The difference between Ibrahim Sowed’s Toyota Corolla 1974 model and a Nissan Datsun SSS 160J 1972 model, both saloon cars when he had just picked them from a junkyard in Nansana in early 2015, and their present restored look is quite unbelievable.
While the Datsun was parked in an abandoned perimeter wall at the time, with overgrown bushes, the Toyota Corolla had been parked for a long time and was rusting away. The Corolla UXJ 446 did not have rear lights and the Datsun UVX 778 did not have some of its windows.
Their restoration took Sowed four years and the result is the new green and orange and white shinny appearance. These, however, came at financial and time expenses. From his job that ended at approximately 5pm, Sowed would rush to the garage in Kisaasi to get his hands dirty as the restoration took place.
“I bought the two car shells and searched for information on the internet on where I could get the spareparts needed to get them back on the road,” he recalls.
“The search led me to Gulu, Lira and Nairobi for spareparts that I mostly got from old cars. After getting the spare parts, I dedicated time to work on the cars from 5pm to about 8pm everyday for three years,” Sowed adds.
From the wiring system to the engine, every spare part for the two cars was sourced locally and internationally. The engines and gearboxes and double differentials, or double diff were imported from Dubai. The bodies were reworked from Kampala while the bumpers and sport rims were sourced from Nairobi. The door handles were imported from Malaysia while the side mirrors were imported from Japan.
“Welding the body of the Nissan Datsun and importing its engine from Malaysia and the windscreen were challenging. I had to patch up different parts to get the car on the road. It has a sport engine when revved and I had to get spare parts to match its performance,” Sowed says. Much as the public calls Sowed a mechanic, he is not. He just has passion for cars. He drives the two cars once in two weeks to work. When he does not drive to office, he drives to attend parties.
The service of the Toyota Corolla depends on the particular part you want. The beauty about it is that all parts can be bought in Kampala. It also shares some parts with most Toyota brand cars. For example, the brakes are those of the AE100, commonly known as Kikumi, the master cylinder is the same as that used in a Toyota Hiace, popularly known as Kigege and also shares some parts with the Toyota G-Touring.
With the Nissan Datsun, Sowed says most parts are not readily available. For example, the two indicators cost approximately $200 (about Shs720,000) to have them imported from Dubai, while he will need the same amount or more to replace engine oil, oil filters and spark plugs, among other parts.
While he changes the Toyota Corolla engine oil after covering 1,000 kilometres, because of its sporty engine, he changes engine oil for the Datsun after covering 500 kilometres.
However, the Datsun can also share engine oil with the Toyota Corolla if it not used for racing.
On average, the total cost of restoring the Nissan Datsun was Shs11m while the Toyota Corolla needed approximately Shs14m.
After washing using a special detergent, Sowed covers the two cars with tarpaulins so that they are not affected by changing weather conditions.