In The Passenger Seat: Tobias Peng, the Volkswagen Kombi Enthusiast
(Photo: Tobias Peng)
If you love ice cream, scream no more! We’ve got the scoop on this Volkswagen Kombi enthusiast and his one-of-a kind business: Scoopy’s & Cream X Super Ice-Cream Truck.
Owner, Tobias Peng (@supericecreamtruck), an ice cream food truck caterer and builder, might just be the coolest dad yet as his family gets to enjoy rides around town in this versatile wagon. On the business end, Tobias has taken up Kombi projects accentuating the vehicle and highlighting its various uses in many experimental and creative ways. Needless to say, they have turned everyone’s frowns upside down.
Check out the man behind the Kombi magic, Tobias Peng.
What started this passion for classic vehicles?
Upcoming 1977 VW Ice cream Kombi in the works - 2020
(Photo: Tobias Peng)
I love collecting classics as I feel it’s like an art piece on wheels and it’s something that we can experience and enjoy at the same time. The low road tax & depreciation enables me to keep and drive different type of cars. Moreover, these cars appreciate in value down the road.
Along the way, I made a lot of friends locally and internationally via road trips, and even something as essential as ordering of spare parts. The value of such classics are always a willing buyer and seller arrangement and, of course, some call our classics “priceless” as the value is beyond monetary and the real value is enjoying the adventure and memories created.
Of course I’ve always liked the look and feel of classic / vintage vehicles. It takes us back in time during the good old days, especially the stories told by our seniors that experienced and owned them in the past.
(Photo: Tong Heng Bakery)
For one, I had a notable senior customer who shared about her unforgettable moments with her family and uncle who had a kombi and drove them to picnics in her early years. She got us to source all over the world and restore a rare Volkswagen T1 Kombi and now has her very own one. You might know her as she is one of the bosses of a famous bakery known for their Diamond Shaped Egg Tarts, Tong Heng Bakery, which have been around in Singapore since the mid-1930s.
I’ve met many people as well including a young philanthropist who has contributed millions to charity but chose the humble Kombi as his favourite weekend drive. We restored his Kombi into a karaoke on wheels!
I believe it’s part of preserving our important history and memories. Definitely a great conversation starter to bridge the generation gaps!
You get the meet people from all walks of life.
How many cars do you own? Which is your favourite?
1956 Volkswagen T1 Kombi
(Photo: Tobias Peng)
I’ve owned and sold a few different ones such as the 1st Series Mercedes G Class, Mini Estate Wagon, Austin London Cab/Car, even Japanese Domestic Market (JDMs) like the Toyota MasterAce Surf. . My first Volkswagen High-Roof Kombi was initially used as a Burger Truck. I got it fully restored from scratch and changed it to an ice cream van. It costs quite a bit but the value is in the “Smiles Per Miles!” I had it for a few years and made a lot of kids and old people happy while serving them ice cream. We even gave out at least 20,000 scoops of ice cream to the 2014 National Day participants FOC! The experience of owning and driving a Kombi gives me a real sense of nostalgia and connection to the past. It was money well spent and so worth it.
My favourite is my 1956 Volkswagen Bus Deluxe.
You seem to really love the Volkswagen Kombi. Any story behind it?
Besides being one of the most iconic vehicles in history and a huge pop culture rising from it, I would say a Kombi is the most versatile classic ever made.
Great for family rides, multi-purpose, good enough space for that last-minute trip to IKEA. A big plus is its perfect build for the comfiest road trips, especially with the kids!
If you don’t mind us asking, how much have you spent purchasing all your vehicles?
I think I spent quite a bit over the five years including buying, restoring and registering my vehicles. As expected, repairs and restoration took up a huge chunk especially those done in Singapore because it’s a dying trade that not many will want to be in. In such cases, we had to sell some of classics to raise funds. When we had extra funds, we would do some simply charity and give out free ice cream to homes and organisations.
Ice cream is the simplest joy money can buy.
How long have you been in the ice cream truck business?
(Photo: Wheeler’s Yard)
I founded Scoopy’s & Cream back in 2008. We were ice cream manufacturers and suppliers back then. The ice cream truck started about five years ago. Being in this line of work, the smiles and happiness we bring people keeps me going!
You seem to have expanded your business to rental for clothing shops and even displays at malls! What else can your business provide?
(Photos: Super Ice Cream Truck)
Yes, we’ve worked with Grab Durian, Toast Box and many F&B brands. We also customise food carts, ice cream carts, food truck pop-ups for various industries, mostly on wheels.
Besides static displays and food trucks, we customise cars too. We specialise in VW Kombis as these have more room to play with as customers can choose their paint colour and interiors etc.
We’ve also customised a few roadworthy and registered on-the-road Kombis for our customers, so you may see them on the road someday!
You have rented your Volkswagen to many people and events. Could you describe the funniest/most interesting experience?
The launch party for Louis Vuitton (LV) on the beach sticks out the most! It started to rain heavily near the end of the party and the battery died as the headlights were on the whole time. Luckily, there were narrow planks to put in place so we could push the VW bus and it took a total of 10 men to push it as I lifted my clutch and managed to start to engine. We cheered after the ordeal. Thanks to them, I drove off successfully into Marina Bay Sand (MBS) to park it at the LV flagship store thereafter.
Do you have any tips for maintaining vintage/classic cars?
I usually maintain the simple stuff such as checking the car’s cooling system, radiator and brake fluids and engine oil. My tip is to drive your classics regularly! Driving them often will give you great experiences and lessons for you, your car and your loved ones. There will be breakdowns and faulty parts that need to be replacing, but here is where you can learn a lot. For old cars you definitely need more TLC and patience with them as sometimes we don’t know the full history of what is done or not unless you do a complete 101% restoration.
What car do you see yourself driving in 10 years?
(Photo: Tobias Peng)
Probably a fully electric vehicle using a classic body. At the moment, we are experimenting with the classic Mini because of its size, and it will be easier to move around like a golf cart. We feel that electric cars will be the cars of the future but we are still big on classic looks as its evergreen and never goes out of style.
However, we are looking for help as we are at 90% with the custom rear axle electric motor installed. If anyone reads this, feel free to contact us!
What is your goal for the business?
(Photo: Tobias Peng)
Since we first started, we served tons of ice cream, created a million smiles, and have built many displays and food truck kiosks for big brands and malls as well as café operators. We just feel grateful as this is a very niche business to be in. I don’t have a goal at the moment as I’m just enjoying what I’m doing so we’ll see where this takes us! Surviving now is good enough for everyone. Take comfort in the simple things and spend time with your loved ones. Hang in there everyone!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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