1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
DAN WAS LIVING with me, working in the garage of the first house I bought. He had spent 20 years and R235 000 turning a rusted- out Volkswagen into this brandnew car from 1983. It was the kind of project I could never justify doing myself. But watching him work, I was jealous. We had been into Volkswagens since high school, reading about them in European car magazines, thinking about how to make enough money to buy one.
He moved out, got married, had kids, and put the Rabbit up for sale. I explained to my wife that it was an investment. That it would never be worth less than what I was paying for it. That '80's cars don't have the failure rates like the '60's or ' 70's. That I wanted to rescue it from some 19-yearold wrapping it around a telephone pole. She grew up with a dad who made her push-start his Porsche 356 in a Chicago alleyway every spring. She understands what cars mean to people.
I don't really care about going to a parking lot and having guys tell you how beautiful it is. I love cars because I love driving, and the Rabbit has brought me friends who are the same way. It's 110 kw for 770 kg. The roll cage and racing suspension make it extremely rigid, with lowprofile, barely road-legal tyres. You know how you feel when you get off a roller coaster? That's what it's like when I drive it to work. You're tired and know you've experienced some adrenaline.
I felt bad about the labour and money that Dan had put into it until he said that he was happy to sell it to me. Every time he and his wife see me, they say, “It's still in the family!” He's happy knowing it's still around.