Me and my car: ‘I picked up a French number in ’82’

Ahmed Rashid Abdoola’s love for cars is unquestionable. His front yard is filled with cars that need to be repaired — but there is one that’s in perfect condition, a 1978 Peugeot 404.

Abdoola’s love for this vehicle is a relationship long in the making — since 1982, when he bought it.

Abdoola says he had a passion for French cars and initially bought two Peugeot 404 models — a 1975 and a 1978 model — but he eventually sold the former because it was an automatic car and the transmission did not suit him.

After driving 1978 Peugeot 404 for 15 years, Abdoola found himself unable to part with it. So he decided to park it in his garage and take care of his ageing beauty. He has not allowed anybody other than his son to get close to the car since then, ensuring it remains in mint condition.

“Now, I start it regularly and only drive it once every six months so that the parts don’t wear out, but other than that, it remains in my garage,” Abdoola says.

He continues to speak about his beloved Peugeot, sometimes referring to it as “my first wife”. His wife jokingly interjects, saying that this car received the attention she could never get. “He parks this car off. When he takes it out to be washed, he sits and watches how they wash it while it is being washed. When he takes it for a drive, he only takes it around the block when he knows the streets will be quiet,” she adds.

Abdoola concurs, saying that he will never take this car out in busy traffic, nor will he ever speed. But then he remembers the time he was fined for speeding in the Kruger National Park.

(Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

“I love nature and I’ve been to the Kruger National Park with this car so many times. I have the memory of the speeding fine and I have a picture of my father and my daughter sitting in the car at the park, which is something that I can always look at and smile.”

The fond memories that exist because of the Peugeot is one of the reasons he can never part ways with it — but he does pay attention to the other vehicles in his yard.

Abdoola has made the 1978 Peugeot 404 part of his family and is determined to never let it go. “It is a classic and it will soon become an antique. It must remain in the family and be passed down from generation to generation,” he says. “After me, it will be handed to my eldest son.”

Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.
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