War time vehicle on display at Brit & Euro car show

Michael Chong in his 1942 Volkswagen Kubelwagen. Times photo Wayne Martin

There are only two 1942 Volkswagen Kubelwagens in New Zealand.

One belongs to movie mogul Sir Peter Jackson. The other, belongs to Northpark’s Michael Chong.

The vehicle has been painstakingly restored to its former glory days. It was built during World War II for use by the German military and served during the war.

It’s taken priority in Mr Chong’s family garage, and looks as if it’s come straight from the battlefield. It even features a small swastika on its front bumper — a true sign of its time.

At 1200cc, it doesn’t go much faster than 70km/h — but with only 50,435 made before production ceased at the end of the war and with fewer than a few hundred remaining in the world today by Mr Chong’s estimate — it’s an interesting piece of history to hold.

The Kubelwagen was designed by Ferdinand Porsche under instructions from Adolf Hitler himself. Prototype designs began in the early 1930s, however the design was forced to be adjusted towards a military variant before the Type 1 prototype made it to production due to wartime demands. The original design was eventually produced after the war and has developed into what is now known as the popular Beetle design.

The VW kubelwagen looks as if it’s come straight from the battlefield.

The angular body design of the Kubelwagen immediately draws attention. It has a spare tyre on the front, and the engine sits in the back — quite the opposite to today’s car designs. While it’s not a spacious vehicle by today’s standards, it still seats five and Mr Chong’s two sons enjoy taking the odd ride.

Mr Chong secured his slice of history in 2009 — although he was originally in the market for a 1952 Volkswagen. The car, which was in “really poor condition”, required a significant amount of restoration to make it roadworthy again, which was eventually completed in 2011.

It’s his third time exhibiting in the Brit & Euro Classic Car Show but he hasn’t always been interested in vintage cars — he said that only sparked around 20 years ago.

“I think history is quite important. When you can find out where it’s come from and then you look back many, many years ago. It survived the Great War…it’s fascinating.”

He says his favourite part of the show is talking with other collectors.

“People are really passionate about their hobby and seeing what other people have [they like] to find out more as well.”

Online registrations for the Auckland Brit & Euro Classic Car Show have now closed with 802 cars and motorcycles registered.

Organiser Richard Waugh says that’s a 27 per cent increase on last year’s record numbers — and “considerably up” on the 2016 inaugural effort of 472 cars.

  • The Brit & Euro Classic Car Show is on Sunday March 4 at Lloyd Elsmore Park from 10am-3pm. Free entry.