Classic Cars in
Africa's Premier Classic Car Website with more than 1000 Vintage and Classic Car
Pics, Events, History, Links and Weekly updates plus special features on DKW,
Auto Union, Borgward, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce & Bentley.
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Quick overview of South Africa
Car of the Week
1961 Opel Record 1700
Adam Opel started a sewing machine factory in 1863 and expanded to include bicycles
in 1897. Following his death his five sons decided to include the manufacturing of
motorcars by aquiring the Anhaltische Motorwagenfabrik von Friedrich Lutzmann.
They launched the first Lutzmann based car in 1898. However, following a disagreement
with Lutzmann, they switched to manufacture the French Darracq under license with the
Car of the Week History
Rare Classic Car Books
Auto Union & Audi
1903 - 1990
Royce & Bentley
Interesting Old Cars & Info
Old Car Adventures
Dixieland Band arrives in Style
Our regular Dixieland Band arrives in style at one
of our Crankhandle Club meetings in Cape Town
First Car in Southern Hemisphere
As early as 1896, in what is believed to have been the first car in the Southern
Hemisphere, Mr John Percy Hess of Pretoria made the decision to import
a Benz "Velo" from Benz & Co of Mannheim Germany to South Africa. During
the same year this car was shipped to Port Elizabeth and then transported to
Pretoria. It was the start of a business relationship which lead to Mr Hess
becoming the sole agent for Benz & Co in South Africa.
On Monday, January 4th at 4pm.1897 at Berea Park in Pretoria, in a widely
advertised event, Mr John Percy Hess first drove the car with a Mr A.E. Reno
(his business Partner and co-founder of the Pretoria News), and a Dr W.J. Leyds,
then State Secretary of the Transvaal, as passengers. President Paul Kruger
was also invited to ride on the car, but he preferred to just watch the event.
In honour of President Paul Kruger attendance a "vierkleur" flag was attached
to a pole on the carriage and a gold medal was minted to commemorate this
occasion. A large number of spectators who came to see this spectacle had to
pay an entrance fee of 2 shillings and 6 pennies.
The following week, the Benz was shown at the Wanderers in Johannesburg
and then sold to Mr A.H. Jacobs, a coffee importer. Every customer who
purchased 500g of coffee from his shop in Pritchard Street was allowed to see
his car. Unfortunately, some months later, this car was destroyed in a fire.
First Ford exported to a country outside North America
The first Ford to arrive in South Africa was a 1903 Ford Model A, which was
imported by Mr Arthur Youldon of Johannesburg.
In September 1903 Mr Youldon, an importer, was in New York where he saw
Henry Ford demonstrate his new car. He immediately placed his order with
Henry Ford, who informed him that it would be the first Ford to be sold
outside North America. The Ford Motor Company was founded earlier that
year, on 16 June 1903.
The car only arrived in February 1904 in Port Elizabeth from where it had to
be transported by train to Johannesburg. This car survived to this day and
can be viewed at the Franschhoek Motor Museum in the Cape, which has a
large display covering 100 years of motoring in SA.
The first two Ford agents in South Africa are believed to be Arkell & Douglas
of Port Elizabeth and Georges Chapart of Durban. Mr Chapard, a Frenchman,
travelled throughout Natal and later also the Orange Free State, selling the
popular Ford Model N, the predecessor of the Model T.
Other early Ford dealers followed such as Mr H.G. Holmes of Kimberley who
later moved to Cape Town and Atkinson's Motor Garages of Bloemfontein,
which much later were incorporated in the McCarthy Group of companies.
Since Ford's inception in 1904, Ford of Canada was given the task by Henry
Ford of supplying right-hand drive vehicles to all the British colonies,
possessions and protectorates. Ford
the US factories were geared solely to lhd production.
During July 1923 Mr Charles Holmes and Mr H.F.A. Stockelbach visited the
Ford factory in Canada to investigate the possibility of starting an assembly
plant in South Africa, as preferential tax and duty applied to Commonwealth
Countries, it was advantageous to assemble Canadian kits in South Africa.
This was realised in February 1924, when an old wool packing shed in Port
Elizabeth was used to start the assembly of the Ford Model Ts.
Oldest Cars in South Africa
South Africa's Own Successful Cars
GSM Dart & Flamingo
Bob van Niekerk, Willie Meissner and Vester de Wit conceived and designed this
car during 1956. Then they formed the GSM company and started manufacturing
the first two prototypes during 1957. The car proved to be almost unbeatable in
South Africa as well as various racing circuits in Europe.
cars were launched as open cars and a removable hardtop only followed later.
The Flamingo was a further development and differed in many respects.
A good number of these cars have survived in South Africa, as well as in the UK,
USA and Canada!
This Ford engined sports car
made its first official appearance at the Spring Motor
Show at Milner Park Johannesburg in 1957. The car was conceived and developed
by John Myers, Robert Hudson and Dr Alan Roy.
During the 1970’s, a Cape Town firm called InterMotorMakers (IMM) became
known for the assembly of Lamborghini and Lotus cars from CKD kits.
The main driving force behind IMM was an archtect named Gerrie Steenkamp
who, together with well-known National Rally driver Nic de Waal (an Engineer
who today practises as a naval architect) set about to create a two-seater sports
car. This is known today as the Caracal.
The car is built on a VW Golf GTi 16V platform and uses VW mecanicals. An
interesting fact is that the Caracal is built “back-to-front” – i.e. the Caracal’s rear
end was the Golf’s front end before the “conversion” – resulting in a mid-engined
lay-out. The cabin is also done with the Golf’s interior (seats, dashboard, etc)
resulting in a truly professional, market-ready product.
I believe that some 4 of these beautiful cars were made: one was destruction-
tested by Volkswagen, one was sent off to VW Germany, one was destroyed in
an accident and the “show-model” survived.
When I bought the Caracal, it was in a fairly good, road-going condition. Because
of the car’s huge importance to South Africa’s motoring history however, I decided
to put the car through a complete restoration. This, regrettably, turned sour and
I have to re-do almost the entire job! Currently, I’m hoping to get the restoration
done soon – and properly this time!
Old Car definitions
Antique Cars - Built before 31st December 1904
Veteran Cars - Built between 1st Jan 1905 & 31st Dec 1918
Vintage Cars - Built between 1st Jan 1919 & 31st Dec 1930
Post-Vintage Cars - Built between 1st Jan 1931 & 31st Dec 1945
Post-45 Cars - Built between 1st Jan 1946 & 31st Dec 1960
Post-60 Cars - Built after 1st Jan 1961
In 1902 they launched their first car under the Opel name. They continued to launch
various size models with one to six cylinders motors. By 1914 they offered a range of
engines from the 1392cc to the huge 10200cc.
They soon realized, that to run a profitable company they would have to automate their
production and concentrate on an affodable small car which people could afford to buy.
This was achieved with the 1924 Laubfrosch on a moving assembly line. The car was
lagely based on the Citroën 5 CV with a 951cc engine.
1929 the United States-based General Motors took a majority stake in Opel and in 1931
they assumed full control. The well known brands of Olympia and Kadett were
introduced in 1935 and 1936 respectively, and the Kapitän followed in 1937.
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