Tailpipe - The
Swartland Rally, 12 May
by Ron Gush
If you were to ask me why we drove our 1934 Austin Ten for 2336km
from Kenton to Cape Town, to Velddrif and then back, I would
reply that, if I have to explain it to you, you will not
understand. Save to say that it was great fun and an
We had signed up for the SAVVA 50th Anniversary Rally thinking it
would be a fun and prestigious event and we were very
disappointed to hear, via the grape vine, that it had been
cancelled. But before that, we had also signed up for the
Swartland - a 1 day rally from Cape Town to Velddrif on the West
coast. The Crankhandle Club very honourably offered to refund our
entry fee for the Swartland and we did think about it for a few
milli-seconds. We had already got our heads around the idea of
driving the Austin to Houw Hoek and Cape Town, so why not just
drive to Cape Town? After all the road trip promised to be as
much fun as the rally.
We planned to travel to Cape Town in 4 days, doing a leisurely
280km/day for the first 3 days then 120km on the last day so as
to arrive in the big city over lunch and not in rush hour
traffic. Each day we drove for an hour or so and then stopped for
breakfast - and coffee and anything else along the way that took
So day 1 saw us on the road at 06h30, lights on and breakfast at
Nanaga. North to Paterson then west to Kirkwood and Steytlerville
where we had pre booked accommodation. We got there just after
1pm and could have gone further. No worries, we visited a small
private motor museum in Steytlerville, checked into the
Steytlerville Villa, wandered around town and had a good supper
at the Royal Hotel,
Day 2 we were off at 7am. 40km out of Steytlerville the tar
changes to a 1 car wide concrete strip. That was no problem as we
only saw 3 cars on the 80km between Steytlerville and Willowmore.
But we did see lots of steenbok, duiker, kori bustard, blesbok,
blue crane etc. And sadly, 8 roadkilled bat eared foxes. (Did you
know that in the USA more antelope are killed by vehicles than by
Breakfast at Sophies Choice in Willowmore. Coffee in De Rust.
Lunch at a farm stall between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp.
Calitzdorp was our scheduled stop but it was so early that we
decided to push on to Ladismith. Phoned ahead and booked
accommodation. It was very hot driving through Huis River Pass
and the car actually did miss few beats. Recognized the problem
as fuel vaporization, and flicked on the auxiliary electric pump
and had no more trouble, running both electric and mechanical
pumps in tandem until we crested the pass.
Ladismith to Cape Town is 340km. As it was Sunday, we decided to
do it in 1 day provided we could make it before 4pm to avoid the
returning weekenders. Up early and on the road by 6.30am. Pitch
dark but no traffic so my 25W head lights were quite adequate. A
beautiful sunrise behind us. Stopped at Ronnies Sex Shop for a
photo. They could have given us breakfast but were still closed.
Breakfast in Barrydale. Through the Tradouw pass and onto the N2
11km east of Swellendam. Traffic not too heavy, and there was a
tarred shoulder in most places, but I will choose the back roads
any day. It's a dragonfly road past Caledon - drag up the uphills
and fly on the down. Coasting down one of the hills Pams cell
phone GPS said we were doing 83km/h. That GPS must be pretty
accurate - it agreed with my centrifugal speedo.
Lunch at Perigrine farm stall. Crested Sir Lowrys pass and
sighted Table Mountain. What a lovely view. Engine compression
and wind resistance was almost enough to keep the Austin in check
but had to touch the brakes now and again. Parked at our
daughter's home in Plumstead at 15h30.
All along the way we were greeted on the road with flashing
lights, waves, thumbs up and cell phone cameras. At all stops we
were enthusiastically approached by folk admiring our car. And it
is amazing how much more one sees of the countryside at 65 -
To her delight, we fetched our grand daughter from pre-primary
school in the Austin.
Friday night was rally pre-briefing at the Crankhandle Club and a
bring & braai afterwards.
Saturday morning we were on the road early to scrutineering and
start at the Engen on the N7 north. It was a lovely rally. On
roads we had never travelled. Some confusion when we found that
competitors had been given different route schedules! You
definitely did not follow anyone! But we did think we were doing
particularly well if all these other cars were going in the wrong
direction! It was not so. On arrival at the finish in Velddrif we
were offered a few car games on the dock side. All good fun, then
we retired to the hotel. Results were pleasing - we came 5th out
of 25 entrants. And, if we had stopped dead at all traffic stops,
we might have come 3rd!!! So, be warned.
Sunday morning we drove 37km down to Langebaan to a private
museum - the home of the West Coast Old Car Club. All cars belong
to Lucas Van Staaden. A lovely collection and amazing club house
Then the long road home. Overnight in Ceres, De Rust and outside
Addo. About 340 km / day. Stopped in Matjiesfontein. About
20 old cars were lined up outside the hotel and it looked like
some sort of convention was on the go. But they were non-runners
from the local car museum, moved out of the building for a
wedding the previous Saturday. A day later and we would not have
We lost a hub cap before Meirings Poort. Heard it go, stopped and
searched for nearly an hour with no luck. Annoying.
Filled up in De Rust. At Willowmore it seemed too soon to top up.
But there is no fuel until Kirkwood. I was beginning to sweat
when we rolled into Kirkwood with some 310 km behind us and 2
litres left in the tank. The car averaged 12.7km/l for the trip.
The last night in Addo was nostalgic. Our adventure was coming to
an end! Drove through the elephant park - there were almost more
cameras pointed at our car than at the animals! We were home
shortly after lunch.