On the fast lane; beautiful machines gracing our roads

Saturday, August 31st, 2019 00:30 |

1961 VW Karmann Ghia

Who: DJ Adrian

Cost:Sh100,000 for the shell and a lot more in restoring it.

Reliability: Pretty reliable as I upgraded the engine, fitted a 1700cc engine with twin carburettors from the 1200cc single carb. Also, the upgraded brakes make it a reasonable daily driver. Definitely not as efficient or as fast, but just as reliable as any other modern car.

Overall experience: Being a two-seater sports car, it’s not very practical as it limits the amount of equipment or number of friends I can carry. It’s also not as fast as modern cars. Again, parts are not available locally and I had to import basically everything I needed to restore it. That said, it’s pretty nice to drive and definitely nice to look at. It’s a go car, not just a show car.

Other cars: 1973 VW Beetle and Subaru Forester

Chrysler 300C

Who: KRG, a dancehall musician

Cost: Shipping and registration came to about Sh6.5 million

Reliability: Very economical because of the valve shut off technology. The turbocharged 3.0-litre engine basically turns into a four cylinder hence improving efficiency in city driving, but makes use of all six cylinders when you want to move fast. It is both fast and fuel-efficient and because the parts last longer between services, it is also cheaper to run than my V8.

Overall experience: It’s a big flashy car that turns heads wherever I go and definitely has that road presence that impresses. That said, it is not a very practical car in certain parts of Nairobi because it sits so low. I therefore avoid using it on rough roads or when I know the route has a lot of standing water. In such instances, I opt to use the Land Cruiser.

Other cars: Toyota Land Cruiser V8

BMW Z4 convertible

Who: Trushar Khetia (DJ TK), businessman – founder and CEO of Tria Group and Society Stores Supermarket

What car do you drive? 

I drive a blue Jaguar XF on weekdays and a red BMW Z4 convertible on the weekends. Jaguar is my work car and the Z4 is my play car.

How much did it cost you and why those specific cars? 

The Jaguar cost Sh12m, whilst the BMW cost Sh7m. I love that they have an amazing sound system. I can’t do without my music being loud and clear when I’m travelling.

What is your experience with the cars so far and what are some of the challenges?

I absolutely love my cars. The Z4 is for when I want to let loose with the roof down, shifting gears as it’s a hard manual drive sports car. It gives me a wild experience with the three-litre V6 petrol engine. With the car having low profile 19-inch rims, you feel every curve on the road. It is raw power. However, because it is quite low, and given the state of some of our roads, it is unfortunate I cannot drive it everywhere.

For the Jaguar, it is sheer class and sophistication. It feels like you are inside your own private jet with cream leather seats and dark wood interiors. One of the best features is the ‘J-blade’ LEDs at the headlights. Even with its three-litre diesel engine, the ride still packs a punch. Simply put; luxury, style and speed all in one. However, the service costs a bomb, just like the car.

1989 Jeep Wrangler YJ

Who: Walter Serem, businessman

Why this specific car?

I used to have a Jeep Wrangler, which I sold but lived to deeply regret. I couldn’t get over it and started looking for another one and when I saw it in an advert, I didn’t hesitate and went all out for it. When I got this particular one, I decided I would keep it and rebuild it for the Concours. This particular model was special as they changed the iconic round Jeep headlights and instead went with square ones. Jeep enthusiasts were up in arms and as a result, the YJ Wrangler.

What do you love about your Jeep?

First of all, it’s a Jeep. An original Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV). This means it can go anywhere. It has four-wheel drive capabilities with a short ratio gearbox to clamber over hostile terrain. An open roof so that you can enjoy the elements and be one with nature, a raised ride height and all terrain tyres means that I don’t worry about damaging the underside and the straight six-engine has enough power to handle any obstacles.

What are some of the drawbacks?

It’s a popular car to rebuild, but unfortunately, because of it moving from one owner to another and the subsequent cannibalism of parts, it becomes a huge challenge to rebuild. It has become very specialised car to take up as a project and not just any mechanic is able to fix it. Getting the parts locally is also difficult, so I have to source for most of the parts from abroad. It’s also not efficient and this rules it out as a daily drive.

Opel Record Coupe – 1962

Who: Alice Githere Wahome, businesswoman and vintage car enthusiast

How did you acquire the Opel?

A friend knew that I loved vintage cars, but I had never owned one. One day, they called me up and said they’d seen something I’d like. It was in bad condition, all rusted and undone. It was completely kaput.  But it really caught my eye; I loved the shape. It’s all lady-like and sexy and I thought that it was just so me. I completely fell in love with the jet red colour. It took quite a lot of work to get it into the present condition but I could always see the potential.

What do you love most about it?

I love it most because it’s an old car. I have driven new cars but there’s something special about knowing that the engine is still original and still kicking. I drive a Mercedes and a Jaguar, but this is more beautiful than both of them and any car that I have ever driven. It has more character than just any other car. It’s not my daily driver, so I get to enjoy it when I’m going out in the evenings. The windows work surprisingly well for an old car too, and having three gears makes it a quirky car to drive. 

Any drawbacks?

I live in Mombasa and it doesn’t have an air conditioner, so I’m limited to driving it either early in the morning or late afternoons. Also because of the Mombasa climate, which just eats away at metal, I’ll have to have it half the year in Nairobi and the other half in Mombasa just so that it doesn’t rust away here. The gears weren’t locking well, and to get the part would have involved scouring the Internet and having to import it from wherever, so instead, I modified the part and it now runs smoothly. Getting the parts for this car is very hard.

I won’t say it was expensive, because my other cars cost more to buy, but it did cost a pretty penny for an old car. Either way, I value it more than the rest, so it really wasn’t expensive when you look at it that way.

1952 MGTD

Who: Diccon Wilcock, classic cars enthusiast

Why this car?

I found it in Lang’ata in 2001. It’s a strikingly beautiful car and I just couldn’t resist it. It was love at first sight. It had been off the road and I decided to restore it for the Concours d’Elegance. Restoring such a car is a labour of love and it takes a lot of patience and resilience and finally when it’s done, you can not only appreciate the car, but the bond you have formed.

What’s the best thing about this car?

You get a lot of people who like seeing it. You go out in the car over the weekend and a lot of people come up and just want to look at it. It’s not a car you see every day, it’s a novel car. I feel like it is a work of art that people can appreciate when you are out and about. So, I feel that when you own a classic car, you have to keep it in pristine condition; you can’t just let it rust away. A lot of modern cars are nothing special to look at, but among them, one comes across a meticulously maintained classic car and that becomes the highlight of their day. Everybody likes looking at nice cars and motorcycles.

Any downsides about it?

These old cars heat up quickly and are therefore not the best in traffic. If you get stuck in traffic, it starts to over-heat, so the best place to drive it is on open roads. To drive into the CBD would be a bad idea. Also, the matatus show no respect whatsoever. You spend a lot of time and money rebuilding such a car and the way they drive forces you to cringe. It’s a small car compared to the buses.

2014 Jaguar F-type convertible

Who: Saga Sami, Self-employed businessman

Engine: 3.0-litre super-charged V6

Why did you go for this car?

I saw it at a showroom at a dealer shop and instantly fell in love with it. It took me one and a half years of hard work to save up and buy it. Owning a Jaguar has been a lifelong dream, and I’m finally living it.

What does it do for you?

Every day when I drive this car, it gives me something new to remember. The speed, the cool sound system, the comfort and all the gadgets in it never fail to impress. In fact, It is the only convertible F- Type Jaguar in Kenya; the others are coupes. It is simply one of a kind.

 Any Drawbacks?

Well, it is not about the car, but the roads in Kenya. The car is designed with low riding shocks and this makes it hard to drive it where there are potholes. That is the only challenge. As for the car itself, I would say the manufacturer outdid themselves.

2007 Porsche 911 2-door coupe

Who: Samir Shah, businessman

Engine:3.6-litre petrol twin-turbo-charged flat-6

Transmission: 5-speed automatic 

How did you get the car?

I have had the car for a couple of months now. I bought it at a showroom in Nairobi after doing an online search.

What do you love about this car?

The low silhouette of this car makes it stand out. It is very luxurious and stable on the road irrespective of the speed due to the wide tyres and low suspension. Then the fact that it is a sports car, its performance in terms of acceleration and handling are quite incredible. There is a reason the 911 is so iconic.

Been on a road trip?

Not really, only going as far as the Southern by-pass. I was trying to get conversant with the car as a new owner and feel the 480 horsepower that I have long been hearing about. It was a remarkable experience and the power and handling is simply phenomenal.

 Was it your dream car? 

Absolutely. While I was a kid at around 10 years old, I had a picture of a red Porsche 911 turbo on my bedroom wall. It was a proper poster placed where my eyes could irresistibly see every morning when I wake up for school. It prompted me to work hard to own mine in the future. Though I have been in love with other car models over the years, my dream for one day owning a Porsche 911 turbo was steadfast.

Any drawback? If you were the manufacturer, what would you improve?

One thing about this vehicle is that it has low suspension, which makes it unfavourable to drive on Kenyan roads, particularly on the bumps and ramps. You have to move gently since you may end up tearing the sump guard or scratching the low parts of the car due to the low ride height.

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