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Cars in The Park 2006

Broadcast date : 17th December 2006

The Piston Ring is one of the biggest and most successful motoring clubs in the country.

This year it held its ambitious Cars in the Park meeting in parkland overlooking the Modderfontein Dam, east of Johannesburg, and the setting was ideal for a classic car meet with its lush grassy slopes and plenty of shade. A strong contingent of really old timers made things mellow.

The Piston Ring was started in the 1970s when a bunch of enthusiasts decided to encourage the preservation of cars that were "twenty years and older".

These days the membership numbers well over the 1000 mark, and under the leadership of President Eric Milner, the club has shown a new dynamism.

The Whippet with its distinctive starved-dog mascot is a rare sight in the car world these days.

The pre-war section displayed a number of Chevrolet four-cylinder cars from the late 1920s, like this smart deep-cream Tourer.

Gordon Harveyís red Superior Tourer sports a few mods, like a non-original radiator cowl in brass, which the purists may frown upon, but looks good.

It also has some brassy detailing in the engine bay, but he likes it that way, and appreciates these strong cars.

The most unusual car in the park, and one of the rarest in the world, was this strange-looking device called a Tempo G1200 Model. It was built in 1937 in Hamburg Germany, and was used as a Swedish Army Staff Car. Itís powered by two independent engines and boasts four-wheel steering.

The Tempo uses a pair of 600 cc two-stroke engines, one mounted up-front, one mounted in the rear. When they start up, it sounds like two cars having a race.

Riley was a name that was revered in British racing circles for decades. This late forties model saloon epitomises all the grace of the marque before it was swallowed up by the British Motor Corporation and turned into a badge-engineered Austin.

It uses an advanced twin-cam four cylinder engine, although twin-cam sixes were also built by Riley in this period.

This tourer, owned by John Allison, is a late 1940ís 2,5 litre model.

It has been modified to become a short-wheel-base car, with a chunk taken out the middle. Itís a beautifully-done job along the lines of the best coachbuilders of the period, although itís obvious that whoever conceived the conversion didnít have rear passengers in mind!

Going back about four decades is this 1912 Humber, one of the oldest-known examples in South Africa, and still in excellent fettle. Itís owned by Veteran and Vintage stalwart, Henry Watermeyer.

The Morris Minor Owners Club was out in force at Cars in the Park, drumming up interest for their sixtieth birthday meeting, which takes place in 2007.

These hardy little cars were owned by at least one aunty in every family in South Africa, or so it seemed way back then. They were designed by Alec Issigonis, the man who brought us the Mini.

The passion for originality in Minor circles is strong, and owners are intent on preserving as many of them as possible, as close to factory-spec as possible.

Period accessories like sun visors are deemed okay, and special models like this bright red Post Office van are considered extra cool.

The Morris Minor originally came out with an 848 cc side-valve engine, but by the late 1950s, as in this van, the 1000 cc four-cylinder A series was doing excellent reliable duty. Still is.

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