Cheap Cars Looked At In Context

"Cheap cars" is a relative term. What is cheap to my neighbour, an Arabian oil prince, may be unaffordable to me. So, cheap cars need to be put into perspective to make any real sense. To the average South African household, a cheap car could mean any car substantially less expensive than a new luxury German sedan with a star on its bonnet. That means the term "cheap car" means an affordable car for the purpose and financial means of the person looking at such car. Cheap cars could thus be seen as either a second-hand car considerably less expensive than its new derivative, or alternatively a new car of a smallish design without any stars adorning its bonnet.

In the context of Africa, particularly sub Saharan Africa, cheap cars would mean something different to a great many people than it would to their wealthier counter parts elsewhere in the world, who may accept the above definition. To such people who would mostly be rural dwellers and often be subsistence farmers, a cheap car would mean an affordable vehicle with great reliability and which would run on the smell of an oil rag. The vehicle would also need to be multi-purpose and drivers friendly. So, what would these cheap cars look like and would be their purpose? To answer this question one would need to look at the environment the vehicle would be used in as well as the application areas of such a vehicle. Let's consider a subsistence farmer in the Transkei area, who for a number of years worked on the mines and saved some money to go "farming". Although he might have a bit of capital to buy seed etc. and have a few oxen he could in span to plough with, he has no means to transport production goods, nor any transport to sell his produce at any reasonable market. He further has no means to reach his local clinic 80 kilometres away on a dirt road or visit his kids in Umtata.


  1. Inexpensive vehicles could thus be seen as either a second-hand car significantly less costly than its new mixture, or however a new car of a small style without any celebrities enhancing its hood.

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