Brian Joss – A 1928 Bentley, a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and a 1958 Pontiac Bonneville were the stars of this year’s Knysna Motor Show on April 28.
Close to 400 classic cars and motorcycles wowed the crowds in perfect weather for what has become known as the premier classic car show in the country.
An extremely rare 1958 Pontiac Bonneville coupe was adjudged Best Overall Car on Display.
It was a huge achievement for owner Kobus Mostert, as this year’s show had attracted an extremely high standard of invited cars, among them five Mercedes-Benz 300 SL models from the 1950s, the biggest single gathering of these iconic sports cars yet seen in South Africa.
“I have rarely seen a car in this level of originality,” said chief judge Wayne Harley, Curator of the Franschhoek Motor Museum. “Even the original labels, wire-fixed to hydraulic hoses, were present.” Fellow judge Stuart Grant, Editor of Classic Car Magazine, concurred, remarking on the Bonneville’s very high level of specification in a 1950s American car, including silver flecks in the original carpet, power windows and air-conditioning, cruise control and fuel injection.
The Best Old Car Trophy was a hugely popular choice, with the accent on “huge.” The sight of John White manhandling the 1928 Bentley 4½ Litre into position in front of the podium recalled Ettore Bugatti’s famous remark about these giant 1920s British sports racers resembling “flying lorries”. The 91-year-old Bentley was one of over 20 classic Bentleys that celebrated 100 years of the famous British marque at the show.
“The amount of passion, dedication and attention to detail that is lavished on these fine old classic cars is what has really impressed me,” said sponsor Carl Roothman, the CEO of Sanlam Private Wealth.
The trophy for Best Classic Car went, fittingly, to a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, owned by Rick Garret and shown by Andre du Toit, one of five SLs that gathered in Knysna, which were also backed up by 10 Mercedes-Benz 190 SLs from the same era. Other impressive included an excellent display of Morgans celebrating the marque’s 110th birthday, and a selection of pristine original Mini derivatives. In anticipation of Mini’s 60th birthday, which takes place later this year, a contingent of three Cooper S models from the 1960s were driven from Johannesburg to Knysna to join a similar Mini grouping from Cape Town and the other marvellous Minis on the field. The level of originality of these cars was particularly impressive paying tribute to the show’s philosophy of keeping display cars on an “invitation-only” basis.
The Motorcycle Room Trophy produced a somewhat surprising winner this year in the form of the unusual customised modern BMW 1200 RS adventure bike, built to a level of showroom excellence by Wilderness custom bike builder Corrie Venter. This award was judged by visitors to the show.
The Piet Mass Trophy exhibitors’ award is particularly prized as the winner represents the best motorcycle as adjudged by fellow competitors. The winner here was again an unusual machine, the little-known Sherco 300 trials bike customised with a World War Two theme by Knysna’s Gavin Venter.
“There was once a feeling amongst us, as the Knysna Show motorcycle organising group, that a customised motorcycle would never win an award at the show, due to all the magnificent original machines on display,” said Venter. “Well, this year we had two customised bikes taking the major trophies, which was a real turn-up for the books.”
The key elements of the show were the diversity of cars and motorcycles on display, and the level of presentation. The Garden Route Motor Club, which organised the landmark event, was particularly keen to showcase modern iconic machinery as well as cars and motorcycles that dated back more than 100 years.
“We had some extremely rare supercars this year which appealed to the younger enthusiasts,” said chief show organiser Peter Pretorius. “We had the only Pagani Zonda in the country, one of three Lexus LFAs, a Lamborghini Aventador, no less than 10 Ferraris, a McLaren, Aston Martins, a Maserati and Porsches ranging from the 1950s to the latest 911 Carrera GTS model, and not forgetting a well-selected group of familiar sports car brands such as Austin Healey Triumph, MG, Sunbeam, Lotus, Jaguar and many more.”
Another rare Lamborghini was the 1965 350 GT, owned by Alex Dunford. This model was the very first motorcar built by Ferruccio Lamborghini to take on the majesty of Ferrari, and this example is believed to be one of just two existing in South Africa.
The pre-1945 category was well supported with makes such as Ford Model T, Singer, Ford Model A, Packard and the tiny 1926 Austin Chummy.
Peter Lindenberg, who once again displayed his range of modern high-performance Mustangs as well as racing cars, said that he was overwhelmed with customers for his performance enhancements on Mustangs this year. “I have been supporting this show for a number of years and this was unbelievable, the amount of serious business that we did at this year’s show.”
Well-known local collector and restorer Brian Bruce displayed a completely different selection of cars this year, with the emphasis on “passion for the restoration process.” Bruce has formed a team of hitherto inexperienced restorers from the Knysna area to embark on this new journey with him, and the cars displayed in the Parnell Bruce tent varied from rarities such as a pristine Tickford Healey sports car to Chevrolet phaetons from the late 1920s and early 1930s displaying the mysterious patina of time and decades of hard usage.
Other unusual displays included a glimpse into the future, with an electric car educational theme, supported by the University of Port Elizabeth’s National Electric Mobility Programme, BMW and Rubicon, which showed its latest charging station. Cars on display here included BMW’s i3 and i8 “electrified” vehicles, and the Nissan Leaf.
Bentley South Africa also supported the centenary of the marque with a display of a modern Bentayga SUV, a Continental GT and a magnificent Mulsanne saloon.
“Once again I would like to thank the public of the Garden Route which again supported us in this event as well as all the visitors from afar afield as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Eastern Cape and KZN that made the trip to Knysna for our eighth show,” said Mr Pretorius. “We raised over R500 000 for local charities in our past shows over the years, and this year the Garden Route Motor Club will once again donate a significant amount of money to our chosen charities.
“I would also like to thank my committee from the Garden Route Motor Club. We do this on a voluntary basis for the love and passion of classic motorcars.”
Next year the show will take place on Sunday May 3.
Email: Peter Pretoriuson firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 082 321 4724 for more details.
*Information from Stuart Johnston Communications.