We visit an intriguing Italian-heavy collection in Durbanville
Behind an innocuous garage door in Durbanville, Cape Town, lies a wonderfully eclectic Italian-flavoured collection of classic cars…
From the outside, it looks like an impressive suburban garage big enough for four cars … but that’s way short of the mark. The door opens to reveal a cavernous space filled with a mouth-watering selection of highly desirable classic and more contemporary cars.
This 30-year-old collection is a mix of restored Alfa Romeos, some still with that wonderful patina of older cars in top nick, plus a few examples still needing some attention.
Although more modern sportscars such as a Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series and Ferrari F430 are parked at the entrance, Hannes Pienaar explains it was the older Alfa Romeos that laid the foundation for his passion in cars.
“My father had an interest in vehicles and my love of Alfa definitely comes from him, as well as my uncle. The latter participated in rallies with Alfa Romeo Giulias and drove Alfas his whole life. I still remember the Giulietta Ti my father bought when he was a general practitioner in Caledon.
“My dad used to say, if I got my medical degree cum laude, he’d buy me a new Alfa. Needless to say, I received a secondhand Alfa [chuckles]. My first one was a 1979 1500 Sprint I inherited from him when I turned 21. It had 117 000 km on the odo but I immediately took the engine out and installed a Veloce powertrain. It then ran like the clappers.”
Keeping such a collection on the road takes hours of commitment and hard work.
“I like doing basic maintenance myself,” he says, “but, these days, putting the time aside is a challenge.”
The collection of cars has also provided Hannes with some special memories, from a road trip around Lesotho in a 1983 Alfa Romeo 2,5 GTV to exploring the vast Northern Cape in his unique Mercedes-Benz W124 560CE.
That Benz is a fascinating example. The only one of its kind, it was a special project by Mercedes-Benz SA and AMG employees for one of the company’s directors, and has been verified at 310 km/h.
Over on the left are two Ferraris that bridge two very different eras in the Prancing Horse’s history.
“The love for Ferrari flowed from my interest in Alfa,” explains Hannes. “I always had a dream to buy a Ferrari in the north and drive it back to Cape Town, and fortunately that is what happened. I procured this 1989 328 GTB and drove it down; it was manufactured in the final year of production and not as slow as you might think.
“Then, two years ago, I bought a 2006 F430 F1 from an Italian guy and it really is a fantastic car. This early paddle-shift F1 transmission has its critics but I don’t mind it. You just need to learn how to use it.”
These classics are also no garage queens, as Hannes explains: “Older sportscars need to be driven and experienced in the way their makers intended when they were developed.”
Although there is a wide variety and distinct period differences throughout the collection, the common theme is two-door cars of the sportier persuasion: “I have a deep interest in all cars but sportscars and coupés are my main interest.”
There are even some vehicles parked offsite, including a 1958 Series 2 Land Rover SWB and an even rarer, unrestored 1953 Mercedes-Benz 170d bakkie that, until 2010, was actually performing farm duties in Namibia. The plan with this bakkie is to not restore it, but just clean it up and preserve it.
“Apart from two-door cars, I enjoy the torque offered by large-capacity engines, which is why I have several V8s in the collection. But, you’ll notice they are all European V8s and not American V8s…”
We’ve been running this series for a couple of years but never before have we seen such a varied collection, a true testament to Hannes’ love of cars.
As a doctor, Hannes Pienaar (53) visits various hospitals and it’s on these short journeys he drives the cars in his collection. Time permitting and over the weekends, he’ll do extended runs throughout the country with his friends and family. CAR readers may remember Hannes as the owner of the Alfa Montreal we sampled in our July 2016 issue’s “Bucket-list drive” feature.