Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa has built a Madiba-themed Ranger, donating the special bakkie to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The older double-cab model’s roof features the South African flag, while the bonnet boasts a “meticulously painted” portrait of the former president. The side panels and tailgate pay further tribute to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and point to the celebration of 18 July as Mandela Day.

“At Ford we are very proud of our South African heritage,” said Neale Hill, managing director of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

“The company has an exceptionally proud legacy in the country spanning more than 96 years – one built on continued investment and innovation to produce segment-defining products, empower communities through creating job opportunities, and striving to improve the world around us for a brighter future.

“No one did more in pursuit of the South African dream than Madiba himself; it is thus a privilege to be able to hand over this one-of-a-kind Ranger to the worthy Nelson Mandela Foundation,” Hill said.

The artwork on the Ranger was completed by hand by four employees (Koketso Sontashe, Sindiso Ndlovu, Wiseman Mngadi and Tebogo Mohlala) who work at the Silverton assembly plant’s paint shop. The Blue Oval brand says it took the team 48 hours – largely outside of their regular shift work – to produce the finished artwork.

“For all of us at the paint shop this was a very exciting and humbling opportunity, that gave our artists an opportunity to showcase their skills,” said Dorah Mmekwa, manufacturing engineering manager.

“At first, the team were quite nervous. Mandela’s image is so iconic, the team were eager to do him and the Foundation justice. Once they got started it was clear there was no need to be anxious. The vehicle looks superb and we are all extremely proud to have been a part of its creation.”

The special bakkie has been named “Mandla”.

“We are honoured to accept this generous donation from the Ford team,” said Yase Godlo of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “The last few weeks we have been engaging regularly with the team on the project. Ford’s passion and commitment to making the vehicle a unique and fitting tribute to Mr Nelson Mandela has been admirable."