builder Etienne Botma
dates : 13th November 2005
19th November 2005
Etienne Botma is an artist who
just happens to have an all-abiding passion for motorized
His art studio in Centurion near Pretoria is well known for
supplying fiberglass elephant tusk replicas and other African
art paraphernalia, mainly because Etienne hates the idea of
killing animals for wall hangings.
But a year or two ago, Etienne decided to once again turn his
attention to motorcars, and if you are prepared to wait a few
months, he’ll deliver a classic 1930s Ford hotrod to your
Its body will be in fiberglass, either with 1932 or 1934
detailing, and the Street Rod Factory provides cars in either
kit form, or as turnkey, ready-to-drive items.
So what IS street rodding? It’s an American off-shoot of the
international automotive brotherhood that had its birth some
sixty years ago. Youngsters began chopping up the old cars
they could afford, giving them what today would be called
lack of money, but a desire to be different, gave rise to
the street rod movement, in much the same way that old South
African Golfs are given the dropped, smoke-windowed
Thousands of kilometers away from the United States, Etienne
Botma is fortunate in having skilled body workers like Nico
Fakude and Jeffrey Mathebula to hand-form replicas of The
American Dream, tailored to our unique South African
Even in America, where street-rod eligible cars were built
by the million, fiberglass replica street rods have been
around since the 1960s. And today they are a recognized
branch of rodding.
In South Africa, sourcing real Ford coupe bodies is almost
impossible, so the fiberglass route to street rodding makes
even more sense.
The idea behind Etienne’s Street Rod Factory is to offer
the classic thirties street rod experience to a customer
with average mechanical skills.
The amazing aspect of this car is that the moulds were
largely the product of Etienne’s imagination, as he had no
original steel body to work from.
Just one look at the proportions of Etienne’s fiberglass
Ford recreation tell you he’s got it right.
There’s that perfectly chopped roofline, the widened
mudguards and running boards.
The excellent ripple-free glass finish makes this replica
rod a cut above the rest.
Replicas are a great idea if items like the doors fit and
the moulding is done accurately.
With his elephant tusk experience calculated to fool
big-game hunters, a hot rod was a cinch for our African
Etienne has his hot rodding routes in Kwazulu Natal, where
he became something of a street rodding legend with a
violently modified Morris Minor.
The addition of a V8 engine and some trick suspension mods
saw Etienne run ten-second quarter miles in what was still
essentially a street machine.
His collection of trophies for drags and car shows speaks of
a long career in petrol-hedonism.
There are certain de-rigeur hot-rodding bits and pieces that
complete "The Look". One of these is "The Bug
That’s the big air-scoop normally associated with a giant
supercharger, but also suitable to a pair of huge Holley
As for engine choice, Ettiene is a card-carrying bow-tie
The engines are the fun part of hot-rodding, the dress-up
bits that make guys and girls go whoo! ---whaaa!---wazzad?
The nitty gritty of the replica are these components that
make up a Street Rod Factory chassis.
These Mild steel pieces have all been carefully sized and
cut in readiness for the next project.
This is Etienne’s personal rod, although he’s ceded
ownership to his wife Nora and daughter Kerry Lee.
It’s known as a hi-boy, because the body sits atop the
chassis, rather than being channeled, or lowered for a more
The hi-boy is also characterized by its open-wheel style,
popularized in the late 1940s in the very early days of
street rodding in America.
Etienne’s car uses Jaguar XJ6 suspension front and rear,
and a supercharged 5,7 litre Chevy V8, which makes it an
extremely fast car by any standards.
With over 300 kiloWatts and an all-in weight of around 900
kilograms, this car will reel off sub five-second 0-100 any
day of the week.
As for top speed… well, whatever blows your hair back.
This all fibreglass body with steel chassis is to Etienne’s
standard hi-boy spec. But if you want one with mudguards,
Etienne and his crew will build you one.
Running Jag suspension means that the car is easy to set up
to tried-and-tested factory specs, as all the pick-up points
are to original Jaguar factory settings.
Hot rods have gone through countless fashion swings in their
sixty-year history, and this 1940s look is very popular
Neat Botma touches are the moulded flame-pattern door
panels, the use of standard old Smiths Jaguar
instrumentation for retro cool, and a chopped windscreen.
But it’s the way this car moves that really gets your
A sign of a well-sorted built-up car is the way it rides,
and the way its engine behaves in hot, slow-running
Despite being filmed in high summer, Etienne’s car ran
cool-and-collected all afternoon.
The Jaguar independent suspension is a natural dress-up item
when it’s located outside its production cradle and nicely
In keeping with the pre-1970s look, Etienne went for the
body colour chassis and suspension look, rather than using
And what a commuter car!
That 671 Weiand supercharger whine is enough to curl your
toenails. And at an all-in price of under R200 000, this is
some sports car too!
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