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George Old Car Show 2006

Broadcast date : 19th March 2006

The speed of an aeroplane, the comfort of your favourite armchair, the smartness of Parisienne style, the luxury of a yacht and with the traveling certainty of the Century.

That was one of the great copy lines advertising the Auburn Speedster, seen here in the 21st century on its way to the tenth annual George Old Car Show.

70 years after it was built in Indiana, USA, this 1936 supercharged beauty, belonging to famous Boland car collector Bertie Bester, was arguably the star of this year’s annual motoring feast in George.

We say arguably, because each year the George Old Car Show held in the beautiful Southern Cape sea-side city, just gets better and better.

The 2006 event once again had the full backing of the George City Council and the divine blessing of perfect mid-summer weather.

And one of the biggest ever in terms of sheer numbers, both in the cars it attracted and spectators.

Cars and art have always been inextricably linked, and this year local artists were on site doing both impromptu and commissioned work.

The art of motoring has a multitude of facets, and in George this was given full expression in so many ways.

Of course, hot rodders have always seen themselves as the consummate car artists, because they are prepared to express themselves uninhibitedly on the most appropriate of motoring canvasses – the car itself.
Gerhard van Huyssteen of the East Cape Street Rod Club attracted quite a stir with his radical 1948 Chev Fleetmaster, especially with its remote engine start and accelerator controls.

The Grand Masters of the show, the pre-1925 cars that had driven down from Prince Albert in the Outeniqua mountains the previous day, seemed to be all present and correct for the show-proper – and their owners were justifiably proud.
The beauty of the George setting for a motor show would not be complete without a classic Rolls Royce. 

This 1920 Silver Ghost had been off the road for half a century before a complete restoration.

Owner Stuart Halsall bought the Robinson Gerrards Cross-bodied Sports Tourer in June 2004.

He had it completely restored with the help of Rolls expert Jannie Hofmeyer. It was back on the road in late 2005.

The Silver Ghost employs a massive 7,3 litre Rolls Royce engine, a six-cylinder unit with dual ignition and twin spark plugs per cylinder. 

It lopes along at a cruising speed of 80 km/h per hour.

A host of elegant Rollers and Bentleys from the 1950s and 1960s also made the scene, to use the parlance of swinging London at that time. 

What makes Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s of that period so interesting is that, like the Silver Ghost, many still had special coach-built bodywork.

Special bodied Mercedes-Benzes were also in plentiful supply, while a line-up of Merc roadsters, ranging from SLs from the 1990s back through to the original 190 SL from the 1950s was very easy on the eye.

But lest we take our cars and ourselves too seriously, there are always oddballs like this DKW 1000S to lighten the mood. This 1957 little family car was capable of very high top speeds, even if it sounded like hailstones on a tin roof on the engine over-run.

This particular car was fitted with every imaginable accessory, both modern and period-piece, and was apparently raced by Sarel van der Merwe senior. Owner Wayne van Wyngaard is a Deek fanatic.

Quick is an understatement, as Wayne reckons the highly-modified smoking two-stroke car was clocked at over 190 km/h back in the 1960s.

In fact Sarel van der Merwe junior, the multiple race and rally champion, also began his racing career in a DKW, belonging to his mom.

And so reliable are the DKWs that there are reverent enthusiasts for the marque, especially for the mini-Thunderbird-like SP.

The ever-enthusiastic Cobra Club offered one of the biggest turnouts, and its display included this special imported AC replica which we’ll be featuring on a future Car Torque show.

One of the features of the upper field at the George show was the proliferation of classic street-racing specials from the 1960s.

And if you are talking giant-killers, small-capacity-engined cars that humbled the best the world had to offer, you need look no further than the famous Renault Gordini.

It was in 1969 at the Rand Daily Mail Nine Hour endurance race that a thirteen-hundred cc Gordini, driven by Scamp Porter and Geoff Mortimer, roared past a Ferrari and a Porsche 917 on Kyalami’s main straight.

Granted, it was raining buckets and the big sports cars were aquaplaning all over the track, but the fans loved it.
The Renault Gordini had the performance of a two litre back in the late 1960s, thanks to a light body and a very advanced hemispherical combustion chamber design. This was combined with a pair of side-draught Webers normally only fitted to track machines.

Every single Renault R8 Gordini was painted in the same French Racing Blue, and most were fitted with classic-looking AMW alloy wheels.

They had five-speed gear-boxes and amazing handling, as long as you were into hanging the tail way, waaay out.

But they were special French imports and relatively expensive. A local version to rival the Gordini was the Renault Alconi, seen here in R10 long-nose form.

Modified by local tuning maestros John Conchie and Puddles Adler, the Alconis were just a step away from the Gordinis in power terms.

An earlier Gordini was the sixties Dauphine, this one an appropriately modified version owned by Victor Meyer of Paarl, a town which is still known by some as Gordini Country. 

The Dauphine Gordini was quick for its time but not in the 1300 R8 league. Victor’s increase in capacity from around 950 cc’s to 1400 makes this car a little flier.

And his body, suspension and wheel mods are faithful to late sixties Gordini tuning tweaks, so the car retains much of its classic status.

The colour is the classic French Racing Blue of later R8 Gordinis, and the interior has also been updated to later Gordini specs in terms of instrumentation, seats and steering wheel. All in all a tasty period classic street racer thanks to Victor’s eye for detail.

Datsuns were perhaps unlikely performance contenders in the 1960s when they first arrived here.

But that all changed thanks to the rally exploits of Ewald van Bergen and Sarel van der Merwe, and the race track performance of the Thomas Family, which included father Bob, and sons Rob and Dan.

The famous Datsun was the Triple S, especially in Alconi Zero form, like these two examples here, owned and raced in the East London Classic Car series by friends Kevin Clayton and Barry Gradwell.

The air-cooled Volkswagen movement is huge all over the country and includes the later Type 3 square and fast-backs, and the incredibly pretty Karmann Ghias.

In fact this excellent 1958 Ghia convertible, beautifully restored by Attie van der Walt, received a careful going over by Car Torque’s resident Ghia freak and content editor, Stuart Johnston.

Stuart bought the car in Cape Town in 1993 and was some way into a restoration project when a move back to Jo’burg forced him to sell it. It was great for Stuart to see the Ghia ‘Vert so faithfully restored, eight years down the track.
And great to be back for the George Old Car Show again. Here’s looking at the 2007 event.

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