A record crowd of over 13 000 for the George Old Car Show 2024

A record crowd of over 13 000 for the George Old Car Show 2024
Undoubted highlight was the Mercedes-Benz 300SL drive-by, with ther 1954 Gullwing leading the way!

A record crowd attended the George Old Car Show 2024, held in the grounds of the Eden Technical High School in the heart of the Garden Route City on February 10-11. The organising club, the Southern Cape Old Car Club, reported that there were just over 13 000 visitors this year, out-stripping the figures from the 2023 event, which had been seen as the bench-mark figure for this amazing classic car event, which was in its 27th rendition in 2024.

“It was a great show,” said Waldo Scribante, Chairman of the SCOCC. “The new layout for the various displays we had this year worked very well, and we had a record number of visitors. It was a joy to see all four fields packed with enthusiasts. The parking was much improved for this year and the iTickets sales worked very well in minimising queues at the new entrance gates we established for 2024”

The undoubted highlight for this year’s event was the extraordinary presence of eight Mercedes-Benz 300 SL sports cars, launched in 1954 to world acclaim. This was a remarkable gathering, as only nine of these cars reside in South Africa and this machine was named the Sports Car of the Century in 1999. Seven of the eight 300SLs, built from 1954 to 1962, were in the elegant Roadster or convertible configuration, while for the first time at a car show in South Africa, a dramatic 1954 Gullwing example was seen.

This year a special German theme was adapted for the show, and to add a lighter touch to the proceedings, the International Oompah Band took to the stage on Sunday, February 11, to bring 2024 proceedings to a rousing close.

As usual with the George Old Car Show, the Main Arena was where the veteran, vintage and classic machinery was given a chance to be seen in action in drive-by journeys past the main stage. But there was plenty of action across all four fields at the show, with a turn-out of well over 1 000 classic cars, motorcycles, trucks and tractors hailing from all parts of the country.

“Above all else, the George Old Car Show is about passion,” said Alewijn Dippenaar, chairman of the Old Car Show’s Organising Committee. “It takes passion to discover these old cars, to buy them, restore them, and then to keep them running as they should, sometimes even making parts for them which are unavailable. You can see this passion extend through all corners of the show, and this is passed on to our visitors.”

For younger show-goers, one of the undoubted highlights was the large turn-out of modern-day Ferraris, while nearby there was an equally impressive contingent of Porsches, including a very rare right-hand-drive Targa-topped 912 example, equipped with classic Fuchs wheels, which was an option when these four-cylinder examples of the 911 series was introduced in the mid-1960s.

In terms of rarity, Mike Roumanoff’s 1937 Buick Opera Coupe is one of just three examples of this car known to exist anywhere in the world. The Opera Coupe has unique rear seating in a stylish coupe body, and is powered by Buick’s magnificent straight-eight-cylinder engine of that era. Equally rare were the special  Binz-bodied Mercedes-Benz fin-tail era cars displayed by Waldo Scribante, which included limousine and ambulance examples of this much-loved Mercedes model from the 1960s.

Amongst the American cars on show, a particularly dramatic example was the black 1958 Cadillac limousine which did a couple of drive-by runs at the Arena. There were also runs by special Rolls-Royce examples flying the British flag, and a particularly tasty 1936 Bentley Park Ward Saloon owned by Pierre Malherbe. This Bentley and the 1928 3-Litre example owned by Karl Reitz illustrated the romantic era of British motoring enjoyed in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Later British cars were well-represented by the likes of MG, Triumph, Sunbeam, Austin Healey, and a good turn-out of Austin and Morris Mini Coopers. These tiny cars were preceded by what were known as Bubble Cars in the late 1950s, and a striking example of these was seen on the German field in the form of a Messerschmitt KR200, a tiny two-seater that resembled an aircraft for the road, with a 200 cc two-stroke engine.

Talking of two-strokes, there were some amazing examples of 50 cc two stroke motorcycles on Field B, along with a contingent of Italian Vespa scooters from the Eden Vespa Club which conducted a tightly-bunched ride-by in the main arena.

A feature of the George Old Car Show since its inception in the late 1980s has been a strong turn-out of Veteran and Vintage cars built from the early 1900s to 1930s. This year was special in that a 1901 Benz Ideal from Cape Town was shown, the oldest genuine car currently residing in South Africa, in the custody of Cape Town’s Crankhandle Club.

On the subject of very old cars, the oldest Volkswagen Beetle at this year’s show was a 1951 example owned by Eddie Rust, who explained that it is an un-restored example from 1951, built soon after Beetle production started in Uitenhage in 1951. It still runs its original 1100 cc engine, and it was accompanied on the German field by two other rare split-window Beetles, built before 1953 when the oval rear window began.

Backing up the Beetle and VW bus brigade were comprehensive line-ups of the now defunct DKW and Borgward models from the 1950s and 1960s. More modern German cars that took to the main arena were a pair of Opel Superboss Kadetts from the early 1990s, and a late 1980s BMW 325iS Shadowline, a rare early example built before the Shadowline model sprouted wings and special wheels.

The oldest BMW on the show was a very rare 1936 BMW 319/2 saloon, which was actually a race car driven on South African circuits by the famous Ewold van Bergen in the late 1950s, and fitted with a supercharger.

The George Old Car Show is all about diversity, and this was again illustrated by the wonderful line-up of classic tractors at the far end of the main field, and classic-era full-sized trucks. On the Sunday it was the chance for local dealerships to show off their modern machinery at the show, and interesting examples of modern technology included the latest offerings from Haval, Volkswagen, Renault, and BMW which showed its latest all-electric iX SUV.

The modern cars illustrated the amazing development of the motorcar which began over 130 years ago, and in this regard it was great to see the replica of the world’s very first motorcar displayed courtesy of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, which brought along its re-creation of the Benz Patent Motorwagen, which saw the light of day in 1886!

The weather for this year’s show was perfect, and the event was a tribute to the organising club, the Southern Cape Old Car Club, which puts in an inordinate effort to make this event the best car show in the country.

For more information, visit www.scocc.co.za

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