By 20 November 2008 0 Comments Read More →

My BMC story

Paul Cowie, South Africa

The shot my dad took of the Austin the Saturday afternoon we took delivery. She had been ordered with narrow white wall tyres, and they finally came two weeks later.

The shot my dad took of the Austin the Saturday afternoon we took delivery. She had been ordered with narrow white wall tyres, and they finally came two weeks later.

I GREW up on the Copperbelt in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) where the Austins and Wolseleys were kings of the road! Ours were built from CKD packages in Umtali, Southern Rhodesia (Mutari, Zimbabwe) and I think had slightly different spec to the British ones… they all had leather and Wooden dashboards for example.

We tended to buy new cars every September, as we were paid massive bonuses depending on the price of copper that particular year. In 1963, for example, we were able to get an Austin A110 as well as a Wolseley 6/110 and still have plenty of change for a holiday at the end of the year!

Those who chose to travel by car usually took about four days for the trip, and were pretty exhausted at the end of it!

Holidays were always spent in Cape Town, some 2750 miles south over pretty horrendous roads, so the cars were usually sent by rail two weeks prior to our own departure by rail. They would then be offloaded and cleaned by the Automobile Association, and ready for us to drive when we arrived, after a five or six day train ride.

Those who chose to travel by car usually took about four days for the trip, and were pretty exhausted at the end of it! The Black Austin came into its own at the end of 1963 when we had to get back to Zambia from Cape Town in a hurry, so the road route had to be the one…

We did it in two and a half days!

We left Cape Town at noon on the Tuesday, slept at Colesburg that night (500miles).

The following day we travelled through the rest of South Africa to the Zimbabwean border (1100 miles) where we once again slept. Finally, on the Thursday, we arrived home after 14 hours, having stopped only for petrol and crossing yet another border!

Quite an exciting trip, and one that brings back incredible memories.

A shot taken whilst filling up with petrol near Winburg in the Orange Free State. That is me nervously watching the attendants…heaven help them if they did something wrong!

A shot taken whilst filling up with petrol near Winburg in the Orange Free State. That is me nervously watching the attendants…heaven help them if they did something wrong!

Posted in: AROnline Blogs
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

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