Driven by a dream – Cape Town’s hot rides
Ordinary cars are being transformed, be it by bling bonnets to wheels that are both fat and phat, writes ZARA NICHOLSON
LATE rap legend Tupac sang “picture me rolling” and hundreds of motorists in Cape Town know just what he meant. Car owners often spend tens of thousands of rands on customising their wheels in the city.
The phenomenon of customising, or “pimping”, has been popular in South Africa for years, but Cape Town could be the centre of the scene with locals picking up tips from television shows such as Pimp My Ride.
Some car owners in Cape Town spend most of their time and money customising their rides. The standards are high in the city and a bad job of “pimping” will be broadly criticised.
A customising job might include everything from fitting rims, fins and bumpers to brightly-coloured bucket seats and racing steering wheels. Bucket or racing seats, which can cost anywhere between R1 800 to more than R5 000 for two, are a must. Among the best are Cobras or Sparko seats imported from Europe.
In rare instances, a team might take a standard Honda Civic and turn it into something resembling an Audi R8, but this is seriously expensive.
Marlon Muller, a self-employed customiser based in Kuils River, is working on a 1992 Toyota Conquest. But, no one would think the car is old as it has been made to look like something yet to hit showrooms.
The Conquest had its old hinges replaced with customised hinges to give the car gull-wing doors.
Muller said: “Customising comes from the fact that most guys want to own a sports car or a super car but they will never get it. So customising their standard car is like getting half way to that nirvana, and guys will do anything to get the car as close to their dream car as possible.”
Muller, who works with another artistic customiser, Jason Neves, is doing a “Bad Boy” bonnet on the Conquest, which means grinding away at the round edges to give it a look resembling the frowning eyes logo of the Bad Boy clothing label.
The car also has bigger wheels which gives it a more robust look.
According to Muller and other car freaks, the bigger the wheels, the better.
Other changes to the Conquest are side skirtings, a customised back and front, a bumper with vents, vents in the bonnet and two small fins on top and under the back window.
Inside, the car is kitted out with colour-coded accessories like car seat covers, gear knobs and a steering wheel to match the “Ferrari red” of the car’s exterior. To add more bulk to the car an intercooler is being fitted into the grill to make it look as if the car is turbocharged.
If all the additions and modifications aren’t enough, a special suspension kit is going into the car. In pimping terms this means “dropping the car”.
“You add a suspension kit or drop your suspension to give it that low rider feel.”
When the work on the Conquest is complete, all the parts, labour and customising will have cost the owner
‘Guys will do anything to get the car as close to their dream car as possible’
between R30 000 and R50 000.
Muller’s own car, a Honda Civic Luxline 1993 model, has been stripped from its “Transformer” look to take on the look of the new Audi R8, complete with an Audi bumper and super-size mag wheels.
The car has undergone several customising jobs. With its first transformation, Muller made the car almost unrecognisable.
The most obvious were the gullwing doors which open upwards while his back doors were made into “suicide doors” which open in the opposite direction from the way a normal door would open.
To take it even further, his boot and bonnet open like a table-top, while his bonnet twists open.
The space-like look of the vehicle gave it the name Transformer, after the robots in the 2007 blockbuster movie.
His car made the cover of the April 2007 Speed ’n’ Sound magazine.
Another eye-catching car in Cape Town is a gold Nissan 350z.
It cost R250 000 but the owner has spent an additional R650 000 on his car, modifying it internally and externally.
Some of the customising shops in Cape Town are well known around the country.
One of the shops, the Lux Body Works shop in Parow, has won awards like “Lord of the Blings”, “Best interior” and “Most stunning looker” for some of the cars they have modified.
FLASHY: A customised Opel Corsa, above, at the Lux Body Works shop in Parow.
RED ALERT: The Corsa’s restyled dashboard, top.
PIMPING THAT RIDE: Jason Neves, left, works on a Toyota Conquest which will soon look futuristic with its 1993 gull-wing doors, new customised bumpers and grill and mag wheels.