Some 2 500 classics expected at annual Cars in the Park at Zwartkops Raceway

A hit at last year's show was this scaled down Audi Quattro, built in Pretoria. Picture: Supplied

A hit at last year's show was this scaled down Audi Quattro, built in Pretoria. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 28, 2023


Pretoria - If you are out and about at dawn in the Pretoria area on August 6, don’t be surprised to be sharing the road with hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of classic cars as they head for the Zwartkops Raceway.

It’s the 41st rendition of the annual Cars in the Park, and some 2 500 classic cars are expected at the race track venue, with classics admitted to the grounds from 6am onwards. Spectators are admitted from 8.30am and this year the organisers from the Pretoria Old Motor Club, are expecting upwards of 10 000 visitors.

“I am always amazed at how this event just keeps gathering momentum every year,” said chief organiser, Frik Kraamwinkel. “This year we have had 120 clubs book space around the track for their members’ cars. But of course, you don’t have to be a member of a club to show off your classic.

“If you show up in a genuine classic built before 1997, you will be admitted free of charge, although passengers will have to pay the full admission fee.”

Cadillacs are a huge presence at classic events. This is a 1958 model. Picture: Supplied

Kraamwinkel added that there had been huge interest from the commercial side of the show, with over 150 stallholders confirmed for the event, selling all sorts of car-related wares, clothing, and food and drinks.

“We will have live music and children activities, so it’s really a day out for the whole family.”

But it’s the passion for cars, and old cars in particular, that will ignite the grounds on Zwartkops on the first Sunday in August. There will be special displays of cars ranging from the earliest vintage models from the beginning of the last century to much more modern classics.

A massive turn-out of American classics is also on the cards, and one of the Pretoria Old Motor Club stalwart members, Pierre Diederichs, is bringing another huge collection of his cars which includes one of the only 1949 Buick Dynaflow models in the country.

Diederichs’ collection numbers many classic Buicks and Cadillacs as well as Dodges, Plymouths and Chevrolets from the 1940s and 1950s, and last year he brought 25 of his cars to the country’s premier classic car event!

A feature of this year’s event will be the 100-year celebrations of arch-British sports car marques, Triumph and MG, and a special display is also on offer from Jaguar, featuring both old and modern cars.

A highlight will be the debut outing of a Jaguar C-Type Le Mans racer that was the first car to win the 24-hour race in France fitted with disc brakes. The car on show is an exacting replica of the car driven to victory by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt, and carries the iconic Number 18 on its tail.

A 1966 Ford Cortina Super. Picture: Supplied

Colin Lazarus will be showing his unique collection of Ford GTs including models from 1966 through to 2020, and he will also be showcasing some special Jaguar classics.

A particularly strong turn-out will be expected once again from the Lotus Club, which traditionally features a number of first-generation Elan models. The brain-child of the late Colin Chapman, these 1960s cars were noted for their unbelievably sympathetic handling, and the strong performance from their Ford-based twin-cam engines. The Lotus contingent will also number dozens of the popular Seven replica models which enjoy their own race series in South African classic car events.

A feature of Cars in the Park is the diversity of special-interest cars that turns up. These include banger racers from the oval circuits, with cars carrying more dents than the most abused of taxis, as well as massive Unimog four-wheel-drive monsters that feature wheels as tall as the average modern hatchback.

There will probably be at least a couple of hundred VW Beetles and Kombis on display, in all sorts of configurations. A stand-out Beetle last year, and likely to be there on August 6, is an amazing machine using a Porsche Boxster chassis, suspension and engine. Yet it looks, at first glance, just like a Beetle!

If Italian cars are your thing, be prepared to bask in the splendour of Ferraris, Alfa Romeos and special Fiat models. There is always a massive Lancia contingent at the show too. German classics will be strongly represented by Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and BMW, as well as lesser-known names such as Borgward and DKW.

Borgwards were known as more affordable alternates to a Mercedes in the late 1950s when they were hugely popular here. Although the company went out of business in 1961, South Africa still boasts one of the biggest contingents of Borgwards anywhere in the world. These cars were famous for an officially timed publicity run from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back achieved in less than 24 hours, back in the late 1950s. That’s an average of less than 12 hours for the one-way trip!

Special new visitor parking areas have been established for this year’s event, notably a large one off the R55 just before the Zwartkops main gates. A special exit has also been established leading out of the track venue past the old drive-in area.

The sheer volume of classics and other special-interest vehicles at Cars in the Park means that it is best to get to Zwartkops close to the general opening time of 8.30am, if you want to see the whole show.

Owners of classics displaying their cars are advised to get there earlier with the gates for classics open from 6am. Drivers of classic cars built before 1985 will be admitted free of charge. The show runs until 4pm on August 6.

Spectator entry fees are R130 per person (R110 if booked through iTicket). Children under 12 are admitted free.

Pretoria News