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Wijnland Auto Museum, Cape Town


Where Gumbo Was #478

This week's mystery location was the Wijnland Auto Museum on the outskirts of Cape Town. Congratulations to George G and PortMoresby, who managed to solve the puzzle.


To say that this museum is an odd mixture of things is a bit of an understatement. Near the entrance was this display of 'street rods' owned by a local enthusiast, complete with a display of trophies and award certificates from various club shows.


The three lovely cars in the photo at the top were also on display near the entrance and the main building contained many more examples of classic cars in pristine condition.


When you ventured outside, however, the vehicles sitting there generally were wrecks in various states of decay. (The odd one out in the photo below was our hire car.)


Some parts of the site looked like a scene from a disaster movie set in the 1950s.


In other parts you could at least see the (vague) potential for restoration.


There appeared to be a rough correlation between the amount of protection afforded to a vehicle and its state of preservation. That principle makes perfect sense, of course, but it did not seem to be applied consistently.

Anyway, many of the best preserved cars appeared to be inside the main building - so let's get back there:


As you can see, space inside clearly is at a premium and the vehicles were often crammed closely together.


This - and the varying levels of lighting - made it quite difficult to take decent photos, but I managed to get a few reasonably good ones. This Dodge was sufficiently far away from other cars to allow me to get a shot from the side as well as from the front.


Here is a close-up of the Jaguar in the picture at the beginning ...


... and a few other good-looking specimens.


I believe Prince recorded a song about one of these (at least as far as the song title is concerned):


At the time of our visit we were asking ourselves what this 'rocket car' was doing here. It looked strangely familiar somehow, but I could not place it. (With a couple of exceptions, there were unfortunately no labels or information boards explaining any of the exhibits.)

When I did some research later it all became clear. It is a scale model of the ThrustSSC, which broke through the sound barrier in 1997, and I had seen the original when it was displayed at an event I attended. This replica apparently was created for a film shoot (an advert for a mobile phone provider).


Next to the main building are two covered areas which also contain many nice old vehicles in reasonable condition. Here are some examples:


There is also a large workshop where restoration work was seemingly carried out. This black Mercedes 190 from around 1960 caught my eye. I did once own one of these - it was already a bit of an 'antique' when I bought it - but unfortunately the engine finally gave up the ghost (and the repair was way above my budget).


If you have studied last week's clues, I hear you asking: "What about the plane?". Well, here it is:

WITW#4xx_32It is a Convair 580, brought to the museum from Nigeria. Like many of the other exhibits, the plane earns its keep by being rented out for film and photo shoots. (As it sits next to a major road, it also draws peoples' attention to the museum.)


I am not sure why someone might want an ancient rusty bus ...


... or a battered old fire engine for a film or a photo session, but the site is big enough for all sorts of stuff like this - just in case somebody is interested. I must admit that I am a bit of a hoarder myself. (Things might always prove useful in the future ... and sometimes they actually do!)


There are even some old petrol pumps:


As I said at the beginning, this is a rather odd place. Not everything is wonderful, but we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours here exploring the site. It was actually quite nice to be left to your own devices, completely free to roam around wherever you wanted. We both agree that we would probably return on a future visit to this corner of South Africa.

Here's a link to the museum's website


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