From his home in Nyarugunga, a few kilometers from Kigali International Airport, Paul Bakuru’s garage harbours four old cars that he enjoys taking care of without driving them at all.
Married with four kids, Bakuru is an entrepreneur and automobile enthusiast who early this year initiated Rwanda’s only car show dubbed ‘Shyuha Auto show’, which is attracting more associates, who he says share his idea but took too much time to conceptualise it.
“I have always had a passion for arts and realised that those old cars were made by real artists. That is what really came with the idea to continue this interest of mine through acquiring these old cars and keeping them, first of all for pleasure and secondly for investments,” says Bakuru.
Throughout the years, his cars have been featured in music video clips, advertising campaigns, photo shoots and more.
A growing collection of old cars
Bakuru’s choice of cars to put into his collection is simple. He looks at cars that have history and hold some uniqueness.
Most of well-known car collectors in the world are known to own vintage cars from 1930s and classic cars of the 1950s for their great history of the automobile industry revolution, and Bakuru looks for specific history of the car.
He owns a 4001cc 1968 Buick Riviera that he bought in Dubai in 2015. The American muscle car is a personal luxury car produced by Buick from 1963 to 1999. General Motors’ first entry into that prestige niche, the Riviera was highly praised by automotive journalists upon its high-profile debut.
While early models stayed close to the original form, eight subsequent generations varied substantially over the Riviera’s thirty-year lifespan. In all, 1,127,261 were produced.
Two 1995 Cadillac Krystal that were used as hearses before and were abandoned at parking in Remera are also among Bakuru’s collection. He bought them at Rwf300,000 each and are slowly being restored and transformed into pickups.
His garage also harbours a 1988 Chevrolet Caprice that belonged to a former US ambassador to Rwanda before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He bought it for Rwf500,000 and restored it in a local garage adding that “even that restoration is part of my passion”.
Bakuru initiated Rwanda’s unique auto show at the beginning of this year which has had two successful editions so far.
Joe Sitati, a Kenyan living in Rwanda, is also a car collector who owns a 1977 VW Kombi, a 1977 Mercedes-Benz 300D and a 1984 Mercedes-Benz G Wagon.
Together with Bukuru, both have started platforms that allow car enthusiasts in Rwanda share mechanical tips thus, avoiding buying expensive and original spare parts as foreigners on the group advise the rest on how to acquire cheap spares.
“This thing is like cooking as people who like it don’t want to get out of the house during the weekend. If you love cars you show other car enthusiasts what you have and they will do the same. Cars are like kids as you have to be passionate about them and take care of them,” Sitati said.
Vintage and classic auto shows
Though primarily auto shows aimed at having fun and enjoying cars and superbikes, Bakuru noted that they will be a sort of a business venture in the future where they plan to have a permanent showroom for such cars, where already established dealerships can have space to display their products.
Bukuru’s 1968 Buick Riviera represented Rwanda in the 7th CBA Uganda Vintage and Classic auto show that took place in Kampala on July 28th this year and emerged number one in its category.
The American muscle car was spotted by organisers during the second edition of Shyuha Auto show that took place in Kigali on July 21 that had attracted regional visitors.
According to Bukuru, the Buick Riviera impressed the attendees in Kampala and scooped the award for the category of Touring and Station Wagon Cars 4000cc.
“It’s another step for us car enthusiasts. The same car has been invited to compete in the 48th CBA Concours d’Elegance which shall be take place in Nairobi on the 30th of September 2018 as the first ever Rwandan entry yet again,” Bakuru told The New Times.
“We are hoping to see more Rwandan entries in such competitions in the years to come,” he added.
The show in Rwanda has attracted many car enthusiasts that even Bukuru’s dream has reached to an extent that he wants to starts inviting renowned TV reality shows on sharing tips with Rwandans.
Youth and job creation
Though some might perceive as a luxury or lavish to collect cars, Bakuru says that his idea is helping in creating jobs, and future mechanics that are still at school have got opportunities for internship in different reputable garages in Rwanda.