My father and I both enjoyed Mr. Fred Schnetder’s letter (Vintage Postbag). My father first heard of Dr. Hofmeyer’s legendary Chevrolet many years ago and still remembers the stories of the loving care lavished by him on his old coupé. The competition which raged in South Africa in the 30s and 40s between Ford and Chevrolet has no modern equivalent. The bland models of the 1970s don’t inspire that fierce sort of loyalty in their owners.
My father was a Ford man in those days and he still has the logbook which he opened when he bought a Fordor Ford V8 1936 De Luxe which was delivered on the 15th October of that year with a recorded mileage of 12 miles. The new Ford then sold at £350. Petrol cost from 1/7 to 1/9 per gallon. Petrol consumption figures from 1936-1940 are interesting. In 1936 the consumption averaged 19 m.p.g. In 1937-1938 19.5 m.p.g. and 1938-1939 22 m.p.g. By 1940 the car had done 18,897 miles and it was sold in 1947 for £120. Its mileage was then approximately 65,000. By no means a perfect car but robust, practical and full of character. A car which had to be driven. A different car when cars were different.
The old Fords lived and finally disintegrated on the potholes and the corrugations of the roads and the wagon trails of the Transvaal, the Free State, the Cape and Natal. The roads and the cars are now only memories.
Sandton, RSA – F. E. Du Toit