Charger, VW Beetle and Nissan 300SX
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
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
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
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
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
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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