Cape Town – It’s no secret that Henry Royce, WO Bentley, Louis Renault, the Dodge brothers, and even Ferrucio Lamborghini all got into the car business for the same reason.
Each had bought an expensive vehicle and been so disappointed in its build quality that he had said “I could build a better car than this!” – and did so, ushering in a era when cars were built up to a standard rather than down to a price, when ‘good enough’ was simply not good enough.
Their cars, many of them now close to a century old, have stood the test of time in a way that few of today’s ‘consumer products’ can be expected to emulate - and that, in the opinion of the thousands of enthusiasts who’ll be attending the annual Classic Car Show at Timour Hall in Plumstead this weekend, is what makes them classics.
There are exceptions, of course; the 1964½ Ford Mustang was simply the right car at the right time, while the Jaguar E-Type achieved classic status the day after its world premiere in 1960 when Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car in the world” - but more than half a century later, history has proved each of those statements correct.
You’ll be able to see for yourself in the grounds of Timour Hall, the South African home of the International Police Association, on Saturday 17, when the modern classics, American muscle-cars and customised specials will enjoy centre stage, and Sunday 18 January, when veteran and vintage cars, and classic motorcycles of all eras, will be on display from 10am to 4pm.
Just about all of the vehicles are privately owned and in regular use; they arrive at Timour Hall under their own steam (sometimes literally!) and most of their owners are there to answer questions and tell fascinating stories of their cars’ histories.
In some way’s it’s like an Old Boys Club; the exhibitors are there as much to see as to be seen, but it’s a club that welcomes guests and new members, where advice and information - even sources - are freely shared.
Food and beverages will be available on both days, live music will evoke the era when motoring was still an adventure and cars were more than just appliances. A small donation at the gate goes straight to charity - all the marshals are volunteers - and the relaxed atmosphere is that of a time before instant connectivity.
BUILDING A BETTER CAR
Ferrucio Lamborghini was a brash young engineer who made a fortune converting the abandoned tank chassis that littered the Italian countryside after the Second World War into almost indestructible agricultural tractors.
After the clutch of his Ferrari had been replaced under warranty and then failed again, he was emboldened to call on Enzo Ferrari in his office at Maranello and tell him that, in his opinion, Ferrari clutches were not very good, and that he, Lamborghini, not only could build a better clutch than the original but had in fact done so for his own car.
Legend has it the resulting tirade could be heard in the street outside the factory, and culminated with Ferrari telling the young man from Sant’Agata that, if he thought he could build a better sports-car, he should go away and do so.
The result is history, and you are likely to see examples of each marque at Timour Hall this weekend. Just don’t talk to Ferrari owners about slipping clutches or mention tractors to Lamborghinisti.