About 10km out of Franschhoek, in the heart of a large wine estate, l’Ormelins, lies Africa’s best kept secret: with an almost anonymous entrance, almost deserted, Johann Rupert’s priceless collection of classic cars is exhibited in four large Dutch-style buildings among the vineyards, surrounded by mountains which look so crisps and clear in the deep blue sky that they could be mistaken for a giant movie stage.
Much as Mr Rupert’s ownership of companies such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Shanghai Tang, Dunhill and many others can hardly be construed as adding much to the sum total of human welfare, the fact that he allocates (at least some of…) his dividends to the purchase and exhibition of beautiful classic cars clearly justifies the existence of the Richemont conglomerate.
From early (late 19th century) cars to more recent F1 cars, the Rupert collection is the most impressive, best curated classic car collection I have seen. The cars are in immaculate but used (and usable) condition, some of them with oil still dripping from their engines. 1920s and 30s Bugattis vie with “WO” Bentleys (4.5L), Silver Ghost Rolls Royces and a 540K Mercedes.
1950s and 60s Aston Martins, Jaguars (C and D-type, XK120) are nonchalantly lined up in a huge hangar. Even a humble Big Healy 100/4 and an MG TD have found their way in the collection.
Short of attending Goodwood, L’Ormelins (now called the Franschhoek Motor Museum) is easily Medina to Goodwood’s Mecca.