Mad Max? More like Mad Frikkie

2016-02-18 09:48
The bakkie Jaque Kalcic stripped and rebuilt. (Wim Pretorius, News24)

The bakkie Jaque Kalcic stripped and rebuilt. (Wim Pretorius, News24)

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Groot Marico - As you drive down the N4 towards Zeerust and enter the small North West town of Groot Marico, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for a vehicle that seems like something that film director, George Miller, would use in one of his legendary Mad Max films - it does not have the steel reinforcements though. But this 1981 Toyota bakkie has an interesting story.

Near Groot Marico is a farm that houses a bakkie unlike any other you would have seen. It’s almost completely stripped of all body parts, its fuel tank is an oil can, it has two lights – one bright, the other dim - and it has a carburettor taken from a tractor, with nothing covering the engine and the absence of a cargo area.

On the table on the porch of Jaque (okay, maybe it’s not Frikkie) Kalcic and his wife Susanne’s farmhouse is an old Popular Mechanics magazine dated from 2014. The pages are open to an article on a project by blacksmith and artist Nicolas Lehman, who built an alternative car that has a striking similarity to that of Jaque’s machine. He says the idea came from the article in the magazine.

“It was my inspiration. The Toyota bakkie was under a tree for nearly two decades without being driven – apart from the occasional drive in 2008 and before - and when I saw the article on Lehman’s car, it was like a light bulb had switched on,” Kalcic says.

"It's only a Toyota engine that stands so long and still survives."

Jaque Kalcic with his bakkie. (Wim Pretorius, News24)

Kalcic decided that should he one day get bored, he would attempt something similar.

Eventually that day arrived during the festive season in December of 2015 as he started working on the bakkie that has already amassed more than 400 000 kilometres through its lifetime.

Kalcic says he is quite good at fixing stuff, although he has one weakness.

"I can fix everything except a crying woman," he jokes.

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

But does it work?

“In the beginning, after I started working on it, it had no problem starting, but really didn’t drive well. It also didn’t have a reverse gear, so I fixed that last week. It sounded as if hell was approaching as it came nearer from backfiring so that was also something I looked at.”

A piece of advice from Kalcic: “Around here you can fix anything with a piece of galvanised wire and stockings.”

One of the biggest challenges was finding pipes that fitted the carburettor taken from the tractor.

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

He climbs in and turns the key.

The bakkie starts. A roar screams from the exhaust, so loud that Vin Diesel might want to use the sound effects for an upcoming Fast and the Furious film (yes, there are three new sequels in the works).

The insides rattle with the battery sitting on the floor of the passenger seat. To prove it still works, Kalcic takes the bakkie for a spin on their farm and starts throwing donuts before taking it to the road. It still hits 100km/h with relative ease.

“At this moment I’m still a bit cautious about going any faster than 100km/h as I’m not sure if parts will start falling off if it goes any faster,” he says.

Changing gears is also something that takes some effort, or as Kalcic describes it: To get the car into the right gear is like stirring a pot of soup.

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

According to Susanne, it’s an interesting experience taking the bakkie into town with pedestrians and other motorists staring at them when they pass by.

“Some people that are heading towards Botswana come through Groot Marico with their grand Pajeros and when they see us driving by in the bakkie, their mouths just hang open as if asking ‘did my eyes just deceive me’,” she says.

Kalcic says the bakkie is still a work in progress.

“On a farm, you start with a new bakkie and an older one. The new one is used to go into town while the old one is used to do the hard work. When you replace the new bakkie with a newer one, the oldest one is demoted from doing the hard work to doing the completely ‘kak’ work,” Kalcic jokes.

Kalcic says that they’ve had quite a few offers from people who want to buy the bakkie, although they are not currently keen on letting it change hands.

“We hid the bakkie so that people can’t spot it that easily. I feel like I have to come up with a new excuse every time someone tries to make an offer,” Susanne says.

One thing is for certain: If Jaque has anything to say about it, this old machine is still a long way from seeing its final days.

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

Read more on:    mahikeng

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