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Cars in The Park 2006

Broadcast date : 10th September 2006

The Pretoria Old Motor Club held its annual Cars in the Park extravaganza at The Zwartkops Race Track for the first time this year, moving from the previous park-like venue at Silverton.

As usual the event attracted the cream of classic cars in the Gauteng region, and not only classics. 

Weekend racers like the Lotus 7 Replicas were well in evidence, as well as the people who drive them, like Amelia van As.

South African manufacturers like Birkin actually export these replicas to distant parts of the world, and they’re revered as cult cars with incredible cornering prowess.

Time is something the classic restorers seem to have plenty of, and the famous Citroen name goes back to the dawn of the motor car. 

Perhaps the best-known Citroen is the Traction Avant, like this one that once belonged to the French Embassy. Roodepoort’s Hennie de Beer has owned it for 40 years.

While from the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, the Volvo nameplate retains a fanatical following in the rugged African climes.

Cars like the P544 hump-backed coupes and the 122 sedans, hewn from finest Swedish steel, ensured the immortality by winning the East African Safari Rally in Kenya, and performing similar heroics in South Africa in both rallies and on the race track.

Studebaker is another name that evokes fond memories in South Africa, with cars that were popular amongst a diverse fan-base that included farmers, the ducktails of the 1950s who worshipped the Batmobile-like Hawk, and the police force.
A car that didn’t trouble the traffic cops too much in terms of speed was the tiny Messerschmitt, a car based on the fuselage of the famous German World War Two fighter plane . 

This classic flip-top version uses a tiny 200 cc Sachs two-stroke engine, giving it a top speed of 100 km/h.

The micro-car brigade at Cars in the Park also boasted some extremely rare sports machines. 

Cabriolet versions of the Auto Bianchi and NSU Spider from the late 1950s belonging to Wulf Kranmann are one-of-a-kind in South Africa, and represent an era where Germany built tiny low-cost people movers as it re-established its motor industry after the devastation of World War Two.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Americans, with factories un-touched by the War, shifted effortlessly into top gear. Excess was the American theme of the 1950s and few manufacturers did chrome and fins better than Buick. 

In fact, one wag suggested that the chief stylist at Buick in those days trained as an orthodontist before applying his craft to the grinning grilles of Buicks, a trademark from the late ‘40s to the mid-1950s.

More chrome, more sheet metal, more power, that was the product strategy at Buick and the rest of the American car industry during the rock-and-roll era.

By the late 1960s the fins and chrome may have gone, but horsepower and high-style was very much in.

This Buick Riviera epitomizes the horsepower race of the muscle-car revolution. You’re looking at a car with an engine measuring over seven and a half litres in displacement.

Bug infestation was rife at Cars in the Park 2006 and the line-up included these two potent re-engined Bettles owned by Joe and Jonathan van der Merwe.

The yellow and anthracite bug runs a wild Golf 1800 motor, while the orange mini-monster has a Mazda 13B Rotary mill, complete with a 52 mm Weber I.D.A. carb.

There was so much to see at Cars in the Park. In fact, so many classics turned out that the road to Zwartkops was jammed for the entire Sunday, something the organizers will have to look at next year. 

One guy, though, had the ideal vehicle for dealing with traffic, or anything else in its way.

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