Bothaville, a tiny farming community in South Africa’s Free State is the last place you’d expect to find something like this.
With maize farms, pothole-riddled single roads, and a population of around 50,000 people, you’d never guess this place is home to the one of the biggest, if not the biggest, privately owned Datsun and Nissan museums in the world.
But it is.
Pulling up to the museum, after dodging craters – I mean potholes – for what felt like the longest time, you’re greeted by a nondescript brick building, with a few out of place palm trees, old wooden window frames, and a big wooden scissor door. Anyone driving by wouldn’t even give it a second look.
But on opening up the creaky front door, you’re bombarded by a Japanese overload of awesomeness, and a very friendly guy that goes by the name of Freek De Kock, the owner of this rather large collection.
Freek has been a car lover since childhood. His Datsun and Nissan obsession started when he used to drive around in Nissan 1400 bakkies, which is what small trucks are called over here. He began with a few older model Datsuns, but it expanded pretty soon when he started tracking down various models hidden in all corners of South Africa.
Today, Freek probably has between 150 and 200 cars.The Skyline’s The Limit
This wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t start out with all the Skylines in the warehouse – and there are a few.
Freek has a four-door Skyline 2000GT-R which is pretty mint, but his real prized possession is his completely original Skyline 2000GT-R KPGC10 coupe, with only 59,251km (36,816mi) on the clock – the only one of its kind in South Africa.
He also recently found a 1972 Kenmeri KPGC110 Skyline GT-R, of which only a few were ever made. Don’t judge it for how it looks now though, because it’s currently being restored to 100% original condition. Freek has found a motor for the car, which he’s busy with, and he already has the full interior. Just wheels need to be found to return it to its former glory.
There’s a silver R32 GT-R with BBS wheels in pretty stock condition, as well as two R33 GT-Rs, one of which is pretty heavily modified with a Top Secret wide-body kit and other upgrades. There’s also a R34 Skyline GT-R, plus an R35 GT-R, both in different silver hues.ZZZs
No Datsun/Nissan museum would be complete without some Z cars, and Freek’s collection has plenty of those, too. There are 240Zs in different conditions, ranging from restored to barn finds and even one that’s been worked quite a bit.
It’s staggering how much the S30 has increased in value over the past while, and Freek has already said that he wouldn’t sell any of them no matter what the offer was.
When it comes to the 280ZX, he probably has more than 10 of them in total. There’s also two different versions of the Z31 300ZX , as well as two Z32 300ZXs, one being a rare convertible model. The Z collection wraps up with late-model cars, two 350Zs and a single 370Z.Wait There’s More
Paying attention to some other gems, there’s a rare 1600 SSS coupe as well as a whole host of other models including the Datsun 1000, 1600 Roadsters, a 160Y GX coupe, a 1200 GX, Laurel, Pulsar, and a stunning 140Z coupe.
One car that’s really cool and I had never even heard of before is the Nissan Figaro from 1991, which is based on the first generation Micra and looks super retro. It’s also the first time I’ve seen a Nissan EXA.
Another one of Freek’s extra-special cars is a Fairlady 1500 Roadster with a single transverse rear seat. It’s quite an odd design to be honest.
In a separate hall you’ll find a whole bunch of trucks from different generations; Patrols, Sunnys, 620s and a lonely 720. The 620s and 720s are quite popular to modify, but all these will be staying stock for as long as they’re here.Treasure Hunting
All of the restoration work is handled in-house by Freek and his team. Because Nissan doesn’t have an extensive heritage parts program at the moment, finding all the required bits and pieces is one of the most difficult aspects of the restoration process.
So, while Freek does his best to hunt down whichever parts he can find, he also overcomes this issue by manufacturing many parts by himself, including trim and rubbers.
Moving to another part of the property, I was led into a massive open warehouse filled – and I mean filled – with cars. Most are being used as parts donors, but others will some day be restored. The rest are yet to have their fate decided.
Freek has built up an amazing collection for himself and for interested parties to enjoy as well. While it’s not an official or public museum, Freek does allow really passionate people, car clubs and other groups to come and have a look, and revel in all the glorious Japanese metal.Cutting Room Floor