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

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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.

PIC­TURES: KEVIN PETERSEN

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.

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