The South African car scene — does something like a car scene even exist in Africa? If you answered no, you would be wrong, very wrong. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have lions walking down our main roads or travel to work on ox carriages.
My name is Brandon Powell, I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, and have been burying myself in the South African car scene since before I had a driver’s license.
Obsessed with fast, loud cars, I bought my first car from the proceeds of a weekend job when I was 17. A 1981 Vw Golf GLS, 17 years ago. The first thing I did when I got it home was strip every ounce of unneeded weight to make my “slower than an old ride-on lawnmower VW” faster.
That car was turned into a race car and was home on the legal and not so legal racing scene. It evolved from there into spending all the money I had into building motors and tuning carburettors so I could be just that 0.5 seconds faster on the 1\4 mile than my racing buddies.
Since then, I have built many modified cars, mostly Volkswagens that ended up being built into race cars. Even my daily driver car, a VW Polo, had a 75hp nitrous oxide set up hidden away in the boot. I have never had a quiet, normal car or factory standard means of transportation.
The most recent noisy vehicle was a Harley Davidson Iron 883 in matte black paint with hardtail rear suspension and straight through exhaust pipes, much to our neighbours’ despair. From a young age, I knew that my passion for cars and motorbikes would keep me around like-minded people and sparked the passion to document what cars were being driven and built in South Africa.
I remember using a GoPro for the first time to document a shark diving trip I did in Cape Town as that was the first time a dedicated camera caught my attention. Those wide angles and dramatic vistas were not something you could shoot with your phone camera at that stage.
Queue January 2019, 15 years later, and I bought my first camera — a Canon EOS 200D with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I wanted to finally document the car scene with more intention. The choice was based on its small form factor and reasonable quality. After shooting for a couple of months with it, I felt that I just did not get excited about the camera and decided to retire it to the spare room.
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