The Mother City car culture is an intergenerational thing, and in today’s story this comes to life as a passion for Ford, and restoration skills passed down from father to son.
About 15 years ago Nur Kemp was a legend on the local scene with his paint-flip split-bonnet Ford Sierra a source of wonder across the Cape. It was the heyday of glitz, and his was the ultra-cool cabbie of the customising scene at the time, what with colour splashes, scissor doors and gangsta interior.
Then, like all the most enigmatic cultural artefacts, Nur’s Sierra was relegated to the garage to gather dust for a while, languishing mid-narrative and awaiting resurrection.
Meanwhile, and representing a twist in the tale of this car’s evolution, Nur’s son Mujahid came of age and noticed, just like his dad, the allures of a 1980s left-hand drive Sierra.
His story started when his father bought a second Sierra for the dashboard. Then Mujahid set his intention, at age 16, to restore the old 1981 two-litre Ford to its former glory. Starting with a rusty shell with peeling paint, no engine and no gearbox, he stripped out what was left over, sanded the car down, filled out the dents and got it ready for primer. His dad taught him how to do the spray.
As Nur tells it, Mujahid in his fevered inspiration to find parts and restore his Sierra, noticed they were there for the picking in the family garage. Nur saw his mirrors vanish, then his seats. Mujahid’s Sierra magically gained said mirrors, seats, and more.
The transfer happened with his father’s blessing. Nur says he was only too happy to see his son shine and express his inherited passion for the modifying scene. Mujahid had set his sights on building every young man’s dream race car.
Mujahid tells of the learning curve this involved, and having to skill-up on each element required to build a car virtually from the ground up. From body work and mechanics to upholstery and electrics, Mujahid painstakingly learned what he could and over a four-year period rebuilt the Sierra. As you can imagine, with an old beauty like this, many parts had to be fabricated.
Bringing the family together, Mujahid speaks of all the help he got from his parents and his grandfather. Answering a direct question, with a smile he admits to some ‘midnight parts’ expeditions to the family garage.
The next twist in the story was totally unforseen. In 2020, Mujahid’s car burnt out as the result of a fuel leak. He says: “I was driving home and smelling fuel, next thing flames burst out the bonnet. I had to pull over and abandon ship.”
“I sat in garage and I was in tears. It was never about the money. This car had been my heart and soul, pride and joy. I’ll never forget, my four friends from school, they came one by one to support me. It was very tough, I was so invested.”
Jackie Crewe understands the kind of perseverance and ingenuity, the sheer energy, that goes into such a restoration. It is a labour of love.
Mujahid adds: “Even my dad came to me with the keys of his Sierra, said ‘it’s yours now’. But I couldn’t accept his car, I said no, that car is still his pride and joy. Maybe one day when you’re older, then yes.”
However, and this is testament to the young man’s perseverance and passion for the culture, he is busy with a Mk1 Escort, another iconic retro car.
“I found the Escort rotting in someone’s yard. Just like the Sierra, no engine, no gearbox. So when the opportunity came, I jumped at it,” says Mujahid.
“I have learned much over the years. Everything happens for a reason. And I’m grateful that I got away with no damage. The event has resulted in me and my dad bonding in the yard with the new project. So there’s more laughter.”
Picking up a strand of this story, back to the resurrection of Nur’s original Sierra. He took one look at his denuded car and decided on an update. Repainting an iconic Cosworth dental white, the RS500 replica is powered by a gutsy three-litre V6 of Ford robot-to-robot fame, while sporting the lines and the double fin out back.