( A romantic folly)

21th July 2003
Bill Moore

Back in May 2002, three serious VW enthusiasts here in Australia were discussing the1999 Bad Camberg event and were planning to attend the event that would usually occur in June 2003. Heinz Willi Lottermann had held the event every four years and this would be the 7th meeting in all.

These enthusiasts, Ray Black, Steve Muller and Bill Moore started to etch a plan that would see them doing something different from the norm, a plan that was to become known as a "schnapps idea" ( the outcome from drinking to much schnapps)

Following Heinz Willi's death in 2001 there was speculation that the event may not continue so Bill Moore began correspondence with Michael Lotterman, Heinz Willi's brother, to ascertain if the event was happening.

Having each been to several prior Bad Camberg Treffen events, the three of us knew very well the quality, variety and scope of the vehicles which regularly attended the Treffen. In 1999 six Americans brought over their cars from the US and as a special feature of the Treffen there was 21 Hebmullers on display.
Ray, Steve and Bill wanted to do something different as well for the upcoming event. It really needed to come from left field. One thing that is very different at a German VW show is to have cars that were manufactured in Australia and so the plan was to restore and ship two cars to Germany and drive them to the Treffen. At the end of the tour it was hoped the vehicles would be picked up by the Museum and put on display for everyone to see.

The choice of cars was simple, the original "Antarctica One" Beetle that served in Antarctica for 12 months way back in 1963 together with an Australian Country Buggy. The Buggy was designed and produced in Australia from 1967..

The planning phase

From June 2002, the planning became more and more extensive when it was realised that the largest Dutch VW show at Budel was also on around the same time. Both Steve and Bill had attended prior Budel events so this became another focal point when plans were developed. Bill began speaking with the KeverClub Netherlands (Kever means "Beetle" in Dutch) regarding the possibility of attending their show and they were delighted to think cars and visitors from Australia would be at Budel.

At the beginning of July 2002 we began a search to see if we could locate the original Antarctica One Beetle. Everywhere we went it ended up at a dead end. Having an extensive network of VW enthusiasts to call upon was thought to be a bonus.There must have been over100 phone calls across the country in an effort to locate this car but there no success. We were able to speak with several people who had served in the Antarctica at the time as well as 6 people who worked with Volkswagen Australasia in Clayton in 1963. Everyone spoken to knew the car came back to Hobart in January 1964 and was then entered in the 1964 BP Rally. No one, not even the driver of the car in the BP Rally, knew anything more than the car was returned to Volkswagen Marketing Dept after the rally was finished. (we tracked him down on the Gold Coast, now in full retirement.)
At the end of July 2002 there was a lot of urgency necessary to purchase the two vehicles so that the restoration work could commence. A decision was made to move ahead with an authentic replica of the original car.
During the first weekend in September 2002, a 1963 Beetle was advertised in a newspaper in Sydney. It was found in a thousand pieces in a backyard in St Marys New South Wales but it was a good base to work from. Later investigations found this car was produced the same month as the original Antarctica One (December 1962) and was the identical colour (Ruby Red)

In order the Venture could recreate an authentic replica, one of the first activities was to make contact with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition and see if there was any problem with the concept and to see if they could use reproductions of the original logo on car doors. Following some discussion and agreement, ANARE confirmed use of the logos (which had since been changed) subject to certain conditions and a documented agreement was signed. ANARE were able to provide a template of the logo from which a computer graphic can be generated down to the exact detail.

As part of the investigations to locate the original car the principals were able to track down the former Expedition Leader Ray McMahon. He has proved to be a great source of information, original photography and documentation from 40 years ago. Ray was able to provide real hands on experience from his days of physically driving the original vehicle around Antarctica.

What happened 40 years ago?

Ray McMahon was a man with both opportunity and vision.

Back in 1962, Ray was given the opportunity to be the Expedition Leader for the upcoming pilgrimage to the Antarctic. Spending a total of 12 months at the Mawson base is part of the Federal Government's commitment in the Antarctic through the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (known as ANARE). The thought of isolation and freezing cold makes little impression on the type of individual who is prepared to endure this type of life

Ray's vision was very different.
He was looking for something different and unique when planning for the expedition. After gaining agreement in principal from the ANARE management he approached the Marketing department at Volkswagen Australia Pty Limited in Clayton Victoria with a proposal to have them provide a Beetle sedan for the trip to Mawson and to spend the Antarctic winter down amongst the snow and ice.
The VW Marketing people saw some possible promotional opportunities stemming from the proposed venture. Little did they understand the impact of their decision at the time?

In the middle of December in 1962 Ray visited the plant and following the obligatory tour of the facilities was taken to the Production Line. There he was given the choice to select a vehicle from a number of finished VW Deluxe Beetles rolling along on the production line. The stand out vehicle was a red Beetle sedan, Ruby Red in fact.
Ray immediately selected this vehicle as he knew the distinctive red colour would be easily visible in the Antarctic snow.
As well as the car, VW also provided a movie camera and 1000 feet of film to capture many of the events taking place and to see what day to day life is like. We are lucky enough to hold some of the original footage of the saga.
The stand out vehicle was a red Beetle sedan, Ruby Red in fact. Ray immediately selected this vehicle as he knew the distinctive red colour would be easily visible in the Antarctic snow. As well as the car, VW also provided a movie camera and 1000 feet of film to capture many of the events taking place and to see what day to day life is like. We are lucky enough to hold some of the original footage of the saga.

The necessary arrangements were finalised and the vehicle had some minor modifications and additions carried out to assist with its survival.

These modifications included;-
  • The motor was given the standard VW Northern European "winterisation" procedure. This includes manifolds being encased in a protective material, lithium based grease was used to lubricate the front wheel bearings and torsion bars and winter tread tyres fitted with chains available.
  • An ammeter and oil gauge were fitted on the dashboard to monitor voltage and oil conditions in the motor.
  • The battery area was insulated to prevent possible freezing of the battery acid
  • An aluminium cover was made for the air intake slots over the rear boot area. This would keep snow drifts out of the fan housing area when the car was parked.
  • Standard VW strengthening bars were fitted to the front axle and another accessory in the form of a standard VW sump guard fitted under the motor

To provide some additional carrying space the car was fitted with a roof rack and a tow bar. Otherwise, the Beetle was stock standard

The vehicle was loaded on the ANARE supply ship come ice breaker, "Nella Dan" and arrived at the Mawson station on the 2nd February 1963

The car was unloaded from the ship onto a small barge and was driven ashore the same day. It was immediately "dubbed" with the name "The Red Terror" and sported what looked like official number plates.

There is no requirement to have cars registered in the Antarctic however a set of number plates had been made up with "Antarctica 1" painted on them.
These number plates became an icon and have since become collectors items. According to an internet article one plate fetched in excess of US$5000 when last traded. Replicas have since been made and sold to VW enthusiasts worldwide.

The Red Terror served in the Antarctic for 12 months covering almost 1500 miles. It held up remarkably well although it did need some minor welding around the front axle area from time to time.
Roads don't exist and the hard packed ice is nothing more than extensive pot holes and ruts. The Red Terror was used extensively for research excursions out from the base camp and also served as the local Taxi in ferrying people between the camp and the airfield at an outreach affectionately known as Rumdoodle, It proved itself very functional
Temperatures were down to - 30 degrees C and winds exceeded 150 kph at times.
When Antarctica 1 returned from Mawson the VW Head office put the car on display at dealer locations around the country. The Red Terror was entered in the 1964 BP Rally around Australia in which it took out First Place. This provided VW Australia with a further bonus from a publicity and advertising perspective

Exploits of Antarctica 1 were very well documented and publicised as early as May 1963.Volkswagen Australia used the pictures and stories in much of their advertising at the time. This continued in 1964 when Antarctica 2 completed a similar tour of duty..
Over the years Antarctica 1 and Antarctica 2 formed significant historical milestones in the evolution and growth of VW in many parts of the world.
Forty years later and a schnapps idea and here we go again.


Both Steve and Bill knew of a Country Buggy sitting in a shed in southern New South Wales where it had been for many years. The owner agreed to sell the Buggy, sight unseen by the purchasers and three weekends following the deal was finalised. The Buggy was almost complete and had sat in the barn for 17 years covered by all sorts of farm equipment, car parts, dead rats and almost 1 inch of dust. It took Steve Muller 7 minutes to fire up the engine. With a fair bit of air in the tyres, a fuel tank made of a drink bottle and no brakes apart from the handbrake, Steve spent 15 minutes driving the Country Buggy around the farmyard to the enjoyment of all concerned.

I have a close affinity with all Country Buggies and maintain the Country Buggy Register on the internet. The Register tracks all known Country Buggies including owners and locations and currently contains over 190 known Buggies. With less than 1000 Buggies produced it is intriguing to realise we currently know where almost 20% of these Buggies are. I have extensive ranges of Country Buggy manuals, brochures and literature and continue to help others in keeping their Country Buggy on the road.

To co ordinate the overall venture, a company was formed and the project took on the title of "Antarctica to the Autobahn". This co-ordination included looking for project sponsors and we found many companies were happy to assist with a wide range of various products or services. Support from Volkswagen Group Australia was also a significant component of the venture. Several sponsors could not believe what we were planning but were still keen to assist with the "schnapps idea". It was also considered a romantic folly by some.

Restoration of both vehicles commenced in October and there were very few problems encountered during the rebuilding stage. Restoration of both cars remained on schedule throughout the project although the final work on the Antarctica One Beetle was finalised on Tuesday 8th April. The cars were sealed inside a 40 foot container on the 10th April 2003. Destination was Hamburg, Germany.

As late as December 2002, there still no definitive answer as to whether the Bad Camberg event was happening. As a fall back position, the project principals started talking with VW Scene Magazine in Germany with a view to showing the vehicles at the VW Forum event in Castel Rauxel, Germany on the 21st and 22nd June 2003. The editor of the magazine was also taken by the whole concept of the venture and agreed to feature the cars at the VW Forum event. The tour schedule was being developed at the time and it would include the VW Forum event.

It was the middle of January 2003 when rumours started the Bad Camberg event was definitely happening and it was to clash with the VW Forum meeting. The project was able to validate the Bad Camberg event and reluctantly advised VW Scene about the non attendance at the VW Forum event. The Treffen was to be specially held in memorium of Heinz Willi and the project principals felt obliged to attend the Treffen.

The tour schedule was now becoming fixed and meetings and appointments were starting to be made. The tour included the following intensive schedule;-
  1. After arrival in Frankfurt drive to Hamburg to pick up the show cars
  2. Return to Dauborn near Frankfurt ( this was the tour base location where we stayed with friends.)
  3. Drive the cars to Budel in Holland to attend the event on 14th and 15th June
  4. Participate in the official Budel event as VIP guests
  5. Receive the "Furthest Travelled" award at Budel ( I wonder why)
  6. Drive to Herten, Germany for a film shoot with VW Scene Magazine
  7. Drive to Osnabruck to visit the Karmann factory and Museum bill at karrmann
  8. Drive to Hannover to visit the VW factory and VW Motorsport
  9. Return to Dauborn
  10. Attend the Bad Camberg event on 21st and 22nd June ( Bad Camburg is 7 kilometres from Dauborn)
  11. Attend a special welcome from the Bad Camberg officials
  12. Attend special photo shoot at the Rathaus ( Council ) and involvement in a video for presentation for Sydney television-Channel 9 Today Show
  13. Travel to Wolfsburg, the birthplace of Volkswagen
  14. Attend several film and photo shoots for local German TV and press.
  15. Official tour of the Autostadt with VW Publicity Manager
  16. Official Wolfsburg factory tour
  17. 17. Visit the VW Museum and discussion with the Museum Director

In getting from place to place in both countries we covered over 3200 kms in the show cars and were fortunate enough to have two rental cars on the tour as well. In all there were 10 Australians involved in the tour and this made for a lot of fun and good times as we swarmed together like a hive of bees.

The events themselves.

Both events were outstanding, although for different reasons.


The attendance exceeded 13000 people for the main two days and there was just over 3000 cars, 99.5% of which were VWs off all shapes and sizes. This event was air cooled motor based and not specifically directed at Veteran models. There was even a small 1/8 th mile drag strip where the roar of dakdaks continued all day. Other features of the events were a huge swap meet (over 100 dealers), a car boot garage sale, a Concours de elegance, car auctions, a spectacular night of fireworks, general vehicle for sale area, and outstanding food, beverage and amenities.
Without a doubt, this was the best managed and controlled car show I have ever attended and the Dutch officials were superb. The Club had 8000 members but only 42 members were directly involved in the weekend.


This Treffen is specifically directed at veteran vehicles and only cars built before 1958 were permitted to nominate for the official parking and display. The single exemption was for later model coach built cars up to 1965. The two Australian cars were granted special exemption due the distance they had travelled and the uniqueness of the vehicles. One of the most interesting pieces of trivia coming out from every Bad Camberg event is how "international" the event is. There were attendees from 29 countries this year and this eclipsed attendees from 26 different nations in1999. The quality, rarity, and spread of the 229 official vehicles was outstanding. The earliest car was a 1940 KDF Volkswagen built during the 2nd World War.
The vehicles caused a huge amount of interest everywhere they travelled. The Country Buggy is the only one of its type anywhere in Europe so it had never been seen by almost 100% of the people attending the events. It was climbed over, climbed under, climbed around and the level of questions and queries was huge. Both cars had story boards covering the key points of the vehicles and these boards received a hug amount of photo interest as well.

Original footage of Antarctica One was used by the Kaferclub Netherlands as part of their official program and both cars were involved in the official closing ceremony

The cars today.

The principals have fulfilled their original plan to have the cars on show at the VW Museum although the cars were not acquired directly by the Museum. The cars were sold to an avid German enthusiast (he owns over 50 restored VWs) who has very strong contacts with both the Museum and the Autostadt. He is arranging for these two unique Australian cars to be made available for display at the Museum.
The vehicles were turned over to this enthusiast the day before we all left Germany to return to Australia.
It was difficult leaving the vehicles on German soil after them being so much of our lives over the past 15 months.

The trip was designed as a venture that would only occur once in a lifetime. This is exactly how it how it all panned out.
Original planned outcomes were achieved and during the 5 weeks of the tour had a huge amount of fun during our journey.

All our thanks to everyone who helped to make it so pleasant, exiting and memorable

What is next ?

Now, Bad Camberg is on in four years time, what do you reckon if we………………..?

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