The Classic Car Show to warm the hearts of car enthusiasts at Nasrec on Sunday July 9
A beautifully-customised Subaru Impreza STi.

The Classic Car Show 2023 marks the 12th year that this premier Gauteng event for collectable machinery is being held, at the Nasrec Expo Centre, south-west of Johannesburg.

This year’s winter show takes place on Sunday, July 9, with the gates open to the public from 8 am. The show runs through to 4 pm, and also incorporates the hugely-popular German vs Jap car show, which has become a major event for younger petrol-heads who concentrate on wild paint schemes, suspension systems that lower a car almost to the tarmac, and outrageous engine modifications that can see a humble Golf cover a 400 metre sprint in under 10 seconds.

The Classic Car Show is renowned for attracting some of the best muscle cars, hot rods and custom pick-ups in the region, and this Sunday show-goers can expect to see a big influx of classic American cars from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

The period from the rock-and-roll era led by Elvis Presley through to the beginnings of heavy metal music from the likes of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin will always be related to wild rides of various persuasions. Fast cars and rock music were natural bed fellows, and many collectors of old cars these days associate their cars with rock music through the ages. For this year’s show, Lavida Vodka is sponsoring an impressive sound stage featuring artists playing good old time rock, and this will be located near gates 5 and 6 at Nasrec, which will form the hub of the classic car display.

The dawn of the American Muscle Car movement was heralded by Chevrolet’s development of the classic small-block Chevy V8 motor, which first appeared in 1955. And that year also coincided with the introduction of the ’55 Chevrolet Bel Air, one of the most popular cars amongst restorers and hot-rodders to this day. In fact that 1955 template was used through to 1957 by General Motors’ Chevrolet division, and these are known as the Tri-Chevy cars. They all used the same chassis and body shell, but thanks to the ingenuity of Chevrolet’s stylists, the cars look quite different, with ornate annual redesigns of the grilles, tailfins and side embellishers that featured plenty of chrome and stainless steel.

Here in South Africa, other American cars that made a big splash in this period were the Plymouth and Dodge models, particularly the Dodge Custom Royal, which featured the first of Chrysler’s famous Hemi V8 engines that are still talked about today.

South Africa’s affinity for American automotive products also extended to pick-ups, and on Sunday July 9 a number of classic Chevy, Ford and Dodge pick-ups are expected, some in original condition, others in customised form with lowered suspension systems, wild V8 motors and creative paint jobs. Pick-up trucks have become very popular with the classic fraternity because they are much easier to restore than cars of the period, as they have less parts to source and refurbish. They are also handy to have around in case a trip to the rubbish dump or the furniture store appears on the weekend’s agenda!

Next up in the popularity stakes is the humble Volkswagen Beetle, a car that stayed in production here for over a quarter of a century. Just about everyone relates to the common or garden Bug, and on July 9 you can expect to see dozens of Beetles restored to classic status, as well as modified ones. The Beetle’s sibling, the Kombi is also an object of great passion amongst young and old collectors these days, and Kombis come in a variety of forms, such as panel vans, pick-ups and buses with as many as 23 windows!

The Beetle’s sportier cousin, the Karmann Ghia, is also a classic favourite. These sleek sporty cars that first made an appearance in the mid-1950s are based on a humble Beetle floor pan with Beetle mechanicals, and they were produced in Germany into the early 1970s. Their bodies were designed by the famous Italian styling house, Ghia, and built by Karmann, a specialist body builder in Germany, hence, the name.

English classics are at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the American offerings, especially in terms of size. The prime example of this is probably the Mini, which first made its appearance in 1959, and is tiny by today’s standards. Park an original Mini next to a new one (BMW insists on them being referred to as MINIs with upper-case lettering) and the original looks half the size. The funny thing is, in that tiny original, occupants had more space to move around in than they do in a modern one, as the over-padded seats in the modern version restrict leg room much more than the original!

These days Ford Motor Company in South Africa has pretty much abandoned the conventional passenger car in favour of Ranger pick-ups and the EcoSport SUV. But in the 1960s, ‘70s and the early part of the 1980s the Ford Cortina sedans were on everyone’s shopping lists. This year the Cortina celebrates its 60th birthday in South Africa, as the first examples made their appearance here in the last month of 1962.

The Ford Cortina always has a huge presence at The Classic Car Show, and visitors should look out for five different generations of Ford Cortinas. Some of these were very special models, such as the GT examples, and in XR6 guise in the final generations, there were some potent renditions, including the famous Interceptor models, as raced by the great Sarel van der Merwe in the early 1980s.

Apart from the Cortina, there are two other marques celebrating birthdays this year. The Chevrolet Firenza Can Am, a two-door coupe with a racing-spec Z28 V8 motor installed, turns 50. And the Alfa Romeo GTV6 -3,0 turns 40 in 2023. Don’t expect too many examples of these cars to turn up, as they only made 213 Alfa GTV6 3-3,0s and only 100 Firenza Can Ams. But in past years at this event both of these very rare South African specials have made the trip to Nasrec.

“One of the strengths of The Classic Car Show is that we always have newly-restored classics that have never been seen anywhere else, and I am expecting the same this year,” says show organiser Paulo Calisto. “This year Lavida Vodka is one of the co-sponsors of the event, and we will be rigging a sophisticated sound stage in the classic area, with top-quality music, sponsored by Lavida Vodka.

“Music and classic cars go together like peanut butter and jam, so we are in for a tasty treat.”

On the other side of the Hall 5 and Hall 6 complex at Nasrec, the grounds are likely to be overwhelmed by much-more modern classics, in the form of highly modified VW Golfs, Polos, Honda Civics, Toyotas, BMWs and Mazdas. The German vs Jap display has grown enormously since teaming up with The Classic Car Show a number of years back, and at last year’s event there were over 1 000 entrants to this festival for so-called “young-timer classics.”

A large contingent of the German vs Jap segment will be show-cased in Hall 5, where the special Show Ride section of this event is being staged. Here a recent trend has seen a move to very sophisticated Japanese couples, such as Toyota Supras and Nissan 370Zs, as well as Mazda MX5s. Some very trick BMWs will also be entered, as well as the likes of modified Porsche 911s. The organisers will have special prizes for the best German and Japanese entries, and this year there will be also a Dyno run, sponsored by Japan Auto, to determine which car makes the most horsepower.

The fields across from the Nasrec lake area will also be peppered with non-competitive German and Japanese rides, with the organisers stipulating that the criteria for entry to the grounds is that all cars need to have lowered suspension and wider wheels, as the whole show is about “stance”.

German vs Jap chief organiser Dawood Hoosein says that the success of this segment of the classic car event is all about passion as expressed through the owners’ cars.

“It’s been amazing how this show has grown over the years, and it has been gratifying to see how the standards of the officially entered cars on show has risen accordingly”, says Hoosein.

The Classic Cars Show, which co-hosts the German vs Jap event, offers a day of family entertainment at very affordable prices. There will also be top quality food and drink on sale, and other entertainments will include hard-driving, music, helicopter rides, drifting at the Nasrec skid pan and a play area for children. There will also be stalls selling a variety of goods, including motor-specific merchandise.  

The Classic Car Show on Sunday July 9, 2023, opens at 8 am to the public and runs until 4 pm.

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.

For more information go to: For information of the German vs Japan event, go to