Back Issue: Uno De Waal’s 1976 Valiant 100
Uno De Waal is an online publisher and entrepreneur from Joburg. Other than a motorcycle, this 1976 Valiant 100 serves as his daily drive.
We arrived early at 44 Stanley in Milpark, and went on a slow cruise around the neighbourhood. Between nearly getting side swiped by an Audi cabriolet, and running out of petrol in a dark alley, we had time for a few questions.
Back Issue is a series where we dig into previous issues of Traffic, and pull out stories that we think still hold water—despite their age. This story first appeared in our Spring 2013 issue, so any facts printed here may have changed since. Uno still has the Valiant, he still drives it all the time, and he’s still a rad guy.
Traffic Magazine: We love this car. Tell us a bit about it.
Uno De Waal: I don’t know too much about the motor, but it’s big and powerful; it’s a straight six. The fuel gauge also doesn’t really work and since it has a leak on the fuel line I haven’t been able to measure the consumption properly. It’s also calibrated in miles so that makes math difficult.
The fuel pump has a clicker on it though, so whenever I get low on fuel the clicker goes off and I know to fill up. It uses lead replacement fuel, which isn’t that widely available so I’ve had a couple of close calls driving around hunting for LRP.
In the old days, these cars were used as taxis, so they’re part of our history. Everyone can relate to this car, we all have a connection to it. It definitely gets the attention of people wherever I go, and I get an offer to buy it almost daily.
How much did you pay for it?
Uno: I got it as a birthday gift from my dad who paid R20 000 for it. He bought it from a priest in Cape Town, who used it to church and back (as the story goes). We then spent R5 000 on the interior, and probably another five grand maintaining it for the last few years between services.
His theory was that it’s cheaper to pay for petrol on an awesome old car than payments on crappy new one. It hasn’t exactly panned out that cheap, but I’m still happy with the decision. A brand new R100 000 Nissan Micra wouldn’t have given me nearly as much happiness as the Valiant.
Who services the car?
Uno: When I was in Cape Town, Rael from Mendel motors, but I now service it at Crusty’s Workshop in Fietas. Crusty’s is also a biker clubhouse, with a mechanic workshop in the front. I still want to end up having a beer back there. I don’t really put strain on the car though; I normally get around on my bike to save time and I escape traffic.
What’s the drive like? Is it a bit sluggish?
Uno: Not really. For a car this big, she’s not that slow at all, but what I love about it is that you don’t go anywhere fast. You just lean back in the big leather bench seat and take it easy to your destination. Once the car’s warmed up it’s a really nice, smooth ride.
It’s also great because you nearly never drive alone. There’s always someone keen to catch a lift with you. Even though it takes a bit longer, you have company.
The brakes aren’t so great…
Uno: Yeah, and they used to lock up every now and then. I was living in Cape Town, and my neighbour at the time had an old Corvette. So one day I was coming down High Level Road and he was in front of me. He pulled up at the stop street and as I hit the brakes the car just skidded, all the way down the hill—I must have missed that Corvette by half a metre.
“Older cars and bikes are mechanical, and you can fix them yourself. All these new cars are basically appliances.”
What’s the longest trip you’ve done?
Uno: I used to commute between Cape Town and Stellenbosch while finishing up my studies. I don’t want to take it on any longer journeys than that as it does have a bit of a wobble between 80 and a 100, and after a few hundred kays something might rattle or burn off.
I prefer to do long trips on my motorbike, so when I moved to Joburg I had it shipped up by train. It was a pretty good sight to see it getting off the carriage and start it up again.
Why do you think there’s this renewed interest in old cars lately?
Uno: Older cars and bikes are mechanical, and you can fix them yourself. All these new cars are basically appliances. Old cars have soul, nuances and annoying bits, but you end up loving them because of it.
For a period the car used to cut out when I turned left over a small incline. When I had that fixed, I sort of missed it.
Are you looking at restoring it one day? Will you ever get rid of it?
Uno: I’d like to restore it, and I’ll definitely hold onto it. I had the two cars up until March. The other was a Jeep XJ and I had to make a decision to sell one of them. I picked to sell the Jeep as the Valiant is a car you can’t really buy again, not in this condition anyway. And the value increases every year and so does your happiness when you drive it.
I’ll fix the slip in the gearbox, and I wouldn’t mind getting the wheels sorted out—the hubcaps come off when I go around corners. And a sound system. I need a proper sound system.