About michaeldekock

Petrolhead, Gamer, intrigued by Avocados and Generally quite Tall...

Old is Good

I don’t want to sound like an old fart, but some things were better in the past. Yes, things now is cool in the way that everything is interconnected, meaning that your hairdryer can talk to your toaster, which in turn can talk to your fridge and then tell your car that you need milk, which adds it to a digital shopping list that you can view whilst watching TV or playing VR games… It’s pretty cool. I like it. But some things were better. In this instance, I will be using cars. Today, it is about how much power it has, how light it is, how many aerodynamic-ey flaps it has and how much downforce it produces. The McLaren Senna comes to mind…

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Senna. With its 4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 and enough fins and flaps to create 800kg of downforce. It is a magnificent piece of engineering. But that’s the problem. As Jeremy Clarkson once said about the MP4-12C, “It is an amazing car, but it’s got no soul”. This is the problem with many of the current top-ranking cars. They are brilliant, they go around corners in the best possible manner and reach speeds that would make a 1920s person laugh at the absurdly high number. But they are cold and clinical. They are ones and zeroes that work together nearly perfectly to attain ultimate performance.

This is all fine, but for petrol heads, it’s not enough. We like cars with character. We value the feel of a car above all. It doesn’t matter if the thing has 1 KW or 1000. If it has a good feel, then we love it. Things like the Bugatti Veyron are and always will be a feat of engineering. It was the car that changed the whole motoring world’s perception of what speed was. Yes, it’s fast and powerful, but it’s terrible (personal experience around Tsukuba on GT Sport). Then you get the Hennessey Venom GT. It has much horsepower and is scary as all hell to drive. It even tends to lose traction when passing 320kph – which from what I’ve read – is quite scary. Stuff like that give cars character. I was recently at the annual Cars in the Park held at Zwartkops Raceway. It featured many cool cars. Loud ones such as straight-piped Chevy Lumina Utes, classic and modern Mustangs, modded Nissan Champs and Morris Minors (meh). One of the cars that fascinated me most was the Ford Sierra XR8. Here you have a relatively boring, everyday Ford, but with the time’s Mustang 5.0L in it. It’s glorious!
I was at this weekend’s Hermanus Whale Festival as well. The Saturday morning there was a car show at the local primary school and there were a lot of really nice cars. Ford Falcons, Holden Monaro GTS’, Jaguar E-Types, MGB’s, an Aston Martin Vantage Superlaggera and a Pontiac Trans Am but to name a few. It was bloody brilliant. The event just re-cemented my personal theory that older cars were just better. Driving involved the driver, it made you hear the engine noise, it was meant to be an experience. Not like in modern cars that actively try to cancel out the sound, drive by themselves and stop you if you are trying to do something stupid (that last one is actually quite good, to be honest). They are safe for pedestrians if you miss a stop sign, they can alert you if someone around you is doing something stupid and it can actively avoid getting into a crash – like those many videos of Teslas accelerating away.

In old cars, you are forced to focus, to take in your surroundings and experience the car. It makes you want to master it, to learn all of its little quirks and to appreciate it for what it is. Not just some hunk of metal to get you from point A to point B, but rather an instrument that allows you to make automotive “music”. I absolutely love it – the feeling of driving an old car, the noise, the vibration, the gear-changes and the overall experience. I love it. Well the closest I have come was a 1991 BMW E30 316iM, but I absolutely loved it. I will buy me a new-ish first car and then start saving up for an older car, preferably something with a V8 of some sort… hopefully the fuel price in South Africa drops a bit…

Battle of the Muscle… Cars

The Muscles

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Ford Mustang GT350R

Recently I’ve been watching videos revolving around the subject of the big three American Muscle Cars. I am of course talking about the Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. However, just naming them doesn’t really say anything as there are multiple versions of them – from awful (what I’ve heard) V6s and EcoBoosts, to engines with enough power to restart the rotation of the Earth if necessary.

Now, I can go on about those entry-level engines and recall a scenario in which I told myself that I would buy a Mustang EcoBoost as a first car, but then realising that I live in South Africa where petrol is expensive and that the base price is double than in the USA. I also read an article where two Brits (I think, can’t quite recall) got the big 5.0L Coyote V8 to be more efficient than the EcoBoost, leading to me deciding to throw caution into the wind and buy the cheapest second-hand Mustang GT I could find – if I had the money for it… of course.

But alas, this blog isn’t about those entry-level models, but rather about the top-spec factory-made versions of each. Those super versions that we all drool over. I am, of course, talking about the Mustang GT350R, the Camaro ZL1 and the Challenger Hellcat. I’m using the Hellcat instead of the Demon as example as it is only really made to do one thing – be fast in a straight, line like all pre-2015 muscle cars.

The last few years have produced some really good American cars with power figures that could put the Germans to shame. Of course, the ‘Muricans’ can’t match the Germans for quality, efficiency, looks, noise, attention to detail or any of the things that really matter. I think the Americans realised this, so they decided to just go mad with power. Literally. I applaud that. I enjoy that. As a result of this, you can get a Dodge Charger Hellcat – which is about the same size as an E-Class, 5-Series or A6 – with more power than a Lamborghini Aventador – for way less than the top spec of either an E-Class, 5-Series or A6. It’s ridiculous!

On top of that, there are many aftermarket dealers and tuners who will give you even more bang for your buck. Hennessey comes to mind. They offer packages which you can buy to spruce up your already overpowered car even more – most notably the HPE650, HPE800 and HPE1000 packages. And the cool thing is that you can have these on almost any of the American V8 cars on sale now. Fancy a base Mustang GT but feel it’s a bit underpowered? Get an HPE650 package. Did your wife say you need a family car, but you don’t want to sacrifice power? Buy a Chevy Suburban and ask Hennessey for the HPE1000 package. You’ll be able to do the school-run in record time and a puff of smoke. It’s absurd and I love it.

What was I talking about? Oh right, Hellcat, GT350R and ZL1. I can’t quite decide which one I like best. The current range really looks good from most perspectives, where there always had been something off about the previous models. The previous Mustang looked generic and bland, the Challenger apparently had an awful gearbox and wasn’t that comfortable and I had one major problem with the previous-gen Camaro that put me off of buying one immediately. The driver’s instrument cluster was stupidly designed. It looked awful and I couldn’t imagine staring at it whilst driving. Luckily, GM fixed it in the current one.

The current Challenger looks the part. Square look, big tyres, bulge on the bonnet, 520-odd Kilowatt and it just looks like an angry car – like Joey Tribbiani when someone ate one of his chips. The Camaro looks more like a sports car than a muscle car, which may put some people off, but it kind-of works – and has 480KW. The Mustang is almost a perfect split between the two, but it ‘only’ has 400KW. It would feel just as at home at a sports car meet as it would at a muscle car meet (hopefully minus the whole ploughing into pedestrians thing).

Now, if these are still too tame for you, there is always the ultimate – and aftermarket – versions of these cars as opposed to these super versions. There is the aforementioned Challenger Demon that does what it was built to do so well that it has been banned from taking part in it. Ironic. There is the Shelby GT350R and Super Snake that has a butt-load of power (and looks a bit scary). And finally, there is my favourite of the aftermarket ultimate bunch – the Hennessey Exorcist. I like it because it looks mean. I like it because it was built to put the Challenger Demon in its place. And I like it because its name is a joke and thus doesn’t take itself too seriously. Oh, and it has a thousand horses – or plus-minus 750KW – for less than a BMW M5! It’s… Silly.

So whilst I would have the Hennessey Exorcist in the ‘ultimate’ category, I can’t quite decide on a car in the normal “Are you out of your mind?” said the executive to the engineer-category. Seems like I’d just have to drive all three and then decide…

Ford, GM and FCA, let me have a go in your insane cars… please?

 

P.S. FCA announced the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye after this blog was written, so… tough. But I thought I’d mention it as it is a factory-spec car with close to 600KW. Absolutely bonkers! But oh, I love it so…

Trending Plague in Auto-Industry

In the last couple of years, a new craze has been building up in the car industry and it has been more noticeable in some countries than in others. We were on a two week road-trip through the UK recently, where we went from Dover, through Wales to the east of Scotland and ended in the Isle of Skye before driving down back to London. Over the last four and a bit years, I have also been to Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Austria and France. Whilst in these countries, I noticed that this craze is not as noticeable. However in South Africa, it is growing at an alarming rate. Now, you might be wondering what I am going on about. The craze I am pouting about is that of the growing in popularity not only of the Sports Utility Vehicle – or the SUV, but more specifically, the ‘Crossover’.

Volkswagen makes the Crosspolo, which is the first of these idiotic things that I can remember becoming available in South Africa. At that time, everyone was still concerned with hatchbacks and bakkies, so the Crosspolo really didn’t make sense. Now however, everyone is after an SUV and if they can’t get one, they buy a crossover.

My problem lies with the crossover and how many of them are being marketed as SUVs with the biggest violator being that stupid Suzuki Ignis thingie with the 1.0L engine. It’s being marketed as an SUV, when it is, in actual fact, a compact hatch on stilts (but still has piddly little wheels). And then there is the sheer amount of the bloody things. It’s like every automaker these days has a sedan and a crossover version of their cars – from Hyundai to Renault, and even automotive giants such as Mercedes and Audi have joined the party. Volvo should also be accused, but they have been making lifted versions of their cars since anyone can remember, so they are excused. (Plus I quite like the V90 Cross Country. See my previous blog as to why – link).

A few years ago, Hyundai made the Tucson which is classified as either a large crossover or a small SUV. I can’t entirely decide. With this, other automakers started joining in. Kia produced the Sportage, Nissan the Qashqui, Renault made the Kadjar with the small engines and a bunch more that I’m not going to bother mentioning as there are thousands of the bloody things.

The reason I hate them is the fact that they are taking over the roads. It used to be only the medium and really large SUVs on the road that were vastly outnumbered by the hatches and sedans, but now the sedans and saloons had become endangered too. Everyone and their grandmother are driving either a bakkie, SUV or crossover and it is awful.

Personally, there are only four SUVs (that are actual SUVs and not ‘crossovers’) that I like. They are the big Range Rover in either TDV8 or the new P400e models, the brand new Rolls Royce Cullinan because it is just bloody pretty, the first-gen BMW X5, as it is a handsome brute – and finally my favourite of the lot, the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Now, whilst I’d have a diesel GC any day, my preferred trim choice is the impending Trackhawk. The Hellcat-engined one with the ridiculous stock power figures of 523KW and 880NM. I mean, it’s a silly, stupid thing that has way too much power, uses way too much fuel, makes way too much noise and is way too big, but it is currently one of the cars that I love most. I can just imagine it…

Pulling up to an intersection, waiting for the light to go green when a modified Golf GTi pulls up next to you and the ‘cool dude’ starts revving the engine wanting a race. You smile at him whilst activating the Trackhawk’s launch control. You put your foot on the accelerator and an unearthly rumble comes from the back of the car. The cool dude doesn’t hear it as his own car produces an ear-shattering racket from his home-made exhaust. The light goes green and you press your foot flat on the floor. The Trackhawk takes off exactly how an SUV shouldn’t. It reaches 100kph 3.5 seconds after it started moving, leaving the cool dude to gaze at you with his mouth open on the side of the road.

You drive further down the road when suddenly the Trackhawk stops working. It ran out of petrol as you just used it to utilise all the machine’s power and it is as thirsty as a boer who hasn’t had a beer all day (approx. 23l/100km). The Trackhawk limps to the side of the road which forces you to phone a friend and you realise that the engine is drinking your bank account dry, but you don’t care, because you have the biggest smile on your face.

And that fictional glimpse is the reason why I love this thing. It’s silly, ridiculous and completely stupid. But I love it! Plus, you get to scare four passengers and the dog in relative comfort.

 

 

Volvo’s New Design – Speaking to the Heart of the Enthusiast

I really like Volvo. The new Volvo in general. The design language of the S90, V90, XC90 and XC60 is just excellent – the clean, minimalist lines, the beautifully designed interior, the drivetrains and the economy. The biggest and most expensive car (that also has the most power) is one of the most efficient cars they make. It’s brilliant! I have not had the pleasure of seeing the S90 or V90 in the metal, but I have seen the XC90 countless times. The other day I also saw the new XC60 for the first time and I have to say, it is prettier than the XC90. The new XC40 crossover thing also looks good, especially since it’s geared towards younger customers as the newer V40 was. It brings a fresh perspective on Volvos and I really quite like that.

Volvo has always been like Honda and Cadillac – made for the older folk who are not concerned with the power output, but rather the plushness of the seats. These days, Volvo, Honda and Cadillac have been designing their cars for the younger generation. Volvos have become really quick, Honda is breaking the Nurburgring record and even Cadillac makes 600 horsepower super-saloons – and this is without any aftermarket tuning.

Honestly, I have said for a while now that if you wanted to buy a car that could do everything – from efficiency, speed to practicality and to use as a daily driver, you had a choice between the Golf GTi, Range Rover SDV8 or Volvo V90 Cross Country. All of them offer good bang for their buck (admittedly the RR is quite a bit more expensive than the rest).

But in recent weeks, I have decided to add the XC90 T8 to this list, which means that there are two cars on the ‘Best car in the world (which can do a bunch of things well)’ list. If I could, I’d add the S90 as well, because of all the modern executive mid-range saloons, it is arguably the best looking, even prettier than the Jaguar XF. I just wish Volvo would create a version of their cars to go up against the likes of the X5M and M5. But it is highly unlikely since Polestar, the company that made exclusive, fast, blue Volvos, have begun their own thing. They even have a first car called the Polestar 1 which, for lack of a better description, is an S90 coupe. The only problem I have with it is that the back end seems a bit too short. Not that it matters much as it has a 2.0L Turbo hybrid system like the XC90 T8, but where the XC90 only produces 300-odd kilowatt, the 1 produces close to 450KW. Polestar has also said that the Polestar 2 will be either the XC60 or XC90 remake, so that should be interesting.

Now where am I going to find a million Rand ($80 000)..?

All the Car You’ll Ever Need

So in at the end in the Top Gear Mag (December 2017), there is the list of the vehicles available in SA. When you get to Land Rover, you will spot something rather interesting… Back to the list in a bit.

For the past two or so years, I have been saying that the best cars you can buy are either a VW Golf GTi or a Range Rover TDV8. They offer speed, comfort, luxury, practicality and efficiency in all that they do (I added the Volvo V90 Cross Country and XC90 T8 as well as they do the same thing).

Granted, these options are only valid when you have some cash to play around with.

Now, in the Land Rover section, you will notice that in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport lists, there is a P400e option. I Googled about quickly and found out that it is in fact a plug-in hybrid with a 2.0L Turbo and electric motors. It has a combined power output of nearly 300KW and 650NM (which is plenty) whilst only doing around 3L/100KM. IN A RANGE ROVER?!

I am extremely surprised. Buy that and it is all the car you will ever need. It’s comfortable, practical, luxurious, can go fast and has a range of 50km on electric only, meaning that you can drive to a mall and back without using fuel (or you could drive about in London without paying congestion charges). Although, you will need to have R2.1m or R2.6m (for the Autobiography) in your bank account (or more for extras)… If not, ignore what I just said and buy a second-hand X540d…

 

The Cars of Cairo

In March of 2014, we arrived in Cairo. It is a big city on the Eastern edge of the Sahara, with the Nile River going straight through it. But it’s mostly desert. The city, and indeed the country, has had some political trouble in recent years and the government was changed a couple of times in way too short a time, but otherwise things are fine. Apart, of course, from the sand, garbage, awful roads, lack of enforcement of road laws, lack of rain and the general dustiness of it all. My dad calls it The Sandpit.

In the three years since we’ve been here, I have been in many different places in this city. Some of them very clean – such as the Cave Churches of Mokattam (which is strangely enough surrounded by Garbage City) and other places that are dusty and filthy as heck. One 700 year old building my mother and I visited in City of the Dead, had about 700 years worth of dust in it. The floor has these nice patterns of circles and triangles, but the only way to see it is to move about two centimetres dust with your shoe. Ironically enough, there was a broom in the corner of the room. (Probably also 700 years old…)

So now that I’ve established that Cairo should be renamed to Dustyville, let’s get on to what this blog is about. At the moment, Cairo’s streets are filled with the likes of boring cars such as the  Hyundai Verna and Chevy Lanos, with the odd imported Ford Expedition here and there. Our neighbour is the CEO or CFO or something of one of Egypt’s biggest telecommunications corporations, so he actually has some nice cars. They include a Bentley Flying Spur W12, Porsche Cayenne S, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Porsche Panamera 4S, Subaru WRX STi Sedan, BMW 435i Gran Coupe, BMW 650i Gran Coupe, BMW X4 X-Drive35i, BMW X6 X-Drive50i, a Kia Sedona minivan, a Lamborghini Gallardo Performante Spyder  and a big Dodge Ram 1500 Hemi. I’m pretty sure he also owns a Maserati Gran Turismo S as it stood outside his house for a few days once. But that’s the nice new cars of Cairo.

During the many ‘troubles’ Egypt has had, especially the 2011 ‘trouble’, some expatriates left Cairo in a hurry and never returned. This means that many of them left their cars as well, which is quite saddening. Most of these cars are crappy boring sedans or hatches, but some are really quite cool.

Up until a few weeks ago, there was a beautiful blue Mercedes 230E Automatic (banner car) parked in our street. My guess is that it was probably from the 1970s. But it has stood in that one spot of a few decades as the tyres really weren’t tyres anymore and the rims were about four centimetres deep in the tar. Other than the wheels, the car overall was quite nice still. The interior looked to be all original and the leather wasn’t broken or anything. If done correctly, restoring it would be a fun job and one might even make some nice money from it, if one decided to sell it that is.

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In the same street was an old Morris Minor. The bohab (doorman/guy who looks after a building) said that it was a Bentley, but it was a Morris. It was permanently under a tarp, but was open to the public when it too was trucked away.

Next up is my  favourite of these abandoned cars. It is a late 1970s or early 1980s Porsche 911 Turbo. It is also permanently under a cover, but I managed to see a bit of it. It’s silver with very nice rims. Although, one of the rims is completely shattered, which is difficult to think how one would have done that. But yes, I really like that Porsche. I wouldn’t mind at all to take it back to SA and fix it up.

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In a different street, there is a massive 1970s/80s GMC pick-up truck, but it has a caravan/motorhome attachment on its bed. It looks menacing and awesome. Massive wheels and tyres too. One could go almost anywhere with it.

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In the same street is an original Toyota Land Cruiser from the 1970s. It has four doors and a two-tone paint job. Beige and a brown. It looks like the 70s on wheels. It just needs a couple of peace symbols and Flower Power stickers. But it is really cool.

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Also in the same street is a Subaru BRAT. A BRAT! It’s so cool! It even has the two backwards-facing seats in the bed. It is in very good condition too, but I have only seen it in that one spot for the past year or so, so I don’t think anyone drives with it – which is unfortunate. But it is a really cool car.

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In a street not too far from where we live, is a house with a bunch of Land Rovers. It had about ten or so Defenders and Range Rovers, but there are only five left – three Defenders and two Range Rovers.

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There is this one cool Range Rover parked under a tree. It’s a 1970s or 80s model, but it has two doors. However, this one has been converted into a racing car. Something like a rally or a Dakar car, or maybe just to battle the dunes of Egypt. The interior is stripped out and the rear is completely empty. But most of the parts still seem to be there. I couldn’t get the bonnet open, so I don’t know if the engine is still there, but it is still a cool car. I would love to have a slightly customised two-door Range Rover in SA. I’d just need a sponsor for the fuel…

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There are two other cars which I unfortunately don’t have photos of as they are parked in a place where you cannot stop to take a picture – because Cairo. In Zamalek, the one is under a tarp, but judging from the wheels and the overall shape under said cover, it looks to be a Model T Ford or maybe something very similar. But its wheels are big and black, so my guess is a Model T. The other car is just down the road. It is a 1932 Mercedes Roadster. It’s beautiful. It’s beige and brown with a (formerly) white top and wire wheels. It is a lot smaller than I thought those old roadsters were, but it is even prettier than on a photo.

The last car I saw that is worth speaking of is a 1983 Chevrolet Corvette C3. It is one of the last ones produced as it had a bunch of limited edition badges and stuff on it. It was really nice to see and it was the first Corvette I ever saw. Luckily someone was driving it as I saw it once and never again. Unfortunately I cannot find the photos I took of it, but it’s a C3 Corvette, everyone knows a C3 Corvette, right?

It is my personal belief that there are a few million Dollars’ worth of abandoned and rare cars all over Cairo – and probably Alexandria and some other cities and towns as well. Many of them are almost broken beyond repair, but if you can buy them, ship them, restore them and sell them, I bet you could still make a few bucks. I would love to do that (mostly with that Porsche), but unfortunately my dad said that it won’t fit in the suitcase. I could always try though…

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 11 – 27/28 February 2017

(Look! The elusive consecutive day update thing! Yay!)

So, guess where we went today? No. Nope. Wrong again. We visited Hobbiton! AND IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME!

It was a bit of a drive and we had a stop or two along the way. It mostly involved a certain someone getting stuck in a certain modern toilet. Luckily, as we neared our destination, one of the busses from the nearby (unpronounceable) town turned into the road in-front of us, so we could just follow it.  We arrived slightly in the nick of time, but that was fine in the end. We got our tickets and off we went on in a bus. It was just Migaél and I going on the tour, as the entrance fee is pretty steep. We stopped at the entrance of The Shire – which really is just a little fence with a gate in it – and off we went for a guided tour.

We saw the many Hobbit Holes™ (it’s trademarked apparently) and had a good drink at The Green Dragon Inn. We walked around Frog Pond and stopped to admire the massive pumpkins the maintenance crew are currently growing. Interestingly, all the vegetation on the film set is real, except the tree above Bag End, which is made of steel, silicone and about two hundred thousand plastic leaves. But the veggie farm is real and the produce gets distributed to the staff and crew.

All in all, it was a good experience. The gift shop was nice, but overpriced (although the Mumzi thought it is the most boring shop ever), the service was excellent and the bus driver was a comedian. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what his name was. The only thing I was a little disappointed in, was the fact that there was no random Hobbit walking around or a random Gandalf appearing on a cart to take us on an adventure. But oh well, maybe that will come.

 

P.S. If you are reading this and you work at or are the manager of said Hobbiton, give the bus driver of the 13:00 tour (28 Feb 2017) a raise. And sommer the guide too. Becca is her name, I believe. Just tell her not to leave the free zucchini in her car for two weeks…

P.P.S.S.OR.WHATEVER. New Zealand is a very pretty country. Whilst we drove to Hobbiton, we saw beautiful landscapes that ranged from the Cape area to near the Sabie area, all in a matter of minutes. It is really a beautiful country. Almost gives SA a run for it’s money…

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 10 – 26/27 February 2017

(“Oops I skipped a day” isn’t going to work anymore, right? Sigh…)

OK, so today we went to a beach again. It was a very pretty beach that was very wide. It had a great big rock in it, which naturally Migaél and I climbed (I had an unholy number of uneven steps), and gazed upon the beauty that is New Zealand’s North Island’s West Coast. From today, I believe that New Zealand is just as pretty as South Africa and that it can indeed be a film maker’s paradise. Well done to you Peter Jackson & Co.

Also, today I saw a bunch of nice cars. From a 1970s Chevy Camaro to a Pontiac GTO Convertible from the same era. There was also a 1960s Chevy Bel-Air hot rod and a Vista Cruiser hot rod from the same era. I walked past a Lancer Evolution IV and VIII. The Evo VIII was modified with custom bumpers, side-skirts and a carbon hood. It was also lowered to a silly height, or should I say ‘lowt’.

We are past halfway through our trip here to Slightly Skew to Down Under. The Branckies keep telling us to change our flight to later, but yeah… Oh, plus I realised that I have a two-hour test to do the day after we get back. Qatar Airways, I hope you have good internet…

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 6 – 21/22 February 2017

Yes I skipped another day. Boo hoo.

 

So I have been busy studying for the past few days whilst the young Branckens are doing school. I quite enjoy it. Luckily with doing home-schooling for eight years of my schooling career, I learned to work in various places. Heck, now I even blog anywhere. I once blogged whilst walking when my mother was shopping in IKEA. (Think it was Little Aston + Big Heart = Lots of Fun)

It has been quite a few days since I said anything about cars, so here goes…

New Zealand has cool cars. In the five-odd days since we’ve been here, I have seen some really cool cars. On one day, I saw three different Nissan R33 GT-Rs and a relatively stock Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII. Along with that, all the Chevrolets in this country – and I imagine Australia as well – are Holdens. Plus, I bought a magazine called NZV8 that is like our Speed & Sound, but all the custom cars in it has V8s. In this NZV8, there is a brand new Holden Commodore HSV GTS-R. It has 435KW and 740NM from a Chevrolet 6.2L Supercharged LSA engine that you find in the Camaro ZL1. The example in the magazine is orange with matt-black accents and it looks positively menacing. There is also a more track-focused version called the Holden Commodore HSV GTS-R W1 that has various changes made to it in order for it to accommodate the LS9 engine from the Corvette ZR1. This one produces 470KW, but just like all American V8 motors, it can easily be upgraded.

The price for this is quite a bit high. The W1 version is NZ$190k (R1.8m) and the ‘normal’ GTS-R is NZ$130k (R1.25m). But both come with manual transmissions in cars as and more powerful as than many supercars. But unlike most supercars, you get to scare the s*** out of three people at once.

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 4 – 19/20 February 2017

I skipped a day, shhh.

So today, we went driving about. We drove to the north of the north island to go see a small patch of land that our friends bought. On our way there, we stopped at a place called Sheepworld. Sheepworld had exactly five sheep, all of whom were pink – and a broken tractor. This place also had flags about it with ‘sheep’ on them, but that actually looks like clouds with legs. My parents and I had some expensive lasagne and some of the best ginger beer we’ve ever tasted.

Also, the Holdens in this country are awesome! Yes, most of them have V6s, but the odd one has a mighty ‘Murican V8. I decided that I will buy one one day and ship it to SA. It shouldn’t be a problem as it has its steering-wheel on the correct side and everything.

 

Later…

I am currently writing this from a bench at a petrol station somewhere on the North Island. The reason for this is that our car, the trusty Toyota TownAce NOAH, has decided it needs to charge its batteries with something other than it’s own alternator. I find this all hilarious. Here’s how it went…

We drove up a hill and the car started to shake a bit and lose power. It kept losing power until it had had enough. The revs went down and down and down and I was amazed that it could idle at 200rpm. Anyway, we stopped under a tree and waited a bit. Oom Abe called for help and everyone decided to go find coffee. Me, my mother, tannie Leoni and the kids walked a kilometre to the nearest hotel-ish looking building, but upon closer inspection decided to walk a bit further to the petrol station across the road. The hotel looked a bit dodgy. We waited about an hour before finally deciding to buy a new battery and risk driving back to Auckland, which the mechanic said we might not make. The 120km drive that would have taken us about an hour and a half, took about 3 with all the stopping without us even reaching our destination. Instead we half-drove half-freed our way back to civilisation.

So, in the end, rather than reaching our destination, we have another hilarious story to tell with the Branckies.

P.S. It is currently five in the morning (4pm crazy time). I am laughing inside.