A First for Que Que and Rhodesia


Barney and Dora Kahn of Que Que imported the first Cadillac into Southern Rhodesia

A First for Que Que and Rhodesia

The Gaika Mine,  two km (just over a mile) south of Que Que on Chicago Farm included a series of claims named the Gaika, Robin Hood, Zulu, Golden Quarries and New Accident.  During its life time a total of 23, 000 kg of gold was produced from 2, 626,671 tonnes of ore, with an average recovery of 8.7 g/t.  It was probably the most extensive ancient workings in the country.

A First for Que Que and Rhodesia

Barney and Dora Kahn ran the Gaika Concession Store. Mr. Kahn advertised everything from men’s shirts, socks, shoes and tennis shoes in particular.  As well as being a livestock and grain dealer he sported a range of wagons and Scotch carts. In its heyday, in addition to the concession store, Mrs. Kahn ran a butchery with supplies of fresh meats (all cuts): mutton, pork, veal, poultry and sausages.  On Thursdays fresh fish: soles and haddock, kippers too, were on offer. Altogether the businesses were successful.

Mr. and Mrs. Kahn decided this success was deserving of a car.  Nothing less than the best would suffice.   They visited the local show rooms.  Wilsons’ Garage sold Vauxhalls and Bedford trucks. Watts Garage carried Ford products.   They went further afield to Gwelo’s S & S Cars to see the new Vanguards, Triumphs and the latest Studebaker models.  They ventured further to Salisbury to look at the symbol of better motoring: Austin, The Car You Could Depend On, at Byrom Motors, and to Puzey and Diss Motors with their Morris Oxfords.   They viewed the new Humbers, Hillmans, Sunbeam-Talbots, Commers and Karriers at Kimptons.

Shopping for a car is a time consuming and exhausting experience.  Nothing met their expectations.  They were looking for something to symbolize the lifetime of hard work.  They wrote away for brochures.  They studied the statistics.

Mr. Kahn imported the first Cadillac into the country.  The formidable one-two punch was the tailfin styling and the overhead-valve V-8 engine. Mrs. Kahn liked the idea of  ‘slipper pistons’.  They both liked the look of the new hardtop convertible body. The car could clock 0-60 mph in around 13 seconds and easily top 100 mph!  They couldn’t wait.

Delivery by sea and then overland from South Africa took some time.  Mr. Kahn set about getting an automobile license for himself and his wife.  All went without a hitch.

The car finally arrived amidst much fanfare.  But Mr. Kahn was unable to drive it home. He did not know how to drive.

Mrs. Kahn learned, in time, to go forward.  She never did conquer reverse.

Many thanks to Ed Goldberg.   The bones of this story are taken from the transcript of his recorded interviews with old Que Que residents that contributed to the rich tapestry of life there.







  • Ed Goldberg

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    When the Royal Family stopped in Que Que in 1949 it was hoped to drive them from the train station into town. Unfortunately there was no Rolls Royce available and the “royalists” strongly opposed using Mr. Kahn’s Cadillac as it was an American car.

    As you say, Dora Kahn couldn’t reverse the car. My Mom was very friendly with Dora and my Dad always had to reverse the car out of our driveway for her. My Dad asked her how she got her driver’s licence. She said ““Well, Barney went along to the police station for his licence, and got it right away, as he was well known by everybody in town. While the policeman was busy writing out the licence, Barney asked if he would also issue one for me! And this he did.”

    My Dad bought his first car in Que Que in 1949 – a second hand Singer, made in Great Britain.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 5, 2011

      Ed, How amusing. Nothing but the best for Royalty. The 1949 Royal visit was quite a big one for QQ. There was a tea reception at the Railway Park in a summer house all decked out with Boston ferns in the proverbial recycled sanitary pails that everyone had on their verandahs and the summer house was wrapped in red and white and blue bunting of course. The Royals were slated to have a retreat at Virginia Waters a lovely house built especially for them one hundred steps above the Bembezaan River. However the King was not well enough and it was cancelled.

      It wasn’t until I started listing the car brands that I realized how many independent companies there were in those days. A car purchase was such a big event in ones life in those days. A luxury for many. Thanks for sharing all these interesting anecdotes.

  • ron herbert

    Reply Reply December 15, 2011

    born in que que 9/8/1964 dad bill herbert mom sue siblings alan lorraine gary neville and wendy

    • Diana

      Reply Reply December 16, 2011

      Ron, Good to hear from you and have you join the dialog on Que Que, we all have such fond memories of our lives there. Share your stories with us.

  • Sweeet Banana

    Reply Reply July 6, 2012

    Oh how sweet Rhodesia was

  • John King

    Reply Reply July 7, 2012

    Sweet Banana – one of my favourite RAR marching songs! Great memories!

  • Wayne Kennerley

    Reply Reply May 1, 2013

    Hi, thanks for this info, I take it that when you say “imported the first Cadillac into Southern Rhodesia”, you mean the first brand new Cadillac? As there was a 1928 Cadillac imported into Rhodesia in 1929 – Details on my website http://www.classiccarsinrhodesia.co.za under Cadillac

    I wonder if anyone has a photo of the Kahn Cadillac please.


    Wayne M. Kennerley
    Wales, UK

    • Diana

      Reply Reply May 3, 2013

      Wayne, What an interesting specialty web site you have! I gather that the Kahn’s Cadillac was new. I’ll try and get a confirmation on that and get back to you. Meanwhile, my husband had BSA Gold Star 500 cc single cylinder and a Triumph Bonneville 650cc twin cylinder stripped down and raced it on a dirt track in Kitwe Northern Rhodesia in the mid 60’s (63-67).
      Tim Hughes whose father, Gervas’ started farming in Que Que in the 20’s whose story I am currently blogging about had a car collection and I will put him in touch with you.

      • Wayne Kennerley

        Reply Reply May 3, 2013

        Diana, thanks for your reply, I look forward to hearing from Tim Hughes.

        Do you have any pics of your husband’s BSA and Triumph please.

        My main line of research is Rolls-Royce and Bentley in Africa, I have a photo of a Rolls-Royce that ended up in or around Que Que around the late 1960s – Could I send it to you to blog please as I would love to find out anything else about the car.


        • Diana

          Reply Reply May 3, 2013

          Wayne, How terrific. Yes do send it to me. I need a story I will email you.

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