Volkswagen fans, this one's for you

10th June 2020

Meet Darren Robbie from the Transport World workshop. He’s a big fan of Volkswagen vehicles – in fact, given his father was both a mechanic and then later a salesman for the German manufacturer, it was probably always destined.

Darren’s one of the team members involved in pulling together our brand-new, limited-time-only Volkswagen exhibit, and he’s hoping it makes you smile too.

So, even though his involvement with Volkswagen started at a young age, what has kept his interest in the brand going?

“I really do think it’s mainly just because of how different Volkswagen are to other vehicles: details like the motor being in the back, the style of their designs … they’re just a bit quirky. I tend to go for stuff that’s a bit off the main track.”

(He’s particularly keen on the Volkswagen Beetles.)

Darren has watched with interest as the resurgence of the German’s automotive manufacturer has continued.

“Twenty years ago, you couldn’t give Kombis away. We used to buy Kombis to get the engines out, and then take them to the tip. That’s just criminal now,” he says.

“Back in the mid to late-80s, they were still kind of seen in a negative light: they were run-down, they never had much money spent on them, so they weren’t considered desirable. That’s all changed completely now.

“What’s behind the interest in vehicles like the Kombis, and what’s driven the prices of them up, is because they remind people of when they were younger. A lot of people who are into Kombis these days are people who would have travelled around in one while they were on their OEs over in Europe. They’ve come back, grown up, they’re successful now, and they want to recreate their memories. It’s great to see vehicles like Kombis becoming popular, and being taken care of, again.”

Of the vehicles currently on display as part of Bill Richardson Transport World’s Volkswagen exhibit, five belong to Darren, and he’s got a handful of others at home. He and his wife Sharon also own much of the camping gear that has been used for one of our ‘scenes’ in the exhibit.

Together Darren and Transport World executive director Joc O’Donnell – herself a Kombi buff – knew of and approached other Volkswagen owners around the South Island to see if they would consider loaning their vehicles to the collection for the display, while other owners approached the museum directly after hearing rumours about the exhibit coming together.

 “It’s been a real team effort, this exhibit. There are a lot of elements that go into it. Other people have put together the information panels, and the workshop team has been busy working on some of the vehicles to get them ready to go into the display. It takes a lot of people to pull together something like this,” Darren says.

And their efforts have paid off.

“It’s been great to hear people are really enjoying coming in and having a look,” Darren says.

“We worked hard to put it all together and to come up with different ways to show off the vehicles, with all of the details that have gone into the scenes in the exhibit. These aren’t just vehicles parked up in a line: we’ve set them up in a way that’s really captured people’s attention and made them want to come in to see them for themselves. You’ve got to make it special.”