A Visit to Franschhoek Motor Museum

by Doug Wenger

Ever wanted to see a DeLorean up close? Are you itching to behold a Ford Mustero? Have you pined to bask in the glow of an original 1957 Protea. Look no further than the Franschhoek Motor Museum to view these and another 217 or so vehicles spanning over 120 years of motoring history, all the way back to an ’98 Beeston Motor Tricycle (and ’98 refers to 1898, I might add). First the obvious question: where the heck is Franschhoek…and how is it pronounced?

Franschhoek (Fran‐SHOOK) means “French corner” in Africaans, a Dutch dialect, and is located on the west coast of South Africa. Settled by French Huguenots in the 17th century, the area is known for its fine wines and phenomenal food. My wife and I returned there in February, having visited there 15 years earlier. Being quite far south, Franschhoek can get warm (but not blazing) in the day time, but chilly at night…and it’s the middle of summer there. Take it from me…it’s hard to leave.

Anyhow, back to the cars. What is a fellow to do while his wife is enjoying a relaxing massage (assuming that fellow doesn’t also want a massage)? You guessed it: car museum. And Franschhoek has one.

The Franschhoek Motor Museum traces its lineage to a museum started in the northeast of the country by Dr. Anton Rupert in 1974. The museum was bought and sold over time, but long story short, Dr. Rupert’s son, Johann, reacquired the museum in 2004 and moved it across the country to the western cape. And here we are.

The 200+ cars are organized in four separate buildings and, as mentioned above, there is a very impressive range of vehicles. I’ve got pictures of a few, but check out the website for more information and much better pictures: www.fmm.co.za. Here are a few that caught my eye.

I’m always interested in domestic projects wherever I go, and South Africa wouldn’t disappoint. The Protea was the first South African production car (with Ford running gear). Twenty (yep, 20) were produced. So it wasn’t exactly a Tin Lizzy scale of production, but Protea kicked things off in SA.

As I continued to browse through the museum, I came across a DeLorean, which I’d never actually seen up close. I assume this one didn’t include the Flux Capacitor option. But a beauty to behold, no doubt.

American heavy metal was well represented with a Bel‐Aire, Caddy and even an Electra in the house…all right‐hand drive. But what really blew me away was the Ford Mustero. If you have a huge question mark over your head, you’re paying attention. Based on the popularity of the Ranchero, Beverly Hills Mustang converted 50 Mustangs to this rather fanciful configuration. I know when I was a kid, I would have much rather ridden in the bed of a Mustero (standing up, of course!) than in the back‐seat of a car (probably standing up, as well). But that’s just me.

Sadly, at this museum, viewers are kept at some distance from the cars, which, were they my own, would make perfect sense. However, my favorite part of checking out old cars is to view the interiors, and especially the controls. Toggle switches for head‐lights? Love it. Push buttons for gear selection? Magic. A swiveling steering wheel to allow ingress and egress? Whazawhaaa? I’ll have to book a private tour next time to get up close...! If you get the chance, don’t miss the Franschhoek Motor Museum!