REVIEW: Franschhoek Motor Museum

by Irene van Staden

A few weeks back, as a surprise for my boyfriend, I made a booking at Franschhoek’s Car Museum in South Africa, Western Cape: Not sure whether or not I would enjoy it, but knowing he would and knowing it was a place neither of us had been to before.

Our booking was for 10am, Saturday on the 4th of May and as always, we arrived 15min early. The road to the main reception is paved and lined with trees and plants on both sides of the road, with the mountain in front of you as you drive up, rounding off the setting.

Arriving at reception, we got out a little unsure where to go. Only to be amused by a bus of elderly men walking eagerly to the obvious building with no fear to try and open the seemingly shut door. Most of them, I realised, will remember some of the cars we were going to see that day. Not from a previous museum visit, but from a previous life.

How envious I am of them, to have lived in a time where some of these cars were the latest editions.

After following the pensioners’ example we moved through the doors and walked up to the reception. I gave my online reseat and got our tickets, permitting us to walk through to the back.

As you walk through the doors, you walk to the outside revealing two long buildings on your left and right side with green grass growing in an oval in the middle and a pathway framing the lawn.

Starting from the left, like the man behind the counter suggested, we started with the oldest cars. I would describe them as a mixture of horse carriages and boiler machines. As they are made out of carriage boxes with bronze or gold pipes connecting the to engine. Lantern for headlights. And the most concerning thing of all, without any review mirrors or seatbelts!

Laying the ground work for the panel beaters when they experimented with the body of the cars and to be seen in the second building. Bragging with how bulky and big they can make it and flashing the status of those who could afford it.

Later society moved away from the big bonnets and high roofs, realising that more is less. Literally, limiting the bodywork and adding curves to increase speed and making it more streamline.

The last few decades are to me, unfortunately, very underwhelming. Maybe it is because it becomes common place, since we see it too often. Making it loose its originality. However, it is amazing to think we drive around in cars as we know them to be today, because someone had an idea to make a horse carriage more efficient. This makes me look at life and especially at traveling in a whole new way.

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