Wayne Harley, a man deeply passionate about cars and motorcycles is currently holding down a “dream job” as Curator of the Franschhoek Motor Museum.

His mania for all things automotive can be traced back to 1980, when he began racing a 50cc motorcycle at the local track in his home town of Witbank, Mpumalanga.

‘Motor Mania’

Since then he has been Museum Technician and Curator at the (now defunct) Heidelberg Motor Museum, and has held his current position at the country’s top motor museum in Franschoek in the Western Cape since 2004. His job entails a myriad of responsibilities, not least of which is the managing of some 300 classic cars, overseeing restorations in the museum’s workshop, and publicising the museum internationally through its website and online newsletter.

In 2016 he was appointed Chief Judge for the very first Concours South Africa held at Sun City in September, 2016, and this year he has once again taken on the role of directing a panel of experts that includes two international judges, as well as a vastly experienced local team of judges.

He has international Concours experience too, having attended many of the major events in Europe. He also consults for the internationally-acclaimed auction house, Coys of Kensington.

‘Restoring enthusiasm’ 

Harley was quoted by saying: “I would like to state, first and foremost, that I have huge respect for anyone who is brave enough to enter their car in a competition such as Concours South Africa.”

“It takes something special to display your pride and joy in a public venue and then allow some ‘anorak’ to come and poke holes in all the hours of blood and sweat that you have poured into restoring that car.”

“Owner passion and knowledge of their vehicles will carry great weight in the judging process, and in the overall appraisal of the entries.”

As far as Harley is concerned, the unique character of Concours South Africa devolves from the fact that it is held in a country far away from the mainstream of classic car culture. And classic car enthusiasts in South Africa have not been exposed to the levels of competition that have been accepted as de rigeur in Europe and America for many decades.

Harley added: “Hopefully a national level concours, such as ours, will be seen as more of a learning opportunity than just an outright competition.

“Don’t get me wrong – winning the concours is everyone’s main goal but over the years of being involved with the museum, I have seen hundreds , if not thousands of cars and so often an owner will blandly state that his or her car is in ‘concours condition’…

“The truth is that generally, South African owners and collectors are usually only part of the way there. In attending a national concours, with international judges and other marques present to make comparison easier, the standard of knowledge and restoration skills will improve. And we must not forget, too, how the values of an owner’s asset will increase too, if it takes top honours!”

Speaking about the event, he said: “We will work closely together to set standards on vital aspects such as originality and presentation. And, of course, owner knowledge is going to be key too. We want to see a passionate involvement from our winners, not merely someone who can afford to pay for the very best car or restoration.”

“I don’t want to see Concours South Africa evolve too much in the direction of, say, a Pebble Beach or a Vila de Este! I would like to see a situation where the man with a Morris Minor has as much chance of winning as a Bentley.

“South Africans have their own way and style of doing things, and I would like to see Concours South Africa become an event with its own unique and totally South African identity!”