If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard of Mikes Place. Besides that their ads have been in the latter pages for some time now, every self-respecting car guy, especially in Cape Town, has a friend, or a friend of a friend, who has spoken of Mike, but few people really know who he is. My relationship with Mike goes back about two decades, but for the benefit of those who only know his signature logo, I decided to pop by his massive warehouse in Epping, and chatted to General Manager, Billy Brink.
Everyone speaks of Mike’s Place. Who the hell is Mike, and where does he come from? Mike is the owner of the company, and the driving force behind us. The company was actually named Gearbox, Diff & Engine Wholesalers but our clients would always refer to it as Mike’s Place, and the name just stuck. I’ve personally been regular customer since way back, when Mike just started out, how long have you been in business? We are closing in on 20 years now. The business opened in August 1999.
Nobody ever seems to deal with Mike himself. A few people obviously know you from the track, who else is on the Mike’s Place team, and what are their roles? We have an amazing team at Mike’s Place. Ighsaan is the Store Manager, Sox has a wealth of knowledge in sales, and Gino is the Toyota and gearbox guru. Ashley is our all-rounder and Irfaan is our Facebook page manager and resident VVL warrior. Elvis is known to go that extra mile for clients, and Terrick is the Operations Manager. He is also a bit of a VAG nut. I’m the General Manager.
What products do you exactly sell? Our core business is engines and gearboxes. We stock over 500 different engines and even more variety in gearboxes. We pride ourselves and do our absolute best to make sure our products are always in stock and ready to go!
What is your most popular item? There is no most popular item really. But if we had to look at performance engines I would say the Ford Barra engines are really starting to fly out of here.
Do you offer engine fitment as a service as well? We do have an RMI-Approved workshop which deals with all warranty claims as well as engine or gearbox fitments for clients. We do however not do conversions in-house.
You have sponsored cars in the past, both on the strip and the drift circuit. Who do you sponsor currently? Currently we support quite a few cars: Chris Long – Mike’s Place drift Supra, Jason Webb – Monstang drift car, Billy Brink – Golf 4 Clubmans car, Clint Kirkwood – Subaru-powered 4×4 Challenge buggy, Irfaan Ismail – Nissan Sabre VVL drag car, Crazy Rasta – 1UZ-powered Corolla spin car and Sean February – 2JZ-powered BMW E30 spin car.
Bobby Brewis has built a mean 86 for you. Tell us more about that project. Bobby is a master car builder in my opinion. It’s a street legal, daily driven Toyota 86 with a 2JZ turbo motor, forged internals and a Precision turbo. Lots of work has gone into the build and you will soon see it at the Cape Town Motor Show, and many other events all around the country.
Engine import shops have been popping up all over recently. What in your opinion makes you the preferred supplier? We don’t like to compare ourselves to other companies. We simply do our very best to provide a quality product with great service and a solid warranty for peace of mind. This is what we have become known for and we intend to keep it that way for many years to come.
With the current economy and fluctuating Rand, how difficult is it to keeps the costs low whilst offering quality products? It is challenging. Mike and I have built up a great relationship with our suppliers and all who work together to keep the quality high. If we had a motto, it would be “high-end” performance parts and original used engines at affordable prices”
You have a performance department and are agents for some high-end performance products. Can you name a few of them? We are currently registered dealers for Nitrous Express, Innovate Motorsports, Malpassi regulators, Weistec Engineering, Wisefab, Fuel Injector Clinic, Turbosmart, Sprint Booster, Real Street Performance, Bosch injectors and lambda sensors, Cometic, King Race bearings, and soon we will receive our first shipment from ATI crank dampers and Ferrea valvetrain components.
I came across Mike’s Place on takealot.com, which I thought was a cool way of accessing your products. What made you decide to go that route, and how is it going? Takealot is a really great platform. It allows us to service clients nationwide with our performance parts and gives the client an easy online solution with regard to ordering and delivery. We currently have over 50 performance parts available through Takealot and it is constantly growing.
Mike’s Place has a massive Facebook following of almost 100k people. How did you manage do get that much interest? Facebook has become a great platform to get a product and information to a client quickly. If, for example, a rare engine arrives, or a performance part that has been out of stock, we post the arrival date and this allows our Facebook customer an advantage in knowing what new stock is arriving soon.
When Joel visited, he was like a kid in a candy store. Would you consider allowing him to head up your Honda department? Sure, he is more than welcome to come for an interview but unfortunately he will be the only Honda lover on the team, and might have a hard time with the rest of the guys.