Never has the saying “like father, like son” been more relevant.
Almost a decade ago Bobby Nitro did a feature on Nur Kemp and his rare left-hand drive Ford Sierra with the split bonnet.
Now, up and coming, we have his son, Mujahid, with another left-hand Sierra, this time in midnight black.
It’s a story of a teen with a vision, the so many things he learned about and did to make that vision into a reality and the patient, capable, resourceful and respectful young man he’s become as a result of that commitment. It’s a story too, about the important link between father and son.
And if that’s not enough, this cabbie itself has an interesting story behind it. Four years ago, Nur bought a dilapidated old 1981 two-litre Ford Sierra Ghia imported from Germany because he needed a dashboard for his car. At that time Mujahid, at the age of 16, told his father: “I want to build this car up for myself.” Four years later and this beauty has come back to life.
Mujahid really started with what can best be described as a wreck and he knew that he was going to have to get skilled up in many departments, from bodywork to mechanics to upholstery, if he was to get the Sierra restored. What better challenge for an aspiring petrolkop.
Bobby Nitro spoke to Mujahid this week, first about his inspiration, because you need a lot of that to take on a project of this size. Mujahid says: “I wanted to design my car the way I wanted it, like a real life video game. My dad is a huge Ford guy and when we found this one rotting away, I saw the perfect opportunity to build every boy’s dream race car.”
It arrived with no engine, no gearbox, paint faded and peeling, broken bumpers and grille, rusted all over, upholstery torn and with a license that was 11 years behind. Mujahid’s work was certainly cut out for him.
He says: “Every day after school I would run to the yard and cut some rust out, or sand the car down, getting the dents out and ready for primer. Because my dad can spraypaint, I learned at a young age.
“I had a vision of the interior so I sketched the design of the stitching on the seats for the upholsterer Boeta, then we matched it with race-themed seat belts and steering wheel.”
Mujahid built some of a boy’s excitement into the Ford. He says: “Ever since I was young I had always loved that classic turbo dump sound and because I was building my dream car there had to be a turbo, just to excite that small boy in me.”
The painstaking work came with the engine, as every part had to be sourced and bought and restored, as this guy wanted an engine bay that would make a statement, down to every nut and bolt. Mujahid says: “I had to source or fabricate 99% of the parts and honestly this was only possible through family and friends. I was in school at the time and would earn some money by collecting scrap metal and selling it to the yard.”
Bobby just loves that level of commitment. Especially a teen doing the work to earn the money to make the car. Proper formative experiences those, and they have set Mujahid up to become a responsible and committed young man. His build also shows that when you make an effort, other people will help out.
Mujahid continues: “My family, especially my parents and grandfather, really helped out. My friend, Imaad Kamaldien, helped me with the boot panels. Then another friend, Saajid Gamieldien, who probably knows this car better than me, helped out with everything from connecting an aerial to swapping out engines. Because my dad is such a Ford guy we’d even find some spares in the yard, or we’d sommer sneak some parts from his Sierra (big LOL here).”
In the difficult moments, and there were many, he says the dream to one day go for drives with his friends in his own car kept the project alive.
Bobby can only imagine the feeling of having completed a project like this.
“Every now and again when I look at the car I get excited by what I managed to achieve. It makes me proud because, at the age of 19, I built something that even adults are amazed at. And the best part is, I didn’t build it to impress others, I built it because that’s how I like it to be. I look at it and I feel a burst or pride.” Well-earned pride that, says Bobby.
Projects like these are invaluable, and so much more than steel and paint. They provide connection, and nurture that vital connection between father and son.
“My dad and I would sometimes be under the car until 2am, laughing like it’s a normal thing to do. He had a hand in everything from the paint to the plugs, and I really can’t thank him enough.”
The Ford has its strong points and annoying bits, with the strengths definitely outweighing the weaknesses.
“Look, it’s a little annoying that the petrol attendant always goes to the passenger window, and ticket windows are a stretch for me, and it suips the petrol, but it has so much crowd appeal and sheer power. Lots of people love old Fords, it’s where their hearts are, and when they hear that turbo sound they lose their minds. That’s probably why I get challenged to race so much.”
But when it comes to being responsible and safe on the roads, Mujahid has developed some good maniere.
“I believe there is a time and place for everything, and to show off is plain stupid because at the end of the day you have a broken car for five seconds of driving recklessly. Look, there are times I do burnouts, I mean old Fords are practically designed for that, but only when I’m sure it’s safe.
“And most of the time I try to be home by 10pm, because that was always a rule growing up. People go a bit crazy on the roads late at night, and I don’t want to risk all my hard work. Sometimes I push it to 11pm, but then I better have a chocolate for my old lady.”
Asked what message he would like to give to the community, he says: “I’d like teens to see that there are better things to do than to stand on corners doing drugs. I want them to see this car as an inspiration to achieve their dreams, just like I did with my Sierra.”
Now, this cabbie is a rare beauty, but the real value comes in that statement right there. Role models like Mujahid Kemp are of real value in our community.