December 5, 2022


Born to perform

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

4 min read


The former head of strategic planning and general public affairs at BMW South Africa and mate of Double Apex, Chris Moerdyk recounts the amusing story of President Mandela’s extended test travel of a BMW 7 Series.

In the early 1990s, my career as head of strategic setting up at BMW South Africa became a very little more crucial than very ‘strategically’ scheduling to just happen to be in the neighbourhood of St Andrew’s in Scotland about about the time the Open up Championship was remaining played. Or, striving to acquire a 5-yr program with out actually figuring out what the social, political or economic environment was going to be like by tea time the next day.

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A new SA

Anyway, an crucial part of our company strategic program in those people days centred close to the man who was likely to develop into the new president of South Africa. On a single hand, it did not consider rocket science to know that beneath his leadership South Africa would prosper. As a end result multi-nationals such as BMW would be in a position to start out exporting from this state at extended very last.

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But, there was also a alternatively chilling fact that in the heated develop-up to the 1994 elections. There would be some people today in South Africa who would not want to see Mandela as president. Therefore, the prospect of his assassination could not be discounted. So, in the passions of the long run of South Africa and to avert the collapse of business by means of this type of calamity, we made a decision that it was significantly far too dangerous for Mandela to just be driven about in an everyday car or truck.

Bulletproof Beemer

The Tricky Tale of Mandela’s BMW

We acquired authorization from the head office environment in Germany to give him an armoured BMW 7 Series. It was comprehensive with bullet-resistant home windows and bodywork. I had its personal oxygen offer and run-flat tyres. It even has gun ports by means of which his bodyguards could stick two machine guns stored in a small compartment above the sunlight visors and blast any attackers to kingdom appear.

At the time, we phoned Cyril Ramaphosa who said many thanks for the gesture. Sadly Mr Mandela could not possibly acknowledge the gift of a auto. He extra that such a vehicle would likely have to be acquired for him at the time he was President. But, in the meantime, he would just have to make do with the motor vehicle he experienced. We strategised a little bit much more and phoned Cyril again. I proposed that if the authorities was likely to purchase him an armoured vehicle when he was president was it not a fantastic notion for him to at minimum have a check push?  Ramaphosa reluctantly agreed and a day was set up.

Serving the individuals

So, about a yr ahead of the elections a colleague and I shipped the armoured Beemer to Nelson Mandela at his property in Houghton, Johannesburg. It was early morning and he had, a couple of several hours earlier, returned from a go to to the Much East. He and Cyril Ramaphosa been given us with friendliness and huge hospitality.

I was available tea and stood up to get it from a tray on the sideboard. Ramaphosa stopped me and stated that he would pour my tea for the reason that the ANC desired to get utilised to serving folks. (A thing Mr Zuma and his cohorts subsequently forgot about absolutely.) But, at the time it was really outstanding to be in a room with two of the most humble still charismatic adult males I have at any time satisfied in my daily life.

Out of business office

For the future 12 months, BMW’s strategic prepare was for me to be out of the business. I was normally engaged every single time a person from the ANC would phone to request when we required Mandela’s BMW again from the check travel. As it turned out it was the longest check travel in motoring heritage. We felt unquestionably no remorse for our trickery. We reckoned that everything that could hold the wonderful man risk-free was totally justified.

I achieved Cyril a couple of instances following that and ongoing to be impressed. Predominantly by his capacity to hear to the men and women about him in social predicaments. He absolutely produced me experience that he was intrigued in what I was saying. He is, with no a question, a person of the world’s very good men.

Images: BMW and Mike Monk/Franschhoek Motor Museum


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