• The R8 is the poster child for Audi South Africa.
• The car's nature is such that it inspires onlookers to want to have it.
• Following a photo shoot, the R8 Spyder inspires children in a small Boland town.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24
"One day, I'm going to drive a car with a roof that can go down!" These are words many of us probably said when we were much younger. Perhaps too many times. And we'd brag to our friends how the car we'd drive will be better than theirs. Be it a Ferrari, or Porsche or Lamborghini - the OGs - our dreams were clear as day, and we did not doubt as to what we wanted that topless car to look like.
I regard myself privileged to be in the position to live out my boyhood dream almost every day. Though driving experiences in a Lamborghini and Ferrari still evade me, the little kid inside still gets excited when the opportunity to drive a halo sports car comes our way. I guess that's the case for anyone in their field of expertise when they genuinely love what they do. It's a joy that's almost unexplainable.
Imagine how this feeling or sensation must be for a young child, seeing drop-top sports cars driving through their neighbourhood. It happened with the Audi R8 Spyder recently, and the disbelief on the children's faces were unforgettable.
It's a tough life
On the morning the R8 arrived, we roped in the services of one of our resident photographers, Cayne Philander. We met at a wine estate just outside Klapmuts in the Boland and spent the next while conducting business. At one point, Philander looked at the car in silence before asking: "Would it be okay if we drove through Klapmuts in it?"
Of course, it was no problem, but his reason would only strike me the next day.
See, Klapmuts is a community ravaged by socio-economic challenges. To put it bluntly, the non-white communities are still pulling at the shortest end of the stick. And though high-end security estates have been erected in recent years, the 'other side of the track' is an almost distant memory. Some families have managed to assert themselves above the breadline, but most of the community still buckles under poverty, crime, and drugs.
Philander is an avid supporter of his community and wants youngsters to realise that cars like the R8 can drive through our streets.
He says: "It sometimes gets to me that children in Klapmuts are so caught up in this vicious cycle. And if there is one thing I'd love to achieve with this R8, it's for these children to see that such cars can drive in a place like Klapmuts. They can rise."
It's about more
In the days since, the thought of what happened stuck with me. I can recall the screams, the waves, the smiles, and even the occasional cuss word. The R8 inspired and left many in awe. I realised that long after Philander and I may have forgotten about the time we drove through Klapmuts in an R8, some child would hopefully have taken inspiration from it.
One child may have looked at that car and made it his or her life mission to attain a car just like it. Cars like the Audi R8 may not sell in huge numbers, but their rarity is enough to make you realise that you too could one day be sitting in the driver's seat.
It was never about Philander and me, but about a child realising they have the potential to rise above it all.