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Uganda O-Man Wheels At Auto Show 2012

Ford 1928 At the Uganda Autoshow 2012

Ford 1928 At the Uganda Autoshow 2012

For the motor enthusiasts in Uganda, there has been a good number of auto shows. However, these have mainly been showcasing the latest models of cars and trucks. For the first time, car lovers were treated to eye-candy from a long gone era. The vintage/classic car show that was at Sheraton Hotel gardens.

To make sure we were in the right place, there was a vintage 1974 Peugeot 404 at the gate. That was very thoughtful of the organizers. I guess that was much classier than a huge banner would have been.

Now, this isn’t just about old cars that belonged to our great grandfathers. No, this was about reliving childhood memories for some, and reminiscing the good old days for others. There were a good number of classics. Once you’d walked in through the gates (and a bevy of guards) you couldn’t avoid the sudden wave of nostalgia as your eyes rested on iconic cars that were all over the place. There was a good number of Mercedes Benzes, Beetles, Peugeots, Fords, a sprinkling of Toyotas, and some strange names.

It was interesting to come into touching distance, there was strictly no touching allowed, of cars that didn’t have the luxuries we now enjoy. They had no power steering, no four wheel drive (engines were mounted above the driving wheels), no side mirrors (cars must have been very few at that time), no suspensions, no fuel injection, no airbags. To cut it short, most of them were for basic driving, which was a great luxury at the time.

Apart from the old look, some of the cars there had some interesting history. There was a Mercedes that had once been used as then Minister of Foreign Affairs Princess Elizabeth Bagaya’s official car. There were some that had been gifts from the late former president Idi Amin. Actually, there was a Ford Granada that was supposedly a gift from Amin to, suspiciously, a young man. He had spray-painted the engine gold! He even added 20″ rims.

For those that had a taste for science fiction, there was a red amphibian car from the 70s. Yes, it moves on land as well as water. It has propellers! Hard to believe it’s that old! For comic relief, there was a tiny one-man car driven using handlebars. It was called ‘Carrot’.

As for the iconic cars, some of us who belong to a younger generation at last found some cars we could relate to. Who can forget the Volkswagen Beetle? There was the Hudson Hornet, one of the earliest sports sedans. If you’ve watched the animated movie ‘Cars’ you have an idea what I’m talking about. The open top Triumph was a sight to behold! The owner went to great lengths to keep it in pristine condition.

And then I saw it… The famous Volkswagen Campervan! I called it the Hippie van to the amusement of some. All I could remember was Forrest Gump and Peter’s Toy Box (a famous show of the 90s). I could hardly stop myself from trying to take a picture with it. I guess everyone there had their own moments of that kind.

Roger Mugisha was the MC of the event, and Judith Heard the social judge. They really should have done some homework. Not every guy can MC at a motor show after all. The man just didn’t know about cars! Mbu “Why is this car’s engine in the back?” Seriously? Anyway, he was in charge of the judging process, where the cars were checked by some professional mechanics from Automobile Association of Uganda -to my relief. Judith Heard was to judge their social appeal and ‘swag’. I wondered why anyone would want a classic/vintage car to have swag. Well, she did that. It took great effort from the judges and MC to check all the cars present, the background music hardly helped. We were treated to recent hits when a good selection of oldies would have worked wonders.

The awards were held at the fountain area. We were treated to some old hits by Simba Sounds. It was very lively, and the music had most of the crowd swaying in delight. We had a few songs done by guitar maestro Maurice Kirya, then a few tunes from Sax specialist Isaiah Katumwa before we finally got to the awards.

Now, all car owners who had exhibited cars got fuel vouchers from City Oil. Kudos to that! It’s not easy keeping those cars in such great shape! In the social judgement, awards went to: youngest car owner, car with most intriguing history, most appealing car and special recognition for exhibitors who’d driven all the way from Kabale!

In the professional judgement, which was based on beauty, functionality, originality, and age, the winner was a ’58 Mercedes (60 plus), followed by a ’28 Ford A, then a ’59 Mercedes. The winner got 2 return air tickets to Istanbul courtesy of Turkish Airlines. Runners-up got gift hampers.

I left as soon as the awards were done, but it was a very colourful event. The organisers promised us another one next year, and I hope to see more of these history makers then.

By Symon Kenny
20 June 2012

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