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After a million kilometres in a South African-built 2004 Volkswagen Polo, veteran salesman Gerrie Esterhuizen finally has the answer to the question he has been asking for months.
Esterhuizen, 67, said: “We always wondered what would happen when the speedometer clocked over.”
His wife Magriet chimed in: “After 999999.9 kilometres, the speedometer just shows six dashes, although the trip meter is still working.
She has been his constant companion in recent years on his travels as a salesman from their home in Soutpan, near Bloemfontein, through the Free State and parts of the Northern Cape, North West and Lesotho.
Esterhuizen said: “We travel as much as 800km a day from our home and back, often spending more than 10 hours on the road and seeing clients, mainly in small towns in our sales territory.
“These days we average between 8000km and 10 000km a month, although in previous years we drove more than 12 000km a month.”
The Esterhuizens, who have three children and five grandchildren, have kept meticulous records of their million-kilometre odyssey.
“We reckon the Polo used 66 666 litres of petrol to get to the million mark. That's about 700km per 50-litre tank, or 6.6 litres per 100km. At an average of R8 a litre over the years, that's about R533 000 in petrol.”
“But the cost of maintaining the car has been so low we can't calculate it. We've had two new fuel pumps fitted - one at 200 000km and another at 800 000 - but the engine has never been opened. Its clutch, starter, alternator, exhaust system, radiator and oil pump are all original.”
To celebrate 'clocking' their Polo, the Esterhuizens were invited to drive it to the plant where it was built in Uitenhage There it was given a special overnight paint, dent removal, and general brush-up package, and fitted with a new instrument cluster - free of charge, of course.