Tag Archives: vehicles

Fixing roads

Fixing roads
This vehicle is used build, or repair, roads. I'm guessing that the large caterpillar wheels are designed in that way to spread its weight across a larger surface - else the vehicle would be damaging more than it was fixing!

Roadworks are terribly inconvenient and seem to appear from nowhere at the least opportune time; which is normally when I'm running late. But, even though they're frustrating at the time, I'd far rather have the momentary inconvenience than a lifetime of dodgy roads!

Hire a bike and cycle around Table Mountain


Now before you get any ideas about cycling around Table Mountain, or even around and about the city, I'd have to warn you that you'd be insane. Cape Town city and the surrounding areas are extremely hilly, and while cycling about in the very early morning really is the best thing since sliced bread, I'd suggest that you hire a proper bike (with plenty of gears) from guys like Cape Town Cycle Hire or Rent a Bicycle.

Now that it's Argus Cycle Tour time again, you'll see dozens of cyclists practising and getting fit in the morning, generally before work. If you're a cyclist here on holiday, then you may even be able to hook up with a few riders taking a morning trip out past Camps Bay, and through to Llandudno - one of the most beautiful rides along the coast.

Disclaimer: I've never hired anything from either company, so while I suggest that you check them out, I can't vouch for them. :)

The infamous Volla

The Volkswagen Beetle

For many years the Volkswagen Beetle was a typical student car, and like most student cars, they have a reputation for not being the most reliable vehicles around.

Of course, students might have conveniently used the "my Volla broke down" line as an excuse for not attending lectures... and for only being able to get as far as the nearest watering hole. Be that as it may, the Beetle holds many memories, both good and bad, for the majority of those who were at one time or another varsity, technikon, or college students.

And, in case you were wondering, the title of this post makes reference to the Beetle as the Volla (pronounced for-lah) - an affectionate Afrikaans abbreviation for Volkswagen, and specifically this Volkswagen.

Goodbye to the Citi Golf Mk1

The last Citi Golf Mk1

South Africa's been producing Volkswagen Citi Golfs since 1984, and has since that date made about 377,000 of the little beasts. The last Citi Golf Mk1 rolled off the production line on 2 November 2009, and while it's a dream come true for many who dislike these old cars, it's the end of an era for many people who love them.

The Citi Golf became something of a cult car in South Africa. It seems like those who've owned one have fallen in love with the car, and talk fondly of memories that they've shared with this vehicle. If you were to ask current and past owners for a single word to describe the car I think the most frequently used word would be "dependable".

To celebrate the Citi Golf, and commemorate the many years of production, Volkswagen took this car (the last one to come off the production line) on a tour of South Africa, inviting fans of the brand to leave a short message and signature on the bodywork.

Wherever in the country this Golf went, fans were sure to follow, standing in long queues to get a chance to make their mark on the car. Indeed, it's the end of an era, and although production has now stopped, I assure you that based on morning rush-hour traffic it seems as though there are still around 377,000 of them on the road! Farewell Mk1! :)

See a few more photos of the signing of the Citi in our photo album.

Almost F1-racing at Killarney – you can do it too!

Reynard single-seater racing at Killarney

In my previous article I spoke about my outing to the Killarney racing circuit, arranged by Cape Town Tourism and Fantastic Racing. The plan was to show me (and you) what fun can be had taking a few laps in these Reynard racing cars. (See a few more photos from the day in our album over here).

We were given overalls, boots and gloves similar to the ones that you may have seen Formula1 drivers parading around in, and then we sat down while one of the instructors explained everything that we needed to know about driving one of these beasts.

After the briefing, we all jumped on the back of a bakkie (a small utility vehicle) that took us on a slow ride around the circuit. As we drove, the instructor explained where we should drive and what we should be cautious about - like braking before entering a corner, and staying off the grass. :)

On our return to the garage we grabbed our helmets and headed off to the Reynards. Getting into the car was a little tricky (it's a fairly tight fit) but once in I felt pretty snug, and with the 5-point harness, pretty well secured. I quickly tested all the controls to make sure that everything was within reach, fired up the engine, and waited for the marshals to indicate that it was my turn to pull the car forward.

Getting going was pretty easy - the speed-machine worked much like any other manual car, except that the gearbox was sequential. This means that you keep pulling backwards on the stick to go from first to second, through to sixth gear and then push forward to go from sixth to fifth, through to first - easy-peasy.

The instructor took the lead around the circuit, with everyone following in single-file. I have to say that it was pretty easy and within two laps I felt fully in control, gunning it as fast as the car could go down the straights, but being just a little cautious on the bends. ;) After about 6 laps the chequered flag came out and I finished the final lap as fast as I possibly could. :)

We had a little break with some refreshments and a little more instruction from our teacher and then headed off for our second set. This time was even better since I felt in control right from the start and the tips given in the break helped me to know better where to drive and how to get the most out of the Reynard.

All in all, it was fantastically awesome and I find myself fighting a motor-racing addition. :) The cost ranges from R2,500 to about R4,400, depending on the package you choose, and if you have a need for speed, it's definitely something to add to your to-do list!

Thanks to Bianca, Julie, and the rest of the Fantastic Racing team for the rocking morning. If you'd like to enquire about learning to race one of these cars, check out the contact details on this page, and if you'd like a map to Killarney, see the Google Map with the route that I've plotted from the N1 right to Fantastic Racing's doorstep.

Temporal tractor

A tractor

Years ago, before I was 10, my grandfather owned a farm in the Northern Transvaal (now called Limpopo). This tractor reminded me of our visits to my grandparents over the Christmas period.

I remember two small tractors, similar to this one, that stood on their property, with flat tyres and worn-out engines. The strange thing is that I can also remember the (very distinctive) smell of old oil and grease (from the tractors) baking in the sun, and now as I look at this photo I swear that I can actually smell it again!

Long and winding road

Red road bus

Have you ever been on a long-distance bus trip? When I was young, I used to go on a lot of school camps, and of course, we were always transported to and from the campsites by bus. Most of these trips were only two or three hours long, but on one occasion we travelled all the way from Cape Town to Pretoria (about 1400km) on a bus - an ordinary bus too, not one of those nice luxury ones with the soft seats, headrests and little curtains.

I guess it's not so bad when you're young, because it's kind of an adventure. Still, I remember it being a Very Long Journey. What's the furthest you've ever travelled by bus?

Tractor-rides through the farmlands

Tractor rides

Early morning and sunset tractor-rides through vineyards are the best. I've just discovered how difficult it is to find somewhere (near Cape Town) to go on a tractor-ride. But nevertheless I've managed to find a wine estate in Wellington that does just this. Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate offers tractor-rides for 6 people at 35ZAR per person - including a glass of wine! At that price the cynic in me says that it must be a glass for everyone to share, but Kerry-Anne's convinced that it's a glass per person.

Check out Diemersfontein's website and consider doing some of the other activities, like perhaps a picnic, horse ride or short hike.

Disclaimer: Diemersfontein didn't ask us to write this article, and, in fact, we've never actually been to Diemersfontein. If you decide to go, and then discover that it sucks (which I doubt), please leave a comment and let us know. On the other hand, if it's awesome, please leave some feedback too!

What do bakkies and dragons have in common?

Isuzu bakkie

I'm sure that many of you will recognise, and perhaps love or hate, the make of bakkie (an Afrikaans word pronounced "buck-key") in this photo. For some reason South Africans love their bakkies. Heck, I've often been tempted to buy one just because they're so convenient when something that won't fit into a regular car boot needs to be carted around.

But at the same time, I also hate bakkies. Since many of those that frequent our roads have older diesel motors, they don't accelerate particularly fast - especially when overloaded, as they often seem to be. Also, older models generally puff huge quantities of smelly diesel fumes that force me to roll up my windows and block my car's air-vents.

It's true though - these smelly, slow machines are work-horses and play a huge role in keeping our economy going... so perhaps I should tolerate them a little more than I tend to. That said, it would be great if more owners could afford to have their vehicles fixed up so that they puff with a little less vigour.

Oh, the answer to the question posed in the post title is that both blow huge puffs of grey or black smoke. :P