We found a wonderful private collection spanning more than a century hidden away in Port Elizabeth...
The ages of the various vehicles in Jan Enslin’s collection span over a full century. He is a big fan of and owns some of the earliest Ford Model Ts, through to the glorious Mercedes-Benz and Porsche models from the 1950 and ‘60s … and quite a few up to the Eighties, too.
Jan’s garage also houses his horde of model cars, vintage signage and the compulsory vintage Shell fuel pump. “I recently went to a car show in Oudtshoorn and an auction in Beaufort West. I bought more memorabilia than I had intended to...”
One of the highlights of Jan’s collection is a nut-and-bolt restored Porsche 356 B concourse winner. In fact, there are four 356s in the collection: an A, two Bs and a C. “I recently sourced another 356 A,” adds Jan with a big smile.
He points to a more contemporary Porsche. “This is my new project car. It is a 1981 911 SC Targa and it has covered – you won’t believe this – 275 000 miles! That is 440 000 km. It was a UK-based car that was imported. I took the engine out and, although it required new piston rings and other work, when I split the block, I was amazed at the condition of the main bearings, which were still in perfect nick.”
Jan’s fascination started with pre-war cars and his first was a 1923 Ford Model T Tourer. In the collection is also one of the last Model Ts, manufactured in 1928. “I always wanted a Model T simply because I view it as the car of the 20th century. Most of the Model Ts which came to South Africa were red, green or blue. They were rarely black in colour when they arrived. Also, most of these cars were manufactured in Canada.”
A striking 1928 Chevrolet Hunting Truck takes you back to the pre-war era, complete with space to store rifles. The challenges with these early cars are unique compared with, say, models post-1950, Jan explains: “These lights on this 1912 Model T had to be changed from carbide to electric.”
A highlight of Jan’s Model T collection is a 1915 Model T Speedster. He did the conversion from a hard-top, following the American guidelines; this conversion trend started soon after the Model T was introduced. They were also used as racecars. “Make no mistake, they are not slow. This Speedster can do 115 km/h.”
Jan is also fond of his two Beetles, both bought from the Volkswagen Auto Pavilion. The first originally belonged to an old lady from Oudtshoorn, while the second is an 1955 model.
The sole BMW in the collection is a relatively rare 1972 2000 Tourer. It may not be the prettiest in the 2000 range of BMWs but it does deserve its place here and is sought after.
Walking to a blue Chevrolet, Jan eagerly tells me the car’s story: “I call this 1931 Chev the ‘Survivor’. The previous owner was the great-grandson of the first owner; it was in the same family for four generations. No major work or any restoration has been done to this car. It has the original paint and even the original seats; pretty rare these days.”
The standout Mercedes-Benz in the collection, apart from a 190SL, is a 220S from 1965 which belonged to King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho. It’s distinguished by a sunroof and handle bars dotted throughout the cabin.
Before photographer Peet and I leave, Jan opens the door to what he calls an American Rolls-Royce, a two-tone (dark and light blue) 1931 Packard sedan powered by a straight-eight. It’s the perfect bookend to a fascinating collection.
Jan Enslin (60) retired in 2018 following a career as a medical specialist and businessman. Having a passion for cars since childhood, Jan enjoys working on his cars himself, his precise touch no doubt honed in his many decades as a practising doctor.