Owners name: Niven Maduramuthu
Builders names: Niven & Dennis Maduramuthu / Somas Pillay
Shop: Peterson’s Auto, Alpine Road, Durban
Photos by Jan van Der Walt
Niven comes from a family of diehard petrol heads and enthusiasts, with vast and some strange tastes in cars. He is an 80’s baby but he grew up with stories about his dad’s first car, a 66’ Ford Zodiac MK3 and his second one, a ford 20m. Often, when their family got together there were plenty of stories about the Zodiac over one too many whiskeys and he also heard about the Chevrolet Apaches his granddad had amongst a myriad of other cars. In particular a red Alpha Romeo Alfetta GT, bought in during the early 1980’s and still remains in the family to this day.
Initially the Zodiac was not his dream car. Hot Rod magazines had him drooling over the huge blowers, beautiful lines and paint work on 1957 Chevrolets and T-Bucket Fords. This Zodiac is more than a car to him and is a reminder of his dad’s commitment to their family and the sacrifices he made to ensure the bills were covered and therefore, he had to let his first 1966 Zodiac go.
Niven’s brother first stumbled across this car in 1997 whilst driving through Briardene in Durban. His brother was 19 at the time and was a rep for an Auto Engineering company. Due to childhood memories which included his dad’s Zodiac, he recognised this mint condition car parked under a tree. Everything about the car was very neat and original except for a very noticeable rear windscreen where the laminate had separated and turned a burnt orange colour. He unsuccessfully asked around with regards to who owned the car and placed a business card with their home number written on the back under the windscreen wiper. At around 7pm the phone rang and the owner of the car wanted R14500.00 for it which neither him nor his father could afford. Finally, after the car was passed on through the now deceased owner’s estate, they managed to purchase the car. Niven’s dad and Uncle gave the car the tlc she needed but for about 15 years they did not have the funds to restore her to her former glory.
Niven finished college and had started his job at Petersons when he started to help his dad restore the car. Friends and acquaintances also started assisting. He then moved to Joburg and his brother brought the car via trailer to him as his dad had passed it on to him.
He decided that he was going to “rod” the car a little bit. The original plan was to install a V8 but the original motor (2.6l in line with an output of 109 bhp) purred and just needed some attention. The cooling system was checked and overhauled. The radiator was reconditioned and new radiator hoses installed. The water pump was also reconditioned. All Welsh plugs were renewed along with a brand new timing chain and pullies. The ignition system was freshened up with new points, condenser and rotor. The body was extremely clean apart from the grazes on both sides of the car. There were also a few rust spots but nothing severe.
The gutters etc were clean. Therefore, there was no need for any sandblasting. The car was given to a close friend, Megs Panel and Paint, who are based in Durban. They stripped the car down just to ensure there were no hidden surprises. All looked good apart from a few minor repairs that had to be done. With regards to the colour of the car, they decided to keep it original – this was in accordance with the paint code and the vin tag. The car’s chassis is 100% original. The diff is stock and the brakes were freshened up with new linings and pads up front. New brake lines and a new brake booster were sourced and Niven reconditioned the brake master cylinder and clutch master cylinder. The suspension has a custom drop by 4 inches all round.
His dad looked at the wiring from front to back, installed relays and a fuse box as these cars did not come with fuses. The car was originally column shift but jammed in gear on a regular basis. His dad purchased a 2nd Zodiac for parts and that car donated a floor shift gearbox with ‘FullRay’ kit on it, fitted by his dad. The exhaust was organised by a close friend, Christopher Pillay of Supaquik Queensburgh, Durban – twin stainless steel from front to back. The tailpipes are custom pieces.
The interior was in good condition, intact and original. All it needed was a bit of tlc so new carpets and door panels were installed. The seats were recovered and the dash done over. This was all done in the original red wine colour. All the above work was done by a good friend Pepe, who sadly passed away a few months after completing the work. The steering wheel had seen better days and the centre badge was missing so this was restored and a new badge was sourced and fitted. All the gauges etc on the dashboard are original and functional.
The car had the original 13 inch wheels and tyres with original trim and caps. Niven’s brother sourced a set of 15 inch steelies which came from a 1950’s Dodge. This helped to give the car a bit more of a street rod vibe. The rims were thereafter sandblasted and sprayed a deep red. Multiple size tyres were fitted onto the rims before the correct look and ratio was chosen. Eventually he settled for a set of 195/65/15 Continental radials.
Thereafter, he fitted a set of Atlas whitewall inserts to complete the 60s retro look.
All the chrome on the car is original and therefore there was no need for any rechroming. The taillights were remanufactured by Dups Lenses in Vanderbijlpark. The rear windscreen was replaced and luckily the donor vehicle had one that was in good condition. All the other windows are original. There was not actually a time frame to complete this car however, work was done when the funds were available. His next car will be a nice clean Alpha Romeo 75 Alfetta GTV.
Niven would like to thank the following people:
His wife Kevani for supporting his passion and putting up with the late nights, early mornings. To his mum and dad for passing the car onto him. To his brother Denzil for his valued advice and constant help. To Somas of Petersons Auto for keeping the car ticking over.