There were two reasons we ‘borrowed’ Gerrie’s black Saab late one night: If you don’t give a car a run the battery can go flat, and we had Larry the American Rotary Exchange student with us, who might have heard that the Free State can be a very boring place with “nothing to do”. Especially at night.
Quietly wheeling it down the driveway we held our breath until we’d pushed it far enough, then quickly started it and we were OFF! Freedom! Beer! Speed! Steph was multi-tasking, driving and handing out the ‘longtom’ cans of beer his gardener had bought for us from Randolph Stiller’s Central Hotel offsales. Tuffy finished his before we hit third gear . . .
Tonight we headed for new terrain. We had already done the town athletic track and the school netball fields on other occasions, leaving our trademark donuts and figure-of-eights in the gravel. This time our destination was the National Botanic Gardens on top of Queen’s Hill, stopping only once to tap the petrol pump with the half-brick kept under the bonnet for that purpose.
In the dark we met Kolhaas Lindstrom in his car. He was legit: He’d already left school and was a licenced driver. “Dice?” and the game was on! Whizzing through the veld ring-ding-ding-riiing! (it’s a two-stroke, remember?) the sudden stop and bang came as a surprise. Dead silence reigned until in an awed American accent Larry exclaimed “We’ve had a head-on collision with a hill!” .
A committee undercarriage inspection revealed all four wheels suspended in mid-air. Trying to gun it out left the front wheels whizzing around uselessly. Well, that is why there were five of us, so we man-handled it over the ditch and away we went, cleverer than before.
Forty five years later I flew in to inspect the scene of the crime (still unsolved, and now very cold: How could it be that such great and experienced drivers crashed?). I flew in via google earth. And there it was: A fault!! It was Queen’s Hill’s fault, not ours!
A great big fault runs North-South across the whole hill. THAT was what caught us by surprise.
I have little doubt that if one were to measure its width you’ll find it just a bit greater than the wheelbase of a 1961 Saab93!