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1948 Dodge


Words & Pictures by Roger Gaisford

Bumping by Bluebird: Across Africa by Dodge in 1948

It was an occasion, the meeting of the Babanango Old Trucks Society; that assortment of characters dedicated to the preservation of old four-wheel-drive vehicles. As tradition demanded, the gathering was held in Stan’s Bar at the Babanango Hotel, that haven on the road between Nqutu and Ndundulu in distant Zululand. It was dark outside, and cold and mist wafted among the great gums in the yard. Bros was there and Mr Gemoer and Wonsok and Wife and Kaz and The Woman Who Caused All The Trouble, and The Haggis and Thomas the Hun and some others. They were drinking Doctor Bhepimbuzi’s Vusinduku, a local distillation; it was mixed with mango juice and gin. “Good stuff,” said Bros.

He was telling us about Arthur Burchell, who drove a Dodge from England to Johannesburg in 1948. The aftermath of the devastation of World War Two saw large numbers of people across Europe and in England emigrating for new lives elsewhere. The Burchell family of Rusholme near Manchester in England were no exception, and had decided to make a new life in South Africa.