Lately, we’ve been looking to interview people who have liked our Facebook page. When we came across Werner’s beautiful Mk II down in Roodepoort, we knew we had to contact him for an interview.
What’s your name, location, and occupation?
Werner Louw, Mechanical Engineer – Roodepoort, Gauteng, South Africa
What’s your vehicle of choice, how did you come to own it, and how do you use it?
My 1969 Mini 1000S. My dad originally bought the car in 1997. My parents went to visit my grandmother, saw the mini next to the road and bought it. At the time, he paid around R2500 (South African Rand, less than US$400) for it. Everyone’s first impression of the Mini was quite memorable. My dad and I fixed it up a few years later. He gave me the Mini in 2008 when he bought himself a new toy to play with. I drive my Mini at least three times a week, to work or to the shops. It’s one of the most fun cars I have ever driven.
What is the car culture like in South Africa?
The South African car culture is quite lively. We have car clubs for almost every brand of vehicle imaginable.
How strong is the Mini Cooper community?
The Mini community is very strong, as well as ever growing. People from all over go to the shows. Two years ago we had the largest number of Minis ever at the Mini at the Track event. Mini drivers always greet one another by flashing lights or hooting. It’s a fun community.
How often do you get together with other enthusiasts? What do you do?
I usually just have time to go to the Mini at the Track event which is held at Zwartkops raceway around August. On that day we usually have heritage Mini races, parade laps, gymkhana, show and shine, and of course fun on the skid pad.
How bad is the auto theft rate there and how do you protect your vehicles?
In certain areas the auto theft rate is quite bad. Usual victims of auto theft include the smaller cars such as the old VW Citi Golf Mk1, Opel Corsas, etc.. The bigger cars don’t always get stolen, but if they do it’s almost always due to carjacking. Smash and grabs are also steadily on the rise, with more and more people carelessly leaving laptops, handbags, and cell phones lying around inside the vehicle while stuck in traffic. My vehicles are fitted with battery backup anti-hijack car alarms as well as GPS trackers.
Share a favourite story from your past and a goal for the future.
The day my dad got home with the Mini. He said, “Come on, hop in, I’ll take you for a spin,” so my two brothers and I got in not knowing how much fun we would have. We drove around the block a few times, catching up to the exhaust smoke with each lap. My dad had never owned a Mini before that and couldn’t believe the road handling. It’s an amazing little car.
Share one of your favourite tips/tricks/ideas.
Regular sprays of silicone lubricant on rubber suspension bushes keeps everything loose and increases their life.
Would you consider yourself a gear head? What does that mean to you?
Of course. I grew up riding bikes and go-karts. From a very young age my dad let me help him in the garage. He taught me everything, from holding a spanner to popping wheelies on bikes. If it has wheels and an engine, I’ll drive it. Live life to the fullest, take your time, don’t hold back on what you love, and enjoy the ride.
What do you enjoy most about being a car/motoring enthusiast?
The satisfaction you get when someone appreciates your work and, of course, the thrill of the ride.
What is the most important quality a gear head should possess to be successful in life?
Where can people find & connect with you?
People can find me on Facebook by adding Werner’s Mini as a friend. Further contact detail are available there.
In recent years, the MINI has become a very common sight, but we think any gearhead anywhere in the world, can appreciate learning there are communities built around the original Minis, still going strong over 50 years later. These are skills passed down through generations, and we all know what it’s like to enjoy a cold beer while hanging an engine!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Werner!
How about you, gearhead? Did you inherit dad’s project car? Tell us about it!