16 May 2018

Manly Kombi Rally

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Glistening in hues of glossy oranges, turquoise, whites, and even some with brown rusty patinas, these 60-or so Kombi Vans parked on the Manly Corso are all part of the annual Kombi Rally, a much-loved item on the programme for the iconic Manly Riders Week; a yearly surf festival held throughout the Vissla Sydney Pro surfing tour.

Adding to the rainbow of beloved Vee-Dub Vans, Volkswagen Australia is also debuting two iterations of the new Multivan Kombi 70 Years, a sixth generation Transporter, decked-out with retro-inspired two-tone paint, deep-dish chrome wheels and wood-panelled interior flooring; a nod to the 70th anniversary of the first sketch ever drawn of the first Kombi. Volkswagen aficionados and Manly beachgoers alike are all over the two Multivans like sunscreen on my Vitamin D-starved legs. 

Kombi owners are curious folk. Young and old, male and female, skinny and… not so much; Manly Beach has been overrun by glorious devotees to Volkswagen’s most Bauhausian models, and they’ve arrived en-masse driving their adopted German family members.

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Mingling with the crowd of vans and their owners, one commonality is apparent, aside from the proclivity for Hawaiian shirts – the inseparable part these Kombi Vans play in their owner’s personal history and memories. Weekends ‘up the coast’, road trips, weddings – these humble vans, the pride and joy of their owners, have been there, done that and, as the one I’m wearing can attest to – got the T-shirt. 

»It's exciting to see the passion is still alive.«

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»Everyone seems to have a Kombi Van story. What's yours?«

It’s great to see that, some 70 years on, the joyful little box on wheels continues to captivate the masses and capture the imagination of the idyllic Australian way of life. As one owner pointed out to me, it was the Kombi Van that first made plum, previously inaccessible surfing spots available to wave riders and catapulting surf culture into the Australian consciousness.

So, in essence, with the great migration of the Kombi Vans to Manly Beach for a show and shine event like no other, the Microbus has come home.

And the family couldn’t be happier to see them.

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