Malcolm Kinsey, best known for compiling the annual Kinsey Report that informs car buyers in South Africa, died of Covid-related complications last Thursday afternoon.
He would have turned 77 today.
A spellbinding writer and born entrepreneur, Kinsey recently told industry website Dealerfloor he never thought that he would become South Africa’s first automotive consumer journalist when he started the annual Kinsey Report in 1990.
“I was only aiming to add an extra element to my reports on the models nominated for the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists Car of the Year, by listing prices for the most common parts that require replacement,” he said.
That “extra element” quickly become the most trusted source on the real cost of car ownership and is now backed by the Automobile Association (AA).
In his prime, Kinsey excelled with anything on wheels.
His friend for 50-odd years, Gordon Hall, said in his 20s “West Street Willy” was a street drag artist and bane of the old Durban City Police after midnight, as a creative “re-interpreter of rules”.
“He was also mentor to many, including Yours Truly, a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and in latter years, a keen cyclist,” said Hall.
Kinsey lived with a “dickey heart” and had a serious fall while cycling. “He never fully recovered from that and a run-in with Covid was finally too much for even his indomitable spirit,” added Hall.
Kinsey was a competitive rally and saloon car racer, an excellent action photographer and a champion fuel miser.
He set some of the fastest lap times at the Hesketh Race track in Pietermaritzburg and is still the only driver to have pulled a caravan at speed up Sani Pass — thrice — once for practice, and twice more for the cameras.
Kinsey’s many friends in the auto trade yesterday told The Witness they will remember his old tekkies with brightly coloured laces; his refusal to use smartphones, preferring his cheap Nokia “for the week-long battery life”; and his bone-dry humour when sharing facts from his wealth of knowledge, like how supercar designer and compatriot Gordon Murray would “file down his nuts” to save weight on their race cars in Durban.
Kinsey is survived by his wife Jill, sons Tony and Tim, daughter Sandy Megwin and grandchildren.
His family were closely involved with producing the Kinsey Parts Report, and said they and the AA will make an announcement on the report’s future in due course.