A Kombi van that sleeps four

18:09, Feb 12 2013
FITS A FAMILY OF FOUR: Greg Young's ‘bach on wheels’ attracts much comment wherever it goes.

An iconic Volkswagen Kombi stylishly fitted out as the family bach has created more of a stir than architectural designer Greg Young ever envisaged.

"I thought rather than invest half a million dollars in a bach that we had to go to every holiday, it was better to have a bach on wheels so we could go wherever we wanted," Young says.

Inevitably, being a professional designer, Greg's 1970 Kombi has been done with panache, and has delivered what his own brief requested: 'modern styling with a nod towards retro, efficient use of space, off-grid capability and something easy to maintain.'

The makeover of the 1970 Volkswagen can seat four, and there's a window seat for a small child or family pet. Television viewing is via an iPad mounted on the joinery with a fingertip-control sound system. The kitchen has a two-hob cooktop with a broiler, an under bench fridge and a separate water supply.

"A removable table seats two for the more intimate moments watching the sunset over Shag Rock," Young says.

With the pop top up, there's space for two adult-sized stretcher beds, and a cockpit child-sized stretcher fits over the front seats and the rear 'window seat' slides forward to form a double bed. The rear seat's headrest even folds forward to provide an extension for pillows.


A photovoltaic panel provides electricity to a separate battery positioned under the rear seat, a gas bottle is stored in the engine compartment that enables the services to run off either gas, the van itself; alternatively, the Kombi can plug into mains power.  "The cabin is fully insulated, and of course we just position the 'bach' and its living space to suit the sun orientation and prevailing winds."

Greg used a combination of finishes in the interior - including laminate, acrylic and vinyl for ease of maintenance. And, despite the compact space (it's just five square metres) he's fitted in a full pantry, wardrobe and utility storage space.

Peers are impressed: it was a finalist in the National Residential Interiors category at the 2011 Architectural Designers of New Zealand (ADNZ) Awards, and a finalist in both the 2011 ADNZ Regional Resene Colour In Design Award and the Residential Interiors Award. 

"When I entered it in the awards I was a bit tongue and cheek, so I was amazed when it was a finalist."

But its not only his design peers that like the Kombi makeover.

"I've had interest from potential clients, but what they don't realise is that the cost of the fitout, at $20,000, is not hippie cheap."