Sunday, October 23, 2011

Importing a South African DKW

As will be quite apparent from this blog, I'm a big fan of DKW cars, bikes and scooters. Relatively few DKW cars were ever exported to Australia. During the pre-war years 1290 DKW F5s and F7s were imported into Australia and sold relatively well, but DKW sales never recovered post-war.  Maybe 5 F89 Schnellasters and 10 3=6 Sonderclasse were imported by Standard Motor Company in 1958, but they failed to sell.  Consequently they are extremely rare in Australia, most of the examples being fairly recent private imports.

This is not the situation in South Africa where the DKW enjoyed an excellent export market. Thousands of DKWs made their way there in the mid to late 1960s, and, thanks to the dry climate many are still on the road. There is also a large enthusiast community in South Africa and many specialist mechanics and parts suppliers.

While prowling around the Internet I'd seen a couple of nice examples up for sale on South African Gumtree. I'd idly commented about them to a few friends. The trouble and risk of buying a car, sight unseen, from another country was simply too much of a risk. Just before we set off on our US holiday I was speaking with a South African colleague and mentioned my interest in DKWs. He advised that if I was interested he had contacts back home could look the car over.
I had seen a lovely green DKW for sale and Shelly - to my surprise - agreed that we could buy the car. Unfortunately the car sold, so I shelved the idea again. Then this beautifully restored example came up for sale in Johannesburg. My friend sent his dad around to inspect it and - although he disparagingly called it a 'Deutsche Kak Wagen' (German sh*t car) - gave it an extremely positive review. After a round of discussions, with my friend's dad acting as go between, we made an offer and a deal was done.
The owner is a lifetime DKW fan tracing his interest right back to his youth in Argentina. He and his son had spent a lot of effort restoring the car into the condition you see here. He has provided me a great deal of the car's history, which I will detail at an appropriate time. For the present we are engaged in the great bureaucratic exercise of arranging import approval. That can be either a smooth or a torturous experience. We'll see how it goes. You can expect updates in the blog as we go through the process.

Update 5 December 2011
At last, after 6 weeks I've finally received the import approval. The next step begins!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Auto Collection, Las Vegas 2011

In the parking garage behind the Imperial Palace Casino, Las Vegas is the Classic Auto Collection. It advertises itself as "The World's Largest Classic Car Museum" but as with most Vegas' claims that seems a bit of a tall claim. It's not so much a museum as a collection of classic cars available for sale. A small number are permanently on display but most are for sale. Entry is officially $5 but there are 'free entry' vouchers available almost everywhere.

Update 2019 - these photos were taken during a visit to Las Vegas in 2011. The prices listed below were current at that time. The museum has since been closed and all the links that used to be on the post died. I've removed them all now but left the original comments.

1937 Bentley 4 1/4 litre Gurney Nutting Sedanca Coupe. POA

1931 Duesenberg

1933 Rolls Royce Phantom II Continental Gurney Nuttin

1947 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith Inskip Drophead

1938 Rolls Royce Phantom III James Young Drophead Coupe. Not for Sale.

1954 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith Vignale Saloon. One of a kind custom bodywork.

1951 Talbot-Lago T 26 Grand Sport. A rare and beautifully streamlined machine.

1948 Cadillac Series 2 with custom Saoutchik bodywork. One of only two built. Not for sale.

1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine.
1961 Chevrolet Corvette 283/245 Roadster. Asking price is US$175,000.
1985 Porsche 550 Spyder replica.

Chinese limousine.

1940 Dodge Coronet. This car has since sold.

1954 Chevrolet Corvette.

1964 Jaguar E-Type Custom Bouillot Helsel Roadster. Asking price is US$115,000.

1947 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet.

1940 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Sedan. This car was apparently owned by Howard Hughes in the 1940s when working at MGM. Asking price is US$195,000.

1960 Cadillac Series Two Coupe.

1939 Horch 930V Phaeton. Having never seen a Horch in the flesh before, this was definitely my favourite vehicle. One of three ever built and one of two surviving. This magnificent car had been displayed at the concourse at Pebble Beach in 1999 and 2009. Asking price is US$350,000 - a little outside my price range!

Ford Model T

1934 Morgan Super sports. A lovely little three wheeler. This was not for sale.

1928 Mercedes SSK Roadster replica. POA.

1946 Delahaye 135MS Selbourne Roadster.

1923 Ahrens Fox Fire engine. A bargain at US$75,000.

1923 Stutz Speedway.

1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Ghia. This car was originally built for George Walker, vice president of design, Ford Motor Company and features a custom body.

1959 Nash Metropolitan. The British Austin company attempted to break into the US market in the 1950s with this budget sportscar. At a time when the US economy was booming and big cars were a status symbol, the Metropolitan stood no chance. Still, quite a few were sold and today they are highly desirable collectors items.

The excellent and quirky French 1957 Panhard Dyna Z. These are quite a rare car in the US and just about everywhere else outside France.

A lovely pair of Volkswagens

1961 Volkswagen T1.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tallahassee Motor Museum

While traveling in the US we visited the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum, Florida. We arrived first thing in the morning at 8.30am and had the whole place to ourselves. It was an impressive and eclectic collection covering mainly US cars, motorcycles, guns, memorabilia, boats and even trains.

A Harley-Davidson and the motorcycle collection.

A collection of Whizzer lightweight motorcycles.

Whizzer motorcycles

Vintage bicycles. See also my post on retro bicycles -

More bicycles

1957 Ford Thunderbird

1957 Chevy Bel-Air

1953 Cadillac Eldorado

1953 Cadillac Series 62

And another

1957 Chevy Bel-Air

1950 Packard Super Eight

1948 Lincoln Continental

1948 Ford Custom Coupe

There is no car like the 1936 Cord 810. A most remarkable and advanced car for its time.

A trio of remarkable cars - Cord, Bantam and Crossley

1948 Tucker Torpedo. Only 51 Torpedo's were built before the company was forced out of business by a slanderous campaign orchestrated by the US auto industry. They were very advanced cars for their time with their rear mounted engine and trio headlamps. They were undoubtedly influenced by the Czech Tatra of the 1930s.

Another unusual American car - 1954 Kaiser-Darrin sportster. The fibreglass bodied Kaiser-Darrin was intended to compete with British imported sportscars but it was proved to be rather more expensive. Only 435 were built.

Another misplaced attempt at a budget sportscar - 1950 Crossley. Crossley was a British auto company that built trucks, tractors and small budget cars. Unfortunately there was not much of a market in the US for small sportscars like this fibreglass bodied Super.

1940 Bantam. Another marginally successful budget sportster.

1940 Ford Highway Patrol Car

Streamlined 1940s Fords

1939 Ford Special

1932 Ford Model 18

1929 Auburn Boat Tail

1936 De Soto

1933 Chevrolet tow truck

1923 Packard and a row of 20s cars

1916 Scripps-Booth Model C and 1913 Car Nation Tourer

1909 Babcock Electric. Electric cars were very popular in the first decades of the automobile industry. They sold particularly well to women and people looking for a vehicle for inner city use.

Ford T roadster

1909 De Witt. These old fashioned high-wheelers remained fairly popular in the US as their high road clearance meant they could navigate the appalling road conditions in the country.

1894 Duryea prototype. This unrestored gem was an amazing barn find. The underside still has the pencil marks and measurements under the flaking paintwork. It is the oldest surviving American automobile. More information can be found here - &

1903 Stanley Steamer

1911 Ford Model T's

1907 International

1860 President Lincoln's hearse