Johannesburg - Concours South Africa took place at Steyn City in Johannesburg last weekend (Aug 10-12), where more than 70 gleaming entrants took to the lawns of the estate in a display that pays tribute to automotive originality. Vehicles that spend most of their lives under car covers or tucked away in storage facilities got to soak up the attention of enthusiasts from all over the country.
Now in its third running, tracing its roots back to the custom-built horse-drawn carriage displays that took place in Paris pre-automobile, Concours South Africa brings together car collectors and enthusiasts for a weekend of drooling over cars that are legendary in one way or another. I was blown away by the sheer number (and variety) of cars on display, and the quality of the vehicles at that.
At the very ‘top’ of the lawns, Steyn City founder Douw Steyn displayed a few of his cars, headlined by a custom-built Rolls-Royce.
Pininfarina built the body, and it is one-of-a-kind, dripping with presence and sophistication. I lingered around the one-off Rolls for a while before snaking my way down the lawns to soak up the metal on display, but on my way I stumbled upon last year’s winning car, a 1989 Ferrari F40 owned by Keith Rivers.
The F40 wasn’t entered into this year’s competition, but if it had been, it would have been disqualified immediately. Rivers fitted a set of ultra-lightweight, forged OZ Racing wheels to the car. Because Concours is looking for the best original cars, the F40 would have needed its original takkies to participate.
Nevertheless, the Ferrari attracted heaps of attention from show-goers in its gleaming red paint. From the rear, you could see the gizzards of the car; that three-pipe exhaust and the engine on show for all to beam over. The Ferrari F40 is special because it was designed to celebrate Ferrari's 40th anniversary and was the last Ferrari automobile personally approved by Enzo Ferrari.
When it was launched, it was Ferrari's fastest, most powerful and most expensive car. Sources suggest that Enzo wanted to build only 400 F40s, but in the end the car proved so popular (and so successful on the track) that Ferrari built 1311 of them. I’d have on in a heartbeat, but I haven’t struck it rich in the Powerball yet.
Parked next to the F40 was a late 60s Lamborghini Miura. The car was not competing, but it stood proud on the lawns, attracting stares and picture-takers aplenty. I eventually managed to peel myself away from the F40 and the Miura to soak up some of the cars entered into this year’s competition.
Here’s just a few of the vehicles that caught my eye: a 1989 Ferrari 328GTS, a 1994 BMW M3 (E36), a 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL, a 1992 Opel Kadett GSI 16V S, a 1996 Mercedes-Benz SL60 AMG and a 1963 Chevrolet Impala Convertible.
Quite a strange, mixed bunch of cars, right? I was equally stunned to see local homologation specials like the Superboss parked next to classic Aston Martins and Porsches, but that’s the nature of car enthusiasm in South Africa; if it has character, we love it.
Local and international judges scoured over every inch and under every carpet of the cars entered into this year’s competition over two days.
I followed the judging of a 1991 BMW M5 (E34) and saw how the judges assessed the paintwork, the interior, the spare wheel well and even the owner’s manuals and service book. They looked at everything, right down to whether switches have been replaced in the interior.
The owner of the M5 talked the judges through some of the car’s merits and its ownership history, but ultimately the quality of the car needs to speak for itself, and the M5 didn’t do as well as the owner had hoped.
A few owners came away very happy, though, with their cars taking gold, silver and bronze amidst a highly competitive field of entries.
- Bronze went to a 1970 Irish Green Porsche 911S owned by Tim Abbot and Michael Hambly.
- Silver was given to an immaculate 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB4 Daytona owned by Stuart Mackay-Davidson.
- Gold was scooped up by a 1989 Ferrari 328 GTS owned by Zia Wort.
If you’re sad that you missed this year’s Concours, there is no excuse not to visit next year’s event to catch a glimpse of a car that makes your heart race. Or, better yet if you have a classic, why not enter it next year?
Pictures: Chantal Madgwick and Pritesh Ruthun