'When I was 11, I bought an Opel Kapitan for R25!' - This reader shares memories of her first car

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1959 Opel Kapitan. Image: Netcarshow.com
1959 Opel Kapitan. Image: Netcarshow.com

Earlier this week a little five-old boy from Utah in the United States made headline news when he decided to borrow his family's Dodge Journey SUV and go buy a Lamborghini after his mother said she couldn't buy him one.

A good Samaritan then decided to instill good habits and decided to make the little guy's dreams come true by giving him an up-close experience in his Lamborghini Huracan.

It prompted Wheels24's Sean Parker to think back to the time when he was 12 years old, riding shotgun while his best friend drove his dad's Ford Laser.

We then asked our readers to write in and share their experiences of their first-time driving or their first vehicles.

There are quite a few gems which have come through our mailbox. The first we'd like to share is from Wheels24 reader Kim Van Zyl who says she learnt to drive on a farm in Constantia, outside Cape Town, before she went to school.

The vehicle in the picture is a 1959 Opel Kapitan. The one Van Zyl refers to was an earlier model with the dome-shaped bonnet. Unfortunately, we don't have any original images to share.


Tell us about how young you were when you first drove and which car was it? Please send us your stories and photos here via email


1959 opel kapitan

1959 Opel Kapitan. Image: Netcarshow.com

A vivid memory

Van Zyl says: "I think I was about 11 years old when I bought my first car. It's such a fun story, but I remember it so vividly. It was the mid-1960s, and I was taught to drive in an old Morris Minor by my neighbour.

"I then bought my first car around 1970 when I was in Grade 7 (the old Std 5). I had spent all of my Christmas money (R25) on a 1953 Opel Kapitan. It had been modified from the column shift to floor shift to make it comfortable for me. I drove it on the farm for just over two years before it packed in altogether.

"Yes, a whole R25," she says.

Van Zyl then recalls that she also had to borrow some money from her father for a battery: "If I remember correctly the battery cost another R37.

"When I bought the car, my father showed me an open field on the farm and told me that if I could roll the car in that field, he would buy me a new car. I tried for about 18 months without success, essentially spending 18 months on a skid pan.

"At some stage or another, I managed to break a half-shaft and actually just left the car to rust away, but then one day looking for something in the boot of the car I found something wrapped up in old brown paper and full of oil and grease. I opened it to find that it just happened to be a half-shaft AND for the right side. We spent another two weekends replacing it and then drove it for about six months before the engine finally gave up the ghost.

"I have now been driving (legally) for about 43 years, and I have never been involved in a motor accident. Let's hope I haven't tempted fate here."

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