A road trip through South Africa full of challenges.

When Graham and Harley first met it was about a classic Mini steering wheel Harley was looking to sell. Graham remembers how there was absolutely no negotiating the price, and even though he ended up buying the steering wheel anyway he walked away thinking Harley was a rather strange person. It was just a little time later when the two met again, only now both of them quickly realised they shared a similar passion for classic cars and problem-solving in general. There aren’t too many people who would enjoy spending hours figuring out how to build a part on some classic project car; these two guys, however, love doing just that.

Harley had already made it a habit working on his project cars in his spare time but it was generally rather random and he often found himself spending more time trying to find the right tools than doing the actual work. Graham was in a similar position. He had a couple of classic cars he liked to work on and get parts for. Like Harley, he was often left looking for the right tools or parts that simply didn’t exist anymore. And then there is Adam, a childhood friend of Harley’s who got himself a classic BMW 2002. He loved the car for its looks but didn’t know much about its mechanics. Naturally, the 2002 needed attention quite frequently so Harley would help Adam fix whatever problem was at hand.

When Harley discovered that the workshop next to his family’s engineering business was actually for rent he knew right away this would be the perfect space to share with Graham and Adam, and that it would give them a permanent home for their classic car projects. They all agreed, however, that it was way too big for just the three of them. They started looking for more likeminded people to share the workshop with – and so the idea of “Journeymen” was born.

The Journeymen Workshop
Five cars on the journey
Four cars in a lonely landscape

To Harley, it was always about learning, about working out how to solve a problem and how to fix things. As a group they could bounce ideas back and forth and help each other on their respective projects. It’s about the journey, Harley would say. And so the name of their collective kind of suggested itself.

The first new addition was Sascha, who joined the group with a motorcycle that needed lots of work. Oddly enough, he had no idea at all about the mechanics of the bike, but he did have a passion for working on it. That’s all Harley needed to take Sascha in and help him get to grips with his machine.

Over time, more and more people came through the door and joined the group. Some were there almost all the time – like Arthur, a gifted engineering mind in his own right.Others only came by every now and then.

Journeymen gradually solidified into a core of regulars. Harley and Graham of course, plus Adam, Arthur, Sascha, Gregor and a few more. These were the guys showing up pretty much every week. And even though life plans would sometimes take one of them away for a bit, these key Journeymen had become a tight group of good friends.

 

Three cars on the journey
BMW with open bonnet
Five cars on the journey

Then came the day when Harley found an old Mini he wanted to buy. Trouble was, the car was a long way from Cape Town. Graham suggested just driving out there with a trailer and picking the Mini up. Adam joined them and, without any planning, the three of them ended up on a fun road trip. Harley got his Mini and a great time was had by all. So much so that they decided to make a road trip an annual thing (if you call yourselves Journeymen you may as well go on the odd journey). The “official” purpose of these trips might be to find cool classic cars, but the real goal is to have as much fun as possible.

This year, the group headed up the west coast of South Africa. As usual, they kept planning to a minimum. Part of any Journeymen road trip is a competition to see whose car will make it to the end problem-free. Then again, breakdowns are quite welcome and have been reclassified as “unplanned sightseeing” where everyone jumps in to figure out a fix.

On day one they got lost on a mountain road but eventually made it to the coast for their first night. Adam’s BMW broke down briefly, but only needed a new air filter. Day two they went surfing on the beautiful west coast, then set up camp in a dry river bed. Starting a fire turned out to be the biggest challenge, Graham insisting on using a flint and knife – to no avail.

The next day, the group stopped in a small town to watch South Africa beat Wales in the rugby World Cup semis, before a gravel road finally broke something serious on Harley’s BMW, a rock puncturing the fuel tank. The tank was duly drained, the hole patched. By the time they reached South Africa’s highest town for the night, a rest was overdue.

The final day took the group back to Cape Town on normal roads – more comfortable, but not nearly as exciting. Another Journeymen trip was in the bag, and a good one too. Of course, Harley had already begun thinking about next year (restoring a bunch of Mini Mokes and taking them on an adventure). Knowing the Journeymen boys, it might just happen.