Millions are grieving this week that car maker Volkswagen has discontinued manufacture of parts for the Kombi Van.

The icon of 1960 and 1970s motoring has held a place in the hearts of millions who loved their unique style, ground breaking flexibility and easy use. Sometimes cantankerous and mechanically challenged, nevertheless Kombi Vans are remembered with fondness worldwide.

In a recent radio program, listeners tweeted, texted and phoned through their Kombi memories, including

A now middle aged member of a family of 6 fondly remembered holiday adventures when the whole family would go on holiday in their Kombi Van
A parent who proudly declared their first child was conceived in a Kombi
A present owner who loves his iconic orange vehicle so much he cannot bear to part with it
Someone who mentioned the ‘Caves Road Salute’ – apparently a generations-old wave to the driver of any Kombi Van (popular with the Margaret River surfing community) from a passerby on Caves Road in WA’s South West
A sad demise but no doubt we’ll still see Kombis ‘waddling’ their way along our roads, and we’ll salute – or at least acknowledge –one of the most revolutionary vehicles of all time; a van that opened up a world of possibilities to its generation and since.

‘But what’s all this got to do with cassettes?’ you may ask.

Well, the iconic audio cassette is much like the Kombi Van – a revolution which changed our lives when first launched, still usable today, though not manufactured now, even outdated and superseded. But also much loved and still preferred by some library audio book borrowers.

The audio cassette, like the Kombi, opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Vision impaired people were the first to avail themselves of books read on audio cassettes (audio books or talking books). But soon audio book titles became available to all library borrowers, and the cassette was seen everywhere. Also sometimes cantankerous and likely to get wound too tight if not treated lovingly, the audio cassette seemed likely to stay forever.

But soon, it too became replaced by the faster and higher tech CD, which in turn became superseded.

Did you know that audio cassette talking books are still used quite extensively?

Here’s the reason for the Blog! A library in WA’s South West has a very popular Tim Winton 17 cassette title in a 17up folder which has finally fallen to pieces. Some borrowers still prefer audio cassettes (perhaps Kombi drivers?) and the library asked us for a replacement 17up multi cassette folder. Unfortunately we don’t have any left in stock.

Does any Australian library have unused 17up folders (or a combination of folders to store 17 cassettes) sitting in a cupboard that they will donate to this library? If so, contact Jeff at SoundPack on go to our Contacts Page, fill in your details and type ’17up Cassette Folder’ under ‘Products of Interest’ and we’ll be in touch to give the Kombi – sorry, audio cassette folder – a new loving home!

Published October 31, 2012