Johannesburg - When Ben Van Rooyen first saw this 1934 Chevrolet Master it had been parked in a shed in Brakpan for 20 years.
Built in 1934 at the General Motors plant in Port Elizabeth, the car was still completely original and, although the years had not been kind to it, it was rust-free thanks to Brakpan's dry climate. That alone made it worth restoring.
Van Rooyen, a member of Brakpan car club Just Wheels, stripped the car completely, before rebuilding the engine and drivetrain.
"I had to order pistons and valves online from America," he said, "because you can no longer buy them in South Africa."
He refinished the body in the original ivory, but sprayed the mudguards a deep, contrasting maroon, because he felt it enhanced the car's classic 1930s look. As is usual with 'barn finds' the interior had suffered worst, and had to be completely renewed with a new roof and head lining, and new upholstery throughout.
The finished car, which he displays every month at Just Wheels motor shows, is so perfectly 'period' that it caught the attention of an American film company that was shooting a six-part miniseries in Johannesburg, based on the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
The producers approached Van Rooyen to become a part of the filming process.
"The cameramen filmed me driving the car up and down streets of Johannesburg," he said. "This role filled me with pride because so much time, love and hard work went into restoring this Chev.
"For a car that is more than 80 years old it not only looks good but it drives smoothly."
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