On a dusty soccer field in Soweto, the concept of icon is about to come alive like never before in the form of two men wearing perfectly tailored black suits, and the two cars in front of them.
The cars alone have drawn a significant crowd of onlookers. And even more follow, when they see the two gentlemen about to climb into them.
‘What a privilege,’ says Spinach, the other half of the famous television duo of Popeye and Spinach that entertained SABC audiences in the popular Zone 14 show in the early 2000s.
‘These cars take me back. And we still need them today. They were just so iconic,’ he says.
The cars he’s referring to are the BMW 325i E30 and the Toyota Twincam GLI Sprinter. Or as they affectionately became known in Soweto, the Gusheshe and the Kentucky Rounder.
The iconic status of these cars and the nostalgia they represent has been brought back to life by Vodacom, together with Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs through its Sisonke Siya Winna campaign. Through an intense rebuild project, the Gusheshe has been rebuilt in the colours and branding of Orlando Pirates, while the Kentucky Rounder has undergone the same process for Kaizer Chiefs. And this season, Vodacom will give one lucky Orlando Pirates fan and one Kaizer Chiefs fan the chance to win the iconic car of their club.
The dynamic duo of Popeye and Spinach are filming as part of a promotional campaign for Vodacom. And each is passionately extolling the virtues of the respective car they love.
Popeye, an Orlando Pirates fan, arrives in the Gusheshe, and Spinach in the Kentucky Rounder of his beloved Kaizer Chiefs. They climb out, take a seat on the bonnets, and then do what made them so famous in every episode of Zone 14, and which has been an integral part of their 35-year friendship. They debate and argue about the merits of each vehicle, in typical kasi-taal.
‘Did you hear this thing when I dropped you off at your house last night?’ Popeye asks Spinach. ‘This Gusheshe engine sounds like the Drakensberg mountains falling down. This is a Gusheshe my friend, the hope of a generation. This car is fast – fast like the strikers of Orlando Pirates as they run towards goal.’
And now, with arms folded, he looks to Spinach to respond.
‘I hear you and I like your Gusheshe,’ says Spinach. “But my brother, this Kentucky Rounder is beautiful. Just look at the lights. They look like they just landed from China today. This car is for people who know who they are. This is a car for sophisticated people. And when you drive it, it’s like you are cruising on a boat.’
But Popeye will not be deterred from his love for the Gusheshe.
‘The reason I so love this car is that when I drive it around Soweto, everyone compliments me. Women, men, mothers, fathers, children – everybody loves this car. Even the taxi drivers greet me. This car gives you status.’
Yet it’s still not enough to take Spinach’s eye away from his Kentucky Rounder.
‘You talk about turning heads. Have you seen the seats in this Kentucky Rounder? Look how beautiful they are, and when you sit in them, it feels like they are covering you completely. This car doesn’t just want you to climb in and feel unsure about your car. It wants you to take a seat and know exactly who you are and what you want.’
By the end of their shoot, both actors are convinced that whoever wins these two cars is going to be owning icons that are a piece of South African history.
‘It’s actually such a proud moment for both of us, to be involved in a project like this with Vodacom and two cars that really bring back so many great memories of their times. In a way, these cars represent us as well,’ says Spinach.
The past and the future have come together, as two iconic gentlemen and the cars of their time are now admired by young kids who are climbing onto walls to get a better view of these vehicles from over the fence surrounding this soccer field.
And just the turn of a key and the start of an engine unlocks the dreams of both generations.