Widely regarded as Sir William Lyons' masterpiece, the breathtakingly beautiful 1954 Jaguar XK140 was actually a facelifted XK120 with neater bumpers, more power and better front suspension.
Widely regarded as Sir William Lyons' masterpiece, the breathtakingly beautiful 1954 Jaguar XK140 was actually a facelifted XK120 with neater bumpers, more power and better front suspension.
The oldest bike on show at the 2011 Classic Car Show was this 1910 Bradbury. In the background is a BMW R69.
The oldest bike on show at the 2011 Classic Car Show was this 1910 Bradbury. In the background is a BMW R69.
Two 1974 Ducati 750SS V-twins. The nearer bike is Marco Sanders' current race bike; the second machine is in original street trim.
Two 1974 Ducati 750SS V-twins. The nearer bike is Marco Sanders' current race bike; the second machine is in original street trim.

It's like a cross between a boys' club and a living museum, a slightly raffish, definitely amateur celebration of motoring nostalgia - even the autojumble stands, where you can buy anything from a 1965 Mustang front bumper to a speedometer for a Series 1 Land Rover (sorry, MPH only), are manned by enthusiasts rather than business people.

It's Cape Town's annual Classic Car Show, held on the third weekend of January each year in the grounds of gracious, slightly down-at-heel Timour Hall in Plumstead. It's a living museum because nearly every vehicle on show arrives under its own power (including Greg Bjorkman's 1916 Model T Ford!) and a boys' club because their owners are there as much to see as to be seen.

The cars at the 2011 edition ranged from a 1901 Benz to a Ferrari Dino, and the bikes from a 1910 Banbury to the latest from Aprilia and Moto Guzzi.

They included many Japanese bikes - laughed at by the establishment when new - that are now classics in their own right, not least a 1964 350cc Honda Super Dream with just enough road dirt on it to assure you its lady owner rides it a lot more than once a year.

All the exhibitors seemed to know each other, and there were a lot of in-jokes flying about, but they were just as ready to chat to show visitors about where their pride and joy came from and, in many cases, how they restored it to its present pristine state.

Funny thing, that: for most of them, it's not about the money. They'll bore you to tears about a friend of a friend in rural Shropshire who helped them find that left-side widget (out of production since 1948!) but they won't tell you what it cost.

Unless your classic needs one - then they're quick with an e-mail address or even a phone number.

Many people would love to run a classic vehicle - even as daily transport - but are put off by the perceived problems of getting parts and service details for a vehicle whose maker went out of business before they were born.

Not so: Bjorkman tells me there are no fewer than three companies in the US that specialise in supplying absolutely any part for a Model T, “and they're not even expensive!”, and at least one owners' club has its own engineering works producing small batches of original parts for 60-year-old motorcycles as needed.

Everywhere I heard the same advice: “Join the owner's club; if nobody there has the part you need, somebody will know where to get one, and you'll never have a problem with your classic that some club member there hasn't experienced - and cured - before.”

That's how the boys' club works - and all you have to do to join is ask the right questions.

I'm not going to wax lyrical about the machinery on show, although there was a 1954 XK140 in pristine ivory in the Jaguar display that literally took my breath away; I'll let the bikes and cars speak for themselves in the pictures.