When the first owner of this car saw what the second owner had done to her, he said with no small amount of pleasure: “Ek’s baie bly ek het die kar aan jou verkoop.”
The two characters in this story are 83-year-old Oom Johan Kruger, who was parting with his treasured 1971 Datsun Cedric 260C, and Theo Williams, a 45-year-old car, soccer and darts fan from Wynberg.
The Datsun is a rare bird, bought new by Oom Johan and his wife in the Northern Cape, and discovered by Theo who, as the story will show, figured a project would be the exact thing he and his family needed.
Theo, who had no mechanical background, says: “I was always a petrol head since my teenage years, starting off in the 80s with a Ford Cortina XR6.”
A fan of displacement, Theo replaced the standard 260 engine with a complete Lexus V8 engine, gearbox and management system. Not wanting to cut the body or bonnet, he says there were lots of hours put in to fit the powerplant perfectly. It was also converted from manual to automatic.
But as beautiful as the car is itself, the story behind it is even more so. It is the heart-warming story of a dad making good by his sons.
Theo says: “I’m a single parent of two teenage boys, and it takes hard work and drive to manage their innocent lives and cement a good and solid foundation for their futures.
“About a year-and-a-half ago I was challenged to the limit with ‘teenage peer pressure moments’ and needed a distraction to redirect their focus and energy. I was out of this car game for years but I remembered it as one thing that kept me focused, hence the decision to buy an old car and rebuild it with my boys.
“Today, it’s all about old classic cars with both my boys joining me on runs, park-offs and shows.”
And the three Williams guys have done what can only be described as a thorough job. We’re talking bumper to bumper goodness here. Theo says of the exterior: “I wanted to stay true to the car’s design, so I kept everything original but enhanced all the chrome beading.”
Exterior mods include: A spray job in three-stage pearl coat with a touch of flake, new angel eye head lamps with HIDs, old school Mustang Viper 20-inch rims (for the muscle look), imported side rear view mirrors, carbon fibre front grill and back cover, and he made his own flush mount fender indicator lenses.
The interior got genuine leather seating (black with red stitching). “I imported the leather from Italy myself, better quality and a bit cheaper than buying it local,” adds Theo.
Sound Dynamics fitted electric windows, central locking and redesigned the center console The dashboard, roof lining and door panels were not left out of the makeover, and all plastic components were re-chromed. Carpets were replaced. New door and panel rubbers all round put the seal on the deal. Not to mention a top quality Rockford Fosgate audio system.
But back to what makes this car so extra special. Theo says: “Oom Johan had asked me to bring the car around when I was done, and I did just that two weeks ago.”
The oom’s reaction (baie bly), delivered in what Theo describes as “an emotional voice”, is credit to the guys’ dedication.
Theo adds: “His daughter, now in her 40s, also mentioned that this was her matric ball car back in the day.
“But what made this car even more special is the fact that I shared every painful and happy moment with my boys in my garage as they too played a role in the finished product. I’ve also added my own small unique touches to the car that only have meaning to me and my life experiences.
“This car served its purpose without even starting her up and now has sentimental value to my boys, which is priceless. Oh and I had always wanted a car built in my birth year.
Theo reflects: “Sitting back now, thinking this was a good but a very expensive kind of bug. I wouldn’t do this any time soon again but we achieved what we wanted to. Must admit this build was therapeutic to me as well, spending hours and hours in the garage forgetting there is a world out there.”
Theo’s pals in his club AAD Western Cape Group call the Cedric “Dik stem” after the loud rumble of her muscle engine. In an apology to this same group of fanatics, he adds: “Though, I would really love to drive a restored and modified Ford Prefect hotrod one day. Sorry Datsun guys.”