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Old Wheelers hosts ‘Bonnet Day’

BEING the preservers of vintage and classic cars is only one of many undertakings of the Old Wheelers Club in Windhoek.

During the club’s regular ‘Bonnets Up’ day recently, owners of vintage and classics had the opportunity to put their cars on display, show off their engines and tell their stories of days gone by to those eager to lend an ear.

And every owner’s prized possession started somewhere before it ended up in his or her inventory of classics. Many of the cars have been restored back to their glory days – which often comes at a price, as spare and body parts are not easily available anymore and often collectors have to source parts from the internet or even approach someone, somewhere, to make that specialised part to get the vehicle up and running again.

And as Top Revs learnt this past weekend, owners are more than willing to speak to fellow enthusiasts about their cars.

All the cars displayed by their owners on the museum floor and on the inventory list are roadworthy and in good running order. In most cases, collectors own more than one vehicle.

Rainer Rusch from the Old Wheelers Museum said they rotate displays regularly to showcase more pieces to the public.

One of the oldest cars on display is a red 1934 Chevrolet Coupe with a 181cu (in modern days 3.0L) inline 6-cylinder engine. Back then, owners did not boast about kilowatts and torque, but merely about style, looks, and that the car could take them from one point to another.

Despite the enormous straight 6 engine, it delivered a hefty 45kW back then.

The coupe, with its distinctive shape of strong flowing lines and a spare wheel mounted on the outer left side, as well as a wooden platform for luggage at the back, is indeed a crowd puller.

The car was initially launched in 1933, and collectors insist that “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore”.

Back then, engines were very basic and most owners could work on or repair their own vehicles. And by the looks of most of the engines – simplicity is key.

Rusch is both proud and excited about what the Old Wheelers has achieved, with the museum being the only one in Namibia, and all funds raised to build the venue were done through donations and fundraising among their members.

The idea for the museum stems from June 1986, in the old Grüner Kranz Hotel in the city centre at the time, said Rusch.

Today, the museum is situated on state-of-the-art premises in Olympia, with plans underway to extend the building to accommodate more classic and vintage vehicles.

One proud owner of a 61-year-old Jaguar is Steve Hirst, who shared his story with much pride. The car originated from Nyasaland, which is today known as Malawi.

The car has a rich history, and Hirst is the second owner, with the complete and original delivery documents in his possession.

“The Jaguar was in the same family for 52 years and the owner used to drive the car all the way from Lilongwe (Malawi) to Groote Schuur in Cape Town, where he was a medical student,” said Hirst.

Another owner of yet another legend is Peter Breitenstein, who is the proud owner of a 1938 Buick. This legendary car, with its 8-cylinders in a row, had many visitors in awe.

The classic car is in an immaculate condition, and runs like a clock.

“Eight cylinders all in a row, make the Buick go,” he chanted lightheartedly.

Breitenstein is also the owner of a Satam hand-operated fuel pump dating back to the late 1940s.

There are more than old vintage cars on display at the museum, which also showcases hand and power tools of yesteryear, motorcycles, nostalgic memorabilia and more. There is even an advertising corner for collectors to share sales information.

Classic cars are defined as being at least 20 to 45 years old, while vintage cars are 25 years old or older and antiques are at least 45.