The small Free State town of Riebeeckstad is home to one of South Africa’s most enthusiastic Ford collectors...
“I grew up poor and my father arrived home with dilapidated cars. These were then fixed up. This is how I learnt about cars and where my deep interest in them started,” explains enthusiast Bertus Ferreira in his Riebeeckstad workshop. That sentiment is enforced by the aroma of dust and oil that comes from both the memorabilia and number plates mounted against one wall, and the cars being worked on.
With his father making a living by selling car parts, Bertus assimilated all the necessary knowledge and followed in his dad’s footsteps, opening his own workshop in 1993. With expertise accumulated over four decades, he talks about stripping, repairing and restoring bodywork and engines like most of us would discuss a trip to the shops.
Although Bertus’ very first car was a 1968 Ford Corsair GT, the vehicle he has owned the longest is a 1972 Ford Fairmont GT series XY that he bought in 1978. As South African and Australian Ford fans will no doubt know, this car is something of a rarity, with only 1 824 “XW” and XY GTs produced in Australia, a limited number of which were then imported here in knock-down form before being reassembled.
Through the years, Bertus’ collection has grown to include multiple Fords, from smaller cars such as the 1980 Ford Escort 1600 Sport, to the faster – and rarer – 1979 RS2000, and a number of Mustangs. But there is also a strong family-focused and nostalgic influence throughout the collection.
“The 1958 Austin Cambridge A55 is not worth a lot, but it was my grandfather’s car and it is one of the last that will leave this collection one day. One of my daughters drives it often, which is actually the case with most of the family. We all drive the cars.”
As we walk over to a very neat 1963 Volvo P1800 Coupé, Bertus asks his wife Magda to join the conversation: “It is her car, she will tell you more about it.”
“We bought the car nine years ago,” continues Magda. “The exterior design is one of the highlights for me, plus we were looking for an early model featuring the ‘cow horn’ front bumper. We’ve done several runs across the Free State to club meetings with it, including to Bloemfontein, Gariep and Aldam.”
There is also a large number of Ford Cortinas in the collection. These include a 1979 3,0 S, a 1982 XR6 and the 1981 Interceptor. The latter, of course, is a much sought-after South African-only, limited-edition model, and Bertus managed to find one just a couple of years back.
A more recent acquisition is a 1972 Jaguar E-Type Mark III V12 Coupé with a manual gearbox – a vehicle he initially thought twice about buying, but fortunately his wife convinced him.
To most of us, it might look like utopia having access to so many cars, but it takes a lot of work and time to maintain and keep these cars running.
“There is actually too little time to enjoy them. The past week, most of them were started, though, as I had to move them around. But, all the cars have batteries and you need to at least start them now and then, let them warm up and make sure all the pumps and systems receive a workout.”
Bertus Ferreira’s collection is a prime example of what happens when passion, work and expertise collide. After spending the morning walking through his collection and sharing anecdotes, it became clear Bertus believes there will never be enough hours in the day to allow him to fully live out his passion for cars. Long may that love for all things automotive continue.
Bertus Ferreira’s workshop services and restores his and clients’ cars. Some of the work is outsourced, but most of the technical and painting work is done on site. Bertus has a deep knowledge of Ford’s classic cars, including in-depth technical know-how.