Cape Town – The first motor show to be held at the Grand West casino in Goodwood was an intriguing mix of impressively world-class and oddly parochial – but it worked.
The organisers, well aware that this was not going to be an ‘international’ motor show and that the vast majority of visitors would be locals, happily allowed a definite Capetonian flavour to overlay the slick professionalism of the organisation.
It helped that the exhibitors were nearly all local dealerships, rather than manufacturers or distributors, and that they used the fact that the headline Grand Arena was a little small by international standards – and by those of Nasrec and Kyalami in Johannesburg – to create a more intimate feel.
Visitors were encouraged to ask questions, peer inside the latest models on display and leave sticky fingerprints all over them, getting more involved than at the glittering international motor shows where the average car enthusiast is often made to feel a little out of place.
Setting the tone
She Who Must Be Obeyed and I deliberately avoided the accreditation process and pitched up, ticket in hands, as per paying members of the public. After a quick security check and a bit of banter with the staff that would have been incomprehensible to anybody from north of the Berg River, the first thing to assail our senses was the noise – and the smell of burning rubber – from the drift arena, where punters were lining up for rides with some of South Africa’s top drifters.
And that set the tone for our motor show experience – we were there to have fun, rather than ooh and aah at improbable concept cars and new model launches from a respectful distance.
New models there were indeed – particularly the Audi Q2, due for release in South Africa in mid-February – but they weren’t roped off, as you can see in the pictures; great for the punters, less so for photographers!
The market hall was packed with a superb variety of specialist stands, including one for iCam safety cameras that featured a striking scale model of a truck festooned with (working) cameras to show how the system operates, as well as custom car bling ranging from aftermarket rims to wraps, uprated suspension, insurance for cars and bikes and even rider training.
The subdued lighting in the Sun Exhibit hall showed off the new motorcycles, classic cars and custom creations to perfection, especially the late-1920s Bugatti Type 35 – only the second example of this late-1920s Grand Prix icon I’d ever seen (the first was being driven in late afternoon rush-hour traffic on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, but that’s another story) and a 1971 Honda 750 Four ‘barn find’ restored to as-new condition by a local enthusiast.
Mike Hopkins Motorcycles featured the updated Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer, Suzuki South a brace of sporty lightweight commuters – but we had to wonder where were Honda and Yamaha, each in the programme but conspicuous by its absence on the floor.
Bundu-basher 4x4s and super-tough trailers shared space in the SunPark outdoor area, which was made rather uncomfortable by the sun glaring off its concrete surface, with premium car-hire firms and a Fiat Chrysler Auto stand that included an Alfa 4C Spyder and a cheeky little Fiat 124 Abarth roadster among the brawny Jeeps.
Our final stop was among the custom and classic cars under two spacious marquees in the parking area, among them an array of American muscle, from the 1940s to the late 1960s, before the 1973 oil crisis changed the way we think about cars forever. And when I asked She Who Has the Casting Vote what she thought of the show, she replied, “It was fun!” Good enough.