Classic Car Friday at the annual Simola Hillclimb always offers an exceptional variety of cars unlike anything you’ll find at a classic car show or classic racing festival. From some of South Africa’s most iconic and historic automobiles to the finely tuned racing cars that have redefined motorsport over decades, the mix is nothing short of extraordinary.
It is also exceedingly rare, and equally satisfying, to see each of the cars climb the 1.9 km of Simola Hill with unbridled vigor, whether they are simply tinkered with over the weekend by passionate owners, or whether they are immaculate and extremely valuable centerpieces that could easily take pride of place in any museum collection.
What makes it even more appealing is that the drivers are equally varied – from dedicated classic car enthusiasts to some of the country’s most esteemed circuit and rally drivers. The fact that all of this takes place in one of the most scenic areas of South Africa, with a relaxed and very welcoming atmosphere among competitors and spectators, makes the Simola Hillclimb, which this year takes place from 6 to May 8, a car and motorsport festival. like no other and the unmissable event of the year.
Once again headlining the entry list, Franco Scribante, six-time winner of the event and reigning Classic Conqueror. He returns this year with his impeccably prepared 1970 Chevron B19, having won last year’s event with the speedy Chevron B26. This follows a rule change that tightened regulations to ensure the cars use period engines and running gear.
“We had to race the B26 last year to be competitive against the Minardi F1 car, but I’m happy the class has returned to the original spirit of Classic Car Friday and can’t wait to race the B19 again at Simola Hillclimb,” says Scribante.
“We have returned to the car’s original specification, and it has the period Ford BDG 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with mechanical Lucas injection, compared to the Hewland FT200 transmission used when this car raced in the early 1970s,” he says. Scribante propelled the B19 to victory in 2019 with a time of 42.574 seconds on the Simola hill, but his best time to date of 41.432 seconds came in 2016. can’t get back to the 41 second mark with the car this year and maybe go even faster.
As always, it will be fascinating to see if Scribante can beat this time and, more specifically, if anyone can challenge him for the 2022 Classic Conqueror crown this year.
Competing in the H8 class for pre-1977 single-seater, sports and GT cars, it will again face the similar 1971 Chevron B19 of Peter Jenkins, with a third Chevron entering the fray. However, in this case it is a 1972 Chevron B20 F3 single-seater entered by Josh Dovey, which is powered by a 1.6 liter Lotus TC engine compared to the 2.0 liter Cosworth Ford BDG engines of the two Chevron B19s. sports cars, and which can also be found in the March 1977 Formula Atlantic 77B single-seater which will be driven by Ian Schofield.
Other big names in the class will be Robert Wolk in a 1969 ex-Jody Scheckter Lola Formula Ford T200, and Chris Knezovich in the thundering 1970 McLaren M10B F5000 powered by a 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8 engine.
On the sports car front, Clive Corder returns in the sleek 1969 Lola T70 which was raced last year by rally ace Enzo Kuun, and he will take on the iconic 1970 Porsche 917, driven by Robert Flooks, which is powered by a Porsche 930Turbo engine.
The H7 class welcomes pre-1990 racing sedans (six cylinders and up) and will once again feature the unofficial burnout king of Simola Hillclimb, Graeme Nathan, driving the 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL, with Rui Campos in a 1974 Porsche 911 RSR, Andre Bezuidenhout in his mighty Martini-powered turbocharged Porsche 911 RSR and Riaan Barnard in a Ford Capri of the same year. Some of the more modern contenders in the class include a 1989 Ferrari 348 driven by Enzo Kuun and a 1983 Porsche 911 RSR Iroc driven by Craig Wessels.
The four-cylinder racing sedans are grouped into the H6 class, which is intended to be extremely competitive. Daniel Zeelie has the only Ford entry with a 1982 Escort, lining up against Ian Kilburn in a 1972 Datsun GX Coupe and Trevor Tuck in his immaculate 1974 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2000 Rally. Then there are a couple of Porsches, including André Bezuidenhout’s son Jandre, who will race a 1985 944 Turbo Cup – the exact car that launched his father’s racing career decades ago. He will be joined by Checkered Flag drivers Geoff Mortimer and George Fouché, both driving 1981 924s, as well as Michelle Hambly Grobler in a 1989 944.
The Lindenberg Racing contingent is well represented again this year in the H5 class for pre-1970 racing cars (six cylinders and up), with Paige Lindenberg driving the massive 1968 Ford Fairlane V8. Justin Needham takes over the mighty replica 1965 Shelby Cobra Mk3 V8 8.8 of his father, Charles, and is joined by his younger brother Jonathan in a 1967 Ford Cortina Perana, as well as James Temple in the stunning 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe.
The H4 class for pre-1970 four-cylinder racing sedans sees Peter Kaye-Eddie back in action in his 1965 BMW 2002, competing with Ron Hollis switching from his usual E-Type Jaguar to racing a 1964 MG Midget this year, with Kurt Behm (1969 Fiat Abarth), Francis Cusens (1969 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe) and Dave van der Merwe in a 1968 Renault Gordini.
There will be a fierce battle for H3 class honors for pre-1985 road cars, with the V8-powered big guns including the supercharged Shelby Ford Mustang 500CR of Simola Hillclimb regular Ivan Marx, the Chis champion in a 1973 MGB GT V8, the AC Cobras of Clayton Kimber and Richard Hutton, and a Ford GT40 MkII driven by Charles Needham. Don’t overlook six-cylinder cars, including Alexander Krahe’s 1965 Jaguar Mk2, or venerable Porsches, including Jennifer Abbot’s 1970 914/6 or Gavin Rooke’s 911 of the same year – the latter returning driver to his beloved Porsches after competing with a Ferrari 308 GT4 last year.
Ashley Baud leads the H3 four-cylinder contingent in a 1967 Alfa Romeo GT Junior, as well as Bill Annetts’ 1968 MGB GT, a 1981 Ford Escort driven by Liam Watts (son of Hillclimb regular Brent Watts) and Andre de Lange in a 1979 Opel Kadett.
The range of pre-1965 road cars in the H2 class is no less interesting, and arguably even more varied. Hedley Whitehead and Andrea Krahé will compete in a pair of 1964 Austin Minis, while Barry Ingle will once again tackle Simola Hill in his iconic 2021 class-winning 1955 Porsche 550 Spider with Richard Clarke in a Lotus Coventry Climax 1962 Mk14 Elite. Warren Lombard is going to shake things up with his 1965 AC Cobra against two entries in the Parnell Bruce collection – the lavish 1956 Jaguar D-Type driven by Brian Bruce and a 1965 Ford GT40 with Peter McPherson at the wheel.
The H1 class was extensively covered in our previous Classic Car Friday preview and introduced a new handicapping format to provide a level playing field for the wide range of pre-war cars in competition, which range from 1926 to 1946 .
For more information on the Simola Hillclimb, visit: www.simolahillclimb.com