Meet the Stellenbosch man who rebuilt his own car during lockdown

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It took Jamal five weeks to restore the car. (Photo: Facebook/Jamal Arnolds)
It took Jamal five weeks to restore the car. (Photo: Facebook/Jamal Arnolds)

Finishing that book you’ve pushed to one side for so long because you just haven’t had time to open it, finally getting around to rearranging your kitchen cabinets – these are some of the things the long days of lockdown have been made of.

But a man from Stellenbosch took things up a notch by rebuilding a car.

Jamal Arnolds, from Jamestown, has spent the past few weeks refurbishing a 1971 Datsun 510.

“Four days before lockdown started my fiancé, Robin de Ruiter, and I decided to take on this project,” he says. “I had a feeling we might be in lockdown for a long time with this coronavirus, and I was right.”

Jamal, a cabinetmaker who manages a factory in Stellenbosch, has no experience in the motor industry. He’d always been fascinated by cars, though, and in matric, he started tinkering with replacing and rebuilding car parts.

He’d been eyeing the old Datsun for a while and just before President Cyril Rampahosa announced the country would go into lockdown, he convinced the owner to sell the car to him for R20 000 so he could breathe new life into the vintage ride.

“I already bought all the paint and materials I needed for the car,” Jamal tells us. “I stripped the whole car – from the last screw, to the engine parts to the carpets. I stripped the interior, re-rubberized the entire car and resprayed it,” he proudly says.

It took him five weeks to restore the car. He spent R5 000 on the equipment needed to refurbish it and recently sold the car for R35 000.

“The guy made me a ridiculous offer I just could not refuse, and I had to let it go. But I am proud of what my fiancé and I accomplished,” Jamal (40) says.

Robin was his right-hand man on the project, he says, and also managed to learn a thing or two. “This is not the first project she’s helped me with, but I taught her prep work and how to spray the car by herself.”

Now the car-loving couple have their sights set on revamping a Toyota Corolla 1984.

“For me it’s all about keeping busy, out of trouble, focused and freeing my mind,” Jamal says. Judging by the couple’s handiwork on the Datsun, it’s bound to be a smooth ride.







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