When Ben Van Rooyen first laid eyes on a 1934 Chevrolet Master, he knew he would transform the vehicle into the icon it once was. Having parked in a shed for 20 years, the 66 year old Van Rooyen from Brakpan, near Johannesburg, restored the vehicle to such pristine condition that it was used in a six-part US miniseries based on the life and times of Nelson Mandela.


Van Rooyen said he was approached to be part of the filming process when the immaculate state of his Chevrolet caught the attention of US filmmakers who was shooting the miniseries in Johannesburg. “The cameramen filmed me driving the car up and down streets of Johannesburg. This role filled me with pride because a lot of love, pride and time went into restoring this Chev,” said Van Rooyen.


Built at the Port Elizabeth plant 82 years ago, the Chevrolet was still in its original condition. Van Rooyen started by stripping the engine and everything else off the entire car. A bonus was that the vehicle was rust free, due to the climate in Brakpan. “I had to order pistons and valves online from America, because you can no longer buy them in South Africa.”


On the inside the car has a new roof and roof linings. The upholstery was also completely redone. Van Rooyen kept the colour of the car the same, but he changed the mud guards to a maroon colour because he felt it enhanced the look. “For a car that is more than 80 years old it not only looks good but it drives smoothly.” Van Rooyen displays the vehicle once a month during motor shows hosted by his motoring club, Just Wheels in Brakpan.



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