Veronica Wroe's 1934 Rolls-Royce Boatail was a milk truck in Kisumu decades ago before it was restored and refined into a classic car that is a feast for the eyes. It was part of her father’s car collection and it has been in the family for 15 years.
At the Concours d'Elegance last weekend, her car beat 77 others, including two Rolls Royces, a 1928 Fiat, a 1930 Ford Model A, a 1959 Mercedes Benz, a 1968 Jaguar, among others to clinch the top position.
“We had just a month to do a complete overhaul of the car last year and while we had the bulk of the work done, we restored it a bit this year,” says the 34-year-old.
Lovers of vintage and classic cars usually slave away in garages to breathe new life into old vehicles. And the restoration meant that Veronica had to buy genuine parts from Rolls-Royce in the UK and the USA, apply new paintwork, varnish and do a chrome upgrade. “I can get the small parts here in Kenya but the genuine big parts have to come from Rolls-Royce in UK,” she says.
Although her Rolls-Royce is an 80-year-old car, she says it can ride faster than 70 kilometres per hour but that is not something she is willing to test.
“I have tried 70km/h on the bypass and I know it can go much faster given the overhaul but I do not want to push it,” she says.
Restoring and buying appreciating classic cars has become a hobby for some Kenyans of means. However, it is a labour of love and most Kenyans who have restored their collectors’ models are unwilling to sell them after years of investments or they would not even know how to price them.
Sati Gata-Aura who had two vehicles in the line-up, a 1977 Nissan 160J and a 1947 MG TG, and who was ranked the second and third position, says his collectibles are priceless. The expensive hobby is not really about money.
He says he has never thought of selling the 41-year-old Nissan which made a debut at the Concours d’Elegance 33 years ago. He can also not quantify the amount of money he has put in the race car which he bought for Sh75,000.
The lover of classics also owns MG TG, a kind of convertible sports car, that he bought for Sh3million five years ago.