Old Isuzus never say die

Tankwa Ka­roo farmer re­lies on his ‘KB col­lec­tion’

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

VREDENDAL — Some things you just can’t kill — and that in­cludes your av­er­age Isuzu KB bakkie.

Proof of this is to be found in the West Coast ham­let of Van­ryns­dorp, in turn a stone’s throw from Vredendal, some 270 kilo­me­tres up the N7 from Cape Town.

Here, diesel me­chanic Daniël Kotze lives with his young brood and a fleet of old Isuzus: three kids and seven of the tough-as-nails KBs. Oh, and a sin­gle Chevro­let LUV, which is what the Isuzu one-ton­ner was badged as from its lo­cal in­tro­duc­tion in 1973, un­til 1978. This one is a 1973 vin­tage, so in essence it rep­re­sents the very be­gin­ning of the Isuzu name lo­cally.

The new­est is a 2008 KB250, which has well over 400 000km on it.

But the prized pos­ses­sion is a (some­what faded) metal­lic blue 1979 model, which came to him via his grand­fa­ther and then his fa­ther. It joined the Kotze fam­ily fleet in 1983, and cov­ered over half-a-mil­lion kilo­me­tres with its orig­i­nal en­gine, much of that mileage as a hard-work­ing ‘plaas’ bakkie, ex­plains Daniël.

An­other KB was found derelict un­der a tree in Spring­bok in the North­ern Cape, and be­longed to an old Oom, whose son was glad to get shot of it. The dry in­land cli­mate means that, de­spite stand­ing un­der said tree for more than a decade, it’ll ‘clean up nicely’ as they say in the trade.

Daniël has a great love for mo­tor ve­hi­cles in gen­eral and it turns out that he is a walk­ing KB en­cy­clopae­dia; au­thor­i­ta­tively rat­tling off generation codes, en­gine sizes, nomen­cla­ture and dates when spe­cific de­riv­a­tives and mod­els were in­tro­duced.

For ex­am­ple, the model that re­placed the LUV was the KB20, avail­able in both petrol and diesel, with launch prices of R3 485 and R4 295, re­spec­tively he says.

“The first dou­ble cab ver­sion ar­rived in 1994 but long be­fore that there were peo­ple lo­cally who con­verted the KB25 ‘lang­bak’ into a four door,” he points out.

Daniel’s col­lec­tion is made up largely of diesel-pow­ered sin­gle cabs, which is some­what ap­pro­pri­ate for a man whose busi­ness re­volves around fix­ing work­horses of var­i­ous kinds.

“Most of my col­lec­tion will start and run, but ja, they do need some work!” ad­mits Daniël. “I’ll get around to restor­ing them one day when there’s time, prob­a­bly start­ing with one that be­longed to my Oupa.” — Supplied.


Daniël Kotze son walks past a 1979 Isuzu KB bakkie that is still on use on the farm with 400 000 km on the odo, along­side the 2008 KB250.

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