Peter von Maltzahn loved his wife Marion, loved adventure and loved his vintage Volkswagen Westfalia Campervan.
After buying the Kombi in Germany in 1972, the pair set off on road trip after glorious road trip across Europe. They then moved to South Africa to live for several years, before finally migrating to Adelaide, South Australia, in the early 1980s and starting a family.
The adventures of Schoen
Their beloved van, which they dubbed ‘Schoen’ – German for nice – also made the long journey to Australia. The family continued their love of exploring, heading out in Schoen to discover the sights of South Australia, making wonderful family memories along the way.
After Marion died in 2009, the well-travelled Schoen went on fewer and fewer outings, before taking up a permanent position in the driveway.
With Schoen’s adventuring days seemingly over, Peter – now retired – could no longer bear to keep it.
He explained to his two daughters, who had shared many wonderful times in the family van, that after a lifetime of experiences, he would be putting Schoen up for sale.
Kombi for sale
On the other side of Adelaide, 26-year-old Elise Cook – just recently married – was daydreaming of getting away from it all with her new husband, Domenic, 29.
A travel blogger and co-owner with Domenic of a vineyard in McLaren Vale, she’d always loved the idea of the campervan life; of owning her own “happiness bus” and seeing the country from behind the wheel of a vintage Kombi.
While idly browsing online ads, as she’d done many times before, Elise spotted Peter’s listing for Schoen. “I had to calm my racing heart,” she would later write in her blog.
Going to see Schoen
Despite warning her that Schoen was well outside their budget, Domenic gave in and agreed to go and take a look. Of course Schoen was everything Elise had been dreaming of, and she fell in love at first sight. But at Peter’s $39,000 asking price, Domenic was right: it was “completely impossible and off the cards”.
Teary-eyed and with a sunken heart, the couple left. “[We were] grateful to have met Peter and his beautiful van but unable to put an offer in,” wrote Elise. “We shared with him our story, and told him of our dreams to own a van like that.”