Grand Touring Man at
Siam VW Festival 2019

Knotty Nawadhinsukh Words by Knotty Nawadhinsukh
Plenty of Bugs to go around

The 9th of February this year was appropriately chosen as the ninth running of Siam VW Festival held at the massive space of Bangkok’s Wonder World Fun Park. Although the festival had been organised for nearly a decade now by the combined forces of the Volkswagen fraternity dotted all over Thailand, the Siam VW Classic Club members and supported by Grand Prix International PCL with the Tourism Authority Thailand, this turned out to be my first attendance to the event. I myself was kind of surprised by that fact—given that my very first car that I have ever owned happened to a VW Beetle, exactly thirty years ago.

Nice Karmann Ghia preferred the shade on a hot day
"Le Mans" Gulf Porsche-inspired Beetle

It was a clapped out 1961 model with a meager 1200 cc. motor that I bought for a princely sum of 60,000 Baht (US$ 2,000 in today’s exchange rate—which was HUGE back in 1989 for a first executive jobber like yours truly).  Using borrowed cash from my aunt with the proviso that I repay her back (fortunately sans interests)in monthly installments, the Bug was painted in “Rosso Corsa”. It preferred to start when it felt like it (and stop when it felt like it too). The fuel gauge never worked so knowing how far it can run was purely a guessing game and the electrics often times went out on its own accord. I swore that my Beetle was bi-polar—and hence I enjoyed driving every minute of it…

Handsome and rare '54 Convertible
"Where did they put the ashtray around this place?'

Those days of owning a Beetle may have been long gone and I have moved on toward many other cars during my lifetime so far. But I do enjoy seeing the occasional V-Dubs that have either been well-preserved or returned back to their original conditions or rebuilt as tasteful resto-mods. So when my good friend Anutra Jotikabukkana kindly offered me to hitch a ride in his T1 Double Cab pick-up to get to the festival, I gladly accepted.

Coming to this party in style with Anutra's Double Cab
All it needs now are the ski slopes in Courchevel

Upon our arrival in mid-afternoon, Anutra and I were quite amazed at the turnout on the grounds of Wonder World. Despite the sunny and humid climate that Saturday, a huge assortment of VWs well into several hundreds have all lined up according to their respective categories and sub-cultures since mid-day—and this was already just the beginning!

A pair of Type 34s sandwiching a Type 14
Theeradej Thanasarakij chillin' with his New Beetle Convertible

Over the course of that afternoon right into the early evening, streams of VWs flowed into the enclosure as owners from virtually every corner of the Kingdom brought their pride and joy for the show. Being inundated by the sheer number of both vintage air-cooled and contemporary water-cooled Volkswagens, it was near impossible to actually pin point who had the best examples. After all, this was not really a serious competition but more of an appreciation day for Wolfburg’s finest.

This as-found condition ambulance from one of the provincial hospitals still included the original gurney
“Rat Race”—exactly how do you get into this thing anyway?

Personally though, I have a soft spot for original Karmann Ghias and there were plenty of those about (and which I managed to bum a ride home after the party was over—though slightly modified and clad in Martini Racing stripes!). There was also Bunn Kasemsap’s “The Thing” which caught quite a few attentions of onlookers as much as mine for being so brightly resplendent in orange, while a very well-appointed 1958 rag-top complete with a Louis Vuitton luggage was also very pleasing to look at. Another interest to me was Thummanoon Pornrojanagoon’s recently completed ’65 Beetle. Slightly younger than what I used to have, its new re-painted colour in red sure reminded me of my old girl.

“Sixties Child”—Thummanoon Pornrojanagoon’s red ’65 headed the queue and brought memories
Parinya Kulvanichpisit and his VW Golf MK1 Cabriolet were part of the water-cooled brigade

So all in all, this 9th edition of the Siam VW Festival turned out to be very entertaining for spending a day among car enthusiasts as well as bringing back a lot of good memories for me when I was used to be a Volkswagen owner myself.  This reminded me however that I still have to repay some money back to my aunt for it!

This '58 Rag Top is ready for grand touring
Oval Window '54 of Ittikorn Banjobdee is Darth Vader-ish

All Photos Author’s Own, Main Photo By Anutra Jotikabukkana