The sporty and responsive Kentucky Rounder for Amakhosi
Gino Lange knew he had struck when he found the perfect Toyota Twin Cam GLi Sprinter to be custom-built in Kaizer Chiefs’ colours as part of the Sisonke Siya Winna campaign.
When he opened the cubby-hole and found the original service book, Gino Lange knew immediately he had struck gold in his quest to fulfil Vodacom’s brief and find the perfect Toyota Twin Cam GLi Sprinter to be custom-built in Kaizer Chiefs’ colours as part of the Sisonke Siya Winna campaign.
This particular car was as close to a mint condition Kentucky Rounder as you will ever find.
“When we found this car, I knew we’d found the one,” says Lange, the owner of LA Customs in Paarl who have been tasked by Vodacom with rebuilding this Kentucky Rounder, which will be won by a lucky Kaizer Chiefs fan this season.
“When Vodacom approached me last year November, I knew we had to find the right car for this project. There were a lot of candidates, but this was by far the best of the lot. When I saw it I knew it was right because it was in such good condition.
“It belonged to a gentleman in his Seventies. He was the original owner. It still had its full-service book. To find one in this condition is extremely rare.”
And that service book, in particular, told Lange all he needed to know about the most critical part of this car – its engine.
“The problem with a lot of these cars is they’ve been driven hard by six or seven owners. When we found this Kentucky Rounder, the first thing we checked was the engine. Luckily it was a one-owner car, so the engine was in pristine condition with a full-service history. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the engine. All we had to do was give it a good service and clean it up.”
A car that was almost 33 years old but still with a perfect engine says everything about what made the Kentucky Rounder an icon of its day and why it remains such a sought-after car by enthusiasts the world over.
“The Kentucky Rounder’s engine was renowned because it was economical, it made good power, it was easy to maintain and service, and you knew you could always bank on it,” says Lange.
“It was basically just an all-round bullet-proof engine. There is not much on that engine that breaks. You just need to maintain it regularly.”
And that’s basically all Lange and his team had to do to the engine themselves before dropping it into a Kentucky Rounder which they had already painted in the iconic gold and black of Kaizer Chiefs, and then rounded off with Turbomac rims and Dunlop tyres.
“It was literally a case of replacing the oil and fuel filter, putting in new oil and giving the engine a minor service. That was it, and the motor was good to go.”
The lucky winner of this Kentucky Rounder will also be the proud owner of a car whose engine was, much like some of the stars of Kaizer Chiefs, ahead of its time when it hit the streets in the Eighties.
“This engine was definitely ahead of its time. When all the manufacturers were still producing single overhead cams, Toyota came out with this twin-cam option. Suddenly, you got the same power from 1600 that you got from a 2 litre. You could really push the motor to the limit without breaking it. And remember, turbos were not a thing at the time. So suddenly you had more power from a smaller engine just by virtue of the twin cam. It was far ahead of its time, and the consumption was still amazing.”
And this particular engine will have that distinct sound that used to turn heads in Soweto when it came past.
“The sound of this engine is very distinct. It has that high revving and raspy sound you associate with racing. A lot of enthusiasts put throttle bodies on the engine to really bring out that high-pitched scream. Then, coupled with a nice branch on it, you could get quite a deep exhaust note as well.”
And there’s no doubt in Lange’s mind that this Kentucky Rounder and its engine is the perfect match for Kaizer Chiefs, beyond just the gold and black colour or the famous Amakhosi logo that has been tastefully placed throughout the vehicle.
“When we took on this project, we knew Vodacom and Kaizer Chiefs expect the best. I’m confident that in this engine, we have the best for this Kentucky Rounder.”