Byron is a magnet for vintage vendors selling everything from upscaled fashion (Miss Brown Vintage), recycled furniture, (Dirty Old Town) and retro-inspired bicycles (Vallkree). There’s even an annual festival, Old & Gold, that converts the entire coastal town of Brunswick Heads into one giant treasure trove, with 80-odd garage sales, multiple precincts and several shops that are filled with incredible antiques and vintage collectibles.
There’s certainly no shortage of cool old cars cruising around, be it Phil in his 1928 Chrysler Plymouth, the fleet of hot rods that descend on Bruns every year, the infamous Kombi Konvoy that’s part of Nimbin’s MardiGrass Festival, or these local businesses that have built their brands around the nostalgia and romance of vintage cars.
Coast 58 has two stylish kombi’s in its fleet, sorry, family: Granny, “the cream coloured lady” and Peppy “the mint coloured beauty”.
“We received Granny in a pretty good state in terms of the engine, but the outer shell definitely needed some TLC,” explains Alex. “It ended up being a full restoration. Considering that she was built in 1958, the amount of rust was thankfully limited. This is due to the attention she got from her previous owner. She is a right hand drive, original through and through.”
Peppy, who is the newest member of the fleet, was built in 1967 and has 15 windows, “which makes her look pretty cool in photographs,” says Alex. “She is a left hand drive as we were lucky to find her overseas and took her on a big trip to Byron Bay. She oozes pure nostalgia.”
Byron’s Bay’s elegant Canavan is a 1968 Olympic Riviera Caravan – an icon from Australia’s caravanning hey-days, and a nostalgic reminder of the quintessential summer holiday road-trip.
“We found her filled with rubbish and old clothing on a property near Newcastle in June 2012,” explained owners Adam and Anika. “After handing over a sizeable wad of cash to the property owner who had inherited her with the land, we hitched her up and drove her 620km north to Byron Bay.”
“By 2014 and after two years of on-again-off-again renovations, we had The Canavan, which was restored to her former glory and sensitively modified for a new, equally emblematic Australian pastime: The backyard party!” explains Anika. “People love that she still looks and feels original, even though she has been converted for a new purpose. When the hatch is closed, you actually wouldn’t know it’s a bar! It was really important to us to try and retain the aged patina of the fibreglass shell as much as possible, which is why we chose not to give her new paintwork, and instead restore the original paintwork.”
- Original chassis
- Firebreglass shell is completely original – still the original paint work and decals, just sanded back and re-coated with Poliglow boat polish
- The interiors have been completely gutted, re-framed, re-clad and customised to suit a commercial kitchen/bar
- Windows are original
- Whitewall tires are new
- The bar bench top is Paulownia with cedar trims and coated in epoxy resin
- Bar ‘lights’ are in fact crystal drink-coasters inset into fibreglass shelving with LED lighting
Thelma is the name of Dot and Herbie’s 1950’s vintage caravan, which features stained hardwood benches and cabinetry, antique fixtures, and classic vintage style.
“People love that our bar can go almost anywhere,” says Dot and Herbie’s Robbie McCracken. “It is a great talking point amongst guests, appeals to all ages, and fits in aesthetically at all locations. They love using the caravan not only as a mobile bar but for photos, food, music, and more. We can cater not only for a small coffee cart style event but for corporate catering, private parties, weddings, fairs, fetes and festivals with hundreds of guests.”
“The iconic VW Kombi are extremely popular for many reasons – some can have a multi-generation history and stories to tell,” says Kombi Celebrations owner Deborah-Jane Gillard. “Steven and I are often stopped on our travels for us to learn of stories and asking us about our history with our vehicles, they are such a feel-good, happy vehicle creating lots of smiles, love and laughter wherever they go.”
Some of their popularity in the events industry is down to their seating capacity, she explains, with the majority of her fleet registered as 9-seaters.
“This allows bridal parties to travel together throughout the wedding day, which is extremely appealing for our clients, not to mention they are fabulous in photography, creating that show-stopping ‘wow’ factor on the day for the bride and groom and their guests,” says Deborah-Jane. “Kombis are without doubt the most iconic vehicle in the world today, with all generations ranging from the young ones watching roadside in their push-chairs gazing in awe and relating to the Fillmore character in Pixar’s Cars movie; to grandpa and grandma who once traveled around Australia in theirs. They will forever continue a legacy of the iconic, hippy, fun loving, original search engine vehicle globally – a vehicle everyone has grown to love over its vast history of time.”
Byron Retro Cars operate two nationally award-winning 1960 FB Holdens “Rebecca” and “Lily”, which have been transporting people in style throughout Byron and surrounding areas since 2002.
“Our business was inspired by the huge local wedding industry and our red/white 1960 FB Holden Rebecca has been part of our family since she was brand new,” says owner and operator Gary Sharman. “Our children are the fourth generation to ride in this vehicle.
The company’s turquoise FB Holden joined the family in 2010 and also came from a one-owner family in South Australia.
“People who hire our cars say they love the good old-fashioned friendly service, the wonderful iconic Aussie history behind behind them, their immaculate condition, and the fact that we are a family operated business,” explains Gary.