We’ve compiled a list of the most iconic local cars your dad pined for, but could not have, before you happened.
1950s – The Protea
A proudly South African car and early indication of the automotive engineering skills available locally. The Protea was our first production car and subscribed to the principle of lightweight construction. A glass-fibre body made it weight comparatively little (only 630kg), which means the tiny 1.2-litre engine provided adequate performance, even if it only cranked 27kW. An iconic South African car and one your dad would have desperately wanted in the 1950s.
1960s – Jaguar E-Type
South Africa was one of the biggest export markets for Jaguar’s iconic E-Type during the 1960s. What your dad really wanted was not the V12 powered E-type but rather the 4.2-litre in-line six, which was introduced in 1964 and produced 198kW. A glorious car, which looks which only improved over time, it was the definitive 1960s poster car in South African garages.
1970s – Chevrolet Can-Am
A locally developed special, which became a giant-killing two-door performance car. Built on the compact Firenza platform, the Can-Am was powered by a 5-litre V8 engine borrowed from Chevrolet’s Z28 Camaro. The result was a little car with a 5-litre V8 good for 216kW. Only 100 were built, in 1972, and they were fast enough to bother any Italian supercar of the decade. This was the only local car dad really wanted during the 1970s.
1980s – Porsche 928
This was the car Porsche hoped would replace the 911, but didn’t. A fantastically futuristic design, it featured a V8 above the front axle and rounded styling. Also had ingenious pop-up headlights – hence it was the very definition of 1980s sportscar aesthetic. The Porsche 928 was by far the coolest German of the decade and its high-speed cruising ability and athleticism was ideally suited to South African driving conditions. Your dad really wanted one of these – preferably in white.
1990s – Audi RS2
Before this car, stations wagons weren’t cool. An absolutely gem of a 1990s sleeper car, the RS2 Avant was imported to South Africa in very limited numbers. In the early 1990s it would have allowed dad to go from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds, run a 262km/h top speed and carry 1200-litres worth of luggage with the seats folded.