When most car enthusiasts think of a dream road trip, they probably imagine perfectly manicured ribbons of tarmac. South Africa’s ‘Journeymen’ however, crave the complete opposite.
Before I fill you in on the epic road trips these guys do, let me tell you a bit more about Journeymen – who they are, what they’re all about, and how they came to be.
The group was founded in 2015 after a chance meeting by Graham Webb and Harley Nash. Graham had come into Harley’s family business – an engineering shop – to have some parts machined for his classic Mini. He sat down with Harley’s dad, Don, who helped him design the parts, and those plans ended up on Harley’s workbench.
Harley saw that the parts were for a Mini, a car he was also busy building himself at the time. When Graham returned to collect the bits and pieces, the pair started chatting about their shared automotive interests, and instantly got along. Without trying, they became good friends, and pretty soon were helping each other with their cars.
Some space at the engineering shop was set aside for Harley and Graham to work on their projects, but that was quickly outgrown. Having their own workspace would be ideal, and they found exactly what they were looking for in the unit right next door.
A late-night break-in revealed the unit was completely empty, and after speaking to the landlord, Harley and Graham worked out a deal which involved knocking down the wall in between the two spaces. Friends Arthur, Adam, Sascha, Josh and others also joined in, and soon enough there was a whole group of people who all love cars and engineering building some really cool stuff together.
Having Harley’s family’s business essentially on-site was also very helpful; between their own tools and the engineering shop’s machines, the guys could tackle pretty much any mechanical job. They called themselves the Journeymen.
Harley came across the name while going through some of his dad’s documents. A ‘Journeyman’ is an old name for someone who has completed a trade apprenticeship but works under others and is still perfecting their craft.
The Journeyman names fits perfectly. This is a group that’s learning all the time, making mistakes and improving. Their goal is to do things by themselves, and at the same time enjoy the process.The 2018 Road Trip
At the start of this story I mentioned the Journeymen’s road trips, which are truly epic. They’ve been doing these once a year since 2015, and they’re usually well off the beaten track, travelling desolate roads and visiting small towns. Most importantly though, they shop for cars and parts along the way.
These images are from the 2018 trip, when they took along two BMW 2002s, a BMW 635CSi, and an Austin Cooper. The Mercedes-Benz 280S was picked up en route.
This trip took them on some epic roads to some amazing locations – with breakdowns and lot of laughs along the way. Under normal circumstances mechanical faults in your car aren’t something you wish for, but for this group of guys, it’s a chance to grab some tools and come together to problem-solve.
Working on a broken-down car isn’t so bad when you have a view like this anyway.
And even more so when you can celebrate your wins afterwards with some relaxation and an ice-cold beer at your overnight campsite.
For everyone that took part, this road trip was definitely one to remember. But the best was yet to come…The 2019 Road Trip
The Journeymen’s 2019 road trip was taken to another level. This time around, Graham would be behind the wheel of his Ferrari 308.
When their collective alarms went off at 3:30am, the guys woke to dark skies over Cape Town. The wet and gloomy start couldn’t dampen spirits though.
While most road trips have a specific destination, the Journeymen do things a little different. Sure, they make plans – rough ones at least – but their road map is mostly determined by parts and new projects they want to check out. Nothing is set in stone though; they want the freedom to follow leads from people they meet along the way.
The Journeymen’s 2019 planned/unplanned road trip had a special guest along for the ride. Simon from BMW Classic in Germany had flown down to join them, and document the adventure for BMW.
The vehicle fleet was a mixed bag that included two BMW 2002s (historically the troublemakers of the group), a mint BMW E30 316i , Sascha’s Mercedes-Benz 280S from the previous year’s trip, and finally Graham’s 308 Ferrari, which doubled as the unofficial support vehicle.
They might not have had an exact route or destination in mind, but the Journeymen knew from previous years that they’d encounter – and therefore need to plan for – a lot of dirt. For the Ferrari, preparation included a modified Mini roof rack to carry supplies.
Many people might think taking a Ferrari on a trip like this is sacrilege and a bad thing, but in all honesty, I think it just adds to the cars character and provenance, just like this story Dino did on Takeshi Kimura taking his Ferrari F40 drifiting in the snow and camping with it.
They settled on a circular route heading up South Africa’s West Coast and returning down its East. The weather, albeit wet, helped for once and no one had cooling issues on day one. Working windscreen wipers would have helped though.
Eventually the weather calmed, and the convoy ended up on the dirt. Miraculously, they had found out about a classic car collector nearby, so headed in that direction for a pitstop.
At this point, Boris, Adam’s red ‘02, had a few hiccups with dirty fuel, and team Ferrari welcomed a break from the stiff suspension. After a well-deserved cup of tea and some homemade scones, the guys were shown around numerous barns with well over 100 classics gathering dust. This is what Journeymen road trips are all about.
Hitting the road again, they headed towards Elands Bay for a quick surf and some donuts, before continuing down another dusty road towards their night stop.
With the sun fading fast and the gang ready to pull over, they came across a dried river bed and decided it would be the perfect makeshift campsite.
Another awesome trip was almost under the Journeymen’s belts. They had experienced some amazing roads and beautiful sights, and of course dealt with some breakdowns along the way. This isn’t something you’d be able to experience at a fancy holiday apartment or cruising down a silky-smooth highway, which now sounds pretty boring to be honest.
The guys from Journeymen say that their road trips are never about the destination – they’re always about getting there. Experience has taught them that doing these road trips in classic cars always takes a little longer, but that isn’t a bad thing as far as they’re concerned.
Ordinarily, none of them would have any reason to stop in these small towns or travel along these dusty little roads, but through this story, it might inspire you and your friends to take a treasure-seeking trip of your own. There’s much out there to be discovered.