Durban - Clare Estate businessman, Avie Maharaj has owned 60 Ford cars.
His first one was a Ford Escort 1.3 Mark 1 his father gave him when he turned 18.
Looking back today, he says he can remember all 60 of them. But as time went on and as one Ford was sold to buy a better model and his love for legal drag racing grew, Maharaj has settled for just four: a 1984 Ford Sierra XR8, a 1981 Ford Cortina XR6, a 1978 Ford Cortina 3.0S and a 1982 Ford Escort 1600 Sport which he says are his pride and joy and will never be sold.
Last year, when he showcased his XR8 at the Top Gear Festival Show and Shine competition in Durban he had the crowds swooning over his car.
JUST SO NEAT!
“Everybody tells me the same thing. How neat the car is and how they just love it,” Maharaj said.
The Ford Sierra XR8 is the car Maharaj uses to drag race and he has installed nitrous oxide in it to give it the edge.
“When you turn the ignition, pure intimidation comes over my competitors,” he said with a grin.
He walked around the car showing the Daily News its immaculate condition, the original blue trim that runs alongside it and the picture of the Grim Reaper painted on its bonnet.
“Some people think its called the Grim Reaper,” Maharaj said. “But no, we call it The Animal.”
And for good reason, too.
Maharaj reckons the XR8, which is one of only 250 ever built by the Ford Motor Company can go 12 seconds flat on a quarter mile.
This is because in addition to the nitrous, it has a five litre V8 motor, which is essentially the engine of a Mustang fitted in it.
“This thing eats Mercs and BMs by the dozen. Only if you have a worked up 63 Merc may you have a chance. But it must be properly worked or else you going to eat dust,” he said.
Maharaj’s red Ford Cortina XR6 is another classic. Built in 1981 it has just 112 000km on the clock.
When he bought it 10 years ago in addition to giving it a spray job, he added a three piece Zepter mags and Momo steering wheel – which he installs in all his vehicles as he is a big fan of them.
“Other than that, it is stock standard, like it came straight off the factory floor,” he beamed.
His Ford Cortina 3.0S which he spray painted Gunston Orange and installed 18 inch gold East Coast mags has just 55 000km on the clock.
The interior is fitted with Recaro racing seats, a momo steering wheel and a Momo gear knob.
“If you sit in this car not a single person will pass you without noticing it. It is that beautiful.”
For his everyday use, Maharaj drives a Nissan 300 ZX 1992 which he said he bought because it was unique.
When he does take his Fords out for a drive, Maharaj said he never parked them at a shopping centre or left them unattended fearing theft, or someone scratching it.
“I don’t even allow someone to lean on my cars. They are part of the family,” he said.