On any given working day, Knysna Industrial hustles and bustles with activity, but on the morning of Heritage Day, all was peaceful. The sweet smell of fresh rain was adrift on a cool breeze and then... like a mighty crack of a bullwhip, a Ford GT40 roared to life with a great rumble that sent birds scattering in all directions into the morning sky. Peace no more!
Words and images by Gero Lilleike
Inspired by the 2014 TV Series, For the Love of Cars, resident Knysna classic car entrepreneur and event organiser, Brian Bruce and his team have been wanting to host a local Bonnets Up event for the past 3 years and Heritage Day was the perfect day to bring car enthusiasts together to celebrate South Africa’s rich automotive heritage.
In partnership with neighbouring Bodge Engineering (owned by Ron Hollis), Iconic Classic Cars (owned by Brett Temple) and the Knysna Skills Trust, the cul-de-sac in Arend Street, which is home to Bruce’s Classique Edge and the Parnell Bruce Project, was the epicentre of the event.
Any decent heritage-themed Bonnets Up car event worth attending requires 2 key components — a fine selection of classic and/or modern classic heritage cars — and of equal importance — a non-stop supply of tasty coffee, or better — cappuccino! The cappuccinos, supplied by nearby Maillard Bakery, was nothing short of excellent!
For Brian Bruce, the aim for this Heritage Day Bonnets Up event was, “to offer an impromptu and informal place for the classic car to take centre stage. Our theme ‘For the Love of Cars’ seemed appropriate as we exit months of lockdown and bonnets-up is the best and most appropriate way to kick-start a renewed interest in ‘display and engage’ rather than ‘drive and eat!’
By mid-morning, visitors started arriving and by 11 am, the cul-de-sac and adjoining Uil Street was filled with a notable variety of classics and more modern metal. In addition to Bruce’s Ford GT40, Shelby Daytona Coupe, Ford Mustang Convertible, BMW 635 CSi (in racing livery) and a recently acquired AC Cobra, there was lots to ogle and some of the highlights included a pristine Chevrolet Deluxe, Land Rover Defender Series 1, a clean Toyota Celica coupe as well as diverse representation from MG, Austin Healey, Morgan and Caterham. More modern cars included an MG TF convertible, BMW M135i hatchback and a hot Lotus Elise.
Commenting on the diversity of cars in attendance, Bruce added, “My team decided we would go for Ford V8 Power as a foil to the inevitable English and European classics that dominate the local scene. I was pleased to see a very nice and original Toyota Celica on display and the two modern Morgan Aerolites attracted a lot of attention. The Lotus Elise really stood out and then who could miss the customised Mercedes-Benz Unimog?”
Ron Hollis proudly displayed his Simola Hillclimb Jaguar E-Type and over at Iconic stood a fine example of a Citroen DS alongside a Porsche 928, both in white, as well as an Alfa Romeo GTV 2.5, bright yellow BMW Z3 M coupe and the aforementioned Unimog.
Well over 50 cars attended this short-notice Bonnets Up event and it proved to be a pleasant morning out in the sunshine, not only for the owners but their families too.
Car enthusiasts in Knysna and the greater Garden Route area can expect similar events in months to come. Watch this space!
“We were initially a little concerned about the weather, but it turned out to be a perfect morning and the response was amazing. We welcomed cars from as far afield as George, Plettenberg Bay and Sedgefield. There are now calls for more frequent gatherings – and we promise to do so in the same impromptu and informal way. Maybe we will look to introduce core themes to encourage variety and diversity, like Oily Rag, Pre-war, etc. Even offer a short active element, such as Spinning or Starting a Model T!” concludes Bruce.