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Dodge Charger, VW Beetle and Nissan 300SX

Broadcast date : 11th June 2006

To many Gautengers, Middleburg is one of those places you pass by on your way to a weekend getaway in Dullstroom or the Lowveld.

After seeing what Vanís Auto and Sound was capable of at the recent Xtreme Auto show, Car Torque decided the two-hour motorway trip on the N4 was worth a closer look at Vanís. We tracked down the sound experts in Middleburgís main drag.

But not just any factory. Vans Auto and Sound, like all the Gauteng heavy-hitters in the audio game, carries a full range of sound equipment, starting at entry-level, but with a strong emphasis on the top end of the audio market.

The secret to success in the sound business these days is not only in the install, as custom sound people call it, but in combining in-car entertainment with appropriate visual and performance upgrades.

The boys from Vanís laid on some neat looking street cruisers for us to sample while we were in Middleburg. A Dodge Charger, a tricked-out Beetle and a Nissan 200 SX were representative of the kind of cars that turn the Middleburgers on.

The Beetle, or New Beetle, is a bit of aÖÖ. weeell, a bit of a Ö were-not-quite sure!

We were knocked out by the concept car in the late nineties, but the production version hasnít exactly set the sales charts alight here.

Our feeling is that in standard form the wheels are too small for the body, and that the car falls between so cute you could eat it and too innocent to have real street cred.

Vanís addressed the visuals with dropped suspension, big wheels and cool paint. 

As Vanís Rohann van der Westhuizen explains, custom Beetles can be cool.

Men will enjoy the prominent shift-light rev-counter and race-seats, but the ladies will go wild for the pavement-thumping sound install in-back of the Beetle.

At the heart of the Vanís install is a trio of Cerwin Vega amps with four-channel, four-hundred RMS output.

10-inch subs and 6,5 inch splits are designed to fit around a Nitrous Oxide bottle centerpiece.

Yes, this is heavyweight sound, both literally and audiophonically!

Additional Cerwin Vega splits in the front and a pop-up DVD monitor make full use of the stock Beetleís vast dash space.

Interestingly, the whole shebang, including the Nitrous Oxide activation for extra power, is activated via a special gear lever knob. The Beetleís bubble interior makes for good acoustics too.
For more serious motoring, youíd need to look at a car like the Nissan 200 SX, a rather special example owned by Joíburgís Bryce Roberts, which has been given the full Fast and Furious treatment.

This Nissan started life in stock form as an S14 model. Bryce decided to go for the sleeker overseas model S15 look, and imported a complete new nose section, as well as a full Charge Speed dress-up kit. This comprises a carbon fibre bonnet and boot, side-skirts, and scissor doors.

The big carbon rear wing is a drifting item that doesnít promote super high-speed driving, so Bryce is not sure what the radical 200 SX will do on the top end

The interior is fully gauge-bedecked and topped off by a striking black and cream finish, as well as a high-end ICE set-up to do justice to the rad body job. In building a custom car, the most important part is in establishing a theme.

This means planning body, mechanicals and In-Car Entertainment as an integrated project. 

Vanís crew went for a quality install on the sound side of things, with a quad Vibe amp set-up, a pair of Vibe 2x12 subs, and a trick rectangular 6x9 speaker that is new on the block.

But the engine has all the necessary hardware to make big numbers, including a Garrett GT 28 R turbo, and Greddy intercooler and fuel-management systems, as well as a "de rigeur" strut brace.
It would take a lot to blow off the blown Nissan. But those who remember 1969 as a year of peace and flowers, and Woodstock, and the whole mellow trip should also remember it as a year when the Darth Vader of street cars, the meanest -muther of heavy-hitting street fighters made the scene.

Yes, the Dodge Charger was one bad-ass car from the moment it rolled off the factory line in Detroit. Thing is, the Middelburg variety is even meaner.

Youíre talking hidden headlights, and hidden power to blow your mind. This Joker has been in the Van family for many years. Itís been customized with an aim to retain a stock look as far as possible. And itís Leon van der Westhuizenís favourite toy.

Four-piston calipers and disc brakes have replaced the old drum set-up used back in The Dukes of Hazard days, and billet aluminum dress-ups include a Nascar-type fuel-filler, door handles and wing mirrors.

The silver on black theme has been carefully crafted, including the bonnet scoop, and the only relief is from the white challenge-stripe painted cross ways over the tail, which was a period Chrysler Group option for these iconic muscle cars.

The Joker rears his head inside the Charger too. Being a Vanís car itís no surprise that thereís some serious ICE to back up the mechanical muscle.

Youíre looking at Cerwin Vega multiple amps, a massive Stroker Pro sub in the boot, a drop-down monitor and, and andÖ

The billet alloy black theme continues inside, thanks to racing instrumentation with a Nascar look, the stainless steel center console with chrome shifter and a billet aluminum steering wheel. Tasty!

The sound system we preferred, however, was to be found beneath that big, bad, black bonnet, or hood as the good olí boys like to call it.

In fact this Detroit lump is bigger than Nascar rules allow. At 572 cubic inches, it displaces over 9 litres in European parlance!

Leon says heís never had the chance to use all the power, but is certain it will run to well over 250 km/h. Well over!

For now heís content to cruise the streets of Middleburg, keeping the Dodge legend alive in sunny SA.

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