How Kenyans Are Making a Living From Old Cars

In Kenya, the saying ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is not just a common phrase, but a thriving business model exploited by traders from different sectors who revamp old vehicles and sell them for double or triple the price.

These innovative groups of young men and women are breathing new life into old cars and adding unique features.  

Most of them are responsible for the unique and classy cars cruising Kenyan roads across the country.

You will agree that the designer stretched his creative muscle once these masterpieces speed past you on the highways. 

A collage of a vehicle being revamped (left) and the finished product (right)


Junkyard Auto

Speaking on on Thursday, Anthony Mbugua of Junkyard Auto, explained that the business requires passion with those seeking to venture into it targeting profitability.

His journey in the car industry began as a hobby, and he revamped a car that caught the attention of people who requested something similar.

“I have bought, revamped, and sold so many cars. Though, there are some we do not sell,” he stated.

Mbugua disclosed that the most expensive part of the process was getting spare parts for old vehicles. He added that cars with damaged bodies cost more to repair.

In one instance, he bought a Toyota Mark X at Ksh180,000, spent around Ksh270,000 to repair it, and sold it for Ksh550,000. He made a profit of approximately Ksh100,000. 

Another example is Prince Johnson from Nakuru, who bought his first car at Ksh40,000 while in Form Two.

Johnson, famously known as Empire 007, is a renowned car enthusiast in Nakuru with a fleet of vehicles he has reassembled and modified. 

In a past interview, Johnson revealed he was an IT expert, but his car gig earned him more as clients embraced revamped vehicles.

Redesigning an old car was the difficult part of his job, but as a passionate car fanatic, he goes the extra mile to make each vehicle unique.

One of the cars revamped by Prince Johnson from Nakuru County


Prince Johnson Ekaba

“For anyone planning to join this venture, it is advisable to understand why you want to do it. Is it commercially, or as a hobby,” Johnson advised.

His cars have been featured in several music videos in the country and car shows in Nakuru County. One of the most hyped cars was that which he bought at Ksh700,000, revamped it at Ksh300,000 and later sold it for Ksh1.3 million.

Another car enthusiast, Captain Omar, who has an eye for ‘gold’ hidden in old cars, transformed an old SUV into an eye-catching vehicle.

The mechanic explained that working on wars was his hobby as a young boy but now earns him a fortune. 

Obadiah, a contractor and a Kenyan working in the United States, also shared his journey on restoring an abandoned Porshe Cayenne repaired with about Ksh861,000.

“The vehicle itself goes for Ksh8.6 million in retail. A new one would cost upwards of Ksh12.3 million,” he explained in an interview. 

Some of these old vehicles are sold at junkyards at throwaway prices, while others are sold at auctions at low prices, depending on the sellers. They can be from government ministries, agencies, or the state house itself.

Such auctions attract a wide range of car lovers who flock to the yards in search of cars for modification. Kenyans are, however, urged to be cautious while purchasing cars at auctions to avoid losing their money.

Car enthusiast, Patrick of the Pamurick emphasises that while some of these old vehicles are broken spare parts, to others, they can be a gold mine for anyone seeking to make ends meet. 

Despite the freedom one exploits while revamping an old car, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) emphasises that all vehicles must pass the KS15 15 guidelines before being cleared to be registered in Kenya.

The before and after of a vehicle revamped by Prince Johnson from Nakuru County


Nakuru City

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