Cars in Books, January 1974

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Sir,

I recently came across the following passage in Lawrence Green’s book “Harbours of Memory” (Howard Timmins, Capetown 1969). You may find it of use in your “Cars in Books” section.

Page 77. “Another interesting arrival at the port, in the winter of 1903, was the first motor car, a six-horse Gladiator driven by a Mr. Menzies. The car attracted a deal of attention as it careered merrily along’, reported the local newspaper. ‘Mr. Menzies is conveying a Government official to Port Elizabeth and thence northwards. He covered the distance between Capetown and Mossel Bay in twenty-four hours net, not including stoppages for sleep and meals. The car negotiates hills with a facility that fully sustains the claims made for these vehicles in regard to their capacity for speed and power.'”

Lawrence Green, inveterate collector of memorabilia and author of umpteen books on the early South African scene, chiefly dealt with Capetown and the Cape. He died only recently, having made a distinguished contribution to the annals of South African history. Many of his books have been used as set books in schools.

By the way, latest figures give the distance between Capetown and Mossel Bay as 281 miles. Needless to say the distance between these two points in 1903 by road was greater than now.

Being a member of the Veteran Car Club of South Africa, with bits and pieces of Austin 7 lurking in my garage awaiting restoration, even Austin 7 parts are hard to come by now; I am looking forward to being at the finish of the 1974 International Rally due to be run between Capetown and Durban. I believe the entries so far are in the region of 154 vehicles, the greater proportion of overseas entrants coming from Great Britain.

Durban. Brian Utterson.