Cape Town – January, the first month of the year, is named for Janus, the Roman god of doorways and new beginnings, so it’s appropriate that the Cape’s first major motoring event of the year is the annual Classic Car and Bike Show, traditionally held over the third weekend in January each year at Timour Hall Villa in Plumstead.
This gracious mansion was built in the 1870s by Judge James Coleman Fitzpatrick, incorporating portions of an older farmhouse that dated back to 1796; his son Percy, later to win fame as the author of Jock of the Bushveld, grew up there. It is now the Cape Town Hospitality House for the International Police Association, and its green and wooded grounds are an ideal venue for a display of historic vehicles, some of which are almost as old as the house.
It harks back to an era of craftsmanship, when the people who made cars put a lot of themselves into their creations, and built them to last – not for any commercial reasons but out of pride.
Their present guardians – for you do not own a classic vehicle, you take care of it for the next generation – take just as much pride in restoring and preserving these magnificent old cars and motorcycles, and that’s really what the Classic Car Show is all about. Yes, the cars and bikes are the stars, but it’s the exhibitors who can tell you the stories – about who owned this car, where it’s been and how it found its way to its present home.
Many of them have transported celebrities and public figures in an earlier lifetime, many more belonged to ordinary families in the days before telephones and air conditioning. They’re both a link to the world our grandparents lived in and a lesson in how they travelled, and to any car or motorcycle enthusiast they are history on wheels.
The social side of motoring
The Classic Car show is also a social occasion, a place to see and be seen, to admire and to proudly display classic vehicles painstakingly restored from scrap or carefully preserved so that each road they have travelled is woven into their fabric.
The show has been held at Timour Hall each year since 2000 and has become so successful that from 2007 it has been held over two days. Thus on Saturday 21 January the grounds will echo to the rumble of big V8s and the crackling snarl of high-revving European sports-cars – modern classics from the 1950s onwards, including hot-rods and customised cars and trucks, many now classics in their own right.
Sunday 22 January will be given over to vintage cars and motorcycles, going back to the dawn of motoring; it’s not unusual at Timour Hall to see half a dozen motorcycles lined up, each more than a century old – and be told that each of them got there under its own power. And right next to them will be exotic multi-cylinder bikes from the 1970s, a tribute to the imagination of their designers, if not their practical acumen!
Cars wearing badges such as DeSoto, Trojan, Austin-Healey and Packard will rub door-handles with Ford Model Ts (come on Saturday if you want to see the Mustangs!), 1920s Rolls-Royces, Lagondas and Bentleys with hand-built wood-framed bodies, Chevrolet trucks that soldiered on with minimal care through the Depression of the 1930s – and survived! – military vehicles from the 1940s, including a German army field kitchen, colloquially known as a Goulash Cannon, and elegant Jaguars from the 1950s.
There will be variety of food stalls, a beer garden, a jumping castle for children and an autojumble sale of parts, tools, books magazines and collectibles. There’s no on-site parking, but parking will be available atTimour Hall Primary School just a few blocks away.
The show will be open from 10am to 4pm on each day; entrance is R30 person (children under 12 free) and tickets are available from Computicket or at the gate. Proceeds, as always, will be donated to worthy causes during the year.
For more information contact Jo Huysamen at (021) 797-2582 or 0823932.