KOMBI COMPLETE

STORY SIMON TELFORD PHOTOS ELLEN DEWAR

> THE SIDCHROME KOMBI IS ON ITS WAY TO ITS NEW OWNER – BUT WE DRIVE IT FIRST!

IT’S finished! After more than six months of work the Sidchrome Kombi van has been transformed from a rusted-out bucket of bolts to a head-turning street machine.

The project was a joint initiative between Sidchrome, Chisholm TAFE in Dandenong, the Australian VW Performance Centre and SM.

The TAFE crew handled the considerable job of repairing the body and applying the paint, while AVWP took care of the mechanicals, the amazing interior fit-out, installing the roll-back sunroof, and the final assembly.

I had the pleasure of steering the Kombi to its public debut at the Saturday Night Live event at the Eastlink BP in Melbourne’s east. Now, I’ve driven my share of Kombis, but never one like this! For a start, it hoots along thanks to the 2180cc, twin-carb-equipped flat four.

The old girl feels unburstable and sounds fantastic, too. Whether we were in heavy city traffic or out on the highway, she was totally unfussed. Rather than holding up traffic – as has been my experience with other Kombis – we were overtaking stragglers with ease, all with peace of mind knowing we had decent brakes to go with it.

While the engineer wouldn’t let us get the Kombi as low as she looked in the concept drawing, the AVWP crew got her down as low as they could, while maintaining practicality and a plush ride. I reckon they hit the balance just right.

Inside, the Kombi has been finished off just-so. Big-ticket items including the sunroof, the Clarion stereo, the camper bed and the Sidchrome-themed fit-out do everything they’re supposed to, but what really impressed me were the details. Every latch, hinge, lock and lever works as well or better than when the Kombi rolled out of the factory. Getting all that stuff right on a high-mileage car is no snack, and it’s testimony to the passion that went into this project from every single person involved.

Congrats to Phil Watson from Wickepin, Western Australia, who won the van, as well as to Brian Riley from Canberra, who won a fully stocked Sidchrome tool chest in our subscription competition.