VREDENDAL – Some things you just can’t kill – and that includes your average Isuzu KB bakkie.
Proof of this is to be found in the West Coast hamlet of Vanrynsdorp, in turn, a stone’s throw from Vredendal, some 270 kilometres up the N7 from Cape Town.
Here, diesel mechanic Daniël Kotze lives with his young brood and a fleet of old Isuzu: three kids and seven of the tough-as-nails KBs. Oh, and a single Chevrolet LUV, which is what the Isuzu one-tonner was badged as from its local introduction in 1973, until 1978. This one is a 1973 vintage, so in essence, it represents the very beginning of the Isuzu name locally.
The newest is a 2008 KB250, which has well over 400 000km on it…
But the prized possession is a (somewhat faded) metallic blue 1979 model, which came to him via his grandfather and then his father. It joined the Kotze family fleet in 1983 and covered over half-a-million kilometres with its original engine, much of that mileage as a hard-working ‘plaas’ bakkie, explains Daniël.
Another KB was found derelict under a tree in Springbok in the Northern Cape and belonged to an old Oom, whose son was glad to get shot of it. The dry inland climate means that, despite standing under said tree for more than a decade, it’ll ‘clean up nicely’ as they say in the trade.
Daniël has a great love for motor vehicles in general and it turns out that he is a walking KB encyclopaedia; authoritatively rattling off generation codes, engine sizes, nomenclature and dates when specific derivatives and models were introduced.
For example, the model that replaced the LUV was the KB20, available in both petrol and diesel, with launch prices of R3 485 and R4 295, respectively he says.
“The first double cab version arrived in 1994 but long before that there were people locally who converted the KB25 ‘langbak’ into a four-door,” he points out.
Daniel’s collection is made up largely of diesel-powered single cabs, which is somewhat appropriate for a man whose business revolves around fixing workhorses of various kinds.
“Most of my collection will start and run, but they do need some work!” admits Daniël. “I’ll get around to restoring them one day when there’s time, probably starting with one that belonged to my Oupa.”