Our August newsletter featuring the following articles: Deon’s Oily Rag, Whales and Wheels, Collection in action – I, 2016 Knysna motor show, Exhaust blips.
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DEON’S OILY RAG

FMM Library
This year’s Oil Rag Run took place on Sunday 20 September and was another great success for this brainchild of Crankhandler and FMM consultant engineer Dickon Daggitt. Co-sponsored by the Franschhoek Motor Museum and Cape Town classic car emporium Crossley and Webb, the event for unrestored pre-1961 cars attracted 20 entries, all but one of which lined up in FMM’s quadrant for the 11h00 start. The line-up provided a stark contrast – on the one hand there was Toeks Cross’ mud-splattered barn find 1957 Ford Prefect while on the other, Johann Marais’ 1955 Rolls-Royce looked fresh out of the showroom. And hats off to Roy and Bev le Roux who trailered down their 1958 Goggomobil from Port Elizabeth to take part, proudly wearing an oily rag tied around the front bumper. The non-starter was Peter Truter’s 1936 Armstrong Siddeley due to a radiator ‘specialist’ destroying his car’s cooling device...
In overcast weather, the first half of the route took the cars from FMM over Helshoogte through Stellenbosch to the aerodrome on the outskirts of the historic town, where everyone gathered for a refreshment break and a walk around some classic flying machines. Michelle Hambly added period elegance by dressing up in the style of her Citroën Light 15. The 30 km run had one casualty: FMM’s 1959 Borgward Station Wagon ground to a halt early on with an odd spark plug malady to the dismay of Karin Ras and Magdaleen Wepener. FMM’s other two entries, the 1926 Talbot with Deon de Waal and Donny Tarentaal at the wheel, and the 1934 Ford Model 40 V8 flathead pick-up piloted by Lorenzo Farella and Shawn Botha, were both going strong. FMM curator Wayne Harley was doing duty as the Run’s breakdown service.  
Immediately after the restart, a water leak on the Hubertus DKW forced it into retirement. But for the rest it was ‘tally ho’ for the final 60 km run straight across the Cape, which provided scenery ranging from expansive rolling hills and vineyards through ever-growing open industrial areas to the aged, cramped inner-city clutter. Once at C&W’s expansive showrooms in the gardens, participants gathered to share their exploits and stay on for lunch. Prizes were awarded to Toeks Cross for his car being voted the ‘Most Oily Rag’, to Richard Middleman, whose 1934 Ford Tudor won the Skorokoro Rose Bowl for being the ‘tattiest’ car that finished, but the event’s grand prize for scoring the most points for originality went to a delighted Deon and Donny, who sweltered in the Talbot’s cockpit heat on an otherwise excellent run. MM

WHALES AND WHEELS

This year’s Whales and Wheels Classic Car Show is almost upon us. As part of the annual Whale Festival in the coastal town, the show will take place on the Hermanus Primary School grounds on Saturday 3 October and will once again feature a mix of vehicles from years past together with a model car display, a working (and noisy) scale V8 engine, radio-controlled aircraft and, for the first time, a ‘live’ model railway.  Full-size exhibits will include John ‘Rusty’ Crowhurst’s monster 27-litre Meteor along with displays from many of the Cape’s leading car clubs. Admission price is R20, under 12s free, while participants and passengers also enter for free. For further information, e-mail Piet Haumann at haumannonrus@gmail.com or phone 072 488 5741. MM

COLLECTION IN ACTION – I

Cape motoring history book
An alphabetical series of short driving impressions of some of the museum’s car collection. This month we step aboard the majestic 1922 Isotta Fraschini, a rare Italian thoroughbred with quite a history.
 
It never ceases to amaze me how one can come across a vehicle that simply takes your breath away with its sheer presence only to find it has a history that often beggars belief. The Isotta Fraschini that is regularly put on display is a case in point. This dramatic dark-blue-and-black 1922 Type 8 touring car is a rare example of an Italian brand renowned for building some of the most luxurious and prestigious ever built, yet this very car once existed only as a pile of bits scattered over a field...
 
Società Milanese Automobili Isotta, Fraschini & Co. was founded on 27 January 1900 by Cesare Isotta and the brothers Vincenzo, Antonio and Oreste Fraschini. Their motto was ‘Import, sell, repair cars’ and the company began its business by assembling Renaults before moving on to producing its own vehicles in 1904. There was a brief merger with French automaker Lorraine Dietrich in 1907 but the company was very forward thinking in its approach and recognised the value of motor sport in those times, winning the Targa Florio in 1908 with an 8-litre car while also running a team of voiturette racers with a four-cylinder, 1,2-litre overhead-cam engine designed by none other than Ettore Bugatti. In 1910, all Isotta Fraschinis featured four-wheel brakes. An enormous, chain-drive 11-litre car appeared in 1913 before the company’s most popular model appeared at the Paris Show in 1919, the Tipo 8.
 
It was an uncomplicated chassis with a 3 683 mm wheelbase, 1 422 mm track and semi-elliptic springs at all four corners. The engine was a massive 5,9-litre monobloc straight-eight – the first such layout to be fitted to a production car – with nine main bearings, aluminium pistons, and a gear-driven camshaft operating pushrod overhead-valves. There was no external intake manifold: the two carburettors were attached directly to the block. Continuing the aesthetic theme, even the spark plug leads were hidden in a conduit attached to the block. Mated with a three-speed gearbox, it developed 60 kW at around 1 800 r/min and delivered a top speed approaching 140 km/h.
 
This particular car – chassis number 359 – was found in pieces scattered over 30 hectares of the majestic Prynnsberg Manor Estate near Clocolan in the Free State, which was built by diamond mining magnate Charles Newberry. However, after his death, family heirs steadily let the property decline to a near ramshackle state – and that is another story... Back to the point: despite appearing to have little more than scrap value, the remnants were purchased (with some trepidation) by well-known South African classic car collector Waldie Greyvensteyn, who set about rebuilding the car. A number of vital parts were missing and were replaced with spares from other collectors or remade – except for the crown-wheel-and-pinion. After 18 months when all hope of finding a cwp was lost, the missing item was located in a scrapyard in Cornwall, England, and after some ‘gentle persuasion’ on the dealer, the vital component landed in SA.
It took a further three years to bring the once dismembered Isotta Fraschini back to its former complete glory. As the Tipo 8 was a chassis only, bodies were supplied by various coachbuilders from around Europe and plates on the door sills proclaim that this car has ‘Coachwork by Cowley Coach & Motor Co, Cowley Peachy, Midx’, which denotes an apparently prestigious coachbuilding operation based in Cowley Peachey (with an ‘e’!) in Middlesex, England. Research on this company revealed a slightly mysterious connection with an R H ‘Bill’ Beverton, who appears to have been a director of the firm who also held an agency for Isotta Fraschini and was linked with Tony Lago of Talbot-Lago fame. And yet another piece of intrigue surrounding this car is a letter written to Waldie from the daughter of a female Newberry descendent stating that her mother remembered the car well and claimed it was originally owned by J G ‘Parry’ Thomas, the famous Welsh engineer, racing driver and land speed record holder. For sure, we know Thomas was a fan of straight-eight engines...
 
Climbing aboard such a remarkable artefact as this car elicited quite a sense of awe. For starters, its sheer size takes some getting used to. I must admit I felt a bigger than usual sense of awe climbing aboard this gargantuan tourer. The driving position is cramped and the conventional floor-mounted pedal layout requires some muscle-taxing effort to operate smoothly, as does the steering at manoeuvring speeds. Weighing around 2 200 kg – the chassis alone weighs 1 270 kg – you have to tap deep into the big, lazy engine’s torque reserves to get rolling, but once into the high top gear, there is a feeling of being master of the road, using the thermometer atop the distant, bold radiator to point the way. Fortunately, the brakes are well up to their task – in a 1920s sort of way – and the sheer Hollywood-ness of the car leaves a lasting impression. In fact, the car was targeted at the American market and you can just imagine being a star cruising Sunset Boulevard (which one did in the movie of the same name). Why, Rudolf Valentino was an early IF owner.
 
The Tipo 8 was superseded with the 7,4-litre-engined 8A and 8B. However, Isotta Fraschini was seriously affected by the economic crisis of the 1930s and by the disruptions of WWII, and the company stopped making cars in 1949. The plants were converted to produce marine engines. There have been attempts to resurrect the car-making brand, but without success. Fortunately, however, the company’s founding automotive exploits can still be appreciated by viewing and driving examples such as this. To the manner – or should that be manor? – born... MM

2016 KNYSNA MOTOR SHOW

The Garden Route Motor Club has issued an early warning notice of next year’s Knysna Motor Show.  The event will take place on Sunday 1 May as part of a long weekend with the Monday being a public holiday. The popular event has quickly established itself as one of the best quality car shows on the local calendar, and with all the tourist attractions the Garden Route area has to offer, an enjoyable three-day getaway is practically guaranteed. For further info, e-mail club chairman and show organiser Peter Pretorius at peterp@afrihost.co.za or call 082 321 4724. The Jaguar Simola Hill Climb will take place the following weekend: 6 May is Classic Car Friday with the King of the Hill taking place on 7 and 8 May. 

EXHAUST BLIPS

In the upcoming October/November issue of Classic & Performance Car Africa there is a feature on FMM’s Hudson Commodores, the 1949 sedan and the 1948 Club Coupé.

DATES TO DIARISE:

 

October 3: Whales and Wheels Classic Car Show, Hermanus
October 5-8: SAVVA National Tour, Queenstown
October 10: Historic races, Phakisa
October 17: Regional races, Scribante Raceway, PLZ
October 17: Inland Championship Rnd 7, Zwartkops
October 17: GT Supercup, Phakisa
October 17-18: Prince Alfred Hamlet Car Show
October 17-18: Volvo National Saamtrek, Forever Resort, Gariep
October 18: Bikers4Bandanas, Killarney
October 24: Extreme Races Rnd 7, Killarney
October 25: Studebaker Smuts House Show, Irene
October 30: Lowveld Classic Ford day, I’Langa Mall, Nelspruit


(Clubs and organisations are invited to send details of upcoming events to mike4m@telkomsa.net for inclusion in Exhaust Blips.)

WHERE, WHAT TIMES
AND HOW MUCH

The Franschhoek Motor Museum is situated on the L’Ormarins Estate along the R45 in the Franschhoek Valley in the Western Cape.

The opening hours are Monday to Friday 10h00 to 17h00 (last admittance 16h00), Saturday and Sunday 10h00 to 16h00 (last admittance 15h00), and the museum is open on most public holidays

Admission prices are R60 adults, R50 pensioners, R30 children. An on-site delicatessen offers refreshments and A Rupert Wines can be enjoyed.
View cars currently on display.
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Newsletter text by Mike Monk.

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