Local legends and cars made right here in South Africa: Part 2

South Africa is a unique automotive landscape, thanks in part to our history, our lack of transport infrastructure and because we seem to form a sort of connection with our cars that few other nations can match.

Many models were produced just for our market through the decades, some of which were born out of a desire for performance.

We are also a global contributor when it comes to vehicle production. Our platinum-rich land also provides parts used in diesel-powered vehicles’ catalytic converters and, in a report by Bloomberg earlier this year, new production techniques will see precious palladium being substituted with platinum in various petrol-powered cars to. With our unique market and indeed, our love for cars, I have compiled a list of Ford models made in South Africa and included some local legends for good measure.


The Ford Motor Company and South Africa have a history that goes back over a century, with a local businessman Arthur Youldon bringing in South Africa’s first Model A in 1903. It wasn’t long before a Ford dealership was established, called Atkinson’s Motor Garages. In 1924, the first Ford assembly plant was established in an attempt to take advantage of the associated tax breaks. Vehicles were shipped from Canada as kits and assembled locally.


In 1985 the South African Motor Corporation (Samcor) was established when Ford Canada and Sigma merged and began producing cars in South Africa. Samcor went on to produce Ford and Mazda products that were very much badge engineering exercises while also making Mitsubishi commercial vehicles locally.

One of the products produced locally was the Ford Sierra, which was popular in XR6 guise, thanks in part to its 3.0-litre Essex V6 engine while the limited run XR8 with its Mustang-derived powertrain is another locally-developed machine. The third generation Escort was another popular model locally with the flagship XR3 now seen as a classic performance hatchback. The Mazda-based Ford products that came after the Sierra and Escort include the Ford Laser and Meteor which was based upon the Mazda 323 while later on the Ford Telstar shared many components with the Mazda 626.

Boet, you need a Bantam

One of Ford South Africa’s most distinctive products is certainly the Bantam bakkie. First introduced in 1983, it was based on the Escort at the time and wasn’t as successful as the Nissan 1400 sold during the same period. The second-generation model was based on a Mazda 323 and as with the previous model, was also sold as a Mazda Rustler. The third generation Bantam is perhaps the most well-known and was based on the Fiesta platform which was shared with the Mazda 12. It was on sale from 2002 until 2011 and is yet to be replaced, some nine years later.

The road to FMCSA

In the late 80s, Ford pulled out of South Africa amid increasing global pressure to end the oppressive Apartheid regime, however, the brand still sold components locally before purchasing a 45% stake in the company again in 1994. In 1998 it purchased Samcor outright, creating the Ford Motor Company of South Africa(FMCSA). Since 2016, FMCSA has produced the Ranger and Everest models at its Silverton plant in Pretoria while also building Duratorq turbodiesel engines at its Struandale facility in Port Elizabeth

Read: Local legends and cars made right here in South Africa: Part 1 here

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