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Wheels 24

The local automotive industry contributes % to South African GDP. These are the best our workers have built.

BMW 333i

BMW’s commitment to its loyal South African followers has created some of the most iconic and collectible German cars in history, but none are more symbolic of the Munich-Mzansi joint-venture than 333i.

Built to offset the disappointment of South Africa not receiving BMW’s original M3, the 333i became a classic compact four-door performance car.

The boxy shape, 3.2-litre inline six-cylinder engine, dogleg gearbox and agile driving dynamics made BMW’s indigenously engineered ‘triple-three’ legendary. Honouring its legacy, BMW commissioned technicians to assemble a concourse condition 333i in 2016. A project which stirred even the coldest of local automotive industry analysts with its finished product.

Ford Ranger Raptor

The American mid-sized bakkie promises to be the most off-road capable double-cab you can buy in South Africa. It might look like a regulation Ranger with some styling upgrades, but the chassis is strengthened, and the suspension completely reconfigured, with trick Fox racing shocks at all four wheels.

In short: it is a unique bakkie offering, one where any build quality or assembly inconsistencies are literally intolerable. South African Ranger Raptor customers will be stirred by patriotism when receiving their bakkies from next month onward too, as all local units feature engines assembled in Port Elizabeth, married to bakkies built in Silverton, Tshwane.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux

America has the largest bakkie market by sales, but nobody builds a better true off-road racing bakkie, than us. Proven by years of podium finishes at the gruelling Dakar rally raid in South America, the Gazoo Racing Hilux V8 finally added an overall win to its resume this year.

Designed, engineered and built in Johannesburg, it is testament to local innovation and fabrication skill. Any vehicle which races over terrain that would break a conventional SUV in half, at the speeds that this V8 Hilux is capable of, can’t risk even the slightest manufacturing fault.

Which is why the Hallspeed technicians which assemble the company’s Gazoo Hilux V8s, never make a mistake.

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Desired by ardent motoring enthusiasts and begrudgingly respected by rivals. Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division is an immense success, with a more extensive portfolio of performance vehicles than any brand.

AMG prides itself on hand-built engines and being a nearly independent entity within the Mercedes-Benz corporate organogram.

Suffice to say, they don’t really trust anyone outside of their Affalterbach headquarters to have any technical or final assembly input on their products. But they do rank South African automotive workers as sufficiently skilled, to build AMGs. A true tribute to the quality of manufacturing in Mercedes-Benz’s East London factory, is that in 2017 it became the first site outside of Germany, allowed to build C-Class AMGs.

VW Citi Golf

The most iconic hatchback of all time and a family car which has evolved from humble to premium through seven and half generations. Volkswagen’s South African workers, at its Uitenhage facility, are unique in having kept the first-generation Golf alive decades after it was discontinued everywhere else.

There were numerous special editions, but it all finally ended, with a final edition, later in 2009 – a decade ago. Those hatchback building skills were swiftly reapplied to Volkswagen’s Vivo and Polo, of which workers at the Uitenhage plant have built more than a million.