My BMC story
Paul Cowie, South Africa
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.