Cars in the Park 2023 will be showcasing some very special British classics in the 41st rendition of the event, which takes place at the Zwartkops Raceway on Sunday, August 6. Some 2 500 classic cars and up to 10 000 spectators are expected at the event, and a standout entrant will be a special recreation of a Le Mans-winning 1953 Jaguar C-Type.
Built by arch Jaguar enthusiast Kobus van Wyk, the Jaguar C-Type has been created over the past three years with an attention to detailed originality that is astounding. Quite apart from installing a special Le Mans spec 3,4-litre six-cylinder twin cam engine, Van Wyk went to great lengths to ensure that he sourced a 1953-only inlet manifold to accept the three twin-choke Weber carburettors that Jaguar’s competition department ran only that year.
Using the correct manifold made life even more complicated for Van Wyk, who hails from the Vaal River area, because the special off-set of the mounting studs meant he had to have a one-off set of unique Weber 40 mm DCOE carburettors re-manufactured, at a cost of over R300 000!
Perfectly-correct detailed factory drawings of the original race car were sourced from the UK, and Kobus’s son Conrad recreated the intricate tubular chassis, and many of the suspension components to ensure that, as far as detail is concerned, the re-creation is in effect an exact copy of the 1953 Le Mans-winning machine, driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt.
Van Wyk obtained a perfectly-detailed aluminium body from a UK company, which is painted British Racing Green and carries the number 18, as used on the 1953 Le Mans-winning car. Just 53 examples of Jaguar‘s C-Type were built in the early 1950s, and most of them were used in competition by private entrants. The Hamilton-Rolt example was entered by the Jaguar factory and was the first car to win a major race fitted with disc brakes.
Backing up the Jaguar C-Type in the Special Vehicles area in the Zwartkops pits will be some highly collectable Jaguars owned by Colin Lazarus, the well-known motor dealer who has been a major supporter of Cars in the Park for a number of years.
Lazarus will be exhibiting a special 1960 Jaguar 150S, as well as a more modern Project 7 Jaguar, a very rare motor car. Lazarus will also be showing a number of other classics in the Zwartkops pit area, notably his collection of three generations of Ford GT supercars, which amazed the Cars in the Park crowds at the 2022 event.
100 Years of MG
An extremely rare 1934 MG NA model will be seen in the Special Vehicles section, owned by devout MG enthusiast Robin Clarke. Robin says his car is one of just two N-series MGs known to reside in South Africa, and what makes the car very special is that it runs a six-cylinder MG engine, unlike later T-series cars which were all fitted with four-cylinder engines.
A large turn-out of MGs is expected at Cars in the Park this year, as MG is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Clarke will also be showing one of the very few MGA Twin Cams from the very early 1960s that still exist in South Africa.
Triumph also turns 100 this year
Not to be out-done by MG, British rival Triumph is also celebrating its centenary this year, and the Triumph Club will be organising a huge club display.
Rare Triumphs expected to take part will include 1928 Triumph Super Seven and a 1947 Triumph Roaster. There will be many examples of the marque on display, including the fondly-remembered TR2s and TR3 from the 1960s, as well as TR4s, TR5s, TR6s, TR7s and the sophisticated Triumph Stag, which debuted in 1970.
A couple of other famous marques are celebrating milestone birthdays this year. One of these is the Ford Cortina, which went on sale here in the final months of 1962, so is still in its 60th year. Cortinas were in the top 3 best-selling lists in South Africa for almost two decades until 1983, and Cars in the Park traditionally draws well over 100 examples of these fine Fords, which revolutionised the company’s presence in South Africa.
Ford’s big rival from those days was General Motors and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Chevrolet Firenza Can Am, a rip-snorting V8-engined homologation specially developed in South Africa by GM, along with saloon car race ace Basil van Rooyen.
Only 100 examples of the Can Am were ever built, and it is awe-inspiring to think that back in 1973 the Can Am was capable of a 0-100 km/h sprint time in the five-second bracket, and had a top speed of 230 km/h.
The standard Firenza of the period had a top speed of just 160 km/h!
Alfa GTV6 3.0 turns 40
An Italian manufacturer celebrating a special birthday this year is Alfa Romeo. It is 40 years since Alfa Romeo SA launched the awesome GTV6 3,0, another homologation special for racing purposes that were in limited production from 1983. Interestingly, these special South African models had six individual Dell Orto carburettors!
Today a pristine example is worth in excess of R1-million.
Cars in the Park has grown into the biggest single-day car show in South Africa, thanks to careful nurturing by the organisers, the Pretoria Old Motor Club (POMC). The chief organiser, Frik Kraamwinkel, says that interest from both car clubs and stallholders is at a fever pitch.
It is expected more than 120 clubs will be officially represented, and in addition to this, any owner of a vintage or classic vehicle is welcome to enter. Drivers of classic cars will be granted free admission to the circuit from 6 am onwards.
The gates for spectators will be opened from 8.30 am, and secure parking will be available for spectators’ cars which will not be permitted to “mingle” with the bonafide classics on the day.
The POMC traditionally encourages a strong contingent of very early vintage cars to this event too, and spectators can expect to see rare American, British, French and Italian makes dating back from the early part of the last century.
It is certain that the cars on display will represent at least a century of motoring in South Africa. The first self-propelled car to ever run in South Africa was a Benz Velo, which did a few display laps at the Berea Park soccer ground in Pretoria in 1897!
“This sweep of history for the motorcar is well appreciated by the public, as well as our stall-holders. We have over 120 stall holders and many major motor dealerships that are taking stands, such as the Lazarus Motor Company, the Motus Group, We by Cars, and Mit Mak Motors from Pretoria North, “ says Kraamwinkel.
A favourite era for many show-goers is the 1950s, when giant American land yachts lavished with chrome and bedecked with tail fins drove home the fact that a decade after World War II ended, America was enjoying a massive economic boom. These American creations are rightly seen today as works of art in their own right, and from 1952 to 1965, extravagance was the name of the game for car designers, who let their imaginations run riot.
Many youngsters seeing these cars today could be excused for thinking the Batmobile was simply a mildly-customised version of an everyday American car in the late 1950s. Pierre Diederichs will be showcasing a special General Motors display of classic Americana, concentrating on Cadillacs and Buicks.
The organisers have pointed out traffic control in recent events has been much improved over earlier years. Enthusiasts should be advised, however, that it will be wise to get to Zwartkops early.
Spectators will be able to enter the Zwartkops grounds from 8.30 am on Sunday, August 6. An enlarged spectator parking area will be available alongside the venue on the R55. Classic car owners will be able to enter the circuit from the R55 from 6 am onwards to display their vehicles. Best pack a warm jacket, a beanie and a flask of hot coffee!
Spectator entry fees are R130 per person (R110 if booked through iTicket). Children under 12 are admitted free.
Words: Stuart Johnstone