The Australian Country Buggy Story

(updated 6th August 2010)

 

 

                                   

 

Visions and concepts

 

 

The original concept for the Country Buggy was developed at the plant complex at Clayton Victoria in the early 1960’s at a time when VW was achieving excellent sales and acceptance on a global basis.

The Australian Army had been in discussion with Volkswagen Australia re the possibility of producing a small robust four wheel drive vehicle to suit local conditions. The Army considered VW would be a top contender to provide additional vehicles suitable for the Army as they had experience with the Type 2 Kombis from 1959 onwards.

VW Australia saw other uses for a similar vehicle but was not keen on a 4WD unit which would put them head to head with existing 4WD manufacturers.

Under the control of the Engineering manager, Cyril Harcourt and Quality Control Director, Rudi Herzmer a draft plan and preliminary sketches were put together in 1964. The initial internal name for the proposed vehicle was the “Kuriewagen” but this name was later abandoned.

In the 1966 Business Report by Volkswagen Australasia Ltd included the following comments with regard to the Country Buggy “In order to meet a number of demands, the Country Buggy (a jeep type vehicle) was engineered. The prototype vehicle was completely built in the Engineering Experimental section, and was tested over some 50000 kilometers embracing all types of road conditions including those found in the central and north west parts of Australia. As a result of these experiences, some redesign had to be carried out to further simplify the construction, and to incorporate Type 2 front and rear axles, resulting in additional ground clearance. This installation has been based on a layout received from  Technical Evaluation (T.E) in Wolfsburg

 

 

Prototypes

 

In the late months of 1965 the first prototype vehicle was started to be hand built at the Clayton factory. When the first was completed a further two prototypes were also constructed by hand. These prototypes underwent almost two years of development work and were subjected to over 50000 kms of brutal field testing through the mud, dust, slush, sand, rugged desert and mountain conditions in the dead heart and far north of Australia. The prototype vehicles travelled around Australia on three separate occasions.

 

A specially built box trailer was designed for use on these trips either being towed by one of the prototypes or a Beetle support vehicle. Like the prototypes, this trailer was designed with large side sills and was filled with foam material. The foam assisted all vehicles with creek and river crossings but did not provide 100% flotation as was expected by some of the people involved in the design. The trailer was hand built at the Clayton factory and was the exact same width of the Country Buggy One special feature was the torsion bar suspension, a real oddity when compared with vehicles at the time. Surprisingly, this trailer still remains registered in Victoria today although is have been through a couple of re sprays, replacement of the tray and removal of rust from the side walls.

Evaluation of these prototypes was conducted from late 1965 to mid 1967 and both 1300cc and 1500cc motors were used at different times. Log books were maintained for each major journey and they include all dates, places, times, fuel consumption, travelling distances, vehicle problems and other related information. The original evaluation log books are still retained by the former Test Evaluation Manager together with original photographs. A photo of a prototype vehicle follows;

 

                                               

 

In early 1967 the vehicles were introduced to the media and put through their paces at a special promotional event on the Mornington Peninsula, close to Melbourne, Victoria to test the versatility and usefulness of the car.

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During 1966 work continued on completing the business proposal to Head Office and to seek their approval for the funding to allow production of the Country Buggy. It was mid 1966 when the proposal was finally put Head Office in Wolfsburg and the immediate response was not at all favourable. Head Office insisted that two of the prototype vehicles be immediately air freighted to Wolfsburg for evaluation in Germany. At great expense to VW Australia, a Qantas plane was chartered to fly the cars to Germany for track and mechanical testing. Unbeknown to VW Australia, Head office had commenced development of a secret design project on behalf of the German Army.  On arrival at Wolfsburg the Australian factory employee who traveled with the car was ushered into special project design area of the building. This project turned out to be the Type 181.

On arrival of the two cars at Wolfsburg, one was immediately handed over to the German Army to conduct their own evaluation and the other was evaluated at VW facilities.

The present location of the two prototypes flown to Germany is unknown. They have never been on view at the Volkswagen Museum. Only a small drawing of one of the vehicles was painted on a partition when I visited the Museum in both 1995 and 1999. Officials of the Museum have advised the cars had never been in their possession.

As a result of these evaluations some modifications were stipulated by Head Office and these included;-

 

                        a. Side panels to be ribbed for added strength.

b. All foam to be removed and additional cross members welded into side   panels. Vehicle design was not to consider flotation capabilities

c. Improved spring plates to be added.

 

Subject to these changes Head office provided tacit approval for vehicle production using the following strict conditions;-

a.      Maximum usage was to be made of existing Australian components (use what was surplus parts)

b.      Investment in plant and machinery equipment for the production line was limited.

c.      Production be maximum 1800 units per annum.

d.      Production could not impede existing vehicle production capacity.

e.      Use of maximum Australian content to satisfy Government requirements for taxation benefits.

 

The vehicle was first shown to VW Dealers at a National Dealer Convention in February 1967 in the prototype form. Former factory employees recall the dealers lining up to take turns driving around the Clayton factory. There was some consternation when the prototype went missing for several hours only to turn up hiding in a very large packing crate at the factory complex. Clearly, one of the Dealers was having a bit of fun.

The prototype vehicle was officially shown to the public at the Melbourne Motor Show in March 1967 together with other models in the Volkswagen range.

An extensive article appeared in the April 1967 Modern Motor magazine together with photos of the prototype and the vehicle received good press. The article indicated this prototype vehicle would float, had 16 inch wheels and was expected to be released to the public in September 1967.The article indicated the vehicle was a “cross country type vehicle”, and apologetically, had not even been named by VW. It was further described as a cross between a Jeep and a Moke or, as someone unkindly put it, a “Joke”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Production comences

 

Accordingly to official VW documentation the first Country Buggy to come of the production line was in December 1967. Records indicate that no Country Buggies were included in the final 1967 production numbers although there were an unknown number of unfinished vehicles on the production line at 31/12/67.

Following return from Christmas holidays in January 1968 the Country Buggy production increased in larger numbers and through put on the production line grew. There was only one jig on the production line where hand welding of the bodies took place. The rush was on to complete the vehicles and have then out with dealers for the public sales release on the 3rd April. 1968.

The many of body panels had already been pressed prior to the Christmas holiday break and this was the key enabler to have bodies ready for mating to the chassis on the production line. The chassis were predominately numbered based on the 118310XXX or 118315XXX series although some 1184XXXXX numbers exist. All these sequences were from the standard 118XXXXX sequences produced by VW Germany. All chassis would have been pressed and numbered during the 1967 calendar year.

All known engine numbers were locally produced and commenced F125XXX.

                                   

From early January extensive field tests carried out prior to public release resulted in several problem areas being identified including;-

 

a.      Water leaking between windscreen/body and hood

b.      Shrinkage of plastic in the side curtains make use of zippers possible.

c.      Rear spring plates breaking at mount holes.

d.      Spring plates buckling and snapping under intense stress

e.      Fuse box sealing was inadequate

f.        Body panels cracking at front of box sections under rough use

 

Working with the Test Evaluation Manager and the National Service Manager both Harcourt and Herzmer rectified these problems and the vehicles were ready for market.

 

The official release date for sales to the public in Australia was the 3rd April 1968. Sales expectations were 1800 units per annum and press releases claimed the Australian Army was expected to be a major customer. A number of production vehicles were provided to the Army for evaluation however the Army was disappointed with the results. They maintained the view the vehicles should have been 4WD despite being very versatile and good in undulating country.

Not one vehicle was ever sold to the Australian Army.

Local content of the Country Buggy was to meet the 95% Australian Government standard however official records indicate a maximum of just over 85% was ever achieved.

In the 1968 calendar year the retail sales in Australia was 627 units against production numbers of 842.

 

The demise of Volkswagen manufacturing in Australia

 

Volkswagen’s share of the overall Australian car market had been decreasing from 1964 where it peaked with a 7.7% share. In 1965 this share reduced to 6.3% down to 4.8% for the year of 1966. The market share figure was 4.3% for 1967 and 3.8% for the first 9 months of 1968,

Figures for the small car market in which VW operated were even more alarming as below;

 

           

% Share

Maker

Year

1968

1967

1966

1965

1964

1963

1962

1961

1960

VW

10.6

11.9

15.0

18.3

23.8

27.0

31.8

33.3

38.0

BMC

17.0

28.1

33.2

35.8

39.1

41.9

39.6

29.9

26.1

JAPANESE

30.1

25.8

18.2

15.3

6.6

2.9

1.0

.5

0

 

In an overall growing market, the loss of share caused considerable financial pressures. In 1965 the company managed a profit of $500000 but for 1966 there was a loss of $3.72M. This was the first year the company had ever recorded a loss on trading.

It required some significant changes to the overall way of doing business.

 

In December 1967 plans were developed to implement a major re structure across Volkswagen Australasia Limited at its subsidiaries.

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In accordance with this study far reaching steps were taken to reduce the manufacturing depth in Australia and to effect reductions in personnel and fixed assets used by the company.

Initially,a new company, Motor Producers Ltd was formed. They applied to the Australian Government for permission to assemble their vehicles under an amended local content plan. The former plan called for 95% content and Motor Producers now sought a reduction to 50% for Type 1, 45% for Type 3 and 45% for the Country Buggy. Government approval was forthcoming.

There was no local content requirements attached to the Type 2 and those vehicles continued to be assembled in the factory from CKD units.

Further savings were made during the year through total closure of the Press Shop (body panels) and discontinuation of Engine reconditioning operations. These changes were in place on 1st October 1968.

 

At the same time a major re-organisation of company structure was underway. The former company, Volkswagen Australasia Limited transferred the Sales, Service and Parts Merchandising to LNC Industries P.L, By means of this LNC acquired all shares previously held by Volkswagen Australasia Limited in Volkswagen Distribution Pty Limited as well as the major shares in Volkswagen (Services) Pty Limited. At year end Motor Producers Limited- the successor to Volkswagen Australasia Limited held 40% of shares in Volkswagen (Services) Pty Ltd’ however steps were put in place to sell the remaining share capital to LNC.

 

The appointment of LNC Industries as a sales company to handle all merchandising improved the liquidity of Motor Producers Limited due mainly to the fact that all spare parts, vehicles and other merchandise were sold to LNC for which Motor Producers Limited received liquid funds. Motor Producers Ltd was able to substantially reduce their borrowings and to liquidate loans held in Deutshe Marks with the parent company.

In reality, Motor Producers were moving to a role as vehicle assemblers, responsible for assembly of imported CKD units and when completed the vehicles were sold to LNC who then marketed, sold and serviced the vehicles.

LNC provided vehicle warranties under agreement with Motor Traders who paid LNC for warranty costs.

 

A further major re alignment of 1968 related to the progressive reduction of fixed assets. This involved substantial transfers of marketing and press shop equipment between Motor Producers and the parent company in Germany, VW de Mexico, VW Brazil and VW South Africa. In addition machine tools and equipment not required by any of the associated companies were sold locally either by private sale or through auction. The net effect of these sales saw some A$5M reduced from total fixed assets.

 

At the beginning of 1968 there was 1653 employees but by December this had reduced to only 971 employees. At the beginning of 1966 there were over 2000 employees.

 

Things had certainly changed during 1968 at the Clayton manufacturing plant.

 

 

 

Demise of the Country Buggy

 

In the official Motor Producers Ltd 1968 Business Report under the title “Estimated Future Developments” was a note stating “progressive deletion of Country Buggy production”

This confirms that by the end of 1968 a decision to wind down and eventually delete the production of the Country Buggy had already been taken.

The timing of this decision was only 8 months after the official release date.

No specific reasons were stated for this decision but as Volkswagen was getting out of manufacturing vehicles, had sold off presses, closed the press shop and disposed of tooling and equipment there was no likelihood that Country Buggy production could continue. With all body panels for the Country Buggy pressed at Clayton and the press shop closed by the end of 1968, there was no alternative than for production of the Country Buggy to cease.

There have been many unsubstantiated rumours about the demise of the County Buggy including;-

1.      There were major design faults which could not be remedied.

2.      LNC would not cover vehicles under warranty.

3.      The 1500 Beetle was arriving and they needed space on the

      production line

4.      They did not sell well enough to support cost investment

5.      Head office pulled the pin as they were not in favour of a competitor to the future 181.

 

 

Based on all the information available I now take the position that the reason for the demise of the Country Buggy is a simple one of timing.

 

Unlike Types 1,2, and 3 , where imported CKD kits could be brought into Australia and assembled, there was no CKD kits for the Country Buggy which could be imported for assembly. Availability of vehicle bodies is a critical part of any vehicle production .

The Country Buggy was developed and commenced production at a time where there were major upheavals in the Volkswagen organisation in Australia and the Buggy was caught up in the ramifications of all these changes.

 

It was not the vehicle itself but the overall circumstances at the time that lead to the demise of the Country Buggy.

 

 

 

 

Country Buggy Components

 

Floor Pan

The vehicle was based on a Beetle floor pan (no heater control knob opening ) which was pressed at the Clayton factory with Transporter trailing arms on the front and Transporter reduction hubs at the rear .Early model Type 1 spring plates were used to provide additional strengthening.

This combination provided excellent ground clearance (230mm), and with a low gear ratio the vehicle had excellent climbing ability. With a 51 degree angle of approach at the front and 32 degrees at the back, body clearance into culverts and gullies was great.

 

Engine

The vehicle was fitted with a 1300cc Beetle engine as standard but you could order a 1200CC ( !!! ) as an option . Engines were all “F” series and were identical to the Beetle with the following exceptions;-

a.      Air cleaner set up was from the Transporter

b.      Oil pressure sender unit was mounted in the top of the case and not on the side as with Beetle motors.( all engine cases were pressed at the Clayton factory.

c.      Dual muffler system with twin exhaust pipes emerging through two holes in the rear body panel. Ground clearance of the exhaust pipes was exceptional at 600mm. This also prevented any mud or grass buildup or water entry to the exhaust system.

 

 All the electricals were 6 volt with standard Beetle gearbox and housing.

 

Body

The body was locally designed and constructed from folded flat steel for ease of manufacture and ruggedness. There were no doors and the very high sills on the side prevented water entry when fording through creeks. The tops of the sills were 740mm from the ground. Body panels were all flat or folded and there was no curves or contours on the body apart from the strengthening ribs added to the production vehicles at the insistence of VW Head Office.

The front windscreen was able to be folded forward and rested on well placed rubber holders screwed into the body. The only glass in the car was the front windscreen that was rectangular and flat.

The rear tray area, which was removable, had an area of 13.2 square feet and provided ample storage or load area.

Front seats were very basic and constructed using Beetle lower sections. The uprights were Beetle frames which were cut off and a small curved bar inserted and welded to the frame.. From June 1968 a rear seat was made available as an accessory.

 

The Country Buggy was basically an open two seater with a large rear tray area.

 

 

Component sharing

To satisfy Head Office criteria to ensure maximum use of existing VW parts, the Country Buggy shared the following components with other VWs of the time or earlier;-

 

Type 1   ( Beetle )    Chassis frame, front axle beam, 50 hp engine with 30 pcit carburetor, 200mm diameter clutch, rear torsion bars and spring plates, transmission with Type 2 ring gear/pinion, steering wheel from Standard split window Beetle, speedometer, fuel tank with reserve tank level and front headlight lenses (rims were black)

 

Type 2  ( Transporter) Steering knuckle, king pins, air cleaner with elbow, rear axle tube,  axle shaft, reduction hubs, reduction gearing, brake drum mechanism, road wheels and brake components.

 

Type 3  Part of the pedal system, windscreen wiper arm connecting mechanism, steering box and other steering components.

 

 

 

 

 

Optional Extras and Accessories

 

The basic Country Buggy a very basic, utilitarian vehicle but could be “dressed up” by inclusion of a selection of options and accessories including;-

                        Winter tread tyres

                        Soft top

                        Hard top

                        Side curtains

                        Internal sun visor for both driver and passenger

                        External rear view mirror

                        Engine protection grill

                        Front towing eye,

                        Rear seat ( not available at official release dated but added in June 1968)

                        Provision for a power take off (PTO) unit.

 

The PTO unit was advertised as being available but after 14 years searching I have only ever seen one of the units on any vehicle. This PTO sits on the back of a vehicle in Perth Western Australia, affectionately known as “Wally” (the car and not the PTO)

Refer to the attached photo for a view of the PTO pictured in Wally

I believe these units were never manufactured in any significant number.

 

A further interesting addition to several vehicles I have seen over the years is the addition of a metal hard top that comes down immediately behind the back seat. This converts the vehicle into more of a utility. Opening doors have also been manufactured to fit the vehicle as well.

My research indicates there were not available officially from Volkswagen however two of the units were already fitted to two vehicles sold in Queensland by Annand & Thompson. Original sale papers indicate the utility back was part of the initial sale and the first owner confirmed this aspect. They appear to be of the same design and manufacture. I am keen to understand if there are further known examples of this metal hardtop and the history behind their manufacture.

 

There have seen several other examples where a metal hard top has been made for the vehicle but these appear to be “one off” examples and bear little resemblance to those tops delivered with the two Buggies referred to above.  

 

 

A photo of an original hard top on the excellent Okeefe Buggy

 

Manuals and associated literature

 

Cars were delivered with and Owners Handbook/Instruction Manual. These Manuals are relatively hard to find these days and do provide a level of basic instruction and specifications for the vehicle. Like the vehicle itself, the Manuals were very basic.

 

It was interesting to note that all Manuals were incorrectly printed as they show a picture of the steering wheel and dashboard upside down. Corrections were made prior to distribution from the printers by glueing a correct photo over the incorrect one in the manual. The manuals were then delivered with the vehicles when sold.

 

Despite the original proof reading one further mistake in the manual was overlooked and has never been corrected. The error shows a photo of the battery compartment (Page 29) out of alignment by 90 degrees. This second error remained  unnoticed and is included Handbooks delivered to the customer.

 

 

To assist Dealers in selling the vehicles Volkswagen Australia produced a “Product Specification Guide” booklet of 17 pages which was to provide the sales organisation with tips and tools relative to the vehicle. These manuals were “Dealer only” copies for internal use only as they attempted to make comparisons with other vehicle competitors of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

A double sided Sales Brochure was also produced showing colour shots of the vehicle in various locations on the front and a large black and white photo and specifications on the rear. These Sales Brochures were included in a specially printed envelope with a picture of a Country Buggy printed on the top left hand corner. Dealers posted this material to all existing clients as a promotional tool. A full size poster was also produced for display in the Dealerships although this writer has never sighted one of these posters.

 

There were a number of different Press Releases issued at the time of the vehicle introduction including one with photos of the car coming off the production line.

 

The vehicles received numerous reviews in the Motoring press at the time including a major two part article in Modern Motor (June and July 1968) titled “Buggy in the Outback”

 

Dealers were also provided with a detailed Spare Parts Manual containing over 200 pages of part numbers, exploded diagrams of parts and components. This was particularly useful

as it allowed anyone to identify if the part was from a Type 1, Type 11,Type 111 or if it was specifically for a Country Buggy (using part sequence – 12Y ) This booklet is a must for anyone who is restoring or working on repairing a Country Buggy.

 

Over the years the writer has accumulated many articles, brochures, booklets produced or written about the Country Buggy.

Should you require copies of these items please contact him directly for availability and pricing at;

 

countrybuggybill@hotmail.com

 

 

Production of the Country Buggy

 

Official production numbers of the Country Buggy had been extremely difficult to determine. All original documentation from the Clayton plant was destroyed when the Volkswagen Australasia company ceased to exist and there have been many different production numbers estimated over the years. Numbers, I have heard range from 600 to 2000 and then there was an unknown number of additional vehicles produced in the Philippines through to 1974.

For the purpose of factual information I have been able to locate significant official documentation produced by Volkswagen Australasia Pty Limited and Motor Producers Ltd for calendar years 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1970. These years cover the development, prototype production and cessation of production of the Country Buggy.

This information was obtained with the kind assistance from Volkswagen Archives in Wolfsburg.

I am also in possession of a Telex dated 15/4/1972 from VW Australia to the Head Office in Wolfsburg which confirms total actual production numbers as 1956,with the breakdown below

 

The following numbers are official factory numbers extracted from the documentation;-

                       

YEAR

BUILT UP UNITS RHD-

CKD UNITS RHD

BUILT UP UNITS

LHD

CKD UNITS

LHD

TOTALS

RUNNING

TOTALS

1968

842

Nil

Nil

NIL

842

842

1969

42

168

360

NIL

570

1412

1970

3

120

240

 

363

1775

1971

NIL

NIL

NIL

NIL

NIL

1775

1972

NIL

-47

NIL

228

181

1956

Total

887

241

600

228

1956

 

 

At the end of 1970 VW Australia had produced a total of 1775 Country Buggies, of which they still had to complete 48 CKD sets in RHD steering. These units had been built for export to Malaysia against forecast but were never called for shipment.

In 1971 VWA received an order from the Philippines for

228     CKD sets  LHD steering

    1  CKD set   RHD steering

To carry out this order, the 1 set RHD steering was delivered from stock, 47 sets RHD steering were converted to LHD steering from stock and an additional 181 sets were produced progressively in March and April 1972. This was the last date of any Country Buggy assembly or production

 

Of the 887 units available in Australia only 16 units were produced with the 1200cc engine option.

Completed units were available for retail sales only in Australia for years up to 1969 although 3 units were completed in 1970.

Complete Built Up units were exported to several countries including Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Pacific islands, and a few to South Africa. The CKD units were exported to either Malaysia or the Philippines with the latter taking the majority of units.

The first complete production vehicle came off the Production Line in December 1967 according to this official documentation but were not included until 1968 production figures. In 1968 the average number of Country Buggies produced per day was 4 units.

 

The Annual Business Report for 1970 stated” Local production of the former Country Buggy had ceased in 1970 and no vehicles of this model range were offered to the Australian public. MPL (Motor Producers Ltd) continued to export to the Philippines and Malaysia. The Philippines market has ceased to be available to us due to the local developments of the Country Buggy in that area. At the year end (1970) the export market to Malaysia remained in doubt due the uncertainty of that market

CKD units exported to Malaysia and The Philippines were assembled by local import agents and sold as completed units in those two countries.

It is known that the vehicles were produced in the Philippines up to 1974 where they had IRS (Independent Rear Suspension) and motors up to twin port 1600 cc  Components were sourced from Germany and Brazil to meet local requirements.. The Register has six current records of Country Buggies located in the Philippines. Some of these have been produced as Sakbayans.  See the photo of an advertisement from a Philippines newspaper for the Sakbayan. I have left the photo large so you can see the humour in it all.

 

 

 

The “KO” Number is used for identification

 

All Completely Built Up production vehicles were numbered with an alphanumeric identification number starting at “KO 001”. This number was stamped into a small metal plate that was welded to the body under the spare wheel in the front cargo area. It is located in the centre of the vehicle immediately behind the space for the fuel tank on the elevated panel area. This is the body identification number used to record and monitor the vehicles as part of The Australian Country Buggy Register.

The KO body number is linked to the consecutive number through the assembly jig on the production line. The plan was to use the oldest body first but in reality does not represent the actual sequence number of production. I.e  KO 030 was not produced after KO 029 and immediately before KO 031. Body panels were produced and stamped with the next sequential KO number. That part of the body was stored until required on the production line .Any body panel could be mated to any chassis number or engine number.

The only built up Country Buggy I have seen without a KO number is the remaining prototype vehicle however I have limited information regarding vehicles that were exported but do know they do not have KO numbers.

Being able to track these KO numbers through a Register is important in when determining have many Country Buggies were produced and available for sale to the Australian market, where they are today and more importantly, how many of the vehicles still exist today.

 

The Country Buggy Register.

 

Whilst most Country Buggy owners wish to remain anonymous and we will continue to respect their privacy, we are able to provide the following highlights from the Register dated 5th August 2010;-

 

1.      The Register has 337 vehicles identified by either KO number or by the name of the last known current owner. A brief summary of the vehicles is provided including original colour, location, current condition and some general comments. Currently 244 (66%) of KO numbers are known for vehicles listed on the register.

2.      44 of these vehicles are now located outside Australia with 11 in the USA, 1 in Germany, 6 in the Philippines, 11 in Malaysia and 3 in New Zealand. Others will exist.

3.      Vehicles are predominately Savannah Beige in colour with 271 (81% of total). Green (Deep bronze green) painted vehicles account for 24 units and the remaining 12 units were originally Paprika Red in colour. At this time another 30 vehicles remain where the original colour is unknown.

Three of the known red coloured Buggies were produced within the first 50 units and 12 of the green coloured units within the first 175 units. There were limited units produced in any colour apart from Savannah Beige after the initial 300 units

4.      The lowest known KO number is 001 and the highest is 861.

 

Facts and some assumptions

Based on the documented information we can make state the following facts and make several assumptions;-

 

1.      There were 887 Country Buggies produced and available for the Australian Sales Market

a.      The highest KO number is 861 and we know details of 244 individual KO numbers today. With a 28% knowledge this reinforces the total stated 887

b.      Vehicles produced for export in CKD form did not have KO numbers as they were never part of the Clayton Production Line.

 

2.      The mix between Right Hand Drive and Left Hand drive units is surprising with 600 completely built up units and 228 CKD units produced. At this time I have no further information on these vehicles.

Over 42% of all Country Buggies produced were in Left hand drive

 

3.      It is unlikely there are more than 50 Buggies still existing in Australia that are not known about and not recorded on the Register.

 

4.      The vehicles with the lowest mileage is KO 114 with a recorded mileage of 3435 miles. The owner stated the speedo stopped in the early 1980’s but the car would have only done a maximum 2000 miles more. This car was originally purchased on 31/7/68 from Lanock Motors, Sydney and has remained in the original owners family until January 2006 when purchased by the writer. The car has never been registered and has only worked on a farming property. Tyres are original and the spare has not been used. This is the best example of an original vehicle I have sighted. The car is Dark Bronze Green in colour and comes with original log books. The softtop, although damaged is fully original

 

5.       The second lowest original mileage on a known Buggy is 19440 miles. The car is located in South Australia and is a one owner vehicle. The car has been stored for 26 years after the original motor overheated and disintegrated. It was used on a farm property in very dusty conditions. The owner is just about to commence a restoration of the vehicle.

 

One Buggy, located in Queensland now with just on 20000 miles was purchased from the original owner 4 years ago after serving on a farm property at Gatton. The car was bought new in 1968 with a utility type metal roof and was used to ferry the owners son back and forward from the homestead to the front gate for many years. When purchased this vehicle had only original 13000 miles but had fallen plague of the motor disintegrating for the same reasons as the prior vehicle. It is now fitted with a single port 1500cc, and an external air cleaner to allow flow of clean air into the engine compartment.

Dust was certainly a problem to be encountered by owners over many years.

6.      Approximately 20% of the Buggies on the register are still registered and used   as daily drivers. By far the largest numbers are not running and are being stored pending “restoration”.

7.      One enthusiast currently owns 6 Country Buggies in varying stages of restoration. He has recently taken up panel beating and spray painting to keep costs under some control.

8.      Prices for Country Buggies are increasing. There is renewed interest in these vehicles and with such low production volumes good examples are now achieving surprising sales values. Surely the Country Buggy must have set a record for the Volkswagen marque for the lowest number of production vehicles of any model.

 

Country Buggies come in all shapes and level of condition and there have been some memorable examples how to make a plain and average looking car even more unattractive.

Owners of Buggies profess to be different, they want to be different and will go out of their way to be different.

 

 

 

 

The overall story of the Country Buggy is an interesting chapter in the annals of Volkswagen in Australia.

I am always keen to receive new information, photos and details of cars that were not on the Register.

I am not trying to re write history of this unique vehicle but more fill in all the missing gaps. As time passes, the opportunity to close the gaps diminish with key VW historians falling off the perch. The information, data and history may end up at the local tip.

 

If you can help please contact me

Bill Moore

countrybuggybill@hotmail.com

 

Mobile 0402 749482