Take a seat for the ride of your life in Vodacom’s iconic Kentucky Rounder
If you want to know what it feels like to sit in an icon of a car, you ask another icon.
And in the case of Vodacom’s Sisonke Siya Winna Kentucky Rounder rebuild project, the icon to ask is none other than Spinach, the other half of the dynamic duo of Popeye and Spinach who graced TV on SABC’s popular Zone 14 series in the 2000s.
“When I sit in an authentic Kentucky Rounder, those seats feel like I’m sitting in my Gomma Gomma chair at home,” he says.
In November last year, Vodacom tasked the team at LA Customs with a rebuild of the iconic Toyota Twincam GLI Sprinter, or the Kentucky Rounder as it was famously known. And after scouring the countryside to find the perfect vehicle for the project, then painting it in the classic Kaizer Chiefs colours, rebuilding the engine, and selecting the right tyres and rims, the team are now focused on the interior.
And they have left nothing to chance in their quest to bring back all the glory and nostalgia of this iconic vehicle, but with a Kaizer Chiefs look that is going to make the lucky Amakhosi fan who wins this car a very proud owner indeed.
“We’ve fully covered the seats with new napa leather, and have adorned them with custom golf stitching and the Kaizer Chiefs logo. It’s so exciting to get these seats into the car now,” says Gino Lange, the founder and owner of LA Customs who is personally overseeing this project at their workshop in Paarl.
“We’re really excited about these seats. We’ve taken our time to get Kaizer Chiefs into the car with these custom seats.”
If the Kentucky Rounder is an icon of a car that still resonates with collectors to this day, then its seats are just as iconic. They were ahead of their time 30 years ago already.
“These are iconic seats. They are searched for around the country by Toyota enthusiasts. The futuristic floating headrests play a big part in this because they are quite nostalgic. That alone is so iconic. You cannot believe that design came out in the 80s and people today are still searching for these seats with that headrest. When you think of a Kentucky Rounder, you immediately think of these seats. I know enthusiasts who have searched far and wide to get front seats like this to put into newer Toyotas,” says Lange.
Although the vehicle they sourced for this project was in immaculate condition for its age, Lange and his team have taken great pains to ensure the seats are in perfect working order.
“We reshaped them to get them back to their former glory. The seat has side bolsters which really hold you in place, and we’ve also padded up the lower part for your thighs. The original seats came in either leather or fabric. The car we sourced had fabric seats and we’ve covered them in leather. We stripped the whole seat down and padded up some of the foam to give it more shape. We stitched up new covers with the gold saddle stitching, and we finished it off with the embroidery of the Kaizer Chiefs logo in the seat.”
Even as he speaks about these seats, Lange cannot stop himself from admiring their design.
“These seats were so ahead of their time. You know, Ricardo is one of the leading racing seat brands today, and these seats look a lot like them. And Ricardo wasn’t around in those days. But having said that, it doesn’t help if a seat is iconic in design but it doesn’t work. So we make sure all the mechanisms still work. The headrest needs to be functional and the seat mechanisms need to work. In order to get the seats straight again you can easily damage those mechanisms, so that takes a lot of skill to do. And finding parts such as the original seat-belt holders is also a challenge.”
The care and attention the team at LA Customs have put into the interior of this vehicle is immense, right down to the steering wheel.
“The steering wheel has been re-upholstered in a different leather called Alcantara. It’s basically suede but it is very sought after, especially on a steering wheel.”
As any Kaizer Chiefs fan knows, sound plays a vital part in support of their team. And the sound system in this rebuilt Kentucky Rounder is right up there with the latest technology.
“I’m super excited about the sound system in this car. With all the speakers in the door panels, I think you’ll be able to listen to the game and feel like you’re in the stadium.
“We’ve really gone for high-end sound system in this car that we’ve spent a lot of time and effort installing. The brand is called Kicker, which is a massive brand in the United States. We’ve installed a custom sound system where we’ve shaped wooden panels inside the car. In the boot we’ll have force panels as well as a custom-built box to house the amplifiers as well as some LED lighting. When you open up the boot you will see the full custom experience in the boot. We’ve gone with the six-speaker system in the car as well as a big sub and two amplifiers driving all of that. Inside the car, the sound will be perfectly balanced. The user experience will be a full surround sound system.”
And the coup de grace is the user interface.
“We have a custom head unit that you clip your cellphone into and are then able to access the sound system. It’s one-of-a-kind and is the latest on the market at the moment. As a Vodacom customer you can stream all your favourite music from your apps.”
The interior of this Kentucky Rounder is the final touch in what has been an incredible rebuild of such an iconic vehicle.
And as Spinach will tell the lucky Kaizer Chiefs fan who wins this vehicle courtesy of Vodacom, when you climb into it, it’s going to feel just like home.