Every so often I get itchy feet.
Not all “sell everything I have and run away” kind of travel. But you know, more the “Lets go have a look around the country” kind of vibes.

In 2013 I took a year off of sorts (well from South Africa at least) and made my way around the United States on a six week road trip.  Now many folks have done just that before. But for me, what made this all special was the fact that I did it alone, and in a series of Motorhomes…Or rather “RV’s” as they are called out there.

Without getting all depressed about the state of South Africa. I do not recommend that folks do an identical trip here, like I did there.  Namely for reasons of safety.  Every day I would just fire up that massive seven litre v10 engine and just head west.  No idea where I was heading..no idea what to expect and no agenda.

I owned a van several years ago that I bought via www.gumtree.co.za much like the rest of my cars that I have bought and sold over the years. I think I must have owned over 22 motorised vehicles at this stage in my life. I like the buying and selling of cars. Often I have picked up vehicles that were going for a song and used them, abused them and many times sold them on for a profit.


I did just that in 2010.  I bought without a car on gumtree without even having seen her. It was probably my dream car as a kid. I would have been happy just to have gone for a ride in one as a kid. No. Im not talking about a state of the art german supercar. My dream car was a 1980 VW Kombi Autovilla.  An old classic bay window VW Kombi on the transporter chassis with a full caravan body added to it. All factory fitted too. 

I had been in a bad motorcycle accident in January, and I had pretty much decided that that form of transport was something I was going to give up on.  With a few rand in my pocket, I had been scanning Gumtree for a while to see what I could get in the Western Cape with regards to Kombi’s.  I saw one or two but nothing stole my heart. Till I found this bad boy.  Unfortunately it was in Port Elizabeth.  Even though it was a flight away. I still knew this was the car for me. I booked a flight, went to PE and drove directly back to Cape Town. On route the exhaust fell off, the gear box siezed up and I still managed to limp back into CT. When I arrived, I felt like I had introduced a new child to the world. I am not the kind of guys who takes pride in machines. But this was a special time and a special car.

1
I had many adventures in that car. It was a mix of the best thing I have ever owned and also the worst.  Mechanically it was rubbish and i spent a lot of time working on her to get her ship shape and ready for the next adventure.  I eventually used her in an episode of “Come Dine with me South Africa” where folks were led to believe that it was my actual home. So after countless music festivals, the occasions writing expedition and many great trips, I eventually decided to part with her.  She was just sitting in my driveway and I knew she needed a garage. She was rusting up and I couldn’t give her the attention she needed.

I sold her on after that. With regret I might add. It was the only car I have sold, that as it rolled away from my drive-way, I could feel the tears well up in my eyes.  I was genuinely sad.

I have bought lots of cars via www.gumtree.co.za (most recently was a classic old 1966 Volvo 122s) and I am always scanning the ads for that next impulse purchase.  You know the car is right for you when dozens of your friends are all “ANOTHER CAR EVANS????”

I found this a few days ago when surfing the site… http://goo.gl/M8l2LP
What I saw here sparked that flame that makes me want to buy again.

But here is my problem. I am about to move into a new awesome city loft with my girlfriend in Cape Town. A city that is notoriously short on parking spaces.  So without a doubt, I am probably barking up the wrong tree if I think another car is a good idea.  In fact, I have been thinking about selling my main car as well. In a city with so many links to quality transport, cheap cabs and such good wine and restaurants. Why would i even tan to drive?

I called up the owner of the van to ask him a few questions about it.  To be honest the info on the advert was rather shy of details. That often leaves me thinking that perhaps the seller doesn’t know a great deal about their car.  How wrong I was.

The gentleman I called was Henri Booysen.  I guessed from the sound of his voice that Henri wasn’t exactly a 20 year old who owned this for trips to Oppikoppi.  He was a wise old man and when I asked him about the van, he amazed me with detail. 

Turns out that the van is pretty much built from the ground up by Henri. He did the coachwork, he built the chassis onto a tipper truck load body so he could level it off when parked on inclines, he had installed the engine, the cab, the carpentry for the interior….all of it….all done by his own hands.

Personally I like to dabble with tools.  By dabble, I mean buy some, and by the process of owning them feel a bit more manly. Can I use them?  no.  no i cannot. Im pretty useless.

When I saw this van, and the photos of all the travel stickers on the windshield, I could only but imagine all the adventures that Henri and his wife have been on in this awesome car.

For some of us, our dream cars are million rand performance vehicles suited to a track.For me. Its a car just like this. Something that you can make memories for life in.I just wish I had the extra money and parking to keep this. Maybe you should instead.  Why worry about load shedding and what not, when you are completely self sufficient on wheels.

That folks…..That is my dream car.
I cannot buy this car right now. Maybe you can. Why don’t you give Henri a shout and make a deal with him instead.
http://goo.gl/M8l2LP

mercvan

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