Our July newsletter featuring the following articles: On the shelves, Cape motoring history book, Pretoria cars in the park, Collection in action, Rip nico de lange, Exhaust blips.
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FMM Library
Housed above the Franschhoek Motor Museum’s main reception/delicatessen/wine display and tasting area is one of the facility’s lesser known attributes – the library. The core of collection came from FMM’s antecedent, the Heidelberg Transport Museum, which has been supplemented by numerous individuals donating either individual titles or even complete collections, including those from Fred Schnetler, Mike Hooper and Michele Lupini. As well as the books is a varied selection of local and overseas motor magazines covering veteran and vintage as well as post-war cars and motoring in general. For the more technically minded, there is quite a selection of handbooks, workshop manuals and engineering text books relating to older cars. Also of significance are the prized written – particularly those of Peter Macintosh – and photographic records of historic South African motor sport, which collectively forms a valuable archive of the country’s sporting heritage.

David Magqwanti is the resident librarian and he is responsible for logging, indexing and filing all the books and archive material acquired by the museum. David is on hand and willing to help browsers/researchers find the relevant tomes relating to the particular title or topic they are seeking. Seating is provided for on-site reading – the books are not loaned out. The museum also sells selected books and magazines from reception. Currently on sale are Dart: The Real GSM Story by Sandy Brunette (R250), and Kyalami by Andre Loubser (R795). Also on sale is the bi-monthly Classic & Performance Car Africa magazine (R47), the country’s only dedicated classic car journal that regularly features stories and driving impressions of some of the museum’s cars as well as an FMM News page.

So, if you need to look up some facts and figures or even general information on any old matters motoring, check out the FMM library – you may find just what you are looking for. MM


Cape motoring history book
Crankhandle Club historian Derek Stuart-Findlay has just launched a book on the pioneering years of South African motoring from 1897 up to the 1942 Abyssinian Campaign. Titled Our Intrepid Cape Motoring Pioneers, this 183-page A4-sized hard cover contains 70 stories divided into 10 chapters on the first vehicles to arrive in the country, the veteran and Edwardian eras, WW1, the 1920s, founders of the automotive industry, motoring entrepreneurs, sporting and record breaking achievements as well as road networks, cableways, trams and aircraft. Amply illustrated with over 350 images, while this valuable reference book focuses on activity in the Cape, it is an entertaining and recommended read for anyone interested in pre-war motoring. The book costs R250 and is available from FMM or direct from the author at dsfindlay@telkomsa.net. MM


The 36th running of the annual Cars in the Park at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria ON Sunday 2 August looks set to break all previous records in terms of the number of cars and spectators attending. Last year, over 3 000 classic and special interest cars showed up at venue and there were over 15 000 spectators, the biggest crowd that Zwartkops has hosted for any event. This year, over 100 car clubs have booked special areas, and with interest in classic cars at a fever pitch thanks to the proliferation of television shows publicising the ‘old-timer passion’, the organisers are catering for an even bigger turn-out. Apart from the classics, the show also caters for various other types of special interest cars such as muscle cars and hot rods. Extra car park areas and access roads have been created to cater for the anticipated increased traffic.


Such was the popularity and success of FMM’s engineering consultant Dickon Daggitt’s inaugural Oily Rag Run last year that a second running has been scheduled for 20 September 2015 based at the museum. No details are available just yet, but if you have an unrestored (the prerequisite for Oily Rag runs) pre-1960s vehicle that is eligible for entry, keep the date in mind and watch upcoming newsletters for more info as it appears. MM 


An alphabetical series of short driving impressions of some of the museum’s car collection. This month we go local and lekker in a GSM Dart.

To get straight to the point – if you will excuse the pun – the Dart has to be one of the most renowned cars ever produced in South Africa. To this day there is a remarkable number of these sportscars (and its coupé sibling, the Flamingo) still around, not just simply in existence but up and running and regularly used, thanks to the undying efforts of a vibrant enthusiasts/owners club. Having briefly driven a Flamingo a couple of years back, the Dart had eluded me up to now but when our alphabetical driving series reached G, the opportunity arose for GSM – Glassport Motor Company, the organisation behind the cars – to be the featured marque. So on a chilly winter’s morning, FMM’s sky blue Dart (thankfully with hardtop fitted) stood brighter than the heavens above awaiting my turn at the wheel. But first, it is worth (very briefly) recounting how it all began.
The full history of GSM has been well recorded in Sandy Brunette’s book ‘Dart: The Real GSM Story’ (copies are still available from FMM – see ‘On The Shelves’) but, simply put, the company was founded by three talented men, namely Bob van Niekerk, Willie Meissner and Verster de Wit. Bob was essentially the leader of the pack – certainly the driving force – and his relationship with Willie began when they were both at Stellenbosch University studying engineering. Verster became involved when he met Willie – and later, Bob – while they were all working in England and Verster’s auto design talents were enlisted to answer all three men’s desire to build a South African sports car.
The mock-up of the vehicle was made in a garage in Streatham, London and once the design was finalised, a mould was made for the body – to be built in glass fibre – which was eventually shipped to South Africa in the first half of 1957. By this time Willie was already back home, having set up a manufacturing base and being well advanced with the car’s mechanicals. Once body met rolling chassis, the Dart was born and two cars were built and took part in the False Bay 100 at Gunner’s Circle on 1 January 1958, driven by Bob and Willie. They finished 5th and 6th in the scratch race that preceded the ‘100’, in which they finished 11th and 14th competing against the likes of ex-GP single-seater racing cars. The car was introduced to the public the following month, and the rest – as they say – is not only history, it is also the stuff of legends.
Clearly then, the Dart was pretty much ‘right’ from the get-go and went on to become one of the most successful sports cars of its time, driven by many prominent racers and never failing to impress magazine road testers. But why? Well, this particular model (chassis number 25) is fitted with the early Cortina/Capri Ford 1 498 cm3 four-cylinder that delivered ‘double 85s’ – 85 bhp (63 kW) at 5 800 r/min and 85 lbf/ft (115 N.m) at 3 000 – thanks to the fitment of a Solex twin-choke carburettor and GSM-designed free-flow inlet and exhaust manifolds. Once warmed up (the car and me), I colloquially ‘put foot’ around some narrow winding roads and the reason for the Dart’s appeal soon became clear.
With a licensing mass of 617 kg, the Dart is quite light despite its fairly thick glass fibre two-seater body but the chassis layout is a classic example of the ‘simpler the better’ design philosophy. It is basic in concept but brilliant in execution, somewhat akin to Colin Chapman’s Lotuses. With the engine set well back in the frame and the cockpit sited well within the wheelbase, the car’s weight distribution is optimised to the greater benefit of handling, which is where the Dart excels. The steering is light and communicative, the ride firm but not harsh, and the handling is a dream. Stirring the four-speed gearbox, the willing motor provides busy and brisk performance. In a 1963 CAR road test, 0-60 mph (96 km/h) took 10,5 seconds and a top speed of 98 mph (158 km/h) was recorded. But is through the twisties that Dart excelled, a case of ‘catch me if you can’. And THAT is the basis of the Proudly South African GSM Dart’s legendary success. MM


Nico de Lange
It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing Mr Nico De Lange on 10 July 2015. Nico and was very active in the sourcing and restoring of a number of cars, many of which became part of the Heidelberg collection, which, subsequently, formed the basis of FMM. He was also the founding member and chairman of the Friends of the Museum group for the Heidelberg Motor Museum. Nico, you will always be remembered with fondness by all who knew you. WH



August 1: Power Series races Rnd 6, Killarney
August 2: POMC Cars in the Park, Zwartkops
August 8: Extreme Festival races Rnd 5, Zwartkops
August 9: FSVCC Cars in the Park, Bloemfontein
August 10: Women in Motorsport, Killarney
August 15:  Inland Championship races Round 6, Phakisa
August 15: Crankhandle Club annual book sale
August 22: Extreme Festival races Rnd 5, Phakisa
August 22: Circuit races, Scribante Raceway, PLZ
August 29: Extreme Festival races Rnd 6, Dezzi Raceway, Port Shepstone
August 30: 33rd BMW Concours d’Elegance. Montecasino Outdoor Piazza

September 5: Power Series races Rnd 7, Killarney
September 5-6: Wheels at the Vaal Show, North West University, Vanderbijlpark
September 11-13: OFSVCC Rendezvous Tour
September 12: SCC Spring Trophy races, Kyalami
September 19: Historics races Rnd 6, Zwartkops
September 19: Circuit races, Scribante Raceway, PLZ
September 20: British Car Clubs’ Fun Run, Cape Town
September 20: Piston Ring Autojumble, Modderfontein
September 24: SAVVA National ‘Drive It’ Day

(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.

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.

Copyright © 2015 The Franschhoek Motor Museum, All rights reserved.
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