July 25, 2024


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Mandela’s BMW recounts the funny tale of the ex-President’s mortgage auto

4 min read


The former head of strategic arranging and community affairs at BMW South Africa and pal of Double Apex, Chris Moerdyk recounts the funny story of President Mandela’s prolonged exam travel of a BMW 7 Sequence.

In the early 1990s, my job as head of strategic setting up at BMW South Africa turned a minimal additional significant than really ‘strategically’ arranging to just occur to be in the neighbourhood of St Andrew’s in Scotland around about the time the Open Championship was remaining played. Or, striving to acquire a five-yr approach without the need of basically understanding what the social, political or economic surroundings was going to be like by tea time the following day.

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A new SA

Anyway, an important part of our corporate strategic program in all those times centred close to the male who was going to turn out to be the new president of South Africa. On one particular hand, it did not take rocket science to know that beneath his leadership South Africa would prosper. As a outcome multi-nationals such as BMW would be able to get started exporting from this place at prolonged very last.

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But, there was also a relatively chilling reality that in the heated make-up to the 1994 elections. There would be some individuals in South Africa who would not want to see Mandela as president. Consequently, the prospect of his assassination could not be discounted. So, in the pursuits of the foreseeable future of South Africa and to stop the collapse of organization by way of this form of calamity, we resolved that it was far far too harmful for Mandela to just be driven around in an regular auto.

Bulletproof Beemer

The Tricky Tale of Mandela’s BMW

We received permission from the head workplace in Germany to give him an armoured BMW 7 Series. It was total with bullet-resistant home windows and bodywork. I experienced its individual oxygen provide and operate-flat tyres. It even has gun ports by which his bodyguards could stick two device guns stored in a very little compartment previously mentioned the sunlight visors and blast any attackers to kingdom appear.

At the time, we phoned Cyril Ramaphosa who stated many thanks for the gesture. However Mr Mandela could not potentially acknowledge the gift of a automobile. He included that these a auto would likely have to be bought for him the moment he was President. But, in the meantime, he would just have to make do with the motor vehicle he experienced. We strategised a bit extra and phoned Cyril once more. I proposed that if the governing administration was going to acquire him an armoured car when he was president was it not a superior plan for him to at minimum have a check push?  Ramaphosa reluctantly agreed and a day was established up.

Serving the people today

So, about a 12 months in advance of the elections a colleague and I delivered the armoured Beemer to Nelson Mandela at his household in Houghton, Johannesburg. It was early early morning and he experienced, a several several hours previously, returned from a take a look at to the Considerably East. He and Cyril Ramaphosa gained us with friendliness and enormous hospitality.

I was presented tea and stood up to get it from a tray on the sideboard. Ramaphosa stopped me and explained that he would pour my tea mainly because the ANC desired to get used to serving individuals. (One thing Mr Zuma and his cohorts subsequently forgot about completely.) But, at the time it was pretty impressive to be in a room with two of the most humble still charismatic adult men I have at any time achieved in my lifestyle.

Out of office

For the subsequent yr, BMW’s strategic plan was for me to be out of the business office. I was constantly engaged each individual time anyone from the ANC would telephone to question when we preferred Mandela’s BMW again from the test travel. As it turned out it was the longest check travel in motoring background. We felt certainly no remorse for our trickery. We reckoned that just about anything that could preserve the fantastic person protected was totally justified.

I achieved Cyril a handful of periods just after that and ongoing to be impressed. Primarily by his ability to hear to the men and women close to him in social conditions. He definitely created me sense that he was fascinated in what I was indicating. He is, devoid of a question, just one of the world’s fantastic men.

Images: BMW and Mike Monk/Franschhoek Motor Museum


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