Motoring News

SA’s come a long way together with the Cortina Springbok

PRETORIA, South Africa – Ford, a few years after the first Cortina bakkie was launched in South Africa in 1971, released a limited-edition Cortina bakkie (1962-83) badged the Cortina Springbok edition.

It was intended to commemorate the All Blacks’ rugby tour of South Africa but started a trend for the many iconic model names that would later arrive through Ford’s 96-year history in the country.

This special bakkie receives a tribute (from Ford SA) during Heritage Month.

Ford SA set about copying the green and gold colours worn by the Boks to two-tone the Cortina assembled at Ford Port Elizabeth and sealed the vehicle’s exclusivity by limiting production to Cortina bakkies and sedans – and the nickname ‘bokkie bakkie’ was adopted.

ONE AND PERHAPS ONLY: The Cortina Springbok celebrating Heritage Day and the ‘Boks’ green and gold rugby uniform. Image: Ford SA

Dale Reid, a marketing manager with FMCSA, commented: “We’ve celebrated Heritage Day with our locally assembled Rangers but we’re really testing the extent of our country’s knowledge with this special Cortina Springbok.

“Based on one of Ford’s most iconic vehicles of that period, its qualities of power and versatility were telegraphed through Springbok rugby. It’s bound to stir the nation’s emotions.”

The Corner couldn’t find a version of the original Cortina bakkie advert, but did find this fun one….

Dr Brian Hodgson Rademeyer’s Cortina Springbok bakkie certainly looks as fit and healthy as the rugby team it was named for. It has been in the family since Brian’s grandfather bought it and its dual-purpose practicality was thoroughly tested by drives between Pretoria and Belfast in Mpumalanga and by filling the loadbox with coal for the fire back on the farm.The odometer has set back to zero several times.

Only recently, on inheriting the bakkie from his late father Hugh Rademeyer, did Brian realise the bakkie had marketing provenance under its then-faded Emerald Green paint. Unable to find other owners of a Cortina Springbok he enlisted the help of Gustav Nel and his son Johan from Pretoria to restore the Cortina.


They had the experience and contacts to revitalise the paintwork and mechanical components. The car’s factory paint code was found, the three-speed gearbox overhauled, suspension and other rubber parts were sourced and replaced, and all other wear-and-tear components replaced.

Brian modernised the safety of the vehicle with three-point restraint belts, the 2.5-litre V6 was removed, thoroughly checked, and remounted.

The gold Springbok emblems were carefully traced and cut from vinyl. Brian’s Cortina Springbok deviates from the original specification only because of its lighter leather interior colour – compared to the darker vinyl of the original – as well as the rubberised loadbox and installation of a load-bed cover.


Stuart Grant has studied Africa’s classic cars. “Technically the term bakkie stems from the colloquial term bak, which loosely translates to bowl or container, and scanning through 1970s motoring publications revealed that it wasn’t until the Ford Cortina pick-up’s production was in full swing that South Africans started using the term.”

Did the Cortina bakkie start the trend? Difficult to say for sure but the word ‘bakkie’ has become part of South African culture.

Neale Hill, MD of Ford SA, told The Corner: “Ford has been an integral part of SA’s automotive landscape since local assembly of the Model T started in Port Elizabeth in 1923. The brand remains one of the country’s largest vehicle manufacturers/exporters and these heritage cars have added to the local Ford story.”

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