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Wednesday / 17 August 2022
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The “Classic Car Girl” garage – Amazing vehicles inside

Nadia Viljoen is the petrolhead behind the Instagram page @classiccargirlsa.

Filled with a passion for older cars, Nadia was savvy enough to turn her finance and marketing knowledge into a job that she doesn’t regret having to get up for.

Nadia and her husband Corber own an enviable inventory of vehicles at their garage in Pretoria, and we paid them a visit to catch up with the Sparco Martini Racing ambassador.

Our Q&A with Nadia is posted below.

How did you get into the classic car scene?

I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy and enjoy being hands-on.

My husband and I share a passion for classic cars, so we decided to turn this passion into a business and have been surrounded by beautiful classics for the past 10 years.

What I appreciate most about classic cars is the attention to detail, deliberate styling, and svelte body lines. There is a sense of craftsmanship and character in each and everyone that you don’t get in modern cars.

What I also love is the history and stories that come with all of the vehicles we have.

Motor shows like the Geneva International Motor Show, which I have been fortunate enough to attend, really opened my eyes to what the industry has to offer beyond modern cars and the aftermarket.

What do you drive?

My daily driver is a BMW M2 Competition, but I also drive my classics: a 1967 Mini Cooper and 1980 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ41.

What is your favourite new car?

I only recently purchased the BMW M2 Competition, and I have to say I am very impressed by it.

Its 3.0-litre, straight-six, twin-turbo engine in a very lightweight car is loads of fun – and she likes going sideways.

What is in your dream garage?

Well, that all depends on the size of my garage.

I will start with a 1963 Corvette Stingray Split Window, Ferrari Testarossa, and a Ford GT40 – but that’s only a start.

My Mini Cooper and Land Cruiser will also remain part of the family indefinitely.

Modern cars vs old cars?

Old cars. Driving classics is an absolute treat.

Vintage cars require a great deal of manual input from the driver, making every drive a satisfying and rewarding experience.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered in the classic car scene?

People watch shows about restoration projects and think it’s quick, easy, and cheap – which it really isn’t.

Restoration shows create a misconception that restoring old cars is an easy backyard project that can be done on the cheap. Unfortunately, this inevitably leads to disappointment and disillusionment.

Sourcing parts is challenging, but the worst part about working on classics is the unpredictability. Just when you think that you have fixed one thing, the next weakest part breaks.

When you understand that this is all part of the classic car game, you become less frustrated and the process is much more enjoyable.

However, there is definitely a lack of skilled professionals that actually still work on classics, which is making the job a little harder.

What are you most proud of?

I recently completed my first classic car rebuild, a 1967 Mini Cooper in Monte Carlo Rally spec.

My husband bought me the Mini last year and I decided to attempt a restoration.

Since we are in the classic car industry, what better way to learn about restorations than by doing it myself?

I was adamant that I was going to restore the Mini on my own, and on 12 June 2020 I started dismantling it.

At times I thought about giving up. Sometimes even setting the car on fire was a better option. But when this happened, I knew I needed to take a break, clear my head, and get back to it.

After all was said and done I felt a sense of accomplishment when I loaded my completed car on a truck destined for the Simola Hill Climb, where I competed in my first official race.

This is probably one of the most prestigious motorsport events in South Africa and the best for classic cars.

The atmosphere in the pits is amazing, and there’s a sensory overload from the smell of race fuel and the sound of rumbling engines.

I met racing legends, humans, and cars alike – the collection of vehicles one sees there is world-class and this is what keeps me going.

You’re the Martini Racing Sparco ambassador?

I am very fortunate to be backed by the auto parts and accessory company Sparco.

Sparco’s involvement in the racing industry is beyond any one of their competitors, and they really do invest time and effort in young up-and-coming drivers.

There is a good synergy between Martini Racing and the classic car industry, too.

The company has been an iconic brand associated with classic racing for a few decades now – hence the reason why I was chosen to represent them.

What should we look out for from you in the future?

Hopefully, more car builds and even better track times in the Mini.

The next project I would love to tackle would be a Ford Capri Perana, another South African icon.

Finally: cars or bikes?

Cars. All the way.

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