The custom car scene might be best known for its west coast USA origins, but one workshop in South Africa is bringing a little bit of Americana cool to the southern hemisphere. In Pretoria, Corber Viljoen runs Wat Swaai Jy, a custom shop, showroom, detailer and coffee emporium. This is petrolhead nirvana.
Corber, Wat Swaai Jy’s an interesting name, what’s the origin behind it?
We started Wat Swaai Jy 12 years ago. It’s an Afrikaans name that means to “flog it”, which is the closest translation to it. We also trade under Vintage Cars SA, which we use for the international market.
What does Wat Swaai Jy do?
We are a specialised classic and vintage car dealership. We try to be a one-stop-shop. We have a showroom space with cars that are for sale, a workshop where we do minor and major restorations for the public and ourselves, and we have a storage facility called the pits where people can store their vehicles. As well as this, we have a detailing shop inside our premises, where we can do paint corrections, polishing and so on once the cars have either been restored or serviced. And then we have a nice little coffee shop area that we use for functions. So while we’re mainly focused on the sales side of the business, over the years we’ve added different services and functions that play a role in this market.
What cars do you specialise in?
We have a good team of people in our workshop covering different experiences in different cars, but we mainly focus on the American models. Until recently, we appointed two technicians in our workshop who are very clued up with Porsche and other German cars.
You use Motul in your workshop, what’s the story behind that partnership?
We've been working with Motul for quite some time now. Things are really looking up for Motul at the moment in South Africa. Our workshop runs only on Motul products. All our oils and everything we use is strictly Motul just because of the quality and the support we get, and also the online functionality. Sometimes, when we get a car in that we're not really certain about, we use Motul’s oil selector. We also brand some of our cars with Motul, and have partnered with them on the Simola Hill Climb with a sponsored car, as well as other productions and racing events.
What’s some of your favourite build projects over the years?
The workshop and restoration side of the business only started about four years ago, because we were outsourcing all our work and we had massive headaches getting the quality we wanted. I would say one of the coolest builds we've done is a VW Combi, which we built for a gin company as a marketing vehicle. Also, some of the Porsches we’ve built have been pretty cool, and there’s never anything as good as building a nice Ford Mustang or Dodge Charger.
What projects are in the pipeline?
We’re going to be building a single-seater Porsche 718 replica soon. That’s going to be a project that will last about a year and a half. We haven't started it yet as we’re still busy with the design.