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El Concreto

Ashleigh Morrow was born into a Volkswagen loving family, and the brain washing started young, and rightly so we say! When she was a baby her mum had a Lipstick Pink Convertible Beetle, which was kitted out with a baby harness for baby Ashleigh. The only way to get her off to sleep was to pop her in the back and drive her round the block. She told us people used to say it was the fumes that helped her to the land of nod, but she reckons the unmistakable sound of the air-cooled engine was the thing that did it!

The love of VWs, has led her to own a 1974 L Bug Convertible, 1972 S Bug, 1972 Baywindow Deluxe Bus, 1960 Deluxe Beetle, 1956 Oval Beetle, 1961 Karmann Ghia, 1967 Split window Deluxe Bus, and a 1971 Squareback. Her husband, Bob, is also a fellow VW nut. She met him at the Valla Spectacular, one of Australia’s best Volkswagen shows that is held every two years. He has helped her with her ‘on going preservation’ of El Concreto her 1963 Australian High Roof Single Cab. The pair of them also own a 23 window Samba that they are restoring together.

Ashleigh bought El Concreto in 2008, but originally it was owned by Saffioti Concrete and Cement Rendering Company from Leeton in New South Wales, Austrailia. He was abandoned in a farmers paddock when his owner felt his working days were over and an upgrade must have been on the cards. El Concreto was rescued, and the labour of love began. Whilst he preserves his original sign writing and embraces his patina, he is like a new vehicle underneath. This old boy has a few battle scars and some stories to tell. As with most VW owners, Ashleigh has lost count of the amount of money that has been thrown at the single cab, which is often for the best! Her and her husband have carried out a lot of work on it. They have received a few trophies along the way, as a nice pat on the back for all theirhard work, including a Best Rat award, Dog of the Day and Best Chicks Ute.

It has been lowered with Indian IRS rear conversion, Adjustable spring plates, 4 1/2” narrowed adjustable beam by KCW in the USA Dropped and flipped spindles by KCW. Ashleigh says “It helps to wear a sports bra when tackling those not so perfect roads!” Much of the vehicle is original, including the headlights, seats, clutch, steering wheel (though it has a custom leather stitched cover designed by David Scanlon of Volkstrim), dash, panels. Most of the paint is original too, except for where sills have been replaced and the colour has been matched and blended. All this originality looks awesome sat on 15X4.5 and 15 x 5.5 RDW wheels which the couple brought back from a recent trip to the United States.  Ashleigh is quite a fan of collecting period correct and vintage items for the vehicle, as well as other cool accessories, these items tie the vehicle together nicely, including a couple of vintage spotlights, 2 coca cola bottle openers mounted to each B pillar and we just love the tiki horn push that she bought from The Samba. The single cab has a 1600 engine with 40 kadrom carbs and it has never let them down!

Ashleigh says people often comment on what a great “cut down” bus she has, which she does find annoying, but feels it shows that “these characters were definitely a commercial vehicle and not all of them have stood up to the test of time and people aren’t realising that Volkswagen produced them like this. This is more so the case for the Australian High Roof Single Cabs. El Concreto has a slightly higher roof than your average single cab. This is due to the removal of the rear engine vents and an extra skin being installed in the roof. This design allowed air to flow over the roof and be directed back to the engine bay, designed like this for the hot and dusty Australian roads. Ashleigh likes to call it his “muffin top”. The roof design was perfect for the dusty conditions and protecting the air-cooled motor, but it also had its downfall, moisture. There are fewer and fewer high roof single cabs on the road now due to the moisture often rusting out the roof.

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Like other owners of Patina vehicles, much to her annoyance, Ashleigh often gets asked “when are you going to paint it”? She says, to her “… this is blasphemy! El Concreto to me is a moving piece of art, every inch of him tells a story” El Concreto is still put to work and has helped many times with carting parts, furniture, garden supplies and much more. Much better than having a trailer queen we reckon, and any other knocks and bumps just add to the Single cab’s character.

photos by Andrew Seymour