Africa Calling - Piers1



On a recent South African "safari" up near the Cullinan mine, where the famous "Star of Africa diamond was discovered in 1905, I found my own "diamond in the rough"- a rare left hand drive, 5/7 seater '61 Chevrolet Suburban. Incredibly, after lying out under the harsh African sun for the last 30 years, the body had only minor rust. Granted it needed a bit of work but the only thing that really concerned me was the badly damaged, (yellow/black) curved shaped windscreen. The owner, Monty (83), a sun baked, wily African Boer said he'd sell it to me but only if I accepted his challenge - TO RETURN THE VEHICLE TO GM HEADQUARTERS! Somewhat amused, I told him I'd think it over and set off to check out another classic - a '35 Chevy Pick Up, on the Skeleton Coast, a heavily restricted Namibian diamond mining area.

Driving through the sweltering Namibian desert, my thoughts kept returning to that "burb in the bush". I just couldn't leave it there to "RIP" (rust in peace!) This old classic had plenty of life left in it. Suddenly, I got an idea. Why not take up Monty's challenge? I'd simply fix it up, ship it to Buenos Aires, drive it West over the Andes into Chile, on up through South / Central America / Mexico, right up to GM's Detroit car park! Who knows, maybe those GM marketing lads could use this old Chevy for a unique publicity campaign or simply exhibit it in their museum! With some serious current losses, these lads needed all the help they could get! Who knows, perhaps potential buyers might be inclined to believe the GM blurb - GM vehicles are rugged and long lasting.

Over a well earned, cold beer in the Namibian coastal town of Luederitz, another idea came into my head! Why not make a road trip TV "doccie? Surely viewers and those TV network lads must be fed up with all those reality shows? Here was a real life adventure! Everything was in place - a cool, rugged, weather-beaten vehicle, spectacular scenery, plenty of classics to track down and interesting characters to interview. I had the time, passion, experience, energy and with all my Cape Town movie contacts, it wouldn't be difficult to round up a motley crew of 3/4. There was only one obstacle - dosh!

Sadly, I wasn't exactly flush having invested considerably in my own '40's -'60's collection of Bentleys / Chevy Pick Ups and so on. Granted, renting them out as Cape Town movie "prop" weather beaten vehicles did pay for some of those costly "hospital" bills but if I was going to restore, ship this old Chevy across the Atlantic and film the whole adventure, I needed a partner. Someone who not only believed in the project but confident his / her investment would be recouped from TV network / DVD sales. Any adventurous souls out there? Perhaps the next time one of your golfing buddies asks you " What's up Dave?" "Well actually Tom, I'm making a road trip movie!

On a recent "safari" I came across an original '53 Chevy hearse which looks like something you'd see in an early Bond film or used by Papa Doc's dreaded secret police, the Ton ton Macute to "voodoo" terrorize local Hatians. I'm thinking of fixing it up, painting it black/cream, tinting the windows and approaching Guinness (my favourite drink) to see if they would be interested in launching a unique marketing campaign. "Dead on Time" wouldn't be a bad slogan!

Slan! The Celt!

Pics of the '61 burb in the bush" + other African "bush" classics will be sent to "honest" John who hopefully, will post them.


Value my car