September 25, 2022


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Mandela’s BMW recounts the funny story of the ex-President’s loan car


The previous head of strategic arranging and public affairs at BMW South Africa and good friend of Double Apex, Chris Moerdyk recounts the funny story of President Mandela’s prolonged take a look at travel of a BMW 7 Sequence.

In the early 1990s, my task as head of strategic preparing at BMW South Africa turned a minimal much more significant than pretty ‘strategically’ organizing to just transpire to be in the neighbourhood of St Andrew’s in Scotland all around about the time the Open up Championship was getting played. Or, hoping to produce a five-yr system without having truly understanding what the social, political or economic atmosphere was heading to be like by tea time the adhering to working day.

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A new SA

In any case, an crucial part of our company strategic plan in these days centred all around the guy who was likely to grow to be the new president of South Africa. On one hand, it did not just take rocket science to know that beneath his leadership South Africa would prosper. As a final result multi-nationals these as BMW would be ready to start exporting from this place at extended very last.

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But, there was also a instead chilling truth that in the heated build-up to the 1994 elections. There would be some people in South Africa who would not want to see Mandela as president. Thus, the prospect of his assassination could not be discounted. So, in the interests of the potential of South Africa and to reduce the collapse of organization by means of this form of calamity, we made a decision that it was considerably far too hazardous for Mandela to just be driven close to in an standard automobile.

Bulletproof Beemer

The Tricky Tale of Mandela’s BMW

We attained authorization from the head place of work in Germany to give him an armoured BMW 7 Series. It was finish with bullet-resistant windows and bodywork. I had its very own oxygen supply and run-flat tyres. It even has gun ports by means of which his bodyguards could stick two machine guns stored in a very little compartment previously mentioned the sunlight visors and blast any attackers to kingdom arrive.

At the time, we phoned Cyril Ramaphosa who reported many thanks for the gesture. Sad to say Mr Mandela could not probably settle for the gift of a auto. He additional that such a car would almost certainly have to be purchased for him at the time he was President. But, in the meantime, he would just have to make do with the motor vehicle he had. We strategised a bit far more and phoned Cyril all over again. I instructed that if the governing administration was likely to acquire him an armoured vehicle when he was president was it not a good plan for him to at the very least have a test drive?  Ramaphosa reluctantly agreed and a date was set up.

Serving the people

So, about a yr prior to the elections a colleague and I shipped the armoured Beemer to Nelson Mandela at his household in Houghton, Johannesburg. It was early early morning and he had, a number of hrs earlier, returned from a take a look at to the Much East. He and Cyril Ramaphosa received us with friendliness and great hospitality.

I was offered tea and stood up to get it from a tray on the sideboard. Ramaphosa stopped me and said that he would pour my tea due to the fact the ANC essential to get applied to serving men and women. (One thing Mr Zuma and his cohorts subsequently forgot about fully.) But, at the time it was quite exceptional to be in a place with two of the most humble nonetheless charismatic gentlemen I have ever fulfilled in my lifetime.

Out of office environment

For the upcoming year, BMW’s strategic approach was for me to be out of the business office. I was usually engaged every single time someone from the ANC would telephone to question when we required Mandela’s BMW again from the exam generate. As it turned out it was the longest test travel in motoring history. We felt absolutely no regret for our trickery. We reckoned that anything that could retain the great person safe and sound was totally justified.

I satisfied Cyril a couple periods just after that and ongoing to be amazed. Primarily by his capacity to pay attention to the folks about him in social circumstances. He certainly made me come to feel that he was interested in what I was expressing. He is, without the need of a question, just one of the world’s superior fellas.

Photographs: BMW and Mike Monk/Franschhoek Motor Museum


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