Within South Africa, lie some of the world’s most exquisite classic cars, each with its own captivating story. While some of these automotive gems stay tucked away in secrecy, others graciously make appearances for display from time to time. Curious to witness their timeless allure? Here’s your exclusive guide to where you can feast your eyes on some of these stunning beauties.
1. Knysna Motor Show
Long before the annual Simola Hillclimb event drew massive crowds of enthusiasts and an ever-expanding line-up of some of the fastest cars and drivers in the country to compete against the clock, the altogether less frantic Knysna Motor Show was established as one of the premier classic car gatherings in the country.
Organised by the Garden Route Motor Club and hosted on a sports field opposite the town’s popular waterfront complex, the event is unique because entries are limited to just 150 vehicles, each carefully selected to ensure they represent the best examples of their respective era.
This is a family-friendly environment, with a selection of cars competing annually for the prestigious “best-of-the-show” honours.
2. Classic Car & Bike Show, Cape Town
Hosted since January 2000 on the grounds of the historic Timour Hall Villa in Plumstead, Cape Town, the Classic Car & Bike Show has established itself as a premier event on the annual vintage and classic car calendar.
With all proceeds being donated to charity, each year more than 50 car clubs from around the country are invited to participate, the members of each club having an opportunity over the course of the two-day event to showcase their respective automotive passion projects.
3. The Classic Car Show, Gauteng
Hosted at the Nasrec Expo Centre, near Johannesburg, the 12th annual Classic Car Show was held in early July 2023. Together with a popular “German vs Japan” car display, this show has gained a reputation for attracting some of the finest muscle cars, hot rods, and custom pick-ups in the country, with a highlight being a steady influx over the years of classic American cars from the golden age of motoring, including the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.
“One of the strengths of The Classic Car Show is that we always have newly restored classics that have never been seen anywhere else,” said show organiser Paulo Calisto after the 2023 event. “We also rig a sophisticated sound stage in the classic area, with top-quality music. Music and classic cars go together like peanut butter and jam, a tasty treat.”
A division of motoring site cars.co.za, the Sentimetal online platform was founded as a means of celebrating some of the special cars, and their respective owners, that reside in South Africa. While the brand’s YouTube channel features footage and commentary on some of these lovely vehicles, the platform also encourages regular live engagement via arranged car meetings in various centres around the country. While these gatherings welcome cars from all eras, expect to see more than a few lovely classics at each.
Says founder Hannes Oosthuizen, “These gatherings are not formalised, we like to try different locations and the key appeal is that it attracts a very varied crowd. If you are passionate about your car and respectful of other people’s passions, you are welcome.”
5. Cape 1000
Inspired by famous touring car races like the famous Mille Miglia in Italy, the Cape 1000 sees a limited entry of 60 cars from different eras gathering at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, before departing on a four-day, five-night tour of the Western Cape. Totalling 1000 miles (1 600 km), the route takes a driver and navigator through scenic towns like Hermanus and George on the Garden Route, with Franschhoek visited on the return leg.
While the high-end entry list is carefully curated to ensure variety and a broad mix of vehicles that fall into categories including classic (pre-1977), modern classic (’77 to ’96) and sports cars (’97 to new), the appeal of this event is that it includes several publicised stop-over points along the route designed to allow members of the public a closer look at some of the rarest cars in the country – the 2023 event even including a Bugatti Veyron.