Mechanic restores a rusty old Kombi Van into a stunning motorhome

Living the dream! Mechanic buys a rusty old Volkswagen Kombi van for two cartons of BEER – and restores it into a dreamy retro motorhome worth a staggering $149,000

  • An Australian mechanic has restored a rusted Kombi van into a motorhome 
  • Phil Hoken, 40, from New South Wales, bought what was remaining of the van 
  • The vehicle was badly damaged and didn’t have any windows or interior 
  • Phil said the restoration took ten months to complete and sold for $149,000 
  • Phil has ‘always dreamed’ of building motorhomes out of old Kombi vans

An old rusty van which was rescued from an Australian farm in exchange for two cartons of beer has been transformed into a motorhome worth $149,000. 

Phil Hoken, 40, who has been in the industry for 24 years, purchased what was remaining of the Volkswagen Kombi van.

While the van had been tipped on its side and didn’t have any windows, lights or interior, Phil was eager to restore it and saw its potential.

Phil told Daily Mail Australia the restoration took 10 months to complete and he sold it for $149,000.

Phil and his wife Jess are co-owners of RETRO RV and the ‘Kombi Keg’ franchise with 57 franchises across eight different countries.

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Before: Phil Hoken, 40, who has 24 years of industry experience, purchased what was remaining of the Volkswagen Kombi van from a farmer in New South Wales

Before: While the van had been tipped on its side and didn’t have any windows, lights or interior, Phil was eager to restore the iconic van

After: The restored RV not only looks immaculate from the outside but is fully equipped to fit four people comfortably

Inside the space looks luxurious with plenty of room to comfortable fit four people 

The restored RV not only looks immaculate from the outside but is fully equipped to fit four people comfortably.

It now has an electronic automated slide-out kitchen, 2.5 litre engine from a Subaru Forester, a five-speed Subaru-gears transmission, fridge, two double beds and a swing out BBQ area complete with twin beer taps.

Other features include a 12v television, 240v generator, reverse cycle air conditioning, 300w solar panels and an overhead camera.

The white cabinets also look luxurious and would provide ample storage space.

– EJ 25, fuel injected, overhead cam, Subaru engine

– Reversed Subaru 5 Speed transmission using ‘Subarugears’ parts.

– 300ah LiFePo4 deep cycle battery

– 12v 95L fridge/freezer

– Red Arc RedVision BMS

– 300w solar panels

– 12v TV

– Electric, automated slide out Kitchen

– 4 sleeping positions / 2x double beds

– Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning

– 240v Generator

– Swing out BBQ area complete with twin beer taps

– 270 degree bat wing awning

Phil said he has ‘always loved the look of Kombi vans’ and first started working on cars with his dad when he was 16.

The father-of-two launched the business in July 2020 and Kombi Keg has since become Australia’s fastest-growing mobile bar franchise.

Prior to launching Retro RV Phil said ‘always dreamed’ of building motorhomes out of old Kombi vans.

‘When Covid-19 hit I figured it was the perfect time to launch Retro RV as there were restrictions on international travel – I thought more and more Aussies would be travelling within the borders of Australia,’ he said.

Phil’s prediction proved to be correct as sales in the caravan and motorhome industry have skyrocketed since Covid-19 hit, with more people road tripping around the country.

The white cabinets also look fantastic and would provide ample storage space

Other features include a television, two double beds, 240v generator, reverse cycle air conditioning, 300w solar panels and an overhead camera

Within the first 12 days of launching the business Phil and Jess sold 14 Retro RV franchises.

Since then they have sold an additional five franchises totalling 19 sales in the past few months.

So far these franchises are scattered all throughout Australia including New South Wales, Queensland, the ACT, Western Australia and Victoria.  

On Facebook the pair claim franchisees can make upwards of $1700 per week by renting the RV out, which is a great idea for a potential ‘side hustle’ to generate more income. 


Last year Phil ‘jumped at the opportunity’ to purchase his first old Kombi van for $5,000 after seeing it advertised on Facebook. After completing the transformation, the van was listed for $65,000 on Gumtree and sold for $60,000 within 17 hours

Last year Phil ‘jumped at the opportunity’ to purchase his first old Kombi van for $5,000 after seeing it advertised on Facebook.

Similarly to the motorhome, he restored the van which cost $30,000 and seven months to complete.

But after completing the transformation, the van was listed for $65,000 on Gumtree and sold for $60,000 within 17 hours of advertising the vehicle.

The father-of-two said his family were shocked when he purchased the old van but were amazed with the stunning transformation and selling price.

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