A car enthusiast who spent decades searching for his first family car was left stunned when he accidentally stumbled upon it parked under an old apple tree in a paddock.
Kim Valentine, of Hobart, was just a newly wed with a baby on the way when he bought the honey-brown Volkswagen Beetle in the early 1970s for just $2,000.
But as his family began to grow, he was forced to trade it in for a bigger car.
The 72-year-old had always wondered what had happened to the honey-coloured bug that had meant so much for the family.
He spent 48 years looking for it but never had any luck, that was until a chance encounter during a day trip to Bruny Island, south of Hobart, on September 7.
‘I spied a honey-brown Beetle under an apple tree, up to its ankles — or its hub caps — in grass, and I wondered what the rego number on that car was,’ he said.
Kim Valentine (pictured), of Hobart, was in utter disbelief when he stumbled across the honey-brown car hubcap-deep in grass on vacant land during a day trip to Bruny Island
Mr Valentine was ‘so excited’ he got into the driver’s seat (pictured) to recollect the good ol’ days
‘I jumped out of the car, ran across this little empty block of land and was amazed when I saw its number plate.
‘I’ve often seen honey-brown VW beetles but invariably they have been the 1600cc fastback version – not the 1500.
‘I could not believe my eyes.’
Mr Valentine was ‘so excited’ he got into the driver’s seat to recollect the good ol’ days.
‘I sat behind the wheel and looked back at where we used to put the bassinet of our first child, Chris, when he was a baby,’ he said.
‘I have a lot of really great memories with that car.’
Mr Valentine fondly remembers trips with his family in the ‘bug’, including a time he became bogged near a creek at Orford.
He paid $2,000 for the car – almost half his annual wage of $4,500 – in 1972 before selling it five years later when his family grew.
‘It just kept going and going and going,’ Mr Valentine said. ‘VWs are incredibly versatile.
‘Its number plate – CA4 936 – is the only one I remember out of all the cars I’ve had.’
Mr Valentine’s 48-year-old son Chris, who now lives in Darwin and is a father of four, can also remember being placed in the bassinet in the backseat as a baby.
‘I remember that car,’ he told Mr Valentine’s in a text message.
Mr Valentine can vividly and fondly remember trips with his family in the ‘bug’ (pictured), including a time he became bogged near a creek at Orford
‘I have very fond memories of driving home at night and staring out the back window looking up at the stars.’
Mr Valentine’s daughter – his second eldest child – remembers the car too, despite being about 18 months old at the time.
‘I have no idea how they remember it but it’s amazing, isn’t it?’ Mr Valentine said.
‘They never mentioned anything until I brought it up so I was pretty amazed.’
Friends of Mr Valentine shared photos of the car in its heyday when he posted the unexpected find on Facebook, saying ‘How amazing is this?’.
‘I remember riding in the back many times,’ one person commented under the post.
Friends of Mr Valentine shared photos of the car in its heyday when he posted the unexpected find on Facebook, saying ‘How amazing is this?’. Pictured: Mr Valentine (white top) standing next to the bug with friends
‘Isn’t that amazing! We also drove a VW beetle, same colour, in 1975/6. Can’t recall the rego though,’ another wrote.
‘Offer them 50 bucks,’ another exclaimed.
Mr Valentine, however, confirmed he had no plans to take the little beetle home for restoration as it was ‘sitting nicely’ and ‘looking out at the water’.
His discovery was the second time he found a long-lost but never forgotten item from his former years.
‘Another time I found a beanbag I used to own that was repaired after being too close to the wood heater. I donated it to an OP shop in late 70s and saw it again in 1988,’ Mr Valentine said.
‘It was in front of a fire at a place we were staying called The Vine.’
Mr Valentine said his discovery was the second time he found a long-lost but never forgotten item from his former years. Pictured: Mr Valentine responding to comments under his Facebook post