Our March newsletter featuring the following articles: MMMagical MGs, Magnificent Mercedes, Lucky for some, Collection in Action – Behind the Wheel 3, Exhaust blips.
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For four days in March, Franschhoek was treated to the sights and sounds – and occasionally smells – of some of the most charismatic cars of the vintage/post-vintage era, the twin-cam MG Midget, Magna and Magnette models produced from 1929 to 1934. Known as the Triple Ms, there are 46 examples on the South African MMM Register and owners get together each year to celebrate the history of these sports cars. Franschhoek is a favourite location amongst the ‘Octagonists’ and following a successful gathering in the town in 2013, no less than 20 cars including two very special examples from overseas arrived for this year’s event that took place from 19-22 March.
Naturally, FMM played a key role in the programme of events. With kind permission of Dr Johann Rupert, the cars were given time on the museum’s circuit on the Friday during which some parade and demonstration laps were carried out. Englishman Barry Foster entertained everyone with his loud and extrovert driving style in his supercharged four-cylinder 746 cm3 C-Type Montlhéry Midget. By contrast, Swiss enthusiast Philippe Douchet’s ex-works racing K3 Magnette provided a more deep-throated soundtrack from its supercharged 1 086 cm3 six-cylinder motor, but was no less a spectacle, this very famous car having a history that is the stuff of legends. The last time a K3 appeared in South Africa was at the 1934 SA Grand Prix held on East London’s Marine Drive circuit driven by famous driver Dick Seaman, when he finished fifth.
On the Sunday all of the cars were lined-up on the grass area at the far end of the museum’s quadrangle and put on view for the day by the general public. They were joined by members of the MG Car Club arriving in ‘other’ MGs as well as the numerous enthusiasts from the Crankhandle Club, some of whom joined the MMM brigade for an excellent buffet lunch in the museum’s Deli.
Apart from the activity at FMM, from their base at the Protea Hotel participants spent the gathering experiencing many of Franschhoek’s other attractions over the four days and the whole affair was thoroughly enjoyed by all. MM


During March a new display was set up in Hall C consisting of Mercedes-Benz models ranging from the majestic 1929 Type S to the 2004 CLK55 AMG DTM Coupé that was featured in the February newsletter’s ‘Collection in Action’. The other cars on view are the 1937 540K Cabriolet, 1938 230 Cabriolet, 1947 170D, 1952 300 Adenaur, 1955 300SL Gullwing, 1957 300SL Roadster, 1959 220S Ponton and 1963 230S Fintail. WH


On 13th March Cape Town classic car dealers Crossley & Webb invited their top clients to bring along some of their special cars for a corporate driving experience at the Franschhoek Motor Museum. Amongst the cars that participated in the day’s proceedings were a number of Porsche’s GT3s, F12 and FF Ferraris, a McLaren MP4, a Morgan and some SLS Mercedes-Benzes to just to name a few of the exotica being enjoyed by their owners. After the driving experience attendees were treated to a traditional braai while viewing a perfect sunset over the Franschhoek Valley.  WH      


The third in a new, alphabetical series of short driving impressions of some of the museum’s car collection. This month we go aero art deco in a Chrysler Airflow.
In the mid 1930s the Chrysler Corporation’s design path went into a streamlining phase with models boasting smooth and flowing contours rather than the more formal, upright shapes that preceded them. Art Deco was also in its prime at that time and Chrysler saw fit to combine the two design influences to produce a car that was like no other American production car to date.
Inspired by the vision of one of its senior engineers Carl Breer, Chrysler introduced the aerodynamic Airflow styling on its Series CY, CU, CV, CX and CW platforms and to promote the concept promptly set about setting 72 stock car speed and endurance records at Daytona Beach in a 4,9-litre straight-eight CU Coupé. A similar car went from Los Angeles to New York averaging 18,1 US mpg, equivalent to 13 litres/100 km. Sales were encouraging...
Airflows continued through 1935 and into 1936 when FMM’s Coupé featured here was built. Its code number is C9 and the body number suggests it was the eleventh-last unit to be built in that model year. In fact, being a coupé makes it quite rare as only 110 were manufactured during the 1936MY.
I suppose today the overall shape would be described as ‘organic’. From the tall waterfall grille to the tapering tail, there is fluidity to the shape that only the modestly raked split windscreen breaks up. Even the fenders are semi-integrated into the body – running boards are the only styling feature carried over from established practice.
The Art Deco influence can be seen in the design of the bumpers and overriders, the headlamp nacelle, the bonnet-side air vents, the twin chrome strips along the waistline, the rear wheel spats with their winged embellishment and the ‘rocket-ship’ tail-light lenses. Inside the theme continues with the design and detailing of the dashboard controls and instruments, the steering wheel and even the ashtrays in the rear seat outer armrests. Oh, the markings on the speedo even show the revs relevant to the speed. Everywhere you look there is something to be admired – elegance AND function. Oh, and the ‘hooter’ was an attention-grabbing wolf whistle!
Turn the key, press the button and the straight-eight eases into life with a slow, steady tickover. The now 5,3-litre motor (it had been enlarged for 1935MY) pumps out 86 kW at 3 400 r/min and a healthy 325 N.m of torque at a low 1 200. Select first, release the pistol-grip handbrake and the Airflow calmly moves away. With such a long wand, there is a lot of movement selecting the gears of the three-speed ’box but once the white-walled tyres are rolling, with so much torque progress is entirely fuss-free. Steering is naturally heavy and low geared and the ride is firm but the very nature of the car creates a feeling of well-being – something mid-’30s America was trying to restore after the effects of the Great Depression.
Which may partly explain why Chrysler’s styling innovation was doomed not to succeed. The Airflow range of models was discontinued in 1937, having failed to capture the imagination – and cheque books – of the people, the design considered too advanced, too different. Quality issues with production of the all-steel body was also a negative. Sadly, Chrysler’s bold move was ahead of its time and short-lived, the survivors serving as a reminder of what might have been. MM


In the April/May Classic & Performance Car Africa magazine there is a feature on FMM’s Porsche 912, a model that celebrates its 50th anniversary this. In TopCar magazine’s series of articles on historic South African race circuits, the April issue features Zwartkops. MM


March 22-29:  2015 Jaguar Jamboree, Clarens, Free State
March 28:       Autumn Trophy races, Kyalami
March 28:       Motor show, Westcliffe School, Bellville
March 29:       CMMC Breakfast Run to Weltevreden, Stellenbosch

April 2-12:       Stars of Sandstone steam festival, Ficksburg
April 3-6:         Cape Alfa Romeo Club 50th anniversary gathering
April 5:             Angela’s Picnic, Delta Park, Johannesburg
April 11:           Extreme Festival 3/Power Series Rnd2, Killarney
April 11:           Historics 2 & 1-Hour Enduro, Dezzi Raceway, Port Shepstone
April 12:           Natal Century Classic Motorcycle Run
April 24-27:      MacGregor Maluti Meander, Fouriesburg Country Inn

May 1-3:           Harvest Festival, Vaal Old Wheeler Club, Vaal River
May 2:              Festival Races, Phakisa
May 2:              Regional racing, Scribante, PLZ
May 9:              Knysna Motor Show, High School Fields, Waterfront Drive
May 9:              Historics 3 & 2-Hour Enduro, Kyalami
May 9:              Power Series Rnd3 & African 3-Hour, Killarney
May 14-17:       Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, Simola Estate, Knysna
May 16:            Circuit racing, Zwartkops
May 17:            Cars in the Park, Alexander Park, Pietermaritzburg
May 23-24:       SAVVA Motorcycle National, Drakensville, KZN
May 30:             Mampoer Rally, POMC, Pretoria
May 30:             Festival Races, Kyalami

(Clubs 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.

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.
Newsletter text by Mike Monk.

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