Classic VW’s are a rare treat in any city, but when I saw them here in Krabi, I turned my head and thought, “Was that a bug I just saw?” Then, when I saw other VW’s drive by in the same week, I began to wonder where they were coming from and I soon decided to search it out.
Here in the Sai Thai area of Krabi, I found Stephan Lubke, age 19, at his shop, “Classic Parts”. In the past 3 years, he has grown from a one bay shop to two, and now he is looking to expand again.
When he was younger, Lubke’s father Horst, worked out of Germany as a consultant, doing much of his work here in Thailand. He loved Thailand so much that he decided to bring his family here for vacations. After 15 years, Horst decided to make Thailand his base and do his traveling back to Germany instead. By now, Stephan was 11 years old. He developed a curious interest in a classic scooter, the Vespa, and he began working on them. His backyard soon became a shop where he repaired and serviced Vespa’s. His dad had an old VW, so Stephan began working on that as well. He soon began to attract people looking for advice on these classic vehicles, and at that point he decided to start a business. At age 14, with enthusiastic support from his father, “Classic Parts” was started. It was a risky project to undertake but Stephan found it worked out well. More and more Vespa club members and VW enthusiasts heard of Stephan’s good quality work. We all know that a with a good mechanic, word of mouth goes a long way to grow a business. In two short years, Stephan’s backyard business grew substantially. Seeing all the traffic generated from this prompted Stephan to move to a business location.
Stephan has worked on all types of VW’s, but he prefers the type I – the air cooled models from 1950 to 1968. These cars were the ultimate utilitarian car. They get 30 MPG, are easy to service, have an air cooled engine in the rear of the car, no power steering, and other simple features. In their day, these cars were a pleasure for any mechanic to work on. Stephan gets such satisfaction restoring VW’s to that drivable, turn-your-head condition, that he has five cars himself including; two bugs, a Karmann Ghia (the sporty VW model), a bus that could seat 7 people and a hatchback called the “Variant Type I”. Stephan also has a Vespa scooter to complete his personal collection.
When I went into his store, the old parts, counter displays, and the posters dotting the walls made me nostalgic. I saw the fine work and specific style that was devoted to creating these old parts. Lots of parts for Stephan’s VW’s come from Bangkok, or sometimes they are brought over by his father, who, when traveling to Germany, would pick them up. Stephan has also gotten into sprint racing on a ¼ mile track with his Vespa. The awards he has won racing have been an attribute to his time and fine work in restoring this Vespa. His successes have garnered him help from German mechanics who enjoy supporting this winning Thai VW club.
This March 7th there will be a national VW convention in Bangkok at which lots of VW clubs and individual shop owners (like Stephan) will display their parts and modified VW’s. Word is, that a classic VW will be up for raffle. So consider a trip to Bangkok this March – go back in time, and see what these old cars can do for your smile.
Stephan now hopes to grow again with a larger building, off the main road but still in this area. He would like a space where people will be more comfortable hanging out talking “Volkswagen”. Half the fun in his business are the stories these old cars produce – I’m sure these cars and their owners have a lot to talk about.
To contact Stephan at his shop call
or try his fan page on Facebook: