The first SentiMETAL Gathering since March saw Capetonian petrolheads head to the Killarney Raceway in their hundreds.
Photos by Gero Lilleike
"Man, it's good to be out among beautiful cars again," said one of the first guests to arrive at the event, held for the second time this year at Cape Town's Killarney Raceway. The weather played along, and soon the floodgates opened, with display cars as well as visitors arriving in big numbers. As one attendee unpacked his deck chairs and snacks, he mentioned to a SentiMETAL first-timer; "You're going to see some incredible variety here today... guys show up with anything from rat rods to Pagodas!"
That turned out to be a very accurate description as examples of just about every sub genre of Cape Town's car culture arrived. "What I like about these events," said another, "is that they're not 'snooty'... people respect each other's passion." Indeed, a very popular aspect of a SentiMETAL Gathering is keeping an eye on the gate, as there are always surprise arrivals...
For the first time, attendees could get up close to two of the cars in the SentiMETAL collection; the Opel Kadett GSi "Superboss" and BMW 325iS Evo 1 recently arrived in Cape Town. The famous pairing, made even more so by the recent Mike Briggs vs Deon Joubert video, were the backdrops for many a selfie captured during the course of the day.
Other notable cars of German descent included a stunning 1956 Porsche 356 - its metallic silver finish accenting this classic's gorgeous curves - a brace of Mercedes-Benz 190 SLs, a beautiful Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton Coupe, cool Audi RS2 and a tastefully lowered "Outlaw" Porsche 964 911.
Mercedes-Benz was arguably the most-represented brand at the Gathering, with a large number of SLs in attendance. And for those who like their three-pointed stars with a twist, a very neat 230.4 could sink very low on its delicate-looking OZ wheels.
For BMW fanatics there wasn't only the SentiMETAL 325iS to ogle, but also an immaculate 1972 BMW 2002 (with Turbo arches, front airdam and 13-inch period correct Alpina open-nut wheels), a very neat E36 M3, a pair of E46 M3s and a striking, red 635CSi. A number of cool Volkswagens showed up to please the Veedub fans, ranging from a stunningly original Lux Bug to a "stanced" Golf Mk1 Karmann Cabriolet, via a few air-cooled Kombis and a race-ready Citi Golf.
Cars.co.za's Ciro de Siena arrived fresh from a Porsche launch to show off the brand new 911 Turbo S, and was quickly surrounded by a number of enthusiasts eager to see the stunning new supercar which proudly carried its 0-100kph time (2.7 seconds) on its numberplate.
The land of the rising sun was also represented well, with amongst others a vivid blue RX2, modified (and very racy-looking) first-generation RX7 and black second-generation RX7 Convertible pleasing rotary fans. A rare Datsun 300C turned many a head, as did a beautifully original Toyota Corolla Liftback TRD.
Perhaps predictably, France served up some quirkiness in the shapes of two Citroën DSs (an earlier round-light DS19 as well as the later DS20) and the only Renault Avantime in all the land. Joining the French party was a very pretty little Peugeot 403.
Not quite as rare as the Avantime (but it's very close) was a Lancia Thema 8.32, the luxury super-sedan with the heart of a Ferrari. Other lovely Italians included an Alfa Romeo GTV6, an achingly pretty Giulia Sprint, "Stepnose" GT Junior and a modern-day 4C.
"When is the last time you saw one of these," remarked one attendee as he strolled by a Daimler Dart, parked not far away from a very graceful Jaguar MkVII.
Also making the trip to the Killarney "starting grid" (and possibly the only ones of their types ever to do so) were a number of old-school Land Rovers and a stately Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.
More British eye-candy included an Aston Martin Rapide, a gorgeous red Jaguar XK150, rakish Lotus Esprit Turbo and a large number of colourful Lotus 7 replicas and Caterhams. Meanwhile, a racy orange Mk1 Ford Escort had a surprise under the hood (a rotary heart). The presence of several AC Cobra replicas allows me to transition neatly from the British to the Americans...
American muscle (and plenty of it) was provided by a Dodge Viper GTS (the star of Episode 11 in the SentiMETAL video series) and a 1967 Ford Mustang Coupe, among others (don't think we didn't see the beautiful Ford GT40 replica parked slightly away from the crowds...) And do things get any more American than a genuine Checker A-11 New York taxi cab? (Episode 10 of the SentiMETAL video series)
A Chrysler Valiant station wagon brought things a little closer to home, as did a very original and neat Chevrolet Kommando. Loyal fans of the SentiMETAL Gathering are the Harper (South African sportscar) enthusiasts.
Finally, from Sweden, a 122S Coupe's curves were wonderfully contrasted against the angularity of two Volvo 850Rs (a sedan and a wagon).
The track was filled up from the top of the grid all the way down to the start of Killarney's drag strip, and taking a leisurely stroll, good coffee in hand, was clearly something to savour for Cape Town's petrolheads happy to finally be out with their cars again.
"The response and feedback has been fantastic," says Cars.co.za/SentiMETAL's Hannes Oosthuizen. "I think what people enjoy most is being surprised almost every step of the way. These meets are never predictable, even for us as organisers! Just as you think you've figured out a general 'theme' something pops up to surprise you."
Planning is currently underway for the next SentiMETAL Gathering, likely to take place in Johannesburg during early December.