Hero Awards

2016 – Mr Kobus Harris

 
Kobus Harris het as ‘n jong seun ‘n 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S wat in Mosselbaai was bewonder, min het hy geweet dat hy daardie einste 220S in 1984 sou koop @ R1000…….sy eerste ou “Merc”.
Daarna volg ‘n 1954 180 Ponton LHD. Later die jaar koop hy by KYA Auctioneers in Johannesburg sysilver 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL wat toe later rooi word.
In 1986, word hy genooi om deel te neem aan die Total FIVA tydren. Op daardie stadium behoort hy aan geen klub en om te kwalifiseer sluit hy toe by Pretoria Ou Motor Klub aan.
Tydens die tydren ondervind hy petrolpomp probleme. Hy word verwys na Steve Rademeyer, President van die Mercedes-Benz Klub, wat hom dadelik behulpsaam was deur sy Ponton Cabriolet se pomp vir hom te leen.
Op Steve se aanbeveling word hy toe in 1987 lid M0835 van MBKSA. As gevolg van afstand kon hy nie gereeld klub byeenkomste bywoon nie en het toe by die nuutgestigte Suidkaap Ou Motor Klub aangesluit.
In 1995 begin hy die MBKSA se Suid-Kaap Streek. Die eerste byeenkoms, ‘n bring en braai by de Bakke in Mosselbaai was goed verteenwoordig. Sien Benz Lens Desember 2016.
Die res is geskiedenis……..
Waldo Scribante

2017 – Mr Norman Hickel

Norman Hickel did an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic with the old Road Transport Services of the South African Railways and then went on to Diesel Electric to repair injector pumps.    
Norman married Jill in 1969 and his association with Mercedes-Benz in the early 1970’s when he joined MBSA as a Commercial Vehicle Assembly Process Engineer at the CDA Factory in East London.
He also worked at MBSA’s Head Office in Pretoria and spent some time in Germany as well.
After returning to MBSA East London, Norman retired from MBSA in 2003.
In his earlier days, he raced Go-Carts and did a bit of off-roading. Being a petrol head, he got involved with the old car movement in East London.
He joined the Mercedes-Benz Club of SA in 1988 and has been a very well-liked and invaluable member with a great sense of humour. He keenly assists everyone with his technical knowledge when servicing or repairing especially the older vehicles.
Having owned several classic cars, Norman has a wealth of knowledge across all ranges from; among others a pre-war 170V, Ponton, 190E2.3-16 etc. and his latest acquisition an SLK320.       
Having close links with the plant even now in his retirement, has given Norman the opportunity to stay in touch with the heritage cars owned by MBSA and of course the three wheeled Benz Patent Motorwagen, which he knows particularly well.
With his incredible technical knowledge, his humour and willingness to help certainly makes Norman a very special and invaluable member of the Eastern Cape Region, and this Hero Award for Norman is very fitting. 
Erald Hohls

2017 – Mr Louis Coetzer

The Central region is very fortunate in having a member with one of the largest collections of classic cars in the country. This collector has more than a 100 Mercedes-Benz vehicles, some of them with a rich and colourful history. An example of this is a 1951 Mercedes-Benz ‘bakkie’; former Foreign Affairs Minister, Pik Botha’s, 300SE sedan, and King Moshoeshoe II’s 600 Grosser limousine. By now all should realize that we are referring to Louis Coetzer from Bloemfontein. 
He started collecting at a very young age, whilst still in primary school, but as he could not afford the cars at that stage, he started buying and collecting Dinky Toys.  He also went from scrapmetal yard to scrapmetal yard in order to buy wheelcaps – at that stage for 1c each.  These Dinky toys were his companions and playmates until he was in Matric and according to him, girls were not a priority at that stage.  This apparently changed in 1971 – 46 years ago – when he married his wife, Hermien.  It is quite common knowledge that you will be able to buy a Mercedes-Benz from Louis, but not a wheelcaps or a Dinky toy!
He realized the value of the Mercedes-Benz brand in the middle 1980’s and from there his collection of old beauties just flourished, his favourite being a 1968 250 SE Cabriolet. He joined the Mercedes-Benz Club in 2003 and has been a stalwart in the Club ever since.  He and his wife handled the membership duties for approximately 3 years and he has also served as the Chairman of the Central region for quite a number of years.
His passion for the brand is widely known and he shares this freely with all who are interested in all things classic car related.  Many an article has been published on his collection, even in popular international magazines such as the Mercedes-Benz Enthusiast and he truly is an ambassador for the club and the brand. 
The members of the Central Region as well as the Mercedes-Benz Club of SA would like to thank Louis for all that he has done for the Region and the Club. 
Annalie Kachelhoffer

2017 – Mr Chris Carlisle-Kitz

Chris Carlisle-Kitz has been an old car fanatic and enthusiast all his life. He grew up in East Africa in the 1950’s when the motor car played an important role in life. Watching racing at a local track in Nairobi from the age of five and thinking that he was helping his dad build an Austin seven racer before he could handle a spanner. The East African Safari was almost an institution which he became passionate about. Today he has created a small museum dedicated to the Safari. Chris has nearly finished the building of a Mercedes 220SEb which competed in three Safaris. At University in the UK during the 1960’s he enjoyed the golden age of the cars which were to become today’s classics. Club racing and rallying with these cars was the order of the day. He got hooked on restoring old cars and amongst several others that he played around with he finally built a Concours quality 190SL which he brought with him when he came back to Africa in 1972. 
A lifetime of building and repairing old cars as well as creating Concours winners out of old wrecks became his passion. He has owned classics of all descriptions from entry level cars to highly desirable collector vehicles. Top of the list was a 1965 230SL which he restored and owned for 33 years. 
In the 1990’s he owned a panel beating and spray painting business which specialized in the repair of Classic Cars. 
Today, Chris is rebuilding a 1963 Mercedes-Benz W111 sedan and a rare 1958 Mercedes-Benz Ponton bakkie. Chris has become so involved in the history and specifications of the Ponton bakkie that he thinks that he is a world expert on this rare vehicle!
In 1979, he joined in with three other young enthusiasts who tried to start a Mercedes Club in KZN. Not really knowing what they were doing their valiant efforts were soon on the rocks! 
Chris has been member of the Vintage Sports Car Club since 1976. He was Chairman of the KZN Region of the Mercedes Benz Club of South Africa for seven years, a member of the Club’s Executive Committee and serve as one of the Club’s official valuators. He also served as a Concours d ‘Elegance judge. He is also a member of the Sports Car Club of South Africa and Historic Racing South Africa where he is a passionate participant on the South African Historic Racing Circuit. He raced two different Mercedes race cars and now competes with a purpose built 1962 Ford Corsair and a 1962 Ford Anglia. Last weekend he won the Little Giants class of the Legends of the 9 Hour event at Kyalami. 
Chris is keen to get younger people involved in the old car scene and within the Club and on the race track. Plans are already in place for this to happen.
Anna-Lee dos Santos

2017 – Mr Maxim Erdmann (posthumous)

I met Maxim Erdmann as a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Africa. At that time we were both serving on the National Committee as Chairmen of our respective regions.  Maxim and I bonded instantly, as he did with most of his fellow club members. We particularly shared our mutual love for a finny and I remember his and Chris’s adventure with Bonita and later with Emilio.
Maxim joined the Club in 2006, became Regional Chairman of the Northern region in 2008, and hosted very successfully in 2010 the Club’s 25th Anniversary AGM and National Gathering in Gauteng.
Maxim was an active, contributing member of the Club and was well known to many of us across all the Club’s regions.  Maxim’s geniality transcended the regional structures, but he was a passionate supporter and organiser of the Northern Region.
Maxim remained at all times a Mercedes-Benz authority and a dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast of the marque.
Maxim’s cheerful demeanour, keen wit, fun-loving nature and “can-do” attitude will be missed in the Club and in the racing circles in which he keenly participated. 
It is incredibly sad that Maxim’s life ended so soon and I cannot put into words how much we will miss him. Even though Maxim may be gone, his memory will live on in all of us forever. Maxim, we appreciate your friendship and camaraderie and will never forget you.
Maxim was a true gentleman, a hero of the Club.
Waldo Scribante

2018 – Mr Bill Tolken

As a young boy, he was already interested in cars. While at University, he had Buick. I’m not sure what that is…  But during his life, I know he has owned a few very nice cars.
In 1966, he bought himself a 230SL Pagoda, and Kobus Harris told me how they took the car for a spin through the streets of Durbanville, “just to check that everything was fine”. I am assuming everything was “fine”, as I understand they left a few rubber stripes behind.
Yes, I am referring to none other than our very own Mr. “HOESDAAI”, Bill Tolken.

Bill served on the 1st regional committee of the club under the chairmanship of Graham van Heerden, he has been a dedicated member, always ready to offer valuable legal advice when called upon.  He is still very active – and is known to all as a gentleman, with a wonderful contagious laugh.
Bill’s cars have always been in an immaculate condition, setting a fine example to the rest of the club.
Your evening will not be complete without hearing the story of HOESDAAI!  Best you ask him to tell you the story himself…
Its an honor presenting this Hero award to Bill Tolken
HOESDAAI!

2018 – Okkie Potgieter

He is one of the stalwarts of the Western Cape Mercedes-Benz fraternity.  A true gentleman, he is always offering advice and assistance, lending an ear when someone is in need.
He was a dormant member of the club for a number of years, paying his subs but not actively involved with the club activities.
When he did get involved, his momentum carried the club forward with renewed vigour.  The club meetings in the Western Cape became popular and attendance figures started climbing for both club meetings and club runs.
The Western Cape’s yearly end-of-year function became the highlight of the year, with Okkie  Oosthuizen making his beautiful estate and facilities available to the club for the day. 
Okkie, being older than most of us on a tour to Germany, initially reminded us of his “old age” and the fact that he might hold us younger ones back.  It soon became apparent that Okkie was the one with endless energy and drive!  The rest of the group tapped into his obvious enjoyment of everything, and his contagious sense of humour.
The true gentleman that he is, every woman Okkie meets has a common name: “MY SWEETIE!”  Instead of feeling patronised, women appreciate his genuineness and they all adore him.  Barbara, we know you have it tough with him sometimes!
Many club members can attest to the fact that they have interacted with Okkie on more levels than just cars.  He has become a much loved and respected member of our fraternity, and for the value he has added to the club, we honour him this evening.

2018 – Theo Claassen

Our next Hero recipient was raised under the proverbial star.  His father, Laurie Claassen, owned the Mercedes-Benz agency, ROLA Motors, in the Strand, where they lived in a flat above the garage.  Theo Claassen started working there from a young age – his first job during school holidays and on weekends was as a petrol jockey.
He lived and breathed cars, familiarized himself with all facets of the business, and later succeeded his father in managing the ROLA Group.
Theo is a well-seasoned businessman, but have a small heart, always willing to help his friends, but beware, Theo is a known practical joker.  Together with his friend Jannie, the 2 musketeers and with anybody they can commandeer to join them, they have travelled the back roads of South Africa in search of interesting cars.
Those who know Theo will attest to his passion for classic cars – in particular, for Mercedes-Benz, of which he has an exceptional collection and knowledge. 
Theo also served on the 1st regional committee of the Western Cape with Graham van Heerden, later he served as National Treasurer on the National Committee of the Club for many years.
He was also involved in many successful meetings and outings, often attending events with interesting vehicles, including the famous “ROLAcoaster”.
Theo has always been there for the Club, in service as well as with many generous donations and sponsorships.         
Theo, please join me on stage to receive this well-deserved honor.

2018 – Fred Winkel

The Dutchman was kicked out of Holland as a newlywed, and together with his wife, Els, Fred Winkel made the voyage to darkest Africa via ship.
The Dutchman soon told the Germans how to improve their products, and Fred made his way up the corporate ladder, earning himself the position of service manager at what was then Orbit Motors.
Fred’s knowledge and expertise on anything Mercedes-related became legendary.  When Graham van Heerden purchased a W109 6.3 about 14 years ago, no one in the Western Cape was able to sort out the gremlins that had accompanied the car.  Desperate, Graham called Fred, who told him in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t interested in private work.  Fast-forward a few weeks, and Fred called back to say that he would assist, on condition that he did it at Graham’s premises – and in secret!
Well, the secret was soon out when the 6.3’s health was miraculously restored and everyone in the club was nosey as to the secretive expert that did the work.
One thing led to the next, and Fred soon found himself in the predicament that he had tried to avoid.  He was inundated with requests for work on older Mercedes.  
When Orbit moved to their new premises in Century City, Fred saw the opportunity to take early retirement, and thus “DIE WERKSWINKEL” was born.
Over the years, Fred has probably interacted with most of the Western Cape club members and their cars, even assisting upcountry members from time to time.  Always impressing with his vast knowledge on anything Mercedes, Fred unfortunately developed serious health issues and he has now officially closed shop.  Despite that, he still gladly assists with support and advice when required.
The club is honoured to have someone of Fred’s calibre in our midst, and we are indebted to him for all the work he has done to single-handedly improve our cars.
Fred has become a loyal friend to most of us in the club.  We wish him improved health and a happy retirement.

2018 – André du Toit

I met our next recipient at the Rola Benzfest in 2001.  I was looking for someone to restore my 220 Coupé and was told that he is the man to speak to. And so, our relationship started, and René and I became very good friends with him and his lovely wife Tinneke.  YES, I am referring to André du Toit.
Together we have done some amazing restorations, especially the 1935 130H and the 1938 320.  Not that he’s always been a willing partner; especially with some of the rust-buckets I have bought over the years!  But with his knowledge and expertise, he did it.  When I first met him, I only owned three old cars – but with his enthusiasm, he fuelled my obsession for our old classics.  The rest, as they say, is history.
After my short attempt to teach René to drive the old Benz, André took over the instructor’s role, and so our own Berta Benz was born.  She has fond memories of him risking his life, accompanying her on her first Rally with Benzie, tapping her gently on the shoulder every now and again to slow down.
He loves Cape Town, and whenever we visit, he shows us the beauty of the city – taking us for coffee at the best, hippest and most happening places.
I also had the privilege of visiting Germany and the Mannheim Veterama with him, and to see him go through all the rusty parts. Observing his knowledge at work is amazing.
When Graham van Heerden revived the Western Cape region, André was one of the first Capetonians to join, in 1998.
Since then, André has made a sizeable contribution to the club.
I still remember the 1st Pagoda run he organised in 2003, at his good friend Dennis Porter’s farm. He again helped Kurt and Lydia with the Pagoda run to Greyton two years ago.
His technical knowledge of the classic cars is unparalleled, and he is the local “go-to” man.
André started his working career in the printing industry in 1955/56. He then went into the retail business, marketing Yamaha motorcycles and outboard engines, as well as selling BMW motorbikes in the early 1970’s.
His introduction to Mercedes Benz was in 1968, when he bought a 220s Ponton.
In this car, which today he stills says was a magnificent vehicle, he did many cross-country trips with his family. Being a curious person, and with a yearning for the roads less travelled, he loved to go exploring the country, using the gravel roads through farms and valleys.
He was one of two South Africans invited to Germany for the Centennial of the Car, with his 1939 230S Cabriolet.
Having rebuilt many cars over the years – every nut and bolt – André has a keen eye for a potentially good car. His love of classic cars goes further than just Mercedes-Benz. He is the president of the Crank Handle Club, of which he is also a founding member.
On behalf of the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Africa, I am very honoured to make this presentation to André.

2018 – Waldo Scribante

Mr President, Honoured guests from the Super Group, Past Presidents, Honorary Members, Hero Members, National Committee Members, Special Members and especially the Club members and their partners, without whose support we probably would not have a club!

Ladies and gentlemen.
As Vice President of the Club it is my very pleasant duty as well as a great honour to be addressing you on this prestigious occasion, the 33rd National Gathering and AGM.
It is on an occasion such as this that the National Committee awards the Club’s top honour, the Hero Award, to a person who is described in the Club Constitution as a dedicated enthusiast, having given distinguished and exceptional service to the Club and its members.
The National Committee makes the final decision for this lifetime award after much deliberation regarding a member considered to be a worthy recipient.
Tonight’s Hero was unanimously approved for the award without any reservations from any member of the National Committee.
He is a lifelong enthusiast who has served the Club with distinction right from the start of his membership.
Today he is still hard at work and making differences in all aspects of the functioning of the Club from which all of us have already benefitted and will continue to enjoy as the year progresses.
His commitment to drive the club’s objectives at National and international levels requires much hard work, dedication, to which he tirelessly applies himself, and love for the club.
In a relatively short period of time, he has modernised the Club through his support of all social media agenda, supported technological advancements proposed to him to enable ease of joining the Club, taken the regalia shop online, altered the structures underpinning the operation of the Club, driven advancements in providing services to members, collaborated with Mercedes-Benz Clubs International, continuing to raise the profile of the South African Club in this community and successfully continuing an engaging partnership with Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
This avid collector of Mercedes cars both big and small also enjoys entertaining and is particularly well known for his annual braai.
This man is of course our very popular and well-loved President Waldo Scribante.
Please join me in congratulating Waldo on obtaining this, our top award. Chris Carlisle-Kitz

2019 – Annalie Kachelhoffer

She “married” into the club when she and hubby came into each other’s lifes! Together they have built up a beautiful collection of cars and memorabilia at their museum on the outskirts of Bloemfontein.
Yes, our Mrs Secretary – Annalie Kachelhoffer
Annalie, please join me here on the stage.
Not knowing her W’s from her R’s or V’s did not deter her from becoming the first female chairperson of a region in 2012, the year she joined the club. Her passion for life and all things Star related is contagious and the region flourished under her reigns. Even organizing an AGM at Black Mountain Resort, 60km from Bloemfontein was no problem for her.
She and Jaco also turned the club regalia shop into the profitable business it is today!
She climbed the club ladder and has been serving on the national committee as secretary since 2015.
She inspires with her boundless enthusiasm for the job – always on time with the necessary documents, and always willing to go the extra mile.
Making full use of the power of WhatsApp to keep me in line with her reminders.
Congratulations Annalie on receiving this award and a huge thank you to you for all the time and passionate effort you put into the club on a daily basis.