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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
"Return to Sender"

Howzit!

On a recent South African Chev "safari" up near the Cullinan mine, where the famous "Star of Africa diamond was discovered in 1905, I found my own "diamond in the rough"- a rare left hand drive, 5/7 seater '61 Chevrolet Suburban.

Incredibly, after lying out under the harsh African sun for the last 30 years, the body had only minor rust. Granted it needed a bit of work but the only thing that really concerned me was the badly damaged,(yellow/black) curved shaped windshield. Because this vehicle was specially imported into South Africa, the windshield would have to be sourced in the US. The owner, Monty (83), a sun baked, wily African Boer said he'd sell it to me but only if I accepted his challenge - TO RETURN THE VEHICLE TO GM'S HEADQUARTERS! Somewhat amused, I told him I'd think it over and set off to check out another GM classic - a '35 Chevy Pick Up, on the Skeleton Coast, a heavilly restricted diamond mining area in Namibia

Driving through sweltering Namibian desert in my "scout car", a '67 Chevrolet Impala SS coupe, my mind kept returning to that '61 "burb in the bush". I just couldn't leave it there to "RIP" (rust in peace) This old classic had plenty of life left in it. Suddenly, I got an idea. Why not take up Monty's challenge? I'd simply fix it up, ship it to Buenos Aires, drive it West over the Andes into Chile, on up through South / Central America / Mexico, right up to GM's car park! Who knows, maybe the GM marketing lads could use the Chev for a unique publicity campaign or simply exhibit this remarkable "burb in the bush" in their museum! With some serious current losses, these lads needed all the help they could get! Suddenly, another idea came into my head! Why not make a road trip TV show? Surely viewers and those TV network lads must be fed up with all those reality shows?

Here was a real life adventure! Everything was in place - a cool, rugged, weather-beaten vehicle, spectacular scenery, plenty of other Chev classics to track down and interesting characters to interview. I had the time, passion, experience, energy and with all my Cape Town movie contacts, it wouldn't be difficult to round up a motley crew of 3/4. There was only one obstacle - dosh!

Sadly, I wasn't exactly flush having invested in my own '40's -'60's collection of Chevy Pick Ups and other classics. Granted, renting them out as Cape Town movie "prop" vehicles did pay for some of those expensive "hospital" bills but if I was going to restore / ship this old Chevy across the Atlantic and film the whole adventure, I needed some GM assistance. After all hadn' I succeeded in getting these GM classics featured in international movies, commercials and still photography fashion shoots! I felt confident any GM investment would be recouped from extensive media coverage and viewers would believe the GMblurb -that GM vehicles are rugged, tough long lasting vehicles, resulting in an increase of GM sales.

So my friends, if anyone out there knows who I could contact at GM, please drop me a line. Who knows, maybe the next time you switch on the National Geographic channel, you'll follow this amazing '61 Burb in the bush" adventure! Pics of the "burb in the bush" and other African Chev bush classics ('30-'60) on request.

Slan! The Celt!
 

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wow.
 

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Hoe gaan dit met jou and welcome to GMI Piers!

Enjoyed your story and as a former Capetonian, I found it was refreshing to read some real lekker English again! You really should post pics on here, it's really easy to do. I'd love to see not only my boyhood home, but that magic '61 Suburban! It must be a rare sight indeed! I'd love to see your '67 Impala coupé as well!

Look I've got a "contact" in Hollywood and I'll see what I can dredge up over the next few days, and get in touch with you if anything pans out. I'll also shoot over to the Film School here at the University just now and have a chinwag with the okes there and see if they've got any sort of contacts that could be helpful (New Orleans is becoming a major film centre).

Your journey would make a spectacular docco. I'm hoping GM bigwigs are reading this and can take interest in your project. With the current Suburban taking a sales beating, this sort of endeavour would be a great way to show off the 'burbs rugged history — a subject we've been discussing lately here on GMI!

Again, I'll see what I can organise and will get in touch if I get any real info.

Don't give up on this. It's a magic idea and should come to fruition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you friends for your kind words! If any of you would like to read a story or two + look at some pics, log on to:

www.stovebolt.com/features/feature_stories/fitzgerald/back/

Yes, I'm all ready to pick up that "burb in the bush", transport it down to Cape Town (1800 kms) and fix it up, keeping it in it's original condition. Parts will have to be ordered from the US so I guess I'll be able to source a good, used windshield. Mind you a set of goggles wouldn't look out of place driving this old "burb". Back in the '40's GM had an assembly plant in Port Elizabeth but never imported / assembled Suburban models.

I don't intend repainting the weather beaten body which is very much in keeping with Africa and the image of a "burb". There's plenty of room for 4/5 crew + equipment, great ground clearence and certainly a perfect "overland" vehicle. After travelling all around South Africa / Namibia I've seen some amazing GM "poster" locations which would make an attractive GM calander - Vic Falls, Namibian desert, Skeleton Coast, Etosha / Kruger National Park etc. Anyway, if anyone knows someone who can help me make this TV "doccie", it would certainly be appreciated.

I recently returned from another Chev "safari" in my '67 Impala SS (very apt name) and came across a rare '53 Chevrolet hearse - sort of looks like something you'd see in an early Bond film or used by Papa Doc's dreaded secret police, the Ton ton Macute, to "voodoo" terrorize Haitians back in the late '50's. I was thinking of painting it black/ cream and writing to "Guinness" to see if they would like to launch an ad campaign but perhaps they might feel it's a bit mobid, especially with "Dead on Time" as the slogan!

Thanks again for your kind words. Keep well.

Slan

email. [email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello!

Perhaps you're right but I thought members of this site might like to read the story!

To interest a TV channel, I think the norm is that they want to see a "pilot (3-5 minutes) of an episode in which case I must first get an independent TV production company on board. I think the topic, scenery, types of cars I discover on the trip would be interesting. Personally, I'm not into new cars as they have no real character / history. Whenever I find a car, I always enjoy listening to the owner's story! Believe me, I've met a lot of "odd" fun characters over the years.

Anyway, thanks for your interest. Keep well.
 
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