel economy in a bay window can be depressingly high (given the performance envelope) and the drum brakes on a splitty should be foremost in your mind. Speaking of which, if you do run into anything, you're the crumple zone, so it's best to remember those Zen teachings and just sit back and enjoy.
Buying a Used Volkswagen Kombi – What To Look For?
In a word: Rust. Old VW Kombis rot like summertime corpses. Check the roof gutters, sills, doors, around the windows, the floors and that big panel that forms the front of the vehicle. If that checks out, you can move on to other stuff which is vastly less important because mechanical spares are cheap and plentiful in Australia. There's also a whole industry dedicated to making Kombis work better, so leave some money aside for modifications. If you're looking at a camper, make sure it doesn't leak and that the interior fit-out will work for you. Check gas bottles and stoves carefully and be prepared for a fridge that doesn't work and drawers that don't stay closed. One final thing, if you do find a splitty VW kombi lying on a farm - even if it's been rolled into a ball and dropped down a mine-shaft - buy it, because they're worth real money in just about any condition.
Volkswagen Kombi – The Final Verdict
+ Big cool quotient
+ Great for camping and temporary party accommodation
+ Maybe the hippies were on to something after all
- Some VW Kombis are very, very tired now
- Keeping rust at bay can be an ongoing job
Volkswagen Kombi Standard Specifications
Engine Size: 1.3/1.5/1.6/1.7/1.8/2.0 litre Fuel System: Carburettor
Standard Transmission: 4-manual