Priceless Kombi never for sale
After months of painstaking research, Andrew Fraser’s grandfather made a decision that would change his family’s life forever. He bought a Kombi.
Andrew Fraser’s Kombi is more than just a car—it’s a living memory. “It’s like family. Even if someone offered us $100,000, you don’t sell a family member,” Andrew says. Andrew’s grandfather Roy, an engineer, bought the reliable orange Volkswagen ‘73 pop-top campervan after months of research. “[When grandpa Roy died] Uncle Rob found automotive magazines with grandpa’s handwriting listing the pros and cons of various styles of campervans. You can bet your bottom dollar that the engineer in him led him to the Volkswagen,” Andrew says.
Andrew’s parents acquired the Kombi after Roy died. It has now survived four generations of one family, hundreds of teenage camping trips, L-plate drivers, music festivals, trips to the vet and even a gunshot wound. The faded-orange campervan evokes memories of simpler, happy times spent with family. Andrew says he can track the progression of his life from childhood to adult with memories relating to the one vehicle.
» It’s like family. Even if someone offered us $100,000, you don’t sell a family member. «
“I get inside and the smells just remind me of grandma and that era. I have memories of simple things like burnt toast in the morning. We would do camping trips to the South Coast every school holidays. We would go to the Snowy Mountains every August. I remember too many times to explain, such as windy nights on top of the hill where we would camp on a relative’s farm and listen to grandma tell bedtime stories of yesteryear and her family.”
Andrew learned to drive in the Kombi and says as a teenager it made him feel as if the sky was the limit. “I very much loved driving it. You feel as if you are a bus driver driving the Kombi. You are up high, the gear stick is almost a metre high—it’s great. As a young teenager, we would drive it into Newtown [in Sydney] with drums, the whole kit and caboodle, off to various gigs and parties, just having a ball.”
» I very much loved driving it. You feel as if you are a bus driver driving the Kombi. «
When he met his future wife, she had to be introduced to the Kombi, too. “Just like any girlfriend she was obviously welcomed in and the Kombi was part of that. We started going away in our mid-thirties to music festivals. We’d lay back on the pop-top double bed that I used to fall off as a sleepwalker when I was eight. “It was such a progression of things that we’ve done through the various stages of our lives. It’s such a cool vehicle.”
Along with his two brothers Simon, 46, and Paul, 42, Andrew is passing his love of the Kombi onto the next generation. His sons Eoin, four, and Finn, two, are already enamoured with the vehicle. “The newer generation are doing exactly what we did. Eoin plays out the front like I would when I was a kid and I’ll catch him talking to the Kombi. He’ll hug the front tyre and say ‘Hello, Kombi. How are you?’” “We won’t let go of it. If one of the three suggest letting go of it the other two will crop them around the ear and say, ‘No chance in the world—it’s staying with us forever.’”