Volkswagen Beetle found by Hobart man in paddock after nearly 50-year search for first family car

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.

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.”

Mr Valentine found his family car abandoned in a paddock on Bruny Island.(Supplied: Kim Valentine)

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.”

An old honey-coloured VW Beetle sits in a paddock under a tree with an old wooden shed in the background.
Although he sold the car decades ago, Mr Valentine never forgot its number plate.(Supplied: Kim Valentine)

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.”

Colour photo from the 1970s of 6 people leaning on a honey brown VW beetle, and 2 boys pulling a person out of the seat of car.
Mr Valentine’s VW Beetle pictured in the 1970s shortly after he bought it.(ABC Radio Hobart: Rachel Edwards)

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?”

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Alcoa ends 50-year Adbri contract

Adbri subsidiary Cockburn Cement is expected to cut up to 50 jobs after Alcoa of Australia did not renew its contract to purchase about $70 million of lime each year.

South Australia-based Adbri said it was too early to assess the full financial impact of the loss of the contract, which was due to expire on June 30 next year.

However, between 40 and 50 Cockburn Cement jobs including contractors are likely to be affected.

Adbri chief executive Nick Miller said the group had supplied lime product to Alcoa for almost 50 years.

“We are disappointed with Alcoa’s decision to displace locally manufacture product with imports from multiple sources,” Mr Miller said in an ASX announcement.

“We will work quickly to mitigate the impact on local jobs supporting our lime business and we remain committed to supplying our WA resources sector customers.”

Adbri, formerly known as Adelaide Brighton, recently said in an investor presentation that the Western Australian market for cement and lime was expected to grow in 2020 driven by demand from the resources sector, particularly in nickel and gold.

The WA alumina sector also represented around 70 per cent of the state’s lime demand, Adbri said.

In its decision, Alcoa said: “In order to efficiently supply our three Western Australia refineries, Alcoa of Australia conducted a comprehensive process to evaluate potential suppliers for lime, a strategic material needed for alumina refining.

“This process lasted for around two years and considered numerous factors including product cost and quality.”

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