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Classic Cars in Rhodesia

Make Sokol
Year 1971
Built in Rhodesia. Offered for sale by Bonhams auction in December 2006, estimate £2000-4000. Noted on eBay in 2007. This unique motor car was the subject of two half-page articles written by the vendor (2006), Sir John Whitmore, in The Daily Telegraph’s Motoring Section (7th January and 4th February 2006). In the second article, Sir John revealed that the car was a 1,600cc Sokol built in 1971 and first registered in the UK in 1978. The car was correctly identified by two readers, one of whom, Martin Collins, knew constructor Stanislaw Tatar, not only as its owner and builder but as his neighbour in Orpington, Kent.
Stanislaw Tatar was a Pole who fought for the Allies in WW2 before retiring to Scotland where he worked as a panel beater and built his first car from scratch. Nine years later he settled in what was then Rhodesia and went into the truck-building business. He conceived this car in 1970 and began its construction using a Volkswagen floorpan, which was extensively modified. The bodywork, made at his truck works in Rhodesia, was all rolled steel except for the aluminium-alloy bonnet. When Tatar moved to Kent with his family in 1977 he brought the almost-completed car with him.
Initially the car’s only headlamps were those set into the front grille. However, these failed the ‘construction and use’ regulations and the pop-up lamps, positioned between the bumper and the front-hinged bonnet, were installed , enabling the car to be registered in 1978. For this formality Tatar called it a ‘Sokol’, the Slavic word for Falcon. Somewhat later, he replaced the 1,600cc Volkswagen engine with a 2.0-litre Toyota twin-cam unit that required twin side radiators, further concealing the Sokol’s VW origins.
Roman, his youngest son, had been responsible for the original sketches while in his early teens and later, as an electronic genius, for the addition of extraordinarily advanced electronics, with instrument display features built into the steering-wheel boss and a mysterious keypad behind the flip-down front number plate, all of which worked in the mid-1980s.
Sadly Roman died in 1994, at the age of 33, and Tatar and his wife moved back to Poland, leaving the Sokol here with his older son, John.
Having his own electrical business in Sussex to run, John was unable to spare the time and energy needed to complete all the detail and maintain the car, so he rented storage space for it in a barn used by Triumph specialist David Guilding. He said they pushed it around in the barn a couple of times, but otherwise it never moved.
So there it lay for years, deteriorating slowly before finally ending up on the rural roadside where I saw it with a "for sale" sticker in the window, bought it and took it home.
Chassis No.  SABW372
Engine No.  
Body Style Coupe
Registration Numbers WJD 134 S


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