How much do you REALLY need to make a dream work?
I remember the first day i fell in love. It was like magic. She came around the corner, glimmering in the daylight, elegant as ever. Her amazing looks had me stuck to the floor, while my mother tried to drag me to get a move on. I was fixated. Her sway, her movement, her glamour, as she came towards me, and that low rumble of power as she passed me, in (and i'm not joking) seeming slow motion captivated me. From that day onward, my head filled with petrol.
And so does Kudzie Mudenge's head, my namesake (chuckles) who shares the same love as I do. Back in high school, deep in the Mazowe area, we were kids with dreams, until reality plucked us out and showed us the way. But, the Chitungwiza based father and husband never let go of his. Qualified, with a Bsc Honours in Human Resources Management, he still knew his destiny had more to do with a spanner than a pen. Today, he bends a wrench for a living.
"I've always been a competitive individual and I've always loved to fix things," he says. He references how he represented the country through Volleyball as a measure and sign of his tenacity, "And, my love for cars started when my friend, at the time had a Nissan HB11 we used to tinker with a lot. At some point, I decided to get my own, an HB12, which was usually on the garage floor than the road, and so I got used to messing around with it on my own.
"The day I first experienced an E30, another one of my friends had just imported one from South Africa, where the culture there is much bigger. And as though like a calling, in not a few days later, I bumped into a Speed and Sound Magazine, and read an article on Veejaro Hendricks, with a picture of him standing on the roof of his spinning car. And my life changed."
Two weeks later, there's no surprises in guessing who had just purchased their very first E30 318i, a car he describes as loyal to him. A little while later, he stumbled across another E30, a 323i, original but in bad shape, mechanically. And the addiction took off.
"We build these cars from our home garage, the 3rd District. Everything is done with original parts and all in-house; paintwork, fabrications, engine rebuilds, upgrades, you name it. We've done some work on engines for some people you wouldn't even imagine." With a wistful look in his eyes, he recounts one of his most memorable builds, "When i got to do a 2.9R for a client outside the country...." and his mind wanders off.
The work he has done includes his favourite, an E12 520 Stroker running Dicktator. He did the paint work and conversion from carburettor to 60-2 injection. But the most ambitious project he has attempted? A V8 Turbo 1UZ conversion. He looks smug at this point.
As far as he has come, Kudzie bemoans the challenges with importing parts and the long process it takes. As a result, most people who do love old school BMWs from these ends are still held back by the cost of it. And the still primitive state of the car culture in Zimbabwe also has a play in it. There are limited places and events to showcase the builds and grow the culture, although it does seem to be gathering some momentum. Someday, he hopes a mechanical training center is set up in Chitungwiza, because other kids have dreams and passions, and should have a chance to follow them. "It feels good to wake up and do what you love doing. My passion has become my career, and I never get tired of it. I'm always there to lend a hand and ideas with others who share the same passion, because the end goal is for this all to become much bigger than it already is."
And when you go around his garage, and backyard, you definitely can see the dedication and body fluids put into his work. All of that, the cost of really making his dream work. And a few thousand dollars, granted, but yeah, you get the point. The E30, is arguably the most followed car around Zimbabwe by enthusiasts; it never ceases to grab attention. And one more thing we seem to agree on? "The exhaust note!"