BUDEL, BAD CAMBERG AND BEYOND.
( A romantic folly)
21th July 2003
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
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
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;-
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.
- 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
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
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
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
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;-
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.
- After arrival in Frankfurt drive to Hamburg to pick up the show cars
- Return to Dauborn near Frankfurt ( this was the tour base location
where we stayed with friends.)
- Drive the cars to Budel in Holland to attend the event on 14th and
- Participate in the official Budel event as VIP guests
- Receive the "Furthest Travelled" award at Budel ( I wonder why)
- Drive to Herten, Germany for a film shoot with VW Scene Magazine
- Drive to Osnabruck to visit the Karmann factory and Museum
- Drive to Hannover to visit the VW factory and VW Motorsport
- Return to Dauborn
- Attend the Bad Camberg event on 21st and 22nd June ( Bad Camburg
is 7 kilometres from Dauborn)
- Attend a special welcome from the Bad Camberg officials
- Attend special photo shoot at the Rathaus ( Council ) and involvement
in a video for presentation for Sydney television-Channel 9 Today Show
- Travel to Wolfsburg, the birthplace of Volkswagen
- Attend several film and photo shoots for local German TV and press.
- Official tour of the Autostadt with VW Publicity Manager
- Official Wolfsburg factory tour
- 17. Visit the VW Museum and discussion with the Museum Director
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
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
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
What is next ?
Now, Bad Camberg is on in four years time, what do you reckon
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