Classic cars in the blood
The Citroen DS was a futuristic car when it first came off the production line in 1955, it was able to handle the cobbled roads of France, says South Coast classic car collector Richard Broome who with his son, Oliver, is opening a classic car museum near Munster.
“It’s actually perfect for 21st century South African roads. If you hit a pothole, you can’t feel it!”
They renovated their 1965 model, as well as many other cars that will be on display.
“It was lying rotting, rusting away at the back of some shops in Margate. The owner had died and left it there and we rescued it,” Richard said.
“It needed total body restoration.”
They also have an early Beetle Volkswagen, built in 1950 on the chassis of a 1943 model, possibly made from parts that had been hidden in caves after the Allies had bombed the manufacturing plant.
“It had spent 25 years locked up in a garage in Durban when we bought it. We found it in in a terrible state,” Richard said.
Only one of the 20 vehicles that will be on display at any one time, has a name. It’s also a Volkswagen Beetle, called Herbie because it’s an absolute reproduction of the “bug” that was in the movie series.
Cars are in the Broomes’ blood. Richard fell in love with them when he acquired his first vehicle – an Austin 7 – for £5 and took his friends for rides on farmers’ fields in the English countryside in exchange for petrol money.
He then collected old cars but had to give them up when he moved to South Africa, at the age of 21, in 1969, but started again from scratch. When Oliver reached his teens, he too fancied cars and ended up nicking a Jaguar from his dad’s collection to roam the streets of Joburg with his friends.
“Eventually my parents caught on to what I was doing and sent me to a psychologist. But there was trouble with the lift there, so I pinched the car again to get there!”
From then on, Oliver – now 45 – knew his future would involve cars and he started restoring old classics, making a business of it and moving to the KZN South Coast, 16 years ago.
In addition to being a racer himself, he has managed to acquire and repair, cars used by his racing heroes including Sean van der Linde, Mike Briggs, Deon Joubert and the late Tony Viana.
He has also ventured to Zimbabwe to find classic cars that had been saved from being crushed and chopped up, as would have happened in South Africa, because of a ban on the scrap metal trade.
*The East Coast Classics Car Museum at Munster Park Farm, Old National Road, Munster, officially opens on Friday, November 27. For more information, email [email protected] or call 060 980 8421.
The Independent on Saturday