Saturday, 29 August 2015


Paul and Hart returned from the visit to an exhaust mechanic in Goldenstedt with his catalytic converter back in place.  Fair bit of welding there.

They were both knackered to coin an Aussie phrase. Paul went straight to bed and Hart had a nip of Schnapps to keep him going as there was more VW discussion to be had during the night!!
At this point I should mention that we broke a WORLD RECORD. Yesterday the red Tristar covered 600km on 57 litres of fuel. That's 9.5 litres per 100 km. Unheard of in a Syncro. Hart was so excited as in our Syncros around Port Macquarie we get about 16.
It's a combination of very good roads and quality fuel. We were using 98 octane. Mark in a fully laden petrol Syncro was also very excited at getting 11. He gets nothing like that in Spain. 
Panic set in around the camp when Hegi pulled up the weather forecast on his phone. Rain storms forecast with red areas on the radar. 
Everyone secured the site and we took down our tents and moved into a nearby shed. Who knows what the army used it for but we suspect it is used as a drying room for the off roaders. We had a very dry night on a concrete floor but the rain never came. Oh well, never mind.

I mentioned that Paul's troubles were the first real breakdown on the trip. But there was a more serious one. Hart's blow up mattress developed a leak and we could not find it. Disaster!! So he bought a new thermorest when in town and used it for the first time on a concrete floor. I think his back survived.
We headed off to our next campingplatz in Steinhuder Meer (in the Hannover area) and set up our tents for the 12th time. I think we are getting the hang of it. 
What a laugh. It's a place set up for camper vans with their own toilets and showers. Mona calls them Tupperware Campers. As a result there is only one toilet and two showers in the camp facilities. And you have to pay for everything with coin in the slot machines. Power if you need it costs 60 cents per KWH. Then you also pay for water and showers, one euro for 5 minutes. Lucky there were no teenage girls in the group!!
After setting up we went to one of the highlights of the trip for any VW nut. The Grundmann museum in the nearby town of Oldendorf. We were amazed at his collection. Starting with rare hand built cars by a guy named Rometsch. They were popular with US film stars and he has a car that was once owned by Gregory Peck. The cars were built on a wooden frame with hand crafted aluminium panels. Unfortunately we could only take photos for personal use on the strict understanding they could not be put on the Internet or shared. I have to respect his wishes. 
The next area had a collection of vintage Porsche cars and some in original condition. Wonderful machines. Too many to describe. And of course a few vintage VW buses including one that was used in the USA as a mobile radio station. The funniest ones were hand made vehicles from the former East Germany. Even a complete Kombi made of wood.
The next room was even more amazing. An original 1938 beetle prototype that was found in a Russian field. They restored it to original condition. A very rare vehicle indeed. 
Then a collection of German military vehicles including a kubelwagen (let's call it a VW jeep) prototype and a production car. Also an original schwimwagen, the VW amphibious vehicle. Very rare also. Hart was excited about this as he used to own one. My dear wife Ann-Kathrin used to have a kubelwagen when she was at university in Hobart. It is still in a collection in Australia and appears sometimes in magazines and motor shows. He even had a VW beetle that was owned by the Nazi third in command Alfred Rosenburg.
It was just incredible to see such history and he is continuing to search out and acquire historic vehicles.  We had fun trying to estimate the value of the collection. Impossible. 
Then back to our camp at Steinhuder Meer amongst all the motor homes. Not a person in sight and we think they were all inside their vans watching TV!!
For the trip we did not have camping chairs or a table and it's amazing what you can do on the road. Here is a photo of our table where we cooked each day. Including a very nice tablecloth!!

It had been raining steadily so we set up camp by grouping the Syncros with awnings together for protection. Mona made a large batch of pasta and with a few beers all was well with the world, and then after a couple of schnapps it was off to the tents to listen to the rain that was forecast to last until 8.00 in the morning.
Hart woke up in a wet tent so we hoped for some sunshine to dry out all his gear at our next camp.
Breakfast over and we set off for perhaps the highlight of the tour. The VW commercial vehicle centre in Hannover. The Holy grail someone called it. By the way, the big guy in the red shirt was a ring in, not one of the tour group.

This is where they have collected a model of every VW commercial vehicle made which includes the original bus or Kombi as we call it in Australia right through to the T5 and Amarock. Unfortunately the brand new T6 was not there. 
Again we could only take photos for personal use.
They also do restorations for clients as well and the workshop was full of vehicles in various states from just a bare shell right through to a nearly completed original Kombi in beautiful red and white paint. A three year project so far. Who knows how much that would cost!!
There were original Syncros there as well as a couple of Tristars. When we finished the tour the guys came out and had a look at our vehicles. 
Everyone was just in awe of this collection and most found it even better than the Grundmann collection.
We then headed off towards Hamburg on the autobahn and had some more exhilarating driving. In the other direction there had been a crash and we estimated the traffic jam to be about 20 km long. 
Our tour guides took us to an American Diner in Saltau. It was just what you would expect in a diner but we were all pretty hungry after the morning on the autobahn and in the VW museum.

Then back onto the autobahn for the race to Hamburg. We drove over the Köhlbrand Bridge. 

We arrived at a historic part of the Hamburg wharf area that Hegi had arranged for our camp. Beautiful views over the river to the city. We even found a patch of grass for the tents.

A few more Syncros joined the group for the night and we had a great communal get together for our last meal together. Erika had organised a lovely gift for Hegi, Mona and Jörg and we had some nice speeches. I gave them each a koala holding an Aussie flag and thanked them from the bottom of our hearts for arranging the trip. Then it rained. Oh well, we just made the best of it. I even did a song called the Syncro Blues using Willy's guitar with a verse for each member of the group who made it all the way.

The guys from IG 16 made some plans
To drive around Germany in their vans
They like to drive and also roam
But let's not do it on our own
Or else we'll get the ......Syncro Blues

Hegis out the front in his big red truck 
Anyone behind him is out of luck
The Diesel engine is running hot
But man that smoke.... What a lot
now he's got the.......Syncro Blues

There's two vans here from far away
Hart and Paul let's cheer hooray
They're having fun driving on the recht side
Anyone coming......keep out wide
they have got the.........Syncro Blues

Willy and Erika ..... what a pair
They have been most everywhere
Their van it has all the mod cons
Even a guitar for Willys great songs
He can sing those........ Syncro Blues

There were two Brits here called Jenny and Clive
Buzzing around like bees in a hive
Their diesel got busted
Doesn't matter, the Doka's all rusted
They have got the.........Syncro Blues

Joachim and Jorg helped with the plan
Joachims got a very high van
Jorg is busy likes to keep in touch
On his handy phone, gott, so much
He has got the.....Syncro Blues

Mark, Anna, Duna and Brock
Mark's old bus goes like a rock
He will fix it, we know he can
Because he said,  I am Catalan
He has got the........Syncro Blues

There's a family with us from the USA
Bought a Syncro along the way
It's got some dents and like to rev
But thanks good, it's not a chef
They have got the.......Syncro Blues

Finally we are going to slow down
But not before we play around
Let's put the Syncros through their paces
Just hope we don't end up hospital cases
We have all got those Syncro Blues

Syncro Blues, Syncro Blues
Man I've got those Syncro Blues
Syncro Blues, Syncro Blues
We've all got those.....Syncro Blues. 

Talk went to the next event when the Syncro is 35 years old. Looks like the event will be in Spain and there was a lot of excitement about the possibilities. My mind went racing ahead to a plan to bring my Syncro over for an extended European holiday. Could be fun. Hmmmm. Some thinking needed here!!!
Morning came and the sun was out as we chatted and talked about everyone's plans. Joachim was heading to Busfest in England like us and others were heading home. 
A photographer turned up at 10.00 to take some shots of the Tristar and talk to Hart. There will be a story in the German magazine, Autobild Klassik. Interesting that the Germans have taken up the phrase "old timers" to describe classic cars like our Syncros.

No one wanted to leave but eventually the goodbyes started and it was a pretty emotional time for all. We set off to Wentorf to Hart's old mate Harald's place and I think we are both really looking forward to sleeping in a bed for the first time in nearly two weeks!!!
On reflection, it was the most amazing trip to do a lap of Germany with only one minor mechanical issue in our nearly 30 year old cars. We saw beautiful landscape, castles, towns, villages, cities and lovely people. But there is no doubt the people of our tour group were the highlight of the trip. We all got on so well considering we were from Germany, Australia, Spain, France, UK, USA, France and Norway. Although not everyone spoke English we all managed to communicate and really bonded. Sad to see it all end but some lifelong friendships have been made.
Now for a rest before we head off next week to Malvern in England for Busfest at weekend.


  1. Oh what a wonderful update - firstly I am sitting here Sunday lunchtime reading this and am a bit emotional - like you all obviously were. Seeing the Koehlbrandbruecke, then the car and Hartmut in front of Hamburg's backdrop is just a little challenging - many thought and feelings.....
    But then I go back to your story Peter and have to laugh. In nearly EVERY picture you posted of the group sitting together chilling I see my dear husband sitting comfortably in a chair (I wonder who's chair it is seeing that he did not pack any and neither got some from Harald....) with some alcohol - obviously enjoying his position of being the eldest???????????????? Schnapps and wine - what have you done to him??? Love your cooking area - this is just hilarious!!!! And don't bring back that blow up mattress - chuck it please. He might need a new one for Busfest though cause I think his back won't tolerate the thermomat for a longer period of time.
    And all these cars you saw at the various places - wonderful - and Annie was nearly born in our Kuebelwagen - Hartmut was just VERY glad to drop me off at the doctor and go back home (- those were the days..) for him to take me to hospital on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in early October when the roads were clogged with Sunday traffic heading back to Hamburg. He was very concerned that that child was going to make an appearance in HIS CAR!! So he got the police involved and we wound our way through kilometres of traffic with a police on a motorbike escort! There is your Annie - she knew back then how to make an entrance!. :)
    Loved your song - all those ideas came to you while driving, didn't they? Beautifully done. It is amazing how well the cars travelled - I am so glad that you arrived in Wentorf safe and sound without any mechanical issues (apart from Paul's drama) and NO dents.... Have a great rest the next few days and then off to enjoy the next exciting adventure. The organisers were amazing - so much went into this trip. I think sometimes we forget how much is really involved. Well done to them and a huge thank you from me for having made this possible. Hartmut was excited and apprehensive in the lead up to this trip and with Peters help could enjoy it to the max. Thank you Peter for looking out for him, putting up with him and doing most of the driving. Could have been just a little challenging if you would not have been there. And as I can see at the same time you had the time of your life too. So start planning for Spain - you know Annie will have her suitcases packed well before.....
    Maybe at some point in the future we can welcome some of the groups participants here in Australia!

  2. What a groovy post and I agree with Elke's words...tough, tough, tough sitting here knowing you are enjoying Hamburg. The pics are magical.
    And no, I never had a Kübelwagen. Mine was sort of similar looking, a staff wagon, but mine was called a 181 or known in the U.S. as a Thing. I doubled my $$ on it after having it for 10 years. Didn't think was cool enough for a 30 something year old so sold it to a collector.
    Have a great time exploring Hamburg...glad I managed to cause Sunday arvo chaos on the Autobahn in the Kübelwagen with my impending birth!!! Great story.

  3. What a groovy song...the Syncro Blues! And yes, my bags are packed for Espanã!! 😃👍🚐

  4. Hi Pete, just read your blog, it only took me 2 1/2 bottles of champagne, consumed by your wife and mine, to read this because they kept making derogatory remarks about me ( where are you backing me up against these pair of deutsche hexen). I enjoyed the stories about your Schwieger-farter-in-law, I understand your pain, I am surrounded day by day by "THEM".( bloody krauts- couldn't even win a bloody war or two. God I love those "sechsy german maedel"!!!!!!! P.S. Wait until you get to Pommie land, you can go to the café and order crappy coffee with a salad roll that comes with cheezels as a bonus on the side. MMMMMMMM yummy!!!! No jokes aside you should hve a great time in the old dart! Your pommie git of a friend and his 2 deutsche hexen and 2 dachsi !!!! Stuart

    1. Stuart - I thought you said the 2 deutschen Hexen had the champagne - didn't you? It reads as if you got stuck into Peters' whiskey stash..... thoroughly enjoyed your posting - and yes, wait until the boys get to England - will be SOOOO good......and they will miss their german real food and schnapps....

    2. I wonder if the Deutschen hexen have been having a little too much champagne!! Anyway I am ready for warm beer and black pudding when we get to England!😉😉

  5. Looking forward to seeing you both tomorrow, the beer is (not) on ice and I am sure some black pudding can be arranged!
    Not sure about the weather though 😜