There are vineyards all around the town of Franschhoek and you might have seen its name on the labels of wine bottles – with a bit of luck you might even have been able to sample the contents. Chances are, however, that you have never heard of Franschhoek's Motor Museum. It wasn't on our radar either until our stay in the town on a recent trip to the Western Cape.
Fittingly for these parts, the Motor Museum is housed on a wine estate. Four of the estate's buildings have been repurposed as showrooms for a splendid collection of cars.
There are some 220 vehicles in the collection in total, but only 80 are on display at any time. When we visited, some maintenance work was being carried out, which meant that one of the buildings was effectively out of commission and they had somewhat reduced the number of cars on show. It did not really matter much – we were still able to see dozens of real gems.
Below are two more detailed views of the vehicles shown in the photo at the beginning of this piece.
The blue-and-white car on the left of the last shot is a Mercedes-Benz cabriolet from 1934. Below is a close-up from the side.
Other vehicles on display in this section are a Ford Phaeton De Luxe (1934) …
… a Bentley 4½ from 1928 …
… a lovely Marquette sports roadster dating from 1929 …
… and two Bugattis from 1930 and 1931, respectively.
The next photo shows the other side of the same showroom. The vehicles here are from the very early days of motoring history.
The black one below is a Wolseley from 1910 and its neighbour a Lorraine-Dietrich from 1911.
The six vehicles on the right-hand side of the aisle (also shown in the enlarged shot below) include …
… a 1911 Ford Model T …
… a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost from 1915 …
… and this beautiful Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8, which came into the world in 1922 at a factory in Milan. It was the first production car with a straight-eight engine.
In another building there is a mixture of vehicles from different eras.
The Tatra T97 (1938), pictured below, provided the inspiration for the Volkswagen Beetle. Only 508 were ever built.
My personal favourite out of everything we saw – certainly judging by the number of photos I seem to have taken of it – is this 1934 Packard Super 8 limousine.
According to the information board next to it, it was built for the Canadian market. Its steering wheel is on the right-hand side – apparently some parts of Canada drove on the left until shortly after the Second World War.
The museum's collection also includes a sizeable number of cars from the more recent past, particularly sports cars.
Among them is this DeLorean DMC-12 from 1982. Fans of the 'Back to the Future' films will be familiar with it.
The Aston Martin brand will also be familiar to movie fans – James Bond drove various models over the years. Below are two nice specimens from 1956 and 1961, respectively.
The final two photos show some further sports cars from the collection – Alfa Romeos, Ferraris, etc., some only a few years old.
Not surprisingly, given the value of what is on display here, the guards at the entrance gate to the estate insist on some ID before they let you go any further!
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the museum and we also took time to look around the estate itself (where we could). The setting is absolutely superb.
The centre of Franschhoek is a 15-minute drive away. You will find some very good restaurants as well as cafes here. The larger wineland towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl are also within easy reach.
The museum's website is: https://www.fmm.co.za/
It contains a lot of interesting information, as well as photo galleries and videos.