A man who spent more than four decades searching for the Volkswagen Beetle he bought as his family’s first car, almost 50 years ago, has finally found the honey-coloured bug after a chance sighting in a paddock on Bruny Island.
- A man who has spent decades looking for his first family has found it accidentally
- The 1971 honey-brown VW Beetle sits abandoned in a paddock on Bruny Island, south of Hobart
- Kim Valentine says he often wondered about the fate of his much-loved Beetle
Kim Valentine was on a day trip to the island, south of Hobart, when he found the car he bought when his son Chris, now 48, was a baby.
“I often wondered what happened to that honey-brown Beetle — today, I got the answer,” he told ABC Radio Hobart.
He checked the number plates and it was the very same vehicle that he bought in the early 1970s.
“I bought a VW when I got married, I needed something that was more of a family car,” he said.
“I bought it brand new for $2,000, believe it or not. It was honey-brown in colour and a ’71 or ’72 Beetle.”
A day off work
Bruny Island is a half-hour drive then a short ferry trip from Hobart, and Mr Valentine was spending time there on his day off with some friends.
They had driven south from the ferry terminal to check out a new restaurant, and as they turned out of the car park Mr Valentine looked left for any oncoming cars and noticed a honey-brown VW in a paddock.
“I always remembered the number plate on my car was CA4936.
“I was amazed to find it was indeed our very own old car, nearly 50 years on from when we bought it from Paddy the Rugby player.
Despite the dilapidated state of the VW bug, Mr Valentine was overjoyed to see it.
“I had no feelings of sadness when I saw it, just pure joy to have found it,” he said.
“This car has so many memories.”
They only sold the Beetle when their family increased in size and they needed a bigger car.
“I’ve seen many honey-brown Beetles since then, and I’ve checked to see if they are the same number plate,” he said.
“I’ve seen number plates with the ‘CA’ but not the numbers and often not a 1500 Beetle like ours was, but a 1600 with a couple of extra vents on the back quarter panel.”
Checking the car out
Mr Valentine said the car had been very special to the family.
“We had it for around five years,” he said.
He sent a text message to his son Chris, who now lives in Darwin, to let him know what he found in a paddock at the other end of the country.
It was Chris who was the baby in the bassinet.
“I remember that car,” Chris texted back.
“I remember looking up at the stars as we were driving along as I looked up out of the bassinet.”
Mr Valentine shared the story on Facebook, and a friend of his sent him photos of the car’s heyday.
There was another comment, from a person who lives in San Francisco, saying they know the owner of the car, although the ABC has been unable to contact the current owner.
Mr Valentine has no plans to acquire and restore the little honey-brown VW, but was reminded of one of the only films to star a VW vehicle — Herbie, the Love Bug.
“We called it ‘Bertie Beetle’ in our time, but it reminded me of Herbie,” he said.
“The movie was a bit like that. The car was dilapidated and then done up, wasn’t he?”