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Milestone 10th birthday at Autodealer


THIS week we’re taking a break from e-tolling, corrupt cops and escalating fuel prices, because we’ve got a birthday to celebrate.

The paper you’re holding in your hands right now has just celebrated its 10th year of existence, which, in the big scheme of things, probably isn’t all that important, but to us who work here, it’s a pretty special occasion.

The first edition came out on Friday 1 August 2003. I’d love to tell you what car featured on the cover, but since our first building burnt down with all the past issues in it, I can’t check. My next move was to ask our production manager (she’s been here since the beginning) what car it was, but she could only remember that it was something ugly. Not the poetic introduction I was hoping for, but hey, what can you do?

So we started 10 years ago with an unknown ugly car (I have a sneaking suspicion it was the Fiat Multipla) on the cover and now, almost 500 editions later, the spot went to the Ford EcoSport. It makes you realise how much car design has changed over the years.  

At the makeshift birthday party, we were treated to a few stories from the staff members who were here at the very beginning. They spoke of hard work, late nights, no sleep and forming strong bonds with the persons who were working just as hard at the desks next to them. Ten years on, it’s still more or less the same thing every week…

This got me thinking about how I ended up here. Ten years ago I was still serving time in high school, looking forward to studying communication at the North-West University in Potchefstroom.

It was there that I met a lecturer in public speaking, who, once a week in my third year, slated me for loving cars. She was, and probably still is, one of those people who blame internal combustion for every single thing that goes wrong on this planet. This turned out to be a big problem, as we had to prepare elaborate speeches on a topic of our choice. I, naturally, spoke about cars every week and she always looked at me as if she had caught me doing burnouts on her vegetable garden.

One afternoon after class, she asked me what I hoped to achieve. I told her about my dreams of becoming a motoring hack and she told me I was being unrealistic. “Writing about cars isn’t a real job,” she said.

She may have had a point. There are various arguments on the internet suggesting that a job shouldn’t be fun, but we have a lot of fun doing this. You could easily get caught up in the moral implications of this job, but I find it’s far easier to just focus on the two most important things I’ve learned over the past four years.

One of these is to be thankful and never take anything for granted. But the most important thing is this: it’s all about the reader.

The 27 staff members of Autodealer would like to thank you, dear reader, for tuning in every week and for all the comments, compliments and criticisms we’ve received. We’ll try out utmost to keep our product as relevant and as entertaining as we can possibly manage.

We’d also like to thank our many loyal advertisers for the millions you’ve spent with us so far. It’s helped us grow the readership of Autodealer into the millions and made it possible for us to venture online and have our own motoring slot on a national TV show.

Last but certainly not least, we’d like to thank the various vehicle manufacturers in South Africa. It’s been a great ride so far and we look forward to working with all of you for the next 10, 20 and 30 years.

Before this starts sounding too much like an unnecessarily long Oscar thank-you speech, I’d like to sign off by giving you the chance to celebrate our birthday, Autodealer style. Don’t worry, we won’t be sending you a piece of stale leftover birthday cake.

Thanks to the friendly folk at Subaru South Africa, we have an advanced driving course to give away and because experiences like this are always nicer with a friend, the winner can bring one along for the ride. All you need to do is send an e-mail to with the answer to the following: Name one of the Subaru models you’ll be driving during the advanced driver training.

Normal service will be resumed next week as there is plenty to discuss, especially on the e-tolling front. Sanral did a study and found that the vast majority of road users (82.83% to be precise) will only pay R100 a month. According to the study, only 4 700 of the 2.5 million vehicles will pay the capped R450 a month. Send us your comments on this matter to

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