There was plenty to see and learn at the first ever UG Auto Show held on Saturday at the Kololo Independence Grounds. Several participants showcased old, rare as well as new cars. There was also support from banks, insurance and Uganda Revenue Authority, among others.
For all that was promised, pretty much of it was showcased save for revellers not seeing the anticipated aerobatics (something you can call plane acrobatics). But seeing that it was mainly a ground and not air borne event that people had come for, the UG Auto Show held at the weekend at Kololo Independence Grounds was successful.
Being held for the first time, the organisers, Image Care, had plenty of lessons to learn as they build on this to have an even bigger event next year. Some people observed that the participants should have been more than those that turned up especially those on the vintage cars’ side.
Linus Olemukani, who exhibited a 1974 VW Beetle noted that there are over 20 Beetles in the country. So you can imagine if one brand has such a high number, what of other vintage Mercedes Benz cars, Peugeots,etc.
Excited by what he saw, Olemukani nevertheless hinted on forming a club of sorts called VW Elite club for those with air cooled machines only. “We already have a Facebook page,” he intimated. But unlike his vintage, some cars really fell short of being called vintages. They just didn’t fit the mark.
Being old and well maintained doesn’t necessarily qualify for a car to be called vintage like was the case with some of the cars at the show.
If we go by the stringent global classification of cars, only Chipper Adams Ford 2 made in 1925 makes the list. Others such as the Beetles would qualify as Classics for the era they dominated.
So many of the post-world war II cars would fall in categories such as collector’s items and rare cars. That said, those who have routinely well kept their old cars should be rewarded for doing so, seeing that it isn’t an easy feat to achieve.
We don’t sell
But one thing I observed as being shared among old car owners is that they all speak the same language : “We don’t sell our prized possessions.When you have an old well-maintained car, there is some kind of bond that you attach to it. It gets personal. Selling it becomes difficult because you feel like it is part of you,” Edson Tumushabe argued.
The owner of a rare Range Rover classic, which some people call ‘original’ says he has invested heavily in it. “Production of this car ended in 1994. If someone came with enough money to convince me, maybe $35,000 (about Shs90m), then I can sell it. But I don’t see a reason for selling it. Everybody should own such a car,” he boasts.
He adds that up to 20 people have given him offers but he often declines. He buys spare parts from UK and says it is cheap to mainatain as long as only original parts are used. The furthest place he has been with it, he says is Juba, Sudan! Bought in 1992 in Scotland and brought in Uganda in 2002, the Ebay redesigned car’s mileage is 144,000km, not bad for a car its age.
Tumushabe wasn’t alone in the ‘not selling group.’ Olemukani claimed that an old man in Mukono wanted to swap a piece of land with his 1974 Beetle and he refused.
He says parts are available in Ndeeba, Kisekka market and are sometimes bought from UK. Asked about the new Beetle, he said he doesn’t see anything striking about it only that it was made to look so “feminine” unlike his. “I don’t admire it,” he explains.
Asked how he maintains an equally old and rare Mercedes Benz 123, 1975 model, Tevin Kyome who bought it from someone else two years ago said it takes money to do so.
“I place orders in Dubai and UK. I love old cars. People ask to buy it but I am not interested. I rest it on weekends and drive a Subaru. Otherwise I drive it daily during work,” he explains.
Two or more cars in their possession
Like is the case with most people with rare cars, they rest them often and drive others. Socialite Judith Heard whose 2000 model Bentley she says was bought by her husband, drives it once in several months. “I usually drive the Audi Q7 and a Ford Thunderbird,” she says.
True to her word, she didn’t know much about the Bentley not even the year it was made till we showed her the mark. Nor did she know its fuel consumption-a huge 6.75litre turbo engine akin to a truck’s! Adan Kakuru’s Chevrolet Impala was bought in 1978 by his father.
The 1977 make with a 3600cc (though could be higher) was bought in 1978 and according to Kakuru, it is supposed to be kept within the family.
It was the first time it was gracing such a show. Like Chipper Adams’ vintage Ford, Kakuru charges Shs800,000 for it to use at events such as weddings and he drives it himself.
“From here, it goes back straight to the garage at home,” he told My Car. His father bought it from an envoy at the US embassy.
Asked how he copes with its length on narrow Ugandan roads, he said, “You drive it like a gentleman, not like youth. I don’t exceed 40kp/h.” the furthest he has been with it is Entebbe and he uses a specific person to service it.
Charles Nsubuga, owner of a Peugeot 504 said he fell in love with it while working in Nairobi and feels so attached to it that he cannot sell it.
He has been to Nairobi with it though! He has another car but still drives the 504 three times a week. Youthful Ronnie Muyingo has a well maintained Toyota Corolla DX sedan.
Bought by his father in 1988, the 1983 model car looks good. He has so far driven it for seven years. He claims special hire owners disturb him a lot asking if he is selling it for it would suit their duties given its small 1500cc engine.
When not in it, a Toyota Noah van carries him around. One of the show’s best attractions was Mzee Abdul Kironde whose 1972 Datsun SSS was used in the runaway hit song Mr DJ by Ugandan all stars.
Bought brand new, Kironde speaks fondly of the originally gray coloured car that he re-sprayed red to march his Express FC colour theme, a soccer team he loves. He says he was also given plates, cups and cutlery after buying the car.
For its exploits in the then famous East African Safari Rally and usage by President Idi Amin, Kironde vowed to have his own.
“Someone offered Sh30m and I refused. Grace Lubega, a rally driver, inspired me. They are only three cars of this kind. I have been to Kenya with it, I was at President Museveni’s father’s burial in the same car. It is that strong,” he notes.
He claims he can easily shift from gear four straight to one in this car, a rare feat in others even modern types. Taking turns to impress guests, every rare car owner impressed but those with modern and unique ones also had their time.
Besides the cars, there were stunts from bikers and a rally driver in Arthur Blick’s Subaru Impreza. The bikers had a field day you would think the show was only meant for them.
People took turns to be ridden on the very fast bikes. Safety was adhered to at the grounds whose flat surface often tempted many into speeding. A youngster from the Blicks’ family also thrilled people including children who looked up to him for inspiration. Exciting as it was, the second one should be bigger.
About vintage cars’ history
The vintage era in the automotive world was a time of transition. The car started off in 1919 as still something of a rarity, and ended up, in 1930, well on the way towards ubiquity. In fact, automobile production at the end of this period was not matched again until the 1950s. In the intervening years, most industrialised states built nationwide road systems with the result that, towards the end of the period, the ability to negotiate unpaved roads was no longer a prime consideration of automotive design.Towards the end of the vintage era, the system of octane rating of fuel was introduced, allowing comparison between fuels. Collecting: For the average person car collecting is a hobby. A person usually has a fascination with a certain vehicle or a history with one so seeks a certain make or model. Finding an antique car at an affordable price is not hard but can be relatively expensive depending on the condition or the desired end result. The less work required on a vehicle equates to a higher price. The more work required means a cheaper initial cost, but more in the long run, and a person’s level of restoration experience plays an important part.