The black vintage Ford that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was given at his 91st birthday party last week was actually the first car he owned, according to a news report on Sunday.
Loyal supporters of the president tracked down the black Ford Zephyr in South Africa, the Sunday Mail reported. Mugabe last saw the car in 1963.
“We wanted to find a befitting gift for the president,” Zimbabwean businessman Kumbirayi Mangwanda told the newspaper.
Mangwanda said he contacted the Friends of Joshua Trust, a local charity set up in memory of the late vice president Joshua Nkomo. The group is involved in research into Zimbabwe’s history.
The businessman told the Sunday Mail: “We sat down with them and the idea of locating the vintage gift was adopted.”
The Ford Zephyr was reportedly being held as a tourism piece under the Vintage Society of South Africa. It has had three or four owners in the intervening 51 years. Mangwanda says he paid for it, the newspaper said.
The new number plate on the car is RGM1963. Mugabe’s initials are RGM. The G stands for Gabriel.
“[Mugabe’s] pure pleasure in seeing his first love was unmistakeable,” the Sunday Mail reported.
“The car’s engine is still running like a beauty.”