The September ’21 issue of Volksworld magazine is a nostalgic trip down UK Cal Look lane – we asked Stu Betty for an update on what’s happening in Back to ’89 land… 

Stu explained:

I am stoked to have been asked to write something for this special issue of VolksWorld, the content of which is clearly close to my heart. For those who don’t know what Back to ’89, or B289 as it’s been coined, is here’s a brief overview.

It all started on the Machine 7 forum in 2001, with a simple thread entitled ‘Where are they now?’ The response was slow at first, but steady, and by Bug Jam that year we – that being Mike Leche, Alex Markille and Simon Tomlin – had the first ever Back to ’89 Nostalgia display in front of the banking at Santa Pod raceway. We had pulled together 30 cars that graced this magazine or were popular at shows over the previous two decades.

The concept was to trace former show / magazine cars and put them back on display for everyone to enjoy. Why? To show new blood coming into our lovely scene the type of cars we all used to create, and hopefully inspire them in their own builds. And for those already embedded in the scene to re-visit some of the cars they loved from the late ’80s through the ’00s.

Super sleuth

Much of the fun has been tracking the cars down, and then watching you guys stand open mouthed, pointing, saying things like. “I remember that car, I didn’t realise it was still around.” Many great friendships have been made since, and many shows and displays organised. Magazine publicity and also yours truly writing in the ‘VolksWorld Vaults’ and ‘Volkslore’ in Ultra VW all helped spread the word.

So, why call it Back to ’89? Well, I take no credit for that. Actually, that’s a lie, I take the credit, but it was coined by our very own Paul Knight at the end of a feature on a show car called Coffee and Cream in 2001. So now you know.

Back to ’89 was a term first coined by Paul Knight way back in the summer ’01 issue. The rest, as they say, is history!

B289 has been a journey over the last two decades, and it’s still going strong, especially with Lee Southerton of Volksmagic stocking the Peter Cronin-designed merchandise, launched off the back of the Back to ’89-inspired Wizard built on Car SOS. Being part of the reveal in Cornwall was a huge highlight for me.

Other memories in my rose tints include Jim Dix’s gorgeous white Targa Bug winning the first ever B289 trophy at European Bug-In 5 and the Prado show in California, where Bob Daniels (see p54) organised for a trophy we had painted by Trailer Queen Restos with peach and mint scallops to be presented to the winner, in that case Top Gun, thanks to Randy Carlson.

Back to ’89 would not be here if not for all the owners with incredible cars, and there are so many I would like to personally thank for supporting the movement. The list is too long to include everyone here, but Frosty (see p22) who helped with that first display, Russell Ritchie and Kevin Dawson in Aberdeen, who have been busy saving many much-loved cars, and also the show promoters who have accepted Back to ’89 with open arms, particularly Brian Burrows at VW Action.

So, what about the future? Well, next year is 21 years of Back to ’89 and we are delighted to be part of the re-launched Run To The Sun event in Cornwall. I hope to have a display there, and also at Bug Jam, where it all began. I also intend to hold Back to ’89 anniversary meets at the Ace Café in north London and Caffeine and Machine in Warwickshire next summer. Most exciting of all, though, I can now announce B289 will have a special display at the 2022 VolksWorld Show in March, and trust me when I say we’ve got some very special cars lined up for that one.

Whatever else the future holds, you know it will have a pastel vibe if I’ve got anything to do with it.


Facebook users can find the Back to 89 Volkswagens page here


You can find out more about the September ’21 issue of Volksworld magazine here

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