In an era dominated by sleek, high-tech cars and computerised designer 4x4s, there’s a growing trend that harks back to the golden days of motoring – classic car summer road-tripping that’s as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
With the festive season shutdown just weeks away, Creative Rides CEO Kevin Derrick says there’s a worldwide revival of nostalgic Route 66–style adventure cruising – and it’s not just Baby Boomers anymore who are opting for scenic routes in classic cruisers over speed demons on freeways.
“The generational shift in South Africa toward younger classic car collectors mirrors international market movement, which is now roughly 35% Gen X, with millennials and Gen Z together making up 30%.
“And this year, the popularity surge in classic car summer holiday cruising that we’ll see on South Africa’s roads is partially because it’s a fantastic experience, partially because it’s something that suits all budgets because you can go for a few days or a few weeks, and partially because it’s been trending massively on social media. Being King of the Road is cool again.”
The charm of the classics
Derrick says classic cars evoke a sense of nostalgia, embodying the spirit of a bygone era when the mode of getting somewhere was as important as the destination. “The allure lies in the mechanical simplicity, the artistry of design and the distinctive sound that resonates with endless possibilities.
“Driving a classic car long-distance becomes an immersive experience, a tactile connection to timeless holiday adventures that just aren’t possible in modern cars that are specifically designed for purpose and efficiency. And South Africa may just be the best place in the world to take the slow road.”
Eye candy overload
Derrick says spectacular classic car cruising routes are everywhere. “We’re going to see more back road touring this summer than at any time in the past decade, and it really doesn’t matter where you start or finish.”
He has a few favourite routes, though, which include:
- The Garden Route, which is one of the most incredible drives in the country. From Mossel Bay and up into the Eastern Cape, the landscape is breathtaking – meandering past quaint towns, thick forests, tranquil lakes and dramatic views of the ocean.
- For stunning scenery and thrills aplenty, Sani Pass is it. The road begins gently, but by the time you climb the more than 1 300m, you’ll be laser-focused on driving. Plenty of shoulder parking allows you to stop and take in the amazing views of the Drakensberg.
- Take a slow drive through Mpumalanga and dip into the Blyde River Canyon, which is the world’s third largest. This province is the place to see nature at its best: cliffs, waterfalls and forests, with eagles soaring overhead. But it’s not just about the scenery; stop and explore the small towns, with historic Pilgrim’s Rest a must on your itinerary.
Summer’s social influence
Creative Rides Classic & Collectibles Auctions lead auctioneer Joff van Reenen, also the founder and CEO of fintech platform ChantLab, says vintage-style road trips have been trending on social media platforms since last year.
“After the pandemic, there’s no question that everyone yearned to get out, with the desire to travel making the top three in the majority of surveys of activities that people across the globe had missed most during lockdown. And although there’s no empirical evidence yet, I’m convinced that COVID’s rigid restrictions on our social movements at least in part contributed to the popular resurgence of holiday road-tripping.
“The open road in a classic car epitomises freedom at a level that literally leaves other modes of travel in the dust; no flight schedules and endless airport queues, no luggage restrictions, no invasive security checks and nobody telling you where to go or when you have to be there.
“Classic cars have also become ubiquitous to the visual spectacle that is today’s social media, which is flooded with stunning images of collector autos against picturesque landscapes. These pictures inspire others to embark on their own nostalgic journeys and have created a digital community that’s fuelled the resurgence of summer cross-country road adventures.”
Van Reenen says celebrity influencers have also fed the trend. “Robert Downey Jr’s cruising preference is a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302, and Kevin Hart has a Dodge Charger from the same year. Justin Timberlake, on the other hand, prefers his 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible, while Lady Gaga’s loyalties lie with Chevrolet in the form of her classic El Camino.”
Get your summer kicks on SA’s open roads
Derrick says summer road-tripping is one of the most fantastic trends to emerge in the classic car community in recent years.
“If you own a classic car, hit the road this summer instead of rushing to a resort or driving yourself mad in city traffic. Switch off your cellphone and take the road less travelled to disconnect from the world and difficult year we’ve had. There’s no better way to relax and recharge – it’ll be the holiday of a lifetime!”