There is gold in the Platteland – you just need to know where to look. Image supplied

‘Platteland goud’: The collector’s car of your dreams may be waiting

South Africa still has a treasure trove of desirable dust-covered cars sitting in farm buildings waiting to be discovered.


There is gold in the Platteland – you just need to know where to look. Image supplied

There is “Platteland goud” out there just waiting to be found by someone who doesn’t mind the dust, rust, spider webs, mice and the other things that are found in isolated farm buildings.

The “goud” being referred to here is not the legendary Kruger millions, but the cars that are left to their fates and the ravages of time.

In the United States (US) or UK, the cars would be called “barn finds” which is a tedious way of describing something that has the potential to get a car fanatic’s heart beating in overdrive when the car that dreams are made of finally sees the light of day once more.   

Finding the car of your dreams

Of course, being an intrepid barn explorer can be, well let’s just say, frustrating. Imagine travelling through a small town, seeing an intriguing shape underneath a tarpaulin and meeting the owner of said vehicle.

After some pleasantries, you stand gaping at a British racing green, V12 E-type Jaguar coupé with some little bits missing, but 99.9% complete and ready to roll.

Then an offer to purchase is summarily dismissed with the explanation that the car is proving to be a goldmine.

“Why?” he says. “The battery from this car is already in my tractor, and the hubcaps look lekker on my Hilux. Then there are the carburettors…”

Rather than add to the crime stats, I decided to leave town.

The most intriguing thing is finding vehicles which no amount of researching can identify.

‘The cars are out there’

In the Northern Cape, it was a vintage mobile home of which the front looked just like its rear — great for confusing traffic cops who let you go because they can’t decide whether you are driving towards them, or in the opposite direction.

The cars are out there. All that is needed is a desire to get off the highways, see small places that have little or no charm and peek over hedges and fences. And, of course, know your prices. That 1966 Anglia under that carport may not be what you are after, but it could be worth about R70 000.   

Proof that opportunities still abound in South Africa was provided last year.

In November, a treasure trove of everything from cars to vintage engine blocks to chrome bumpers, and original factory-fitted radios to headlight bulbs still in their original packaging were auctioned in Stellenbosch.

Treasure trove of 70 vehicles on one farm

Even more astounding was the fact that 70 vehicles in various states of repair were found on a single farm. Some were found in fields, and others were under cover in barns alongside spare parts that were filled with mountains of rare spare parts.  

It reportedly took the auctioneers more than four months to catalogue the collection which contained sedans, compacts, convertibles and trucks. The oldest recorded was a 1928 Buick.

Some of the vehicles were in “excellent condition” and ready for the road. They included a 1954 Mercedes-Benz Ponton, worth around R400 000; a 1948 Chev convertible at around the same value; a 1971 Ford Mustang with a tag of about R500 000, and a 1936 Ford Roadster valued at R 950 000.

Then there was the attorney who kept a 1958 Sunbeam Rapier convertible, a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger convertible and a 1967 Jaguar E-Type 4.2-litre 2+2 coupé, hidden in an underground city parking garage for 15 years.

‘Platteland goud’: South Africa vs the US

The barn find industry in South Africa has yet to reach the stage it has in the US. There, the media from internet sites to TV shows bristle with offerings regarding barn finds. The people involved, who often seem to favour cowboy boots, hats and jeans with big rodeo buckles — or look like they have poor personal hygiene habits — become icons with their shows.

All this activity means that there are very few barns that haven’t been plundered. The trend is growing locally, but there is plenty of “Platteland goud” out there that has to be found.

So, next time instead of taking the N3 to Durban, head into the countryside and begin searching.

Also read: The weird and wonderful world of concept cars