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Wheels On The Waterfront

Broadcast dates : 1st August 2004
5th August 2004


Each year fundraisers for the Brits Hospice organise Cars on the Waterfront a day-outing for classic cars on the banks on the Hartbeespoort Dam.

Attendance was down this year owing to a major classic car show held just a week earlier, but some interesting old-timers still made the run to this scenic picnic spot.

When it comes to ideal picnic cars they donít come more fitting than this Fiat 500 Jolly. Based on the tiny Italian city car of the 1960s, the Jolly features a unique canopy top and, even more unusually, wicker-basket seating arrangements. Fiat 500s have become cult classics in the 21st century, driven by the likes of Michael Schemata. And the Jolly is the most collectible 500 of them all.

At the other end of the scale, but roughly from the same era as the Jolly is this 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne. The í58 Chevy is interesting in that it was the year that Chevrolet went moderate on tailfins, while other American manufacturers were reaching for the sky in this era of jet-age automotive design. It wasnít too shy on the chrome, though, and it was also the year in which every American carmaker introduced quad headlights.

The Plymouth nameplate was a mainstay of 1930s motoring in South Africa, along with its siblings from the Chrysler stable, Dodge, De Soto, and of course the Chrysler brand itself. Apart from the more up-market Chrysler shapes, all these cars were very similar mechanically. This beige and brown two-tone job is a 1934 four-door sedan. It uses a side-valve or flat-head straight six cylinder engine, with a three-speed manual gearbox.


The Ford was yet another icon in that it was the first mass-produced American car to use a V8 engine. Known as the flathead V8, because of its side-valve configuration, this Fords became the darling of the emerging hotrod crowd in the immediate post-war years, although this beautiful blue coupe dates from the mid-1930s.
Across the pond, as the Yanks like to say, England had its own flirtation with fins as these Sunbeams from the late Ď50s and early 1960s show. The Rapier was a two-door coupe and Famous for its rallying exploits, while the Alpine was pure sports car, built to take on the likes of MG and Triumph. These Sunbeams both used mildly-tuned four-cylinder engines and their performance was moderately fast for the era.
In fact the Alpine would later appear in Tiger configuration with a Ford V8, although the Sunbeam name would last only a few years longer before disappearing into motoring history.
Perhaps one of the nicest aspects of informal car shows like the Waterfront event is that there are no rules. Most purists would shudder at this replica of a Mercedes SSK, especially because of its American chrome wheels, but enthusiasts like these bikers out for a breakfast run were impressed by the sheer variety of the wheels on display.
Not a vintage show year at Brits, but well worth the run, if only for the lovely view.

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