Everyone has one: the car that should have been theirs – and would have been, were it not for some regrettable decisions. We asked our directors which cars they wish were parked in the garage.
Teresa Spenser Higgs – MIWA Chairperson Border region
Being from the feminine side of the fence, I must admit I am more likely to long for a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes than a car! Having said that, I have always joked that I would like to own the new look VW beetle as it makes a statement – that statement being that I have so much money I don’t mind spending it unwisely. However, being married to a technician, I accepted years ago that my husband will be the one making the decisions when it comes to choosing vehicles.
Les McMaster – MIWA National Vice Chairman
The first car I purchased as an 18-year-old apprentice was my dream car; the one I so wanted to own and which I revered as the ultimate cool machine totally suited to the hip fraternity of that era. I had just completed my military service and had saved the ‘danger pay’ I received for serving on the then South West African border, as a member of the South African Defence Force.
I can clearly recall the moment I first set sight on this car, as I was passing on my way from work. It stood there in a used car lot, just beckoning me to stop and feast my eyes: the most beautiful blue 1969 Datsun 1600 SSS in the entire world. I remember my heart pounding in my chest with excitement. I hastily made arrangements to test drive this vehicle and, having satisfied myself that everything was in order, I purchased it.
My life was forever changed. This Datsun was my pride and joy; not only because it was my very first car, but because it drew loads of attention wherever I went (plus, how could I forget the countless trips to the drive-in with dates who were not too keen on seeing the movie). I quickly bought and fitted California deep-dish mags and revamped the exhaust system to give a deep-throated roar, which just sent chills of joy up my spine with every acceleration.
My regret, thinking back, was that I didn’t keep that Datsun. I sold it to purchase a brand-new Datsun 160U SSS, which was a phenomenal vehicle in its own right – although it never really had the magic of its predecessor.
When I still couldn’t get that car out of my head many years later, I decided to purchase a Datsun 1600 SSS and clone my first car. It took a long time and a lot of searching, but I finally found one in fair condition. I completely stripped it down to bare metal and rebuilt it as a clone of my first car. I just couldn’t wait to start it up after reconditioning all the mechanical parts.
Finally, the day arrived … I had just finished the final item of the assembly. I put the key into the ignition and started it. No words can express the feeling of utter enjoyment that exploded within my being. In a déjà vu moment I was 18 again; a feeling that can bring a 61-year-old man to tears. I proudly drove the Datsun home with the exact same feeling that I had with that first drive home all those years ago.
I still have my Datsun and, after five years I still drive it around, even participating in a classic car rally to Maputo in 2019. I still get the appreciative recognition from other road users when I drive around. I would even put a bet on it that I could still get a date to the drive-in if they still existed, that would really put the cherry on the top (although we would probably want to watch the movie this time!)
Nowellyn van Vuuren – Vice-Chairman Border region
Cars aren’t everyone’s passion – either you love them or you don’t. My favourite car of all time was a Ford Anglia station wagon. I was lucky enough to be the second person who owned this car.
I was just a little boy when I realized that my mother’s late uncle – a foreman at the Ford Motor Company – had this car in the garage. He’d bought it from the factory line.
I still remember my excitement the day I bought that car. I paid R600, which was a lot of money for a 17-year-old. We collected it from the house, where it was covered under five years of dust. I was so pleased to get it outside – we all deserve some sunlight.
After many long nights and weekends, I had transformed the car from its faded green state to its former glory.
I made so many happy memories with that car. My biggest regret is selling it – it would have been such a fun little car to own, and I would have loved my family to have the same kind of experiences. I’m still on the lookout for a car in a similar condition to buy.