I’ve never had to worry about being humble; my car did that for me for seven years. I’ve recently upgraded from said car to one that has five gears. And let me tell you, dear reader, that extra gear is a rush. Other differences between this one (a Ford Bantam) and its predecessor include: having a CD player instead of a tape deck and the ability to not become completely waterlogged should it drizzle for half an hour.
I thought I had arrived: me and my five-geared Ford Bantam. That was until I met its bulked-up, tech-savvy, over-achieving brother, the Ford Ranger 3.2 4×4.
Over the next three weeks I’ll be driving it from Cape Agulhas to Messina (SA’s southernmost tip to it’s northernmost), profiling South Africa’s men along the way – photographing them, listening to their stories and learning what’s on their minds.
This bakkie is something else, I tell you. First off, it’s huge – it has ample legroom. In fact, it would have ample legroom if I were a giant squid.
Then there’s the automatic gearbox which means that after years of four gears and a two months of five gears, I am now driving a car with no gears. Therefore the time that I would normally spend changing gears, I can spend leaning my elbow out of the window, looking nonchalantly awesome. (Pro tip: The “R” on the automatic gearbox doesn’t stand for “race”. It stands for “reverse”.)
Thirdly, there’s the Ford Ranger’s 4×4 capabilities – which I am taking full advantage of. “Take it off-road, if you have to,” my editor told me. I do have to. I’ve already travelled on the gravel roads along the Breede River to track down a guy who’s walking the length of South Africa’s coastline (I found him. But more about that later.) And I used it to climb a mountain in the Klein Karoo because it was there.
You can judge a car by how sad you are when you give it back to its owner. Or you could avoid knowing the sadness by never giving it back. I’m banking on the latter.