History of Street Rodding in South Africa
It’s uncertain when Street Rodding actually began in South Africa but it’s believed to be sometime in the 50’s, following closely on the heels of America. Magazines such as the Popular Mechanics at the time probably sowed the seed and numerous old ’50-style street rods existed in the sixties and seventies. Street rodding as a hobby in South Africa really started to accelerate in the late 60’s with the advent of the fibreglass ’23 Model T produced by Alan Saffy, making it into production.
During the late 60’s the Corbett brothers, Harry and Dave, proudly unveiled their famous chopped and channelled ’34 Ford Coupe at the Auto Fun Show at Milner Park. Here Stuart Cox from Bloemfontein met the brothers Corbett and struck a friendship. The Corbett’s rallied up a lot of enthusiasm in Street Rodding at the time and this led to the formation of the oldest club in SA, Reef Street Rod Club in 1972.
With the advent of various clubs all over SA the idea was cherished to try and get everyone together for a great weekend of fun. Because of the centrality, Bloemfontein was suggested as a possible location and after numerous phone calls to the various chairpersons consensus was reached. The Easter Weekend of 1985 was chosen and the program revolved around the opportunity to meet fellow Street Rodder’s who shared the same passion and to have fun. To give the somewhat ignorant public a glance at our hobby of Street Rodding a Show & Shine was held at a central parking area in Bloemfontein on the Saturday morning where the attending cars were judged in various categories.
A great weekend was had by all & at a meeting attended by all participants during the course of the weekend it was decided that the event would be held on a bi-annual basis, each of the various clubs around South Africa would take turns to host the event in their home town.
Over the past 31 years the building quality and standard of the participants have improved noticeable. The fact that more newly-built Street Rods get onto the street is encouraging for the hobby. From the meagre attendance of some twenty street rods at the first Nat’s to hundreds attending now-a-days, is living proof that the hobby is very much alive and well in South Africa. Over the last 10 years Rod Shops has been popping up around the country. And even though a lot of new replacement parts are being imported from Overseas, there are more and more local parts being used. The “Boer-maak ‘n plan” way where parts from modern vehicles get fitted and build into these old Ladies of the Road. Body panel’s gets hand fabricated as good as new.
The average age of Street Rodder’s & those modifying cars, vary from the 25 year-old working young men spending time and money on their cars, to business men playing with older cars and the 50 plus men fulfilling an live long dream of owning/restoring a vehicle from back then. DS TV programs make men drool, and start building. Rusted old Cars and Bakkie’s fetch high prices
These are the customers that frequent Spares Shops and spend. They buy paint and polish , wheels and tyres, engine parts and trims, and what not to personalize their rides. And a car like that needs more and more, after every show there is an upgrade or some modification or ad-on that needs to get done. More parts and product’s, more money, but that is the name of the game: “Keeping up with the Jones’s”.
Streetrod Nationals over the years
1st 1985 Bloemfontein
2nd 1987 Alberton
3rd 1989 Kimberley
4th 1991 PE
5th 1993 Durban
6th 1995 East London
7th 1997 Bloemfontein
8th 1999 Alberton
9th 2001 Cape Town
10th 2003 PE
11th 2005 Klerksdorp
12th 2007 East London
13th 2009 Alberton
14th 2011 Cape Town
15th 2013 Kimberley
16th 2015 PE
17th 2017 Klerksdorp
In 2005 the 11th SA Street Rod Nationals was held in Klerksdorp, a first for Rod & Mod the local Street Rod Club. There was more than 550 cars on display from all over South Africa, the ± 20 000 spectators that came and went in the day had a feast for their eyes. With the culinary skills of eleven church groups depicting 11 international foods there was no shortage of choice for food. The bar was well supported and people could “kuier” on the stands that overlook the field.