A van that has lots of people fooled


Chenae Loveridge’s van is suffering an identity crisis.


On the surface the tiny van resembles a classic Volkswagen camper, but hiding beneath the retro trimmings lives a factory standard 1990 Subaru Sambar.

The masquerading VW is a rare sight on New Zealand roads and there have been reports of Loveridge’s dolled up Subaru being the only one in the country – a far cry from the van’s motherland where there are plenty of Japanese motorists navigating the expressways in their kitted-out replicas.

New Plymouth woman Chenae Loveridge baffles fellow motorists with her 1990 Subaru Sambar Volkswagen replica mini camper.

Fairfax NZ

New Plymouth woman Chenae Loveridge baffles fellow motorists with her 1990 Subaru Sambar Volkswagen replica mini camper.

The VW conversion kit – which comprises additional side skirts, an altered front panel, an oversized VW emblem, chrome wheel caps and a slick new paint job – is virtually unheard of here in New Zealand but is believed to be available for purchase in Japan.

Loveridge’s customised people carrier underwent its transformation before arriving in the country and when the New Plymouth woman fortuitously spotted it at a Te Awamutu car dealership she immediately fell in love with the peculiar motor.



But the van wasn’t actually for sale and the car yard, which had further enhanced the automobile’s charm with white-wall tyres and window tints, was instead using the vintage knock-off as a promotional vehicle and was not in any hurry to part with it.

“I looked at importing one myself but they’re notorious for rust and I didn’t want to take the risk of not being able to inspect it myself,” says Loveridge.


“When I called them to ask if they were willing to sell it they wanted to know what I would be using it for before they would consider it.”

The Humdingers Cakes owner-operator explained to the dealer how she planned to turn the fifth-generation Sambar into the custom cake shop’s newest delivery vehicle, and luckily for her the idea was well received.

The petite van underwent the retro transformation with the assistance of a VW conversion kit.

Fairfax NZ

The petite van underwent the retro transformation with the assistance of a VW conversion kit.

About a month ago Loveridge became owner of the imitation VW, which runs a 650cc engine with a five-speed manual transmission, and she says her father had to head north with a trailer to pick it up due to the van’s lack of grunt.

“It doesn’t go much above 70kmh so you can’t really take it out of town.”

The urban delivery van embodies the cake shop’s unique and funky style, which almost certainly explains why Loveridge was so keen on pursuing the van despite already having a company car.

“I couldn’t get it out of my head,” she explains. “I just saw it and had to have it – it was one of those impulse things.”

The creative foodie, who is planning to vinyl wrap the Japanese auto with a nice shade of pink, says wherever the van goes it attracts a crowd and she has even returned to the vehicle to find onlookers taking photographs.

But, she understands their curiosity and although the mock camper tends to confuse a lot of bystanders she says more often than not it has them fooled and they are left thinking it is a legitimate Volkswagen.

“As far as I know it is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. We were really lucky to find it.”

 – Taranaki Daily News

Annual VW car show taking place in Killarney, Canada


Killarney Fairgrounds will be transformed into a Volkswagen enthusiast’s paradise. The Dubs at the Lake annual VW Enthusiast Car Show will take place on Saturday, Aug. 15 and Sunday, Aug. 16 with registration at 10 a.m. and 9 a.m. respectively.

“The first year I planned the event I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I’d be happy if a few people came with their cars,” said organizer Ryan Smith. “There were 54 cars last year and I was more than happy.” The second annual event is already growing in popularity and its sure to be even more successful than the first year with people expected to attend from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Minnesota.

“Word is getting out and there are already people pre-registering.”

The event is open to anyone who wants to display Volkswagen vehicles of any shape, style and description for a charge of $15 for the weekend. A number of vendors are also expected to attend with memorabilia and collectables.

A swap meet on Saturday will add to the excitement as those working to restore their vehicles have an opportunity to connect with each other.

“When you’re restoring a vehicle, you’re always looking for that hard-to-find part and the swap meet will help them out,” Smith added.

A cruise through town is planned for Saturday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. and it will give everyone a chance to see the vehicles in action. From there, the group will return to the camping area for supper on their own prior to a drive-in movie scheduled for dusk.

Smith’s enthusiasm for Volkswagens began several years ago when he started looking for a VW bus. “I finally found one and dug it out of a bush,” he said. Throughout the restoration process he met other enthusiasts and his love of the vehicles increased. “You meet such a neat little group of die hards,” he chuckled. “Everyone remembers yelling ‘punch bug, no return’ and hitting their sister in the back seat.”

Smith was impressed by the collection of cars at last year’s show and invites anyone with anything VW related to attend. “They can come with a fully restored car or one that is full of rust,” he said. “It’s just meant to be a good time bringing everyone together.”

Donations throughout the event will be accepted for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. To register or for more information on the event, please contact Ryan Smith at 204-523-2060.


VW Festival roars into Leeds


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The VW Festival is the liveliest motoring event in Yorkshire’s summer calendar, and it’s coming to Leeds’s Harewood House again on August 14-16.

It all started in 2004 when lifelong VW fanatics Paul Scott and Shane Beardsley got together and thought that if they found a suitable location they could start a festival. Very much on the basis that “If we build it, they will come” – and come they certainly did.

The VW festival has grown year on year with the help of a team of 18, and festival-goers now number in their thousands.

As one of the few Northern VW events, it has proven to be a welcome change for VW fans and their families living in the North who in the past have had 300­ mile round trips to get to other shows.

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VW Festival is a family-­friendly, entertainment­-filled weekend that has something for everyone. You can spend the day, or the full weekend looking around some of the best Volkswagens that the UK (and in some cases from overseas!) has to offer, as well as enjoying live music, an awesome live graffiti display, a dog show, as well as a wide variety of other entertainment throughout the weekend.

Previous years have seen chainsaw juggling, fire eaters, stilt walkers, fire dancers, circus performers, an F1 simulator, a BMX display team, and free runners….the list goes on and on, and is in addition to the extensive list of activities permanently resident in the grounds of Harewood House. Prepare to take the little kids (and big kids) home very tired indeed.

The show ‘n’ shine winners parade featuring the finest vehicles displayed over the weekend will take place on the Sunday afternoon, followed by the eagerly awaited charity raffle which sees another fantastic classic VW Beetle, that was lovingly restored by Herbie Hospital, given away.

This year’s chosen charity is Cash For Kids and their volunteers are selling raffle tickets over the weekend, so please help to support them.


VW 4

Looking back as VW Kombi turns 65



A white-bearded man hangs out by his restored VW van in an artichoke field to give cyclists cookies.

“Hi, I’m Kermit,” Paul Aschenbrenner says to bikers, “I’m here to provide free food, free informations and free tools.”

When the road stretches like taffy and the wind won’t go away, the miles tick into the hundreds and not even views of the coast and the crops and the mountains can distract from a blistering backside, something happens.

A prayer is summoned, even if the tired biker doesn’t realize it.

The proof is the angel who appears on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, with free chilled water, maps, PowerBars, tools and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

He’s a 77-year-old man who looks like a hermit and calls himself Kermit, standing next to a vintage green Volkswagen bus with plaid fabric seats and bumper stickers that say things like “OLD GUYS RULE” and “I see dumb people.”

Paul Aschenbrenner is also a self-described, self-deployed “road angel,” as his business card states clearly.

He waves for bikers to stop from his spot on the side of Molera Road in windswept Castroville, next to the Pezzini Farms produce stand and the Choke Coach food truck, from 10:30am to 2:30pm every rain-free Tuesday.

His spot presents bathroom proximity and a literal choke point on the Pacific Crest Bicycle Trail to catch types traveling from as far off as Canada down to Mexico (and vice versa).

Last week, five happy Oakland hipsters happened across him on the way to Baja. They call themselves Bicicletas Por La Paz, and “mobilize in protest of corporate power over people and the environment with bike power.” They run a community kitchen, street events and music tours by bike.

Vocalist Carolyn Herlehy says they didn’t arrive weary, but they were suddenly refreshed. “We weren’t necessarily in need, but we were definitely in need of his joyous spirit,” she says. “He’s such a blessing on the side of the road.”

They stopped, drank, signed his guestbook and played a song on ukulele. Kermit danced. Everyone laughed. They cleaned out his chocolate chip treats and left a sticker on his dashboard.

“The cookies were the best part of our day,” Herlehy says.

On this day Kermit wears a button with a needle that moves a “fun factor” from LOW to HIGH. Someone asks about it, and he gives it to him. He also sports a Kermit hat and has a Kermit stuffed animal dangling from the back of a seat of his restored 1978 VW, which he also calls Kermit because, as he says, he is an extension of the van.

The hat thing is nothing new. During the three decades he was an instructor at Hartnell, he wore a different goofy hat from his collection of 65 every Monday to keep students motivated to show up, if for nothing less than to check his head.

The hats also work as a trademark during his long-term volunteering at the Monterey Jazz Festival, where he’s known as The Hat Guy. For the Wildflower Triathlon at San Antonio Lake, he dances and beats a drum at the very top of “Nasty Grade,” a miserable 1-mile climb in the half-Ironman, while wearing a giant white bunny costume.

Kermit encountered his own misery on his first ambitious overland bike trip with his buddy and fellow college teacher David Shipnuck in the High Sierras circa 1983.

As the air thinned, his quads burned, his body cramped and his tail blistered raw. “I wasn’t ready for that,” he says.

The trip would cover 100 miles a day, and 3,600 in 30 days all told.

But he also encountered adventure and sheer joy. They would ride up to police stations and ask to camp in the city park. They spent a night in Malta City Jail in Montana when the cops offered shelter from an onrushing thunderstorm.

“I love just bicycling and being with a good friend and meeting people,” he says.

The most inspiring stop during his rambles came in Virginia’s part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He ran into a woman named June Curry, who saw cyclists oozing up the hills and asking her for water from the hose. So she put out a sign, “Water for bikers.”

Eventually Curry turned the second of her two homes into a lodge for cyclists, and in the morning she would bake cookies and bring them over warm.

Now, as Kermit counts more than 400 cyclists from some 25 countries and as many states who have signed his register, he’s carrying on her ethic: “Pay it forward, so they’ll do a good deed themselves.”

It’s actually a bit more ambitious than that, whether he realizes it or not. Kermit is teaching folks to have fun practicing kindness in memorable ways, so the lesson lasts that much longer.

Suddenly it makes perfect sense that the two things the old Hartnell instructor taught were sociology and psychology.

VW explores vans and pickups to broaden U.S. appeal

“A worker checks a Volkswagen AG camper van, or microbus, known as a “Kombi” in Brazil, on the…

HANOVER, Germany — Volkswagen, which became part of U.S. pop culture with its bug-eyed Microbus, is looking at getting back into the U.S. van market.

The German company could also sell a pickup truck as it examines opportunities to broaden its range in North America, Eckhard Scholz, head of the light commercial vehicle unit, said at a press conference in Hanover on Wednesday.

“Pickup trucks are a dominating segment,” while there’s also a trend in the U.S. toward compact European vans, Scholz said. “We’re looking at both options intensively.”

Entering the U.S. light commercial vehicle market would complement Wolfsburg-based VW’s plan to become more than a niche manufacturer in the region and catch up with General Motors and Toyota. Light trucks are helping drive U.S. sales at both companies, as cheaper gasoline has turned consumer tastes back toward big vehicles.

VW became the world’s second-largest automaker by gaining market share just about everywhere except the U.S., where it has struggled since losing its No. 1 spot in the imported-car market to Toyota in 1975. It still occupies significant cultural territory for a baby-boomer generation that watched Herbie the anthropomorphic — and self-driving — Beetle in the 1968 Disney movie “The Love Bug” and saw the Bus build VW’s credentials among hippies and surfers.

Yet last year, when VW sold a record of more than 10 million vehicles around the world amid the strongest American car demand since 2006, VW-brand deliveries in the U.S. dropped 10 percent to 366,970 cars.

Part of the problem is a thin SUV lineup and the absence of a rival for Ford’s best-selling F-150. VW’s Amarok pickup truck, sold outside the U.S. where pickup trucks are less popular, is smaller than the Ford flagship.

In addition to the Amarok, VW’s light commercial vehicle division sells the Caddy, Crafter and T5 vans and minibuses. Western Europe accounted for 292,000 of the division’s 445,000 global vehicle sales last year. It also sells vehicles in eastern Europe, South America and the Asia-Pacific region.

Volkswagen is investing about $7 billion in North America after a previous effort to broaden its appeal with a bigger, cheaper version of the Passat sedan for the U.S. market lost steam. VW was slow to follow up with other new models after the Passat’s 2011 introduction.


Deal of the Day: Volkswagen California


Save more than £2800 on the Volkswagen California 2.0 TDI Bluemotion Beach


Pricing for the new Volkswagen California has been released, with the new model starting at just shy of £38,000 when it goes on sale in August – click here for full details.

If you’re looking for a camper van in which to whisk yourself away this summer, the outgoing model has some good discounts available online. Here’s our pick of the bunch.

The car Volkswagen California 2.0 TDI Bluemotion Beach
The saving £2811
The discounted price £33,432
The broker Coast2coastcars.co.uk


There’s a lot to like about the VW California. It is easy to camp in, has a smooth and quiet ride and offers adequate performance for the long trips you’re likely to take it on.


There are a few practical annoyances in the cabin, such as having no easy way to access the roof bed without standing on the front seats.

Should I add any options?

There’s a choice of four or five seats as standard. The rear bench folds flat to create a double bed while there’s a fold-out roof bed you get to via the hatch at the front. A host of optional extras are available, including a parking heater with auxiliary heater for £1434 and other camping conveniences such as an air purifier for £114 and two extra swivel chairs for £714.

What next?

Head over to Coast2coastcars.co.uk, then select ‘Volkswagen’ and ‘California – Estate’ to see the range of deals available.


The new VW California van you can’t have in California



Here’s a new protest movement for all you old Hippies out there: “Bring the T5 VW Camper to USA”. This sweet ride is like a Robocop update of the old VW bus, full of RV-like amenities including a fold-out bed, a sink, refrigerator and fold-out table; perfect for that cross-country drive to discover the soul of America you’ve been meaning to take.

“The California” as VW calls it, pulls all your emotional strings while appealing to your 21st Century expectations—much like the way Dodge brought back and modernized the muscle car with The Challenger.

The one bump in the road is this: the vehicle is not for sale in the US. What?!

When a friend asked me to join the Facebook group promoting this cause, I admit I rolled my eyes. Then I watched the video tour of of this righteous ride, and I too, was looking for the credit card slot on my laptop. Yo, V-dub, let’s bring this bad-boy to it’s emotional home. You can call the VW bus a “German car” all you want, but we all know it’s an artifact of the California 60s, Man.

From the Facebook page:

“There is a huge vacuum in US market for this great Camper. I don’t get it: Doesn’t VW, the company want to sell and make money? Then bring it to US , where you will sell 5X more than all of the European market. People are buying used 2003 Westfalia campers in US for almost it’s original price even when they have 100,000 miles on them. hear me VW?”


Hannover 96 fans park camper vans on pitch for a night




July 21 – For Hannover 96 fans the often used football phrase “they came and parked their bus in front of the goal” took on a more literal meaning when 12 of them actually did it at the club’s HDI Arena.

The fans – winners of a competition – parked Volkswagen camper vans around the Bundesliga club’s pitch and stayed the night as part of a promotion run by club sponsor Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

The promotion saw six original campers from Volkswagen’s T-series (including the class ‘California’ model) parked overnight.

The winners received an exclusive, one-hour sightseeing tour in the HDI Arena then took part in a penalty shootout with the winner off the stadium floodlights.

The winners then huddled around a large fire Basket and watched the cult film ‘The Bus’ and later sang along with the original singers the Hannover 96 anthem ‘Alte Liebe’.

The VW promotion was timed with a promotion for VW’s latest recreation vehicle. Ramsis Moussa, Head of Marketing, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “It is a spectacular action with our cooperation partner Hannover 96 for fans to camp in the HDI Arena… What began with the Bulli as a rolling symbol of independence and freedom, has become the new California a true home on four wheels. The California is rightly the icon among camping and recreational vehicles, is like no other vehicle of its kind in over 60 years of independence, travel and fun. Of course, these days live on in the sixth generation of the new T-Series. ”

The VW camper van is certainly an iconic vehicle and a symbol of lifestyle. And the Hannover 96 promotion was a step up from putting beach towels on deck chairs.

Contact the writer of this story at paul.nicholson@insideworldfootball.com This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Newport camper van conversion business launched


A VW Camper van conversion business has been launched by three Newport businessmen.

Pure VW Campers has been set up by Insider Rising Star David Greenhaf of Pure Vans, Steven Thompson from Morning VW Camper Hire and David Busson from The Stand People.

The company has said that it had secured an agreement with a caravan retailer to sell its products nationally.

Technical director Thompson has previously established a camper van hire business served in the Royal Engineers for 18 years.

Greenhaf, the company’s sales director, is the founder of Pure Vans, a commercial vehicle supplier which is on course for turnover of £7m in the next financial year.

Commercial director Busson founded The Stand People in 2008 and has also worked as the European Project Manager for a national exhibition company.

The company said it had taken orders before it was set up and is now planning to expand its team through an apprenticeship programme and the Jobs Growth Wales scheme