When I meet Adam Mayanja, his 1971 Volkswagen Kombi pick-up truck is being washed. He has just returned from Masaka.
Built with a 1700cc engine, Mayanja picked the 49-year-old manual car in Masindi District in 2011. It was rotting away in a junkyard. He slowly rebuilt it and gave it its current multi-coloured face.
“When I brought it to the workshop, I had to weld parts of the body that had rusted, repainted it, bought new tyres and side wood, among other parts. I used wood because I wanted the car to have a natural feel. I took time to have all this done because not all spare parts were readily available,” Mayanja recalls.
On average, Mayanja says he spent about Shs20m.
“There were times I bought spares and later realised they were fake yet I could not go back to the dealer. This meant that I had to raise more money to buy genuine parts. I had to source for some parts such as the circular side mirrors and wheel caps and others from Kenya,” he adds.
Unique pick-up truck
Compared to other modern pick-up trucks, the Kombi commands an advantage much as it has an over 40-year technology difference. It is not a four wheel drive but in slippery areas, it will not get stuck.
This is because its strength was manufactured in the rear axle (pulling from behind), which also gives it an added stability advantage on the road. Its engine is positioned at the rear end, just like the old model VW beetles and has four exhaust pipes, two on either side of the car.
It is not only a three seater (driver and two passengers) vintage pick-up truck but has a speed limit of 140km/hour.
Mayanja says the Kombi has capacity of carrying four tonnes on the trailer. Interestingly, it also comes with three spare tyres, one on each side of the car and the other at the front.
When he travels upcountry, Mayanja can load as many as three sacks of charcoal or eight bunches of matooke in the boot. And when he goes camping, he uses the boot as sleeping space.
Performance and specifications
After owning the car for the last eight years, Mayanja says the Kombi uses one litre of petrol to cover seven kilometres on the highway, and approximately five kilometres in urban areas with slow moving traffic.
He adds that the Kombi is comfortable since its seats were manufactured with inbuilt springs.
It also has strong shock absorbers that even when he accidentally hits a pothole or hump, he does not easily feel the impact.
Service and maintenance
Since he does not drive it daily, Mayanja services the Kombi once every three months. This involves replacing crucial car performance parts such as the oil and engine filters as well as engine oil.
All this, he says, costs about Shs130,000.