Vying for space at Nasrec for the Summer Edition of The 2017 Classic Car Show will be a large contingent of cars known as “land yachts”. These are the huge American swish-mobiles of the late 1950s through to the late 1970s, cars that need three parking spaces instead of one, and even then you’d better be able to wield a steering wheel with some skill to make sure you slot the car in correctly.
“These land yachts are actually a favourite of mine,” says Paulo Calisto, organiser of Gauteng’s biggest classic car show. “For the past couple of years I have owned my share of 1970s Cadillac convertibles, and these cars are showing up at my event in increasing numbers, cars I never knew existed.”
The Classic Car Show is once again expected to attract over 1 000 cars. And many of these cars will be of the good-ol’boy Americana persuasion. The summer edition of The Classic Car Show takes place takes place at Nasrec on Sunday, 3 December. Gates open at 8 am.
The big “land yachts” went through an amazing styling progression starting from 1955 when the classic Chevrolets and Fords began sprouting fins of serious dimensions. The fin era peaked at the end of the 1950s and in the 1960s, cars like Cadillacs and Bucks then reverted to huge slab-sided wing extensions. This look lasted well into the 1980s for the bigger American cars.
During this time there were slightly smaller coupe-shaped cars which are the classic muscle cars, and also the pony cars, spawned by the introduction of the immortal Ford Mustang in mid-1964. Most people refer to these pony cars today as muscle cars, and who are we to argue? In this category, think Ford Mustang, Mercury Cougar, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Plymouth Barracuda, and Dodge Chargers and Challengers.
The cars traditionally shown at the twice-yearly Classic Car Show range from barn-finds to immaculately restored vehicles, and everything else in between.
British cars at Nasrec are usually dominated by hosts of original Minis, and these come in all sorts of guises. The original Mini was launched way back in 1959, and was assembled in South Africa in the Western Cape. Prized versions are the Cooper and Cooper S models.
Later, in the early 1970s, we had the Clubman-shaped Minis with the longer nose, and these came in the more popular GTS and 1275 GT models, the “hot ones” that effectively replaced the Cooper S.
Ford Cortinas were assembled here from late 1962 to 1983, a total of 21 years, and in that time the Ford Cortina went through five generations. Highly sought-after models are the original Mk I GT, the MkII Perana, the Mk III V6, and the Interceptor models in Mk V form. Cortina pick-ups were also a unique South African creation and are sought after in Europe today, particularly in the UK.
Volkswagens have traditionally had a huge presence at The Classic Car Show, ranging from the popular Split Window and Bay Window buses (Kombis) to early Oval Window Beetles (produced from 1954 to 1957) The first air-cooled Beetles built in South Africa were of the split rear-window variety, from 1951 to 1953, and these are ultra-rare.
From 1978 onwards, the famous VW Golf was produced here, and there will be a huge contingent of modified water-cooled Golfs at Nasrec. Golfs are currently in their seventh-generation, and expect to see an example of each generation on the lower field at Nasrec, where the Water-Cooled Golf Boys and Girls normally hang out.
The Cobra Club is also expected to make a run through to Nasrec on Sunday, and this club has grown from strength to strength in recent years with close to 100 cars at their recent Concours.
Only just over 1000 original AC Cobras were ever built, but since the late 1970s thousands of Cobra replicas have been built, and in South Africa these standard of these cars is very high.
In addition to all these beautiful production-based machines, expect to see many examples of street rods and classic pick-up trucks, the fastest-growing trend in the street-rod community.
“Our philosophy has always been to provide family entertainment along with a feast for classic car lovers ” says Calisto. “As in the past, there will be helicopter rides, a prawn festival, food stalls and live entertainment. A big attraction is the large number of specialist stalls selling motor-related goods, as well as lifestyle clothing.
“This year we will also be hosting a special Jaguar-Land Rover display, and with new products like the Discovery, the Range Rover Velar and the new two-litre Jaguar F-Type sports car, this will be a huge attraction for all visitors.”