The Classic Car Show happens once again at Nasrec on Sunday, July 9, 2023
One of the most beautiful British sports cars of all time was the Austin Healey, built from 1953 to 1967

The Classic Car Show 2023 is set to warm the hearts of classic car owners and spectators alike at the Nasrec Expo Centre on July 9. The event marks the 11th anniversary of The Classic Car Show, and this year’s show promises to be one of the most spectacular yet.

The previous Classic Car Show at Nasrec in 2022 saw records tumble for both the number of cars on display and the number of spectators that attended, and organiser Paulo Calisto is planning for an even bigger influx of petrol-heads, come July 9.

“We’ve made new entrances for the owners of the older classic cars for this year’s show. Ever since I’ve started running this event, queues of cars has always been a challenge. So we have now made Gates 6, 7 and 8 as the official entry portals for the older classic cars,” says Calisto. “We have also increased the area for classics, and this has been necessary because the Japan versus Germany section which runs at the show, has drawn more and more numbers .”

One of the delights of The Classic Car Show is that at each event, a contingent of cars never seen at previous shows turn up. This means that even regular attendees will always have something totally new to see, in terms of the rarity value of the collectable classic. The other cool thing about the way the show is organised is that you have genteel British classics rubbing door handles with brash metal-flake American muscle cars with modern-day 20-inch wheels fitted.

What this random vehicle placement achieves for spectators is that it draws you in to appreciate the individual beauty and value of each and every classic that shows up. There are pockets around the venue where, say, a bunch of Volkswagen Beetles will establish an element of solidarity, but more often than not an unsuspecting Mini will decide to crash the German air-cooled party, and nobody really seems to mind!

What The Classic Car Show has demonstrated since its inception over a decade ago is that South Africa is blessed with one of the most diverse classic car parks that you’ll find anywhere in the world. The reason for this is that since the very early days of motoring here, cars from America, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and even Australia have made their presence felt in considerable numbers. Later on, Japan made considerable inroads into our  market with cars like Datsuns (later called Nissans) Toyotas and Mazdas, and soon some of the Korean cars like Hyundais and Kias are going to be seeing as modern classics.

In recent classic shows at Nasrec, rarities have included cars that even enthusiasts have forgotten, or not seen in the metal for a long, long time. These makes include the Ford Taunus, a sort of German version of the Cortina that was marketed here in the 1960s. Very rare German cars that were only available here on special import include the interesting Opel GT, a small coupe that was unashamedly designed to resemble a miniature third-generation Chevrolet Corvette. This was understandable, as both cars were built under the General Motors banner.

Another General Motors car to mimic a larger American cousin is the Opel Manta. One of the most attractive cars ever to be launched here by Opel, the Manta looked like a scaled-down Chevrolet Camaro, and once again the resemblance was absolutely intentional. Unfortunately for the Manta, General Motors decided only a few years after it was launched here in the 1970s to drop the Opel range and switch GM dealerships to the smaller Chevrolet brands (which were in fact Opels designed in Germany, but badged as Chevs). GMSA went through this schizoid phase a few times in later decades, and it is a shame that GM decided to withdraw from South Africa a few years ago.

British companies also suffered from this type of confusion years ago. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the British Motor Corporation marketed a whole range of cars that competed against each other under the Morris, Austin, Wolseley and Riley nameplates. The original Mini, for instance, was launched here as the Austin Seven or Austin 850, or the Morris Mini Minor. Later variants were also available with Wolseley or Riley grilles (in England). Riley was one of the more interesting marques in the BMC stable, and a special Riley 1.5 from the late ‘50s was seen at the previous Classic Car Show in pristine condition. These cars essentially used the same twin-carb B-Series engine as fitted to the MGA sports car, and the old Rileys could be seen as the Golf GTi-equivalent of their day, well before small performance cars with room for four adults were popular.

Other rarities that have shown up at Nasrec at past events include the Triumph GT6. This is a fastback version of the open-topped Triumph Spitfire that was assembled here in the 1960s. The GT6 featured a potent 2,0-litre six-cylinder engine, and one can only assume that the car that showed at Nasrec a few years ago was an import that arrived here through Zimbabwe a few decades ago.

Japan vs Germany

The famous Japan versus Germany segment of The Classic Car Show  was developed to encourage younger drivers to the classic car movement. It has grown so huge over the past few years that it now occupies more concrete space than the traditional classic contingent. This is encouraging as it shows that youngsters in Toyota RSis, Honda Civics and Volkswagen Golfs and Polos that are “slammed” to the pavement using special suspension systems, are continuing the petrol-head culture in great numbers.

A huge number of Golfs and Polos are fitted with special airbag suspension overriding kits that enable them to be lowered almost right down to ground level when they are parked, but raised up to reasonable heights for normal road use. Other car-builders in the Japan vs Germany division do complete makeovers on their modern hatchbacks, and some hugely powerful turbocharged motors are often installed.

BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes are obviously part of the “German” contingent, and BMW in particular have issued high-performance models over the years that are worshiped by younger drivers. Mercedes with its AMG division has been playing catch-up in a big way in recent years. Toyota RSi and RXi models have become serious “youngtimer” collectables in recent years and both modified and mint examples are highly prized.

Expect hundreds of VW Golfs and Polos by the hundreds, and Hondas, Toyotas, BMWs and Mercedes-Benz sporty models by the dozen at Nasrec on July 9.

As well as a huge number of cars on display, including supercars, hot rods, muscle cars and custom pick-up trucks, the show offers top-quality food and drink, musical entertainment, special play areas for young children, helicopter rides and drifting at the Nasrec skid pan.

The Classic Car Show on Sunday July 9, 2023, opens at 8 am to the public and runs until 4 pm. Drivers of classic cars and Japan vs German examples are admitted free as exhibitors.

Prices are R100 for adults and R30 for children under 12 at the gate. Tickets are available from Computicket at R80 for adults and R20 for children under 12. Secure parking is available for spectators at R30.

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