Drive: Ride of a free state

2010-07-16 10:51

It’s been 20 years since that historic day ­president Nelson

Mandela walked through the heavily guarded gates of the then Victor ­Verster

prison in Paarl, Western Cape.

Considering the security situation at the time, one would think

Mandela was whisked away from prison in a blaze of blue lights flashing from

dark luxury vehicles, but that wasn’t the situation.

There weren’t armoured cars with tinted glass and wailing sirens.

In fact, there wasn’t a convoy, just several ­photographers trying to get a

picture of him.

Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, climbed into a silver Toyota

Cressida and were driven slowly to the Cape Town city centre where he was to

address a crowd outside the city hall.

Toyota SA probably regretted not making a fuss that the man who

four years later ­became the country’s first democratically elected black

president drove to freedom in a Cressida – a family sedan that could be found

parked in many a township driveway.

The Cressida was built on the foundation of Toyota’s 1968 Corona

Mark II Hardtop and sported some characteristics from their iconic supercars,

the Supra and the 2000GT.

It stopped existing in the US when Toyota established Lexus as a

luxury brand status.



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