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Cars in The Park 2004

Broadcast dates : 22nd August 2004
26th August 2004

The annual Cars in the Park meeting hosted by the Pretoria Old Motor Club is the biggest gathering of collectible motorcars in South Africa.

Held each year at the Pioneer Museum grounds in Silverton, east of Pretoria, this year over 2 000 cars of all shapes, sizes, ages and condition were on display.

T here’s just one proviso for the cars at Cars in the Park – they have to be unusual.

The 2004 show saw three classic marques reaching milestones in the history of the motor car.
Perhaps the most interesting display was that of the Citroen Club, Citroen celebrating 70 years of front-wheel-drive at Cars in the Park.

The Citroen Traction Avant wasn’t the first car to use the front wheels to transmit engine power, as this idea went back almost to the dawn of the motorcar in the late 19th century. But it was the first mass-produced car to use the system successfully.

The Traction Avant used a 1300 cc four-cylinder engine in its pre-war guise and as it evolved to the Light 15, it stayed in production until 1955. Over 700 000 Traction Avants were produced and a number of them were on display.
Also included in the display was the 2 CV or Du Chevaux, a car that was launched in 1948 and has been described as a duck on wheels or a mobile umbrella. This was the car that gave mobility to France, much as the Volkswagen Beetle did for Germany after World War Two.

There were interesting examples of the car that followed the Light 15, namely the DS series cars. These amazingly futuristic cars still look fashionable today and featured an ingenious hydraulic suspension that only now is being emulated by other manufacturers.

Rover, one of the few surviving pure British car companies, was celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary this year.
And Rolls Royce, that icon of upper-class elitism, is also in its centennial in 2004. The Spirit of Ecstasy remains a standard to which most of the world’s manufacturers still aspire.

The oldest Rolls was a 1915 Silver Ghost, built on an Admiralty chassis with a Sporting Tourer body.

Cars in the Park is not only for stiff-lipped purists. Harleys and V8-Chevy-engined motorcycles are welcome. Even their riders are, tattoos, studs, leather and all!
Chevies, Fords, classic Series 1 Land Rovers, Willys Jeeps and Steyr-Puch Haflingers all make the annual trek to Pretoria. As well as some amazingly rare war-time monster trucks from Chevy and Dodge. And we thought Big Foot was a modern invention!

Interesting this year was a display of classic agricultural pumps, such as Lancasters, Fuller-and-Johnsons, and Ruston-Hornsbys – many of them single cylinder engines with open crank shaft designs and drip oil feeds.
Aficionados of unusual Italian classics were not to be denied. This Fiat Abarth, based on a 600 sedan, was an outstanding performance machine in the early 1960s and won countless races in Europe and in South Africa.

It features an 850 cc engine with Weber carburetion, special conrods, sump, camshaft and exhaust system as well as a front-mounted radiator system.

For lovers of things Roman, how about an Alfa Romeo Giulia Estate car, or a rally-bred Lancia Monte Carlo?

Of course, with Lance James crooning in the background, there was plenty of fins and chrome for the Rock and Rollers who support American excess.

And who can forget the icon of South African jollerism in the 1960s, the Ford Cortina GT?

The only criticism of Cars in the Park is that there is simply not enough time to see everything on one day.

Perhaps next year the organizers will consider making it a two-day event.

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