Bothaville, South Africa; population – 46,000; industry – maize farming; total area – 43 sq km. Hardly a place you’d expect to find an automobile museum, but it’s exactly here, in the centre of South Africa that you’d find a massive collection dedicated exclusively to Datsun and Nissan. With over 200 cars under its roof, it’s believed to be the largest private collection of Datsun and Nissan cars in the world.
Yes, this is the private property of one man – Freek de Kock. A labour of his love for the brand, he began collecting the cars with the sole aim of fulfilling a personal passion. Today, however, the collection is open to the public and those who make the journey here are treated to some beautifully restored models. Not all are in great shape, of course; cars are brought here in all conditions, from pristine to those in absolute disrepair and neglect. The latter are slowly and steadily being restored. He’s even got himself a workshop, a parts barn and a paint booth complete with its own air-filtration system. With still over half the collection not yet showpiece-ready, the facilities are put to good and constant use.
The Datsun 14 is the oldest car in the collection.
A lot of other Datsun owners also began to approach de Kock to restore their cars at his facility, which was a request he used to happily oblige with; but not anymore, he says. His main focus is now on finishing his own collection before opening his door to others. Although, tongue-in-cheek, he does say this will probably never happen as he’s still buying more and more cars.
Currently, the museum is a small showroom that’s jam-packed with about 40 cars. They are all in great shape and, importantly, for Freek De Kock – all are driveable. Yes, he does drive them all. In fact, quite graciously, he took us out for a spin in a few. Of course, you get to see more than just the showroom cars. Cars that are not ready for the spotlights yet, are housed in a large warehouse that’s adjacent to the main showroom, and you can go inside to take in all the vehicles.
The showroom holds about 40 restored and running cars
Historically, the Datsun brand has been very popular in South Africa and evokes a strong emotion even today. Quite obviously, Freek De Kock’s collection has attracted a lot of interest, with buyers making purchase offers from time to time. They aren’t for sale, though. Freek will, however, barter for another Datsun or Nissan. Of the over 200 cars in his collection, he proudly states that he’s only imported about six or seven cars, with the rest being bought from owners in South Africa.
Before the GT-R was, well, the GT-R we know, it was a four-door sedan. Very few were made and examples are extremely rare today.
His collection now includes everything from 300ZXs, Fairladys, Skylines, Frontier pickups, GT-Rs (including a very rare four-door model) and, of course, quite a few units of his favourite model – the Datsun 240Z.