Vrr Phaa vs 4×4: The wheels have changed

Vrr Phaa vs 4x4: The wheels have changed
Vrr Phaa vs 4x4: The wheels have changed

Africa-Press – Botswana. COVID-19 has shut up the Vrr Phaas. The social distancing and movement restrictions have led to an emergence of a new trending vehicle. A vehicle that is inspiring more outdoor travel than the ‘car park pimping’, writes THALEFANG CHARLES
Before the world changed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most loved and fashionable vehicle was the ‘Vrr Phaa’. The name, which came from South African townships, refers to modern sports cars that make a semi explosive sound when changing gears, as popularised by the Golf GTIs, the Audis, BMWs and Mercedes Benzs. It was perhaps the stunning VW Golf 7 R that started the ‘Vrr Phaa’ trend. It was so fashionable in South Africa that it became to be known as the ‘panty dropper’.

There were, however, other brands like the Mercedes Benz A45 AMG, BMW M140i, Audi RS3 Sportback and Ford Focus RS. These were the vehicles that one needed to get all the ‘street cred’. But the wheels have now turned.

COVID-19 closed the streets. There was no car park pimping – which the BBC came here to document. There was no more revving up the engine for the homeboys to praise and give you the respect as your ‘pipe’ produced that beloved ‘vrr phaa’ sound effect.
No showing off the serpent-eyes car lights, the shiny chrome low profile mag wheels. There was no more ‘bula-boot’ to brag about the best sound that mostly attracted the scantily dressed dancers with their sensual moves swarming around the car. The paved city streets and car parks, which are a favourite stage for the ‘Panty Droppers’ were closed down because any public gathering was banned. And it was there that a new lifestyle emerged. Many people switched away from the city car parks to areas where it was not easy for one to be found and charged for unlawful gathering. They ventured far out into their farms located in the countryside through the terrains that the Vrr Phaa could not access. This left many with small vehicles stranded in the city with police roadblocks and nowhere to chill or exhibit their loved loud motorcars. Perhaps it was that which got many to realise that they needed a 4×4 before the Vrr Phaa.
From Sandveld to Khutse and Kgalagadi, to the rugged Tuli areas and the sandy Chobe areas, the 4x4s craze made the distant outdoor sessions so cool that everyone wanted in. Ever since the Botswana Tourism Organisation’s Rediscover Botswana Expedition led by yours truly together with Sonny Serite, with a four-GD6 convoy throughout Botswana, the 4×4 fad really caught up. It became a thing to join your friends on a convoy with powerful 4×4 vehicles through the tough terrains. As more chill sessions were taken to the secret locations out in the bush, the 4×4 became the new trending vehicle. It started with the rugged-looking Ford Ranger Wildtrak. The Wildtrak, which brought the city looks to the bush, enjoyed brief fame as the vehicle for the fashionable youth looking for both some bush adventure and the city’s ‘street cred’. But the outdoors are Toyota territory. Even after the second-hand imported vehicle industry made it possible for many to own a car, Toyota has always been a market leader in Botswana. And so, they brought their new Hilux range, the GD6 and it took over. The Japanese carmaker’s Hilux model has always been popular in Botswana.
As the 4×4 trend picked up, most youth leaned on the old trusted and affordable Hilux. The new GD6, which replaced the D4D model, became popular with young executives looking for their first 4×4. It was no longer a vehicle for the older farm owners. The wealthy farm owners chose the rugged all-powerful and relatively pricey Land Cruiser and separated themselves from the first-timers’ 4×4. GD6 is the vehicle that is used by President Mokgweetsi Masisi. While his security detail escorts him in the black Toyota VX, the President drives himself in a white GD6. Interestingly, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, the newly appointed Chancellor of Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), drives himself in a khaki Land Cruiser – the vehicle that is popular with wealthy farm owners. It now remains to be seen whether the relaxed restrictions will bring back the Vrr Phaa or Batswana will continue with their newfound love for the outdoors and the 4x4s. For now, the GD6 has gained the notoriety of the GTI in social circles because they say “it can steal your girl and take her to where there is no network”, unlike the Vrr Phaa, which is just bound to the smooth roads where any vehicle can access.

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