New Era (Windhoek)

4 October 2012

Namibia: Boxer Wilbeforce and His Fabulous Fairlane

Focus, dedication, strength and ambition is what it takes to become a professional boxer. But to have a passion for old wheelers takes a person with an eye for beauty and an appreciation of true automobile craftsmanship.

Wilbeforce Shihepo is not new to the boxing scene after claiming the Super Middleweight Africa championship status, nor is he a stranger behind the wheel of a luxurious veteran car which is his other love. Woema spotted Wilbeforce cruising around in his 1972 black Ford Fairlane 500 the other day, and got to meet this formidable duo - boxer and 'dream machine'.

Tall, buffed and oozing with charm Wilbeforce was the perfect match for his long, sleek black and chrome Fairlane which roars to life with a thumping V8 engine. The highly polished surface of all the all black body gleams in the sun, and at a glance this mint condition old timer has a charm all of its own. The interior comes complete with a rich cherry red interior of leather wrap around upholstery with plush matching carpets.

It turns out that Wilbeforce is a collector of classic cars and has five glorious models parked at his home, which includes a Mustang, an Impala, a Jag and a Buick. Although he has no favourites he says, the Fairlane is his "baby", which he restored from scratch from what he described as an old abandoned wreck.

The car had only been on the road for two weeks, and Wilbeforce was clearly enjoying his ride on one of its maiden test runs after being re-built over a time period of 18 months which required amongst other a complete re-spray, interior fitting and wrap around mechanics.

The most interesting part of it all, is that when Wilbeforce isn't prepping for a serious boxing match and training his body and mind for the ring, then he's working on restoring old cars in his spare time. This is a wonderful hobby he developed from childhood, after first rigging up an old Valiant to get himself a set of wheels, because there was no money in the house to buy him a car. And today his collection he says is priceless.

Born in Walvis Bay, Wilbeforce started boxing on the streets and started working on cars in his dad's backyard. There isn't much you can tell him about the inside of an engine, and what it takes to bring out the best in a car that has been neglected. To-date he has restored five vehicles, with the Fairlane his last project, and a definite "keeper".

When asked why he doesn't just go into a showroom and drive one of the latest models, he replied. "I don't like driving new cars, they just don't have the soul of an old car, besides I like to drive what I know - if it's broken then I can get out and fix it.

"Today's modern cars are too complicated, and you can't compare then to an authentic classic - I mean just look at this baby, she's a real beauty and knows how to attract attention," added the handsome boxer flashing a smile whilst patting the grand Fairlane on its wide bonnet.

Now that's what you call 'eye candy' girls!

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