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Cape Classic Car Show in pictures

Classic car shows were once described as 'a cross between an instant museum and an old boys' club.' The cars and bikes are all privately owned but, when assembled in one place, they offer an astonishing cross-section of the first 100 years of self-propelled transport.

And that's what Cape Town's Classic Car Show, held in the grounds of the gracious Timour Hall manor house in Plumstead on the third weekend of January each year, is all about.

Undisputed queen of the show was this 1921 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost with hand-made replica body, framed in South Africa, skinned in England. Picture: Dave Abrahams.A line-up of nearly a dozen veteran motorcycles, all made before the First World War, each more than 100 years old and all in running condition. Picture: Dave AbrahamsIf there is such a thing as an everyday classic, it is this 1949 Mercedes-Benz S170 Cabriolet. Picture: Dave Abrahams1910 Bradbury had no clutch, used pedals to get started. Picture: Dave Abrahams1934 Packard 120 Business Coupe has had only four owners from new. Picture: Dave AbrahamsA century ago this 1913 Royal Enfield was state of the art with V-twin engine and chain final drive, when belt-drive singles were the norm. Picture: Dave AbrahamsThe engine in this hand-built Rover Special is a 1952, 27-litre Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 tank engine, the naturally-aspirated version of the Merlin. It revs to 2550rpm, delivers 485kW and 2000Nm. When complete, the car is expected to reach 340km/h. Picture:Dave AbrahamsThis 1969 Laverda 750S once went bundu-bashing in the hands of a previous lady owner, while the Norton single, right, regularly competes in time trials. Picture: Dave AbrahamsThere were a few cars that needed a little help from a friend to make it to the show. Picture: Dave AbrahamsTriumph 650 Bonneville was the coolest thing on wheels in the early 1960s. Picture: Dave Abrahams.Only 16 Fisher-bodied 1934 Buick 46S Sports Coupes with rumble seat were built in right-hand drive. Motorvation is provided by a 3850cc straight-eight. Picture: Dave Abrahams.Like the poet Lord Byron, the 1971 Kawasaki 350 two-stroke triple was mad, bad and dangerous to know. Picture: Dave Abrahams.Other than the exposed valve-gear, the engine of the 1905 de Dietrich could be a modern truck engine. Picture: Dave Abrahams.A rare shot of the two legendary Big Sixes together. On the left, a Honda CBX1000. On the right, a Kawasaki Z1300. Picture: Dave Abrahams.Greg Bjorkman shows his 1916 Model T flat-bed little respect. He just gets on and drives it. Often. Picture: Dave Abrahams.No, this is not a Second World War despatch bike, it is a brand-new Royal Enfield 500. Picture: Dave AbrahamsExquisite 1928 Hooper-bodied Roll-Royce 20hp Sedanca de Ville belongs to Alan Lindhorst of the Crankhandle Club. Picture: Dave AbrahamsEarly-1930s Rolls-Royce town car has all the aerodynamic efficiency of a gothic cathedral. But, in those days, air molecules knew their place; they simply got out of the way. Picture: Dave AbrahamsNimble little two-seaters like this 1250cc 1947 MG TC taught an entire generation of Americans what sports cars were all about. Picture: Dave AbrahamsInterior of the 1921 Silver Ghost harks back to a day when motoring was still an adventure. Picture: Dave Abrahams

The cars on show range from a 1905 De Dietrich to superb Rolls-Royces, Lancias and Jaguars from the 1970s, the motorcycles from a 1910 Bradbury to the latest Moto Guzzis and Aprilias, as well as a display of brand-new Royal Enfields - but they don't count, because they still build them just like they did in the 1950's.

VERBAL SHORTHAND

Since most of the owners know each other - and can be relied on for help in finding, fixing or even making hard-to-get parts - they speak a kind of verbal shorthand peppered with first names and abbreviated model designations, such as “Alan's blue Twenty” (Alan Lindhorst's exquisite 1928 Hooper-bodied Roll-Royce 20hp Sedanca de Ville) or “Freddie's 350 Trip” (a 1971 Kawasaki 350 three-cylinder two-stroke - renowned as the archetypal Bad Boy of Motorcycling - exquisitely restored by Freddie van Eyck).

But, take the time to ask the right questions, and they will tell you more about their pride and joy than you really want to know. Each car and motorcycle is a product of its time, with a tale to tell, often more of the people whose lives it has touched than about the nuts and bolts.

This limousine was a makeshift ambulance during the Second World War, that big Italian sports bike once went bundu-bashing in the hands of a previous (lady) owner.

PRIDE AND PASSION

A large proportion of the gleaming bikes and cars at Timour Hall were once 'basket cases' (complete wrecks, usually stored in a collection of old boxes) or 'barn finds' (non-runners abandoned so long ago that not even the owners remembered they were there) and it is the time and effort that has gone into the restoration of those wrecks to, in many cases, better than new condition that makes them so special.

Motoring museums are important from a historical perspective, but their resources are limited; it is the hundreds of enthusiasts who bring their pride and their passion to car shows such as this, that keep our motoring heritage alive.

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