Text: Leilani Basson
Photography: Jannie Herbst and Anika Smith
Most Brothers Grimm fairytales are made of more or less the same stuff: the ugly duckling that turns into a swan, Cinderella who becomes a princess, and in more modern times, the hooker who became Pretty Woman in the 1990’s blockbuster. And true to these tales, the protagonist always has a saviour of some sort. The duckling had Mother Nature, Cinderella had the fairy godmother and Julia Roberts had Richard Gere.
The proverbial magic wand recently touched Projek Aardwolf’s beloved lead character too. Nico Landman, owner of Triomf Automotive Art in Martindale, turned out to be the genie in a spray bottle that gave Die Trok its new lease on life.
It was an accident of fate that Die Trok ended up with Nico and his team of 18 people, who worked non-stop for four weeks to create this masterpiece.
Nico and Johann Botha, creator and main presenter of Projek Aardwolf, met in cyberspace — somewhere among a spate of messages and comments on the Land Cruiser Forum.
“I posted some advice and facts in response to a series of comments on a specific topic, after working myself up because of the DIY experts giving others the wrong advice. I can’t really remember what I wrote, but Johann liked it and we started chatting. He then contacted me and asked for a quote to re-do his truck’s body. ”
Nico gave Johan an initial quote and a time frame of two weeks.
“It was only when die Trok eventually arrived on our doorstep that I realised the extent of the work that had to be done. Nearly every square centimetre was dented. The entire body needed to be disassembled. We invested 513 man hours in this make-over.”
Having Die Trok on the “operating table” in Nico’s spick ‘n span workshop turned out to be the team building experience of a lifetime.
“It wasn’t just another dinged-up car that had to be beaten back into shape,” says Nico. “This was a work of love – something that the staff took extra pride in. The vibe throughout those weeks was something we hadn’t experienced before. It was a real privilege to deliver our best work ever, and to know that thousands of Aardwolf viewers were going to take note of Die Trok’s transformation.”
To reduce Die Trok’s carbon footprint, Nico used an environmentally friendly, lead-free, water-based paint to restore the Lady in Red to her former glory.
Although the water-based paint for vehicles is still quite new in South Africa – and comes at a premium – there was just no question about using it on Die Trok. Everything had to jell with what Projek Aardwolf stood for.
After 19 days she was ready. Nico described Die Trok as a princess who had risen from the dead and stepped out of her coffin even more beautiful and radiant than before (that part comes from Snow White, doesn’t it?).
The entire process was monitored closely by the Projek Aardwolf team. Alti Fouche visited her beloved truck nearly every day to make sure nothing was going wrong.
Today Alti couldn’t be happier. “Apart from being so thankful for what they did for our truck, I am also grateful that they didn’t eventually chase me away,” says Alti. “Nico, julle ouens kook! (Nico, you guys rock!)”
The professionally done logo on the doors, the truck’s smooth bodywork and its glowing, eco-friendly colour are more than the Aardwolf crew ever bargained for. And to think that it all happened by chance. Fairytale stuff indeed.
- Die Trok’s first trip after its reincarnation was to do a story on?..
Projek Aardwolf lovers and Leisure Wheels readers can see the “new” truck in action on ? when the new series kicks off.