Wijnland Auto Museum
Many of us who live in Cape Town may either not have heard of or visited the Wijnland Auto Museum in Joostenbergvlakte, although some, while heading up the N1 in the direction of Paarl may have seen on the left-hand side of the Highwaywhat looks like an old car graveyard , which in many ways is what it is. We visited the Museum recently in the company of 20 other classic motoring enthusiasts We were met by Marge Boshoff, the owner’s wife, who gave us a short rundown on the history of this amazing motoring collection and she informed us that they earn their livelihood from fees paid by photographers for shoots at the Museum as well as providing vehicles for film and photo shoots. It is a very popular destination for fashion photographers who appear to delight in contrasting beautiful models with the many rusting and derelict cars standing out in the open.
Les Boshoff, the proprietor, took over and led our group on a tour of the extensive collection. With more than 600 vehicles in the collection it is claimed to be the largest auto Museum in South Africa which it may be, except that most vintage and classic car collections usually have good restored vehicles on display. Les explained that generally they only restore cars as and when they receive a commission for a film or photographic shoot. In many cases the cars are only superficially restored to a budget in order to appear realistic enough to the camera, owing to the prohibitive cost of a full restoration. There have been many famous film stars at the Museum and his cars have been used in many famous films that have been shot in South Africa. He regaled us with stories of teaching Salma Hayek to drive a 1920’s Ford Model A pickup which was used in one of her movies. This particular car has the steering on the left-hand side in order to appear authentic in the film although the pedals and other controls are on the right-hand side and had to be operated by someone out of sight below the dashboard. Other interesting vehicles used in films include a replica F1 racer, a jet propelled land speed record car and a “Starsky and Hutch” look alike Ford.
Undercover in the Museum building are about 30 vehicles in good to fair condition and all of which appear to be running. These range from a Rolls-Royce and Bentley used for weddings and other functions, quite a number of very desirable huge finned American convertibles from the 1950s and 60’s, a Studebaker Silver Hawk and a few American cars of 1920’s and 30’s vintage. There is also a small collection of Hot Rods and associated memorabilia. The workshop, adjacent to the Museum is in itself worth the visit as it is full of interesting memorabilia is and collectables.
There are myriad unrestored, although restorable, vehicles languishing outside under covered shelters whilst the vast majority of the cars are lined up in the open yard on the extensive property. These are generally rusted, rotting and incomplete but not without attraction for photographers if not for motoring enthusiasts. When one takes a walk through the Museum grounds it is apparent that there is almost no make of car or even truck that cannot be found somewhere in the collection; irrespective of its condition. Our visit coincided with springtime in the Cape and the yard was lent a certain charm by the green grass and wildflowers although one can imagine that in the winter it must be much less attractive.
Some of our group remarked that they found the museum depressing because of the general poor condition of so many collectable cars. Most of these are undoubtedly destined to be reduced to oxides in the ground as a team of 100 people working full time could probably not save them. Les is a bit of a controversial character amongst the old car fraternity, known for amassing any old bits that he can lay hands on, but one who declines to help anyone restoring a vehicle with any parts and who asks an outrageous price if anyone wishes to buy one of his old wrecks. Nevertheless we found him a congenial host and interesting raconteur. This is not the collection of an avid motoring enthusiast but it is worth a visit if you have an interest in old and classic cars and the entrance fee of R50 does not break the bank.
By : Horizon Cottages
Directions to Wijnland Auto Museum :
Drive along the N1 toward Paarl, take exit 34, Lucullus St, turn first right at the Nursery into Tarrentaal Rd, then drive to the end of the road where you will see the signs at the gate. There is no website but for more information or reservations contact +27-21-9884203