Dr Mark Voloshin came from a humble upbringing in Russia before he qualified as a dentist and finally used his business savvy to build a global business. On his wine farm, Hazendal, he exhibits one of his many passions, his collection of Bentleys and Rolls-Royces.
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
It is immediately evident that Dr Voloshin’s interest seems to be mainly in Rolls-Royce and Bentley. He explains: “More than seeking out specific automobile brands, I would say that most of all I love quality engineering, particularly when it includes the elements of tradition, pedigree and beautiful design. In my opinion both Rolls Royce and Bentley embody these values in all of their vehicles. There is a timeless quality to their engineering and design that is simply unmistakable. And, I’d say, hard not to fall in love with... Further, their vehicles often enjoy a rarity value that makes them a worthy addition to any classic car collection.
“My love for cars started during my time in Germany, and later the United States – in the late-1970s and early-1980s – that is when my early interest in classic cars really turned into a passion. Today I’m very happy to be able to share my private collection with more people through the Classic Car Pavilion at Hazendal Estate, where we have a selection of rare and exclusive vehicles on display for visitors to enjoy.
“All of the cars in the collection were purchased from collectors and vintage dealers here in South Africa. There is a vibrant and passionate community of classic car collectors and restorers in this country, so we have been able to source a number of interesting vehicles with a rich and colourful history.”
The 1978 Rolls Royce Corniche is the car he has owned the longest. “It’s built in the Riviera-style with a soft-top, and powered by a V8 engine, but the ride is just wonderfully smooth. Overall it is a supremely elegant vehicle, and remains a much-loved part of the collection.”
As is often the case, the cars don’t simply present themselves and locating some of them took years of searching. “The 1956 Bentley Continental is probably one of the models we searched for the longest. It took us about three years to find it and we are completing the restoration of it soon. I am excited to add it to our Classic Car Pavilion. All the other cars were acquired in a rather conventional way. We are often being approached by vintage car owners or dealers. The classic car community is very small in Cape Town and we all know each other.”
Even though it might be tricky to pick them, Dr Voloshin does have a few favourites in the collection.
“That is a bit like asking me to choose my favourite child! Of course I love each vehicle in the collection, but there are a few that I have a particular affection for. From the perspective of celebrating heritage and pedigree, it would have to be the 1948 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith. It was the first Rolls Royce model built in the aftermath of World War II, with the chassis built in the factory that had produced Merlin engines for the famous Spitfire aircraft during the war. It’s a majestic vehicle, and no wonder it has been used as the official vehicle for kings, queens and heads of state from Brazil to Greece to the Netherlands. Of course it was also the predecessor to the Phantom IV, which was only built for royalty that the company deemed as worthy! Our model has been immaculately restored, and includes a champagne fridge for passengers, as well as a glass divider between the front and rear seating.
“I also love the Bentley 4¼ Drophead Coupé, a 1936 model, simply for its sweeping lines. Only 1 234 were ever built, and there are very few of them remaining. It’s a Park Ward body, with the use of aluminium and ash wood instead of steel, which makes it even more unique. After being painstakingly restored I honestly believe it now feels more like the racing vehicle Bentley intended it to be.
“Last, but certainly not least is the 1956 Bentley S1. When this model was first rolled out 1955 it was a radical new look for Bentley. In fact, only 35 cars were ever built, by the time production stopped in 1959. Of those 35, only 12 – including ours – has a coachwork body. It also has something of a unique touch to it: when we did a major restoration on the vehicle we fitted it with a bespoke ox-blood interior, and resprayed the car in a unique shade of gold sourced especially for this restoration. So our S1 is rare indeed!”
Every collector has that one or maybe two cars that they would still like to add to their collection, and Dr Voloshin is no exception to this rule: “I would love to include a Bentley 8-litre in the collection. It was the last car W.O. Bentley himself designed for the company and could have been one of the greatest. It had a massive engine, and Bentley guaranteed it could reach 100 miles per hour (160 kph), regardless of the bodywork. But, the Wall Street crash saw car sales plummet, and in the end only 100 units were ever built.
“The Bentley ‘Blue Train’, a Speed Six coupé, would also be a marvellous addition. It earned its name for beating the famous ‘Blue Train’ across France, in an unofficial race from the Côte d’Azur to Calais. There’s a South African connection too. It was driven by Woolf Barnato, who inherited a fortune from his father’s diamond mines in Kimberley.”
This collection can be viewed by the public and is one of many activities on the farm. Visit www.hazendal.co.za for more information.
The cars in the collection during our visit:
1935 Rolls Royce Phantom II Limousine De Ville
1936 Bentley 4 ¼ Drophead Coupé
1937 Rolls Royce 25/30
1948 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith Touring Limousine
1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I
1956 Bentley S1
1963 Bentley S3
1978 Rolls Royce Corniche