Once a year, car enthusiasts get together at the Zwartkops circuit for Cars in the Park, which was originally held at the Pioneer Museum in Silverton, but moved to Zwartkops in 2006. For the first time in several years, I was able to take a camera with me.
If you ask 20 enthusiasts to report on what they saw, they will give you 20 different reports. My main field of interest is cars from the 1950s onwards, mainly because car designers had a lot more imagination than they did before World War II, and pre-war cars looked too similar. This is part one of my two-part report on this year’s event, and I decided to concentrate mainly on cars that were common on our roads, but are not seen that often anymore.
Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Super (CAR Road Test: June 1966)
It is almost impossible to believe that this car was originally introduced 50 years ago. The 1600 Super was very well-received by the motoring press, and continued virtually unchanged for several years.
Audi 100 Coupé S (CAR Road Test: February 1973)
This was the most expensive car on the South African market when it was new, and because of import duties it cost more than contemporary models from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar. Therefore, it was not as popular as it might have been otherwise. However, the saloon models were manufactured locally, and were the first Audi models to be sold here in large numbers.
Chevrolet 4100 LS (CAR Road Test: December 1972 and March 1975)
This was South Africa’s top-selling car in 1974 and 1975, and was based on the contemporary Opel Rekord and Commodore. It continued virtually unchanged through much of its production cycle, and was only facelifted a year before it was replaced. Its successors were, more logically, known as the Chevrolet Rekord and Commodore.
Chevrolet Chevelle 300 de Luxe (CAR Road Test: September 1968)
This model was the opposite of the above-mentioned 4100, in that it was not popular in this country, and was replaced by the Kommando and Constantia after only a year on the market. This particular model did not get a very good review when it was tested. Moreover, it was one of the ugliest cars ever made.
Chevrolet Firenza 2500 Automatic (CAR Road Test April 1972)
This was the South African version of the Vauxhall Viva, and its engine came from the contemporary Ranger. Its popularity decreased after the 1973 fuel crisis, but the coupé version became legendary when the V8-engined Can Am was based on its bodywork.
Datsun 620 (CAR Road Test: December 1973 and February 1978)
The Datsun 1300 and 1500 pick-ups were very popular in the 1960s and early 1970s, but then Toyota introcuded the Hi Lux. The first Hi Lux competed with the 620’s predecessor, the 1500, but no sooner had Toyota introduced the second-generation Hi Lux than the Datsun 620 was launched. It had the same engine as the 1500, which may explain why it was not very popular. Therefore, it was a surprise to see a 620 in an immaculately original condition.
Datsun 260 C- Z (CAR Road Test August 1974)
The 260 C was Datsun-Nissan’s flagship in the mid-1970’s, and came with a sedan or a hardtop body shell. In 1974, the 260 C-Z was introduced, featuring the same twin-carburettor engine as the 260 Z sports car that was never marketed in this country. However, only a few 260 C-Zs were manufactured, because towards the end of 1975, a facelifted version of the 260 C, called the 300 C was introduced. At the same time, the hardtop was discontinued.
Ford Cortina 1,6 GL (CAR Road Test: February 1981)
In 1980, the Cortina received its final facelift. The Mark 4 was the top-selling car on the South African market for two years, and this last facelift was considered to be sufficiently changed to justify being called the Mark 5. The 1,6 L Mark 4 was an austere car which sold well nevertheless, but the 1,6 GL was better-equipped and ensured the Cortina’s popularity until it was replaced by the Sierra in 1983.
Ford Escort 1600 Sport (CAR Road Test July 1979)
This was a masterstroke from Ford’s marketing department. Although the Sport was part of the Escort range in the UK since the original introduction of the second generation in 1975, South African motorists had to wait four years. However, the wait was worth it. The Sport was sold at a bargain price, and saw the Escort 2 climb the sales charts. The problem was that many “enthusiasts” modified this model to such an extent that it is just about imposible to find one in an original condition. In fact, an original Sport is a gem that is worth holding on to.
Ford Fairlane V8 Automatic (CAR Road Test May 1971)
The Fairlane was a popular car among caravanners, and in 1968, the first Australian version was introduced in South Africa. In 1970, the Fairlane received a new front end with vertical headlamps. CAR’s editorial staff did not like the front-end styling, but I consider it to be a distinctive feature that makes it look a bit like a contemporary Mercedes-Benz 280 SE. This model was replaced by the last generation to reach this country, codenamed the ZF, but that did not prove very popular.
Tags: 6 GL, Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Super, Audi 100 Coupé S, Chevrolet 4100 LS, Chevrolet Chevelle 300 de Luxe, Chevrolet Firenza 2500 Automatic, Datsun 260 C- Z, Datsun 620, Ford Cortina 1, Ford Escort 1600 Sport, Ford Fairlane V8 Automatic