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Weekly Motor Fix: seen a 1975 VW Kombi ute in New Zealand lately?

23 August, 2016

Over the weekend, my father-in-law (FIL) informed me that his old ute that gets thrashed about as his surf wagon and dump-run machine is on its last legs. The mechanic had given it its last rites by stamping a big old ‘fail’ on the WOF sheet last week, with the ute having succumbed to the dreaded cancer that tends to eat cars alive living near the coast.

Of course when your FIL says “jump’, we sons-in-law must say “how high?”. And when he tasks you with finding him a new old ute, well, it brings a tear to your eye. Unfortunately, my father-in-law isn’t one for sentimentality so the job must get done with efficiency and as little arsing about as possible. His parameters? Diesel, single-cab chassis with a tray big enough to fit several surfboards, reliable, and under $5000. Too easy for someone who knows how to work within parameters and takes instruction well.

Unfortunately for him, I’m no good at either of these things.

And that’s why I’m recommending he buy this …

A 1975 Volkswagen Kombi split-window ute in excellent condition with a potentially genuine 9000km on the clock! And almost within budget too (only about 10 times over).

This rare Kombi ute has been brought into the country by South African national Chris Middlewick, from his home country. Chris spotted this extremely tidy Kombi and saw an opportunity to bring the rarity to New Zealand. He intended to hold onto the Kombi, but has recently bought Tyretech on Auckland’s North Shore, so no longer has the time to enjoy it.

The Kombi has had one owner its entire life, and lived 600km inland from the ocean at high altitude ensuring that the dreaded rust hasn’t become an issue.

There surely can’t be many examples of split-window Kombis in New Zealand, let alone in this condition.

Image source

Becoming fond of Fords part two – happy times with Escorts

In part one of this Ford-flavoured trip down memory lane I recalled a sad and instructive episode when I learned my shortcomings as a car tuner, something that tainted my appreciation of Mk2 Ford Escort vans in particular. Prior to that I had a couple of other Ford entanglements of slightly more redeeming merit. There were two Mk1 Escorts I had got my hands on: a 1972 1300 XL belonging to my father and a later, end-of-line, English-assembled 1974 1100, which my partner and I bought from Panmure Motors Ford in Auckland in 1980. Both those cars were the high water mark of my relationship with the Ford Motor Co. I liked the Mk1 Escorts. They were nice, nippy, small cars, particularly the 1300, which handled really well, and had a very precise gearbox for the time.
Images of Jim Richards in the Carney Racing Williment-built Twin Cam Escort and Paul Fahey in the Alan Mann–built Escort FVA often loomed in my imagination when I was driving these Mk1 Escorts — not that I was under any illusion of comparable driving skills, but they had to be having just as much fun as I was steering the basic versions of these projectiles.

Fear and loathing the blue oval – part one

The slogan went something like ‘There’s a Ford in your future’. ‘Bugger off!’ were always the words that sprung to my mind. Ford and I have never really got on in the manner of many of my friends, so I’d say my relationship to the brand was distant. The accelerating blur of passing time has helpfully blanketed memories of a few Ford encounters which I probably wanted to forget but I have to admit, now I look at them, they are re-appearing through the mists of time. What comes to mind more readily, to quote some uncharitable wit, is that the letters Ford could stand for ‘fix or repair daily’. Still, I have to ’fess up, there were several Fords in my past.