Classics Rock!


Following the tradition set by the first Knysna Speed Festival hillclimb in 2009, the Classic Car Friday event is shaping up to be a memorable display of yesteryear’s cars being driven in anger.

As the closing date for entries looms rapidly, a number of priceless classics have already been confirmed for the event on the 16th of May which opens the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb 2014. Motoring enthusiasts from young to old appreciate Classic Car Friday as the variety of cars is fascinating and being able to see 80 year old cars close up is rare treat for all motoring fans – and the general public.

One of the most interesting cars on the entry list is the 1937 DKW F7 Meistertklasse Cabriolette driven enthusiastically by Gino Noli who enjoys the hill up to Simola. Minimalist and spindly might be the best way of describing the Meisterklasse. An engine of only 692cc delivered a mere 15kW but almost 80 years ago this was enough to propel it to 85km/h in favourable conditions. One of the features that made this car unusual then was the fact that it was front wheel drive. In its hillclimb spec Noli dispatches with the bulk of the car’s heavy bodywork, which held him back the first time he competed, to significantly improve his time up the hill.

One of South Africa’s best known track cyclists, Timothy Abbot will be donning a different helmet when he straps himself in behind the wheel of a classic Porsche. Johannesburg domiciled Abbot, one of South Africa’s most respected authorities on early Porsches, will bring a Porsche 356A. These are perhaps better known by most as the pre-911 Porsches and are fitted with 4-cylinder motors. Nonetheless, thanks to their lightweight and good road-holding, they are capable of performance that belies their specification sheets.

Also Porsche powered is the interesting Elva Porsche in the hands of Clive Winterstein. The 2-litre 4-cylinder Porsche twin cam engine is extremely rare and coupled to a lightweight space-frame chassis the car was victorious in the opening round of the European Hill Climb Championship in 1964 before going on to enjoy a successful competition career.
The prize for the newest classic belongs to Lew Baker’s Mallock Mk6B. This car, a pukka competition car with a twin cam 1600cc Ford engine might date back to the late 60’s but amazingly only made its competition debut at the 2012 Knysna Hillclimb. “I brought it with me when I came to South Africa, but never quite got round to assembling it until a couple of years ago,” he says calmly.

To lovers of modern high power cars these older cars might look slow, but speed is relative to grip and a host of other factors which act on the driver’s senses. Skinny tyres chattering across an uneven surface, combined with crisp salty May air and frozen knuckles makes for a far more involving experience than being cocooned in a modern projectile with traction control and a host of other electronic wizardry. “If you’re talking about the ‘involving experience’ that is not quite true,” commented Deon Joubert after acing a crowd pleasing display of burnouts in a Jaguar at the last hillclimb, “When you’re on the limit, it doesn’t matter what you are driving, you are still on the limit and the rush is the same.”