The Cape 1 000: Check out the First Running of South Africa’s “Most Beautiful Drive”.
When The Cape 1000 convoy of nearly 40 spectacular cars, the oldest of which dated from 1956, returned to the Silo Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, it was to rapturous applause from a large crowd of appreciative petrolheads and intrigued, smartphone-toting passers-by. Throughout the preceding four days, these rare cars travelled vast distances and endured extreme heat and thunderstorms, while their drivers and navigators had to sustain long periods of concentration during timed regularity stages. But they also had the time of their lives…
“It was extremely tough,” says Cars.co.za’s Ciro de Siena, who drove a 1967 Citroën DS.
“On average, we did 400 km a day, without air-conditioning (which we take for granted these days) and the regularity stages really required you to be very alert. Duwyne Aspeling, my navigator, did an excellent job! But all the sweat and fatigue is worth it in the end, as you get to see our beautiful country, swap stories with other petrolheads, and make memories that will last a lifetime. If you’re a petrolhead, then The Cape 1000 simply has to be on your bucket list!”
Ross Crichton, who founded The Cape 1000, is justifiably pleased with how the event was run.
“It still needs to sink in,” he says. “I’ve done many motoring events before, but I have never experienced such a positive response, from the participants and public alike, as I did with The Cape 1000. The organising team did an incredible job.”
What is The Cape 1 000?
The Cape 1000 is a classic and exotic car rally inspired by some of the world’s most famous and historic motoring events. It is run in four classes: Tribute (1927-1957), Classic (Pre-1977), Modern Classic (1977-1996) and Sports Car (1997-2022). As the event’s name suggests, it is run over a 1000 miles (1 600 km) over the course of 4 days, with 60% of the route consisting of “grand touring” and the remaining 40% comprising challenging regularity stages, during which navigators and drivers have to work closely together and meticulously follow the stage’s timing and speed instructions to achieve success and, hopefully, score some points. So, it’s not a race, but certainly still a challenge, one which is won through consistency, reliability and accuracy.
The Cape 1000 kicked off in a most vibrant fashion at the V&A Waterfront on Wednesday, March 9th 2022. If you consider yourself a petrolhead, then the sight of a stunning Porsche 550 Spyder recreation mixing it with the likes of an almost priceless Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster and the latest McLaren 720S must surely stir the soul…
Four days of braving the elements
The route initially wound its way around the Peninsula, taking in the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive, before heading for Gordon’s Bay and the stunning Clarence Drive along the coast.
A temporary cafe was set up along the route on each day to give participants an opportunity to stretch their legs… and for the venerable classic cars’ engines to cool down.
From Clarens Drive participants toured to Hermanus before heading inland for some Winelands scenery and then sweeping back to the coast for the first overnight stop. Already on the first day it was clear that the high temperatures would create problems for some of the older cars. The 1957 Austin-Healey 100/6 driven by Greg Marucchi and Hannes Oosthuizen overheated twice, but the crew managed to complete the first day nevertheless, in 7th place overall.
Day Two took participants from Hermanus inland to the towns of Bredasdorp and Swellendam, over the stunning Tradouw Pass, through Villiersdorp and over the iconic Franschhoek Pass to the overnight stop. It was another tough day for the older cars, with the distance of 474 km made all the more difficult by high temperatures and a multitude of hills to ascend.
It was also during this day that the camaraderie of this event was on display, when the De Siena/Aspeling crew in the Citroën DS could not get the French car going again after the refuelling stop. Matt Kreeve, driving his Concours-condition Porsche 356 stopped and quickly found the problem (a loose distributor cable) and the “Goddess” was swiftly on its way again.
The Tradouw Pass was a favourite among the participants, and to hear the engine sounds of V12-powered Ferraris and Lamborghinis bounce off its cliff faces was music to the ears of the petrolheads enjoying a lunch break at the day’s Cape 1000 Cafe, situated halfway up the pass.
The passes of Day Two were again proving problematic for the older cars, however, with the Austin-Healey overheating twice; it required a tow to a refreshment stop after grinding to a halt on a hill near Villiersdorp. A battery change got it going again, but the niggles soon returned, with the British sports car only just managing to crest the Franschhoek Pass and then freewheeling into town. It appeared as if The Cape 1000 had claimed its first victim.
Day Three saw participants travel back to Cape Town for a few laps of the Killarney racing circuit. The Healey had been fixed again (distributor) and was in the queue to go around the track. For many of the participants it was their first opportunity to drive their cars on a racing circuit, and while the Italian and German exotics looked at home blasting around the track, the same could not be said of the older cars – particularly a ‘67 Citroën DS gliding down the main straight in pursuit of a 1969 Porsche 911 S driven, rather vigorously, by Michelle Hambly-Grobler.
From Killarney, the route took participants into the Swartland, and a new challenge could be seen on the horizon – massive thunderstorms! Pouring rain, howling winds and lightning strikes made the going rather tough for particularly the older cars, but The Cape 1000’s mechanic always managed to get the cars going again. It was on this day that three of the Tribute category cars encountered problems – the MG and Austin-Healey ran out of fuel, and the Triumph suffered from fuel starvation. Drenched and exhausted, the cars’ crews made it to the end but, sadly, the beautiful Mercedes-Benz 300SL had to retire due to a clutch problem.
The last overnight stop was at Shelley Point in St Helena Bay, with the convoy leaving for Cape Town after another loop of the Swartland area and more regularity stages. Again, temperatures soared and some cars showed signs of “fatigue”. A punctured radiator eliminated one of the Lamborghini Huracans, while the beautiful Jaguar XK150’s steering failed (thankfully at low speed).
When the colourful convoy reached the cooler climes of Cape Town it seemed every petrolhead in the Mother City was awaiting them. Motoring enthusiasts, young and old, were out in force to support and wave The Cape 1000 participants through to the finish line at the V&A Waterfront.
While The Cape 1000 is more of an experience than a competition, points were scored in the regularity stages, and the prize-giving ceremony on the last night was anxiously awaited.
The results were as follows;
- Tribute Class – Overall Winners: Greg Marucchi & Hannes Oosthuizen (Austin-Healey 100/6)
- Classic Class – Overall Winners: Ciro de Siena & Duwyne Aspeling (Citroën DS19)
- Modern Classic Class – Overall Winners: Stuart Kidgell & Dawie de Villiers (Alfa Romeo GTV6 3.0)
- Sports Car Class – Overall Winner: “Hollywood” (Lamborghini Murcielago)
- Cape 1000 Overall Winners: Stuart Kidgell & Dawie de Villiers (Alfa Romeo GTV6 3.0)
- Spirit of the Cape 1000 Award (as voted for by participants): Michelle Hambly-Grobler (Porsche 911 S)
“We want to thank our sponsors and participants for supporting us in this first-ever event,” says Crichton. “Interest in next year’s event is already being expressed by enthusiasts who didn’t participate this year, so we’re confident that The Cape 1000 will go from strength to strength in years to come and become a highlight of the South African automotive calendar.”
The Cape 1000 was sponsored by Cars.co.za, SCL Travel, Silvercrest Super Car Insurance and Mix 93.8FM.
(Photographers: JoNo Nienaber and Devin Paisley)