Driv­ers who go slower

Un­i­mog driv­ers don’t like fast at high revs, but rid­ing high at low revs to go, well, any­where

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

The 2015 in­stall­ment of Pre­to­ria’s ver­sion of Cars in the Park was the big­gest yet, with cars stream­ing (and steam­ing) from as far as Richards Bay and PE to the Zwartkops Race­track near La­dium.

Wheels was on hand to wit­ness this event on the in­vi­ta­tion of Mercedes-Benz Un­i­mog own­ers, a very spe­cial tribe of petrolheads in­deed.

Willem Burger is one of this group of in­trepids.

He re­builds old Un­i­mogs in Cen­tu­rion and he ex­plained driver en­thu­si­asts can ba­si­cally be di­vided into two groups — those who like to go fast at high revs, and those who like to go high at very low revs.

He said re­built and new Un­i­mogs are ideal ve­hi­cles for the lat­ter group, es­pe­cially those who suf­fer the added af­flic­tion of be­ing ad­dicted to the other side side of the hori­zon.

Only the Iveco Daily 4x4 can com­pete with the Un­i­mog in river-ford­ing, moun­tain-scarp­ing abil­ity, but the new Ital­ian does not (yet) have the rep­u­ta­tion that gave the old Un­i­mog such a pas­sion­ate fol­low­ing across Africa.

Hori­zon ad­dicts

Diana and Tom Lim­pert fall in this cat­e­gory. Since their first trip across Africa in a VW Car­avelle, the two Ger­mans have been dream­ing of the day they can equip a Un­i­mog to “tour any­where in the world”.

Ian Ma­ton­sela is a rare Un­i­mog owner, who uses his go-any­where ve­hi­cles for the orig­i­nal pur­pose for which they were de­signed when Ger­man engi­neers were sent to farm pota­toes af­ter the World War 2.

Those engi­neers had de­signed the first, tiny Un­i­mogs as mul­ti­pur­pose agri­cul­tural work­horses that could tra­verse ploughed fields and drive equip­ment like saws and mills through power trans­fer units.

Ma­ton­sela also uses his Un­i­mogs for an agri­cul­tural pur­pose — to col­lect har­vested marula seeds in Mpumalanga’s deeply ru­ral ar­eas which his com­pany, Ma­ganu Pro­duc­tions, then cold­press to ex­tract the marula oil.

He also has a Land Cruiser and 4x4 Mazda bakkies, but told

Wheels only the Un­i­mog can cross rivers and climb rocks with­out break­ing axles.

The Bee­tle Boys

Three young men who also like their wheels to be leg­endary are Khume Mtshweni, Sihle Dube and Mpho Moeketsi, who all are proud own­ers and re­pair­ers of VW Bee­tles.

“I have a 10-head on my 1,6 so ev­ery­where I go, peo­ple no­tice me,” said Mtshweni.

For the show, Moeketsi loaded a few suit­cases and a tod­dler’s BMW on his roofrack.

“They all ask me where my spare wheels are in case I break down,” he laughed.

When he fin­ished restor­ing his beloved Bee­tle, the be­spec­ta­cled young man next in­tends to get his hands on a “molofish” — or old-style VW combi — to turn that into the clas­sic camper.

Next to them Deon Knox just grins at their dreams to re­store a combi like his rusted 1962 van.

In­stead of re­paint­ing it to a high gloss, he plans to add a coat of matt var­nish and leave the rust like it is. Judg­ing by the num­ber of rusted clas­sics at the show, the ox­i­dised look is be­com­ing high fash­ion.

Down in the dumps

Hav­ing spo­ken to many peo­ple at Zwartkops, Wheels can add there is a third group of petrolheads — those who rue the wheels that got away.

One such a man who is not just ru­ing a few old pan­el­vans he let go, but is ac­tively try­ing to kick him­self for it is Rudi Oosthuy­sen (82), a re­tired me­chanic who once had the bod­ies of two old DKW Sch­nel­lasters Kas­ten­wa­gens “clut­ter­ing up” his work­shop in New­lands, Johannesburg. Oosthuy­sen loaded both bod­ies on a trailer and pushed them off the dumps.

At the Peb­ble Beach auc­tion in 2013, a mint-con­di­tion DKW Sch­nel­lasters Kas­ten­wa­gen sold for $101 750 (R1 290 871).

“I can tear my hair out,” he laughed when he told Wheels af­ter see­ing a 1957 DKW Kas­ten­wa­gen which be­longs to Rus­sel Os­ner from the Eastern Cape. • For more in­for­ma­tion on Un­i­mog ad­ven­tures, visit Un­i­mog Fre­unde Club on Face­book.

Ad­dicted to the other side of the hori­zon: Diana and Tom Lim­pert from Ger­many are dream­ing of the day they can af­ford a Mercedes-Benz Un­i­mog to tour the world.

Khume Mtshweni, Sihle Dube and Mpho Moeketsi are all proud owner-re­pair­ers of VW Bee­tles. Next, they want to fix up an old-style molofish, like this 1962 VW Combi (main photo).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.