Kombi comes with kitchen

Winning combination

NICOLA WOLFE
Last updated 11:29 09/07/2014

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A blast from the past can be seen every Sunday at the Oamaru Farmers' Market.

From the outside, Jack Martin and Sue Harvey's 1978 Volkswagon Kombi looks like an ordinary van - until you open its top. The Kombi has been completely refurbished to open up as a modern-day 1970s milk bar and folds back down to its original form.

"It's a bit of a novelty," Martin says.

Martin bought the van five years ago from Timaru but it remained relatively unused until an idea sparked during a trip to Thailand in 2011.

While there, Martin and Harvey saw similar vans at local markets made up as bars selling alcohol and drinks. Harvey is often seen at markets and festivals selling her popular Southern cheese rolls, soup and milkshakes.

The van would make the perfect mobile kitchen, they decided.

To make Martin and Harvey's dream a reality, it was sent to Gillespie Auto Services in Christchurch where it was completely stripped down.

"The rust was cut out, and the engine and gear box set were sent away for reconditioning," Martin says.

"They cut the driver's side so it would open as a counter and the roof so it opens to form a working area."

It was then sent to Dunedin Motor Homes which fitted a working kitchen, including cabinets and a sink area, to council specifications. It was also fitted with a two-litre Porsche engine.

"It goes like a bat out of hell," Martin says.

The refurbishments cost in excess of $70,000 and took about 18 months to complete.

"It's fun to be a part of, for sure," Sue says.

"I love coming down to the Oamaru Farmers' Market and reliving the 1970s milk bar thing by having the cheese rolls and milkshakes. The Kombi fits well into the '70s theme. It's a blast from the past."

Though the weekend market is their regular hot spot, they also take the Kombi along to A&P shows, rodeos and other events.

"We hope to use it as a bar for parties and weddings," Martin says, "(as) a unique sort of attraction for people."

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- The Timaru Herald

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