Our March newsletter featuring the following articles: Celebrating 100 years Of BMW , Visitor Appeal, Collection In Action – O, Sit On – And Hold On, Knysna Motor Show and more.
image header
Forward to Friend


On 7 March, BMW celebrated 100 years of existence. The original date was when Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG was formed, which in 1922 took controlling interest in a small aero-engine manufacturer based in the north of Munich in Bavaria, Germany and established Bayerische Motoren Werke AG. However, the 1916 date is acknowledged as the start of BMW. Since then the company has been transformed into a leading manufacturer of premium automobiles and motorcycles, and today the BMW Group is an international company with production and assembly facilities in 14 countries.

Having added motorcycle manufacture to its aero engine business, that had come to a temporary halt in the wake of WWI, it was in 1928 when BMW turned to motor car manufacture, first assembling then building the Austin 7 under licence and called the Dixie.
The first pukka BMW arrived in 1933, the six-cylinder 303 that established a profile that was marked out from its competitors by the distinctive contour of the radiator cover, which is today still recognisable as the BMW kidney-shaped grille.

The aftermath of WWII also affected BMW’s operation and it was only in 1952 that motor car production was resumed. But from then on the company’s fortunes have continued to rise, the ‘sheer driving pleasure’ of the brand’s products becoming a global success story, including the acquisition of the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands. Today, BMW is a leader in automotive technology and its model range covers practically every segment and sub-segment of the market, including hybrids and electric-driven vehicles. 

FMM is preparing a special display to honour BMW’s centenary. Among the vehicles to be exhibited are a 1926 Austin 7, 1938 328, 1953 503, 1955-62 Isetta bubble car, 1972 3,0 CS, 1976 530 race car, 1982 BMW 635 CSi Alpina, 1986 333i and the 2004 ex-Madiba 46664 Mandela Day School Library Project 760iL Security Edition. MM


Throughout each year, FMM attracts a steady stream of interesting local and overseas personalities, all fascinated by the scope of the museum’s world-class collection of vehicles. Following in the wake of Riaan Cruywagen and Ken Stewart, the latest celebrities to visit the museum were John and Susie Dunbar. John and Susie are close friends of South African racing legend Eddie Keizan and were on holiday from the UK. Eddie advised them to call in at FMM while in Cape Town and the pair were certainly not disappointed. Susie was the PA to race driver and constructor Bruce McLaren when Bruce McLaren Motor Racing was formed in 1963, and went on to great success in both Formula One and CanAm. Among the numerous reminisces made public at the time of the team’s 50th anniversary reunion, colleague Richard West recalled that Susie used to go to work in hot pants! Following the death in January of the McLaren F1 team co-founder Tyler Alexander, Susie says sadly that all of the original team that she once worked with have now passed away. While Susie was busy with race team activity, John was out on circuit taking shots of the action. John grew up in the motor racing photography business with the renowned monthly magazine Motor Sport and its sister weekly newspaper Motoring News. In the 1970s he went freelance and formed Zooom Photographic with two other lensmen and they covered F1, F2, F5000, sports car and touring car racing from 1976 to 1997. Their collective work, which contains many high-quality creative images, now forms part of The GP Library. MM


collection in action i
An alphabetical series of short driving impressions of some of the museum’s car collection. This month we go double-O – no, not 007 – with a surprisingly appealing Opel Olympia.

Every now and again a manufacturer introduces a model that is a milestone in its progress, forming part of the company DNA not always recognised at the time but becoming apparent only later. Take the Opel Olympia for instance.

In 1935 Opel introduced the first-generation Olympia, named in anticipation of the 1936 Olympic Games to be held in Berlin. It was a ground-breaker: Germany’s first mass-produced car with an all-steel unitary body. Manufacture at the Rüsselsheim site began later in the year and necessitated some new production methods, including spot welding, that were patented by Opel. Using advanced types of steel, the weight-saving monocoque construction resulted in the car being some 180 kg lighter than its predecessor.

Launched at the 1935 Berlin Motor Show, the compact, family-sized car – which was available in two body styles, an LZ two-door saloon and a CL two-door cabriolet – was powered by a 1,3-litre four-cylinder side-valve engine that produced 18 kW. Transmission was a three-speed manual and the car had a top speed of 95 km/h. Suspension was independent up front with a live axle supported on semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Production lasted until 1937 by which time a four-speed ’box had become available. A total of 81 661 units were produced.

The second-generation Olympia – designated OL38 – appeared in 1937 and was manufactured during both pre- and post war periods. Completely redesigned, it was a bigger car all round than the outgoing model and weighed around 920 kg. An LV four-door saloon was added to the model line-up. The motor was all-new too, a 1 488 cm3 overhead-valve inline-four that developed 34 kW at 4 000 r/min and 97 N.m of torque at, unusually, the same revs. Compression ratio was a remarkably low 6,6:1. Opel reverted to a three-speed gearbox and top speed was raised to 112 km/h. The underpinnings, with drum brakes all round, were essentially a carryover.

Production was halted during the war and only resumed in late 1947 with just the two-door saloon, and by the end of 1949 a total of 25 952 had been produced. In 1950 the body was facelifted and the saloon was joined by a two-door cabriolet once more and, for the first time, a two-door station wagon.
FMM’s 1950 two-door sedan was built at GM’s plant in Port Elizabeth and is thought to be one of only two still in the country. This car is in remarkably good condition, its glistening green paintwork and bold, upright stance lending it a period elegance that is all the more becoming because of its rarity. A bold grille, set-back and faired-in headlamps, bonnet-side louvres, stylish strips of chrome trim and white-wall tyres are just some of the body’s stylish features. Admittedly, the truncated tail with its exposed spare wheel does look a little at odds with the Olympia’s otherwise flattering looks, but from any angle it catches the eye.

Inside it is no less appealing. The front seat has leather-upholstered cushions and squabs on an otherwise minimalist framework that offers adjustment from barely enough to practically nil. The split backrest allows entry to the rear but the limited rearwards movement does provide some reasonable legroom for rear-seat passengers. The rear seat backrest has to be pulled forward to access the boot as there is no exterior opening. For the driver, the painted metal dashboard houses two big dials for speed and fuel/oil pressure, trendy white knobs, warning lights for amps and ‘winkers’ and the ignition switch.

Depressing a button in the passenger side footwell brings the engine into life. Engage first with the column-shifter, release the stout handbrake under the dash to the right and away we go. The engine is surprisingly willing given its modest power output, while the gearbox proves to be an absolute delight, with second an elastic ‘do anything’ ratio from walking pace up to near cruising speed. The shifter moves with surprising precision, helped by a comfortable clutch action.

With freshly overhauled brakes, a hard shove on the middle pedal brought about reassuring stopping power. Tired dampers helped provide a slightly floaty ride while the big, thin-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel required only modest muscular input at slow turning speeds. Otherwise, cruising along, the Olympia surprised with its quiet, stable gait, excellent view out – and even a bit of bling with its chromed pointed bonnet mascot pointing the way ahead.

Around 160 000 OL38 Olympias were sold before it was replaced by the more modern Opel Olympia Rekord in 1953. The Olympia name was used in 1967-1970 for a luxury version of the Opel Kadett, but it was the first- and second-generation models that had the most impact, especially as the original set a new German motor industry standard. The Olympia’s popularity and reputation did much to help Opel re-establish itself after the war, and it stands as something of an unsung hero in Opel’s history. MM


Aussie Stuart Hooper has for a few years been raising the world land speed record for a single-cylinder sit-on motorcycle – in other words, a speed machine with a normal riding position. This year at the Lake Gairdner Speed Week – South Australia’s equivalent to America’s annual event at Bonneville – Hooper once again took the record to new heights on his supercharged 732 cm3 Velocette.
After an initial sighting run of 177 mph (284,85 km/h), which nearly emptied the 10-litre fuel tank. The next run raised more fuel consumption problems with fluctuating cylinder head temperatures and eventually drowning the engine, which at least allowed the team to identify a very unusual fuel flow problem related to the bike’s specific installation.  For the third run the supercharger drive ratio was increased and the engine ran like a clock, resulting in a 188 mph (302,55 km/h) average. However, the Velo was not happy with major stability issues requiring a few minor suspension changes to eradicate.  Then came the dream run...
“Using only half throttle and 5 000 r/min, she passed 150 mph (241,4 km/h) in a mile and then it was tuck in and twist the throttle to the stop,” recalls Hooper. “This time she ran straight as an arrow and the revs just kept building to 6 800 at the end of the measured miles. In fact, I kept the throttle wide for another untimed mile just for the hell of it and saw another 100 r/min on the old chronometric tachometer. Five miles absolutely flat out – 193,061 mph (310,7 km/h).”
Who said bikers are mad?


This year’s event will take place on Sunday 1 May at Knysna High School sports fields on Waterfront Drive. Peter Pretorius, chairman of the organising Garden Route Motor Club, invites all auto enthusiasts, the public and their families to come and experience what has established itself as a prestigious and exciting motor show. The categories of vehicles on display will be classic cars with a bias towards sports cars, modern potential classic cars, sports and supercars, veteran, vintage and post-vintage cars built prior to 1940 and  veteran, vintage  and classic road and racing motorcycles.
Classic Car Africa magazine will once again sponsor two Concours d’Elegance floating trophies. In addition Auto Glym will sponsor the Style et Luxe floating trophy for the most elegant and luxurious car on view.
The motorcycle floating trophy, sponsored by All Sound Security, will be awarded to the best motorcycle on display. The winners of these trophies will be selected by independent judges.

Since its inception, the show has been the source of much needed funds for local charities. Over the past four years close to R200 000 has been distributed to Hospice, Animal Welfare, E-Pap (children feeding scheme), Knysna High School bursary fund and FAMSA . The drive this year will again be to raise monies for these charities.
Gates open to the public from 09h30 to 16h00 and the entrance charges are is R40 adults, R10 scholars 12-to-18 and no charge for children under 12. For more information contact Peter Pretorius on 082 321 4724 or peterp@afrihost.co.za or visit the website www.grmc.co.za or Facebook  www.facebook.com/knysnamotorshow. MM


In the current April issue of TopCar magazine, there is an eight page feature on FMM’s Ford Mustang pick-up, the Mustero, and the latest Mustang 5.0 GT. In the April/May issue of Classic Car Africa magazine there will be extended features on FMM’s Honda NSX and Opel Olympia.


March 25-April 3: Rand Show, NASREC, Johannesburg
April 2: Inland Championship & 2-Hour, Phakisa Raceway
April 3: Angela’s Picnic, Delta Park, Johannesburg
April 9: Historics Tour, Zwartkops
April 9: Regional races, Scribante Raceway, Port Elizabeth
April 16: Extreme Festival, Killarney Raceway
April 16: Regional races, East London
April 23: Extreme Festival, Phakisa
April 23: Crankhandle Swartland Rally
May 1: Knysna Motor Show
May 6-8: Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, Knysna
May 14: Africa Endurance Series 3-Hour, Dezzi Raceway, Port Shepstone
May 15: Cars in the Park, Alexander Park, Pietermaritzburg
May 21: Extreme Festival Round 5, Zwartkops
(Clubs and organisations are invited to send details of upcoming events to mike4m@telkomsa.net for inclusion in Exhaust Blips.)


The Franschhoek Motor Museum is situated on the L’Ormarins Estate along the R45 in the Franschhoek Valley in the Western Cape, which is approximately a one hour/75 km drive from central Cape Town.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday 10h00 to 18h00 (last admittance 16h00), Saturday and Sunday 10h00 to 17h00 (last admittance 15h00) – the museum is open on most public holidays.

Admission prices are R60 adults, R50 pensioners and motor club members (with membership ID), R30 children (ages 3-12).

Guided tours are available upon request. An on-site delicatessen serves food and refreshments, while tasting and purchasing of the estate’s wines is also offered. Modern ‘charabanc’ rides through L’Ormarins to adjoining wine farms are also available.

Tel: 021 874 9000 Fax: 021 874 9100 E-mail: fmm.co.za Web: www.fmm.co.za
View cars currently on display.
Newsletter text by Mike Monk.

Copyright © 2016 The Franschhoek Motor Museum, All rights reserved.