The Yank tank fires up | My Wheels
A 1985 Chevrolet C30 V8 Diesel has stolen Reggie Mlambo from Botswana’s heart. It took him nearly two years to get it on the road after buying it but now he is planning to tour up a storm.
Gaborone auditor Reggie Mlambo picked up one of 50 Chevs at an army auction for next to nothing. That was in 2007 and he had to wait until 2009 to realise his off-roading dreams with his American Brute, as he calls it. The bakkie was in a bit of a state – bear in mind it was already 22 years old when he bought it.
A self-confessed 4×4 fanatic, Reggie was driving around with the family’s Nissan Safari since he could reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel.
How did you get it running?
Finding parts was difficult because the Chev came from the United States, but you can find anything on the internet. I found most parts I needed to get the Chev running from other guys that bought numerous Chevs to sell for parts.
I found a prop shaft and had it balanced and fitted. I also bought and reconditioned a starter. I had to order the glow plugs from the US.
I replaced all the oils and lubricants and fitted new batteries. At the first try the engine fired up and ran like Zola Budd.
Thereafter I commandeered a panel beater to remove the dents. The camouflage paint was scraped off and I had it painted white. The dash board was also refurbished as it had been burnt to bits by the sun.
I found the rims in Junkmail and ordered them from Johannesburg. To fit the style I had BF Goodrich All Terrain tyres (33 x12.5×15) fitted.
That made it really look American!
How was the first outing?
The first long trip I undertook was from my hometown of Gaborone along the Kasane road to Nata farms in eastern Botswana. The three-speed automatic gearbox functioned like clockwork and I cruised comfortably at 90km/h, at which speed it doesn’t use much diesel.
You use this vehicle if you want to enjoy nature, not if you are in a rush.
The road was very sandy, but the Chev took it in its stride. On the return trip the truck was not loaded as heavy and here and there a wheel would spin in the sand, but nothing worth worrying about. I kept it in 4H throughout.
And where are you going next?
Since I got the Chev running in September 2009 I have done more than 25 000 km with it. I am planning to go everywhere – from Chobe, the Savuti and Maun to the Okavango Delta. After his restoration my American Brute can conquer anything!