The Franschhoek Motor Museum
CEO Richard Hoggart finds a hidden gem in South Africa’s wine country.
When you think about South African tourism, surely the first thing that comes to mind is a safari? And why shouldn’t it? Completely understandable as it has some of the finest resorts in the world to visit for your Big 5 experience.
It has become customary for most visitors to add an experience of Cape Town to their safari trips these days. An exciting, sophisticated, vibrant city with much to offer for every interest in the surrounding areas.
My interest was very much about the local wine and cuisine culture. South Africa has a very long history of wine-making dating back to the 17th century and there are now several areas around the Western Cape just a couple of hours drive from Cape Town where vineyards are plentiful and tasting experiences can be complimented by magnificent lunches or dinners.
My particular favourite spot is the town of Franschhoek, tucked away by the shelter of the Groot Drakenstein mountains, and founded by French Huguenot settlers in 1688 and now a beautiful example of a town obsessed with wine, food and a delightful village experience.
I have been there quite a few times up and down the 10km straight road that heads to the village, lined with grand estate vineyards luring the palate. One sign that I had ignored every time though was a subtle one suggesting there was a “motor museum” somewhere housed at the L’Omarins vineyard. I never thought it would amount to much despite the fact it was owned by the ludicrously wealthy Anton Rupert family, famous for Rothmans cigarettes and owners of Richemont luxury brands such as Montblanc. The day I decided to visit I was taking my Dad on a trip to celebrate his 80th birthday. He was a car dealer all his working life, so perhaps he might enjoy it. I was right.
Bottom line is that this has to be one of the finest collections of historic, classic and luxury cars in the entire world. To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement.
It cost about £3 to go in and explore the huge old buildings that were populated by every type of classic car you could possibly imagine. Displays dedicated to old trucks and motorbikes were alongside every classic sports car you have ever dreamed about. Bugatti, Aston, Bentley, Rolls, Mercedes and Ferrari are everywhere, for the european sports car purist, but so are Shelby Mustangs, Studebakers and Cadillacs for the many American visitors to feast on.
Drawn as I was to my dream car of a 1957 Gullwing Mercedes 300 SL, I was quickly dragged away to drool at the “Evolution of Ferrari” featuring models from across the decade with a nice Enzo centrepiece.
Take your pick from a Jaguar XKR, Delorean, Honda NSX or countless Chevrolets if your tastes dictate. There are over 220 vehicles to view up close and photograph to your hearts content.
If you find yourself in the Cape Winelands anytime in the future and like me and my Dad, love a beautiful car with a story, then it really is an absolute must stop. I promise you it will give you something to talk about as you slip into wine mode shortly afterwards.
Images courtesy of the Franschhoek Motor Museum
Richard Hoggart is Chief Executive Officer at DSG Finance Group Limited.