SOUTH-AFRICA-L ArchivesArchiver > SOUTH-AFRICA > 2002-12 > 1040938349
From: Lehmkuhl <>
Subject: [ZA] First cars in South Africa
Date: Thu, 26 Dec 2002 16:32:29 -0500
The first motor car ride in South Africa was on 04 January 1897 at Berea
Park in Pretoria. John Percy HESS drove his two-seater Benz Velo for the
first time. His first passengers were A.E. RENO (his business partner) and
W.J. LEYDS (State Secretary). President Paul KRUGER was invited for the
ride, but declined and watched from the sidelines. A golden medal was
minted for the occasion. Spectators had to pay 2 shillings and 6 pennies
entrance fee to see this wonder.
A week later, the Benz was shown at the Wanderers in Johannesburg and sold
to a coffee importer, A.H. JACOBS. He showed the car off for free to anyone
who purchased 500g of coffee form his Pritchard Street shop. A few months
later, the car destroyed in a fire.
In 1896, John Percy HESS of Pretoria decided to import South Africa's first
car. He told his bank, the Bank of Africa, to arrange payment for the
manufacturer, Benz & Co. of Mannheim, Germany. The car was shipped to Port
Elizabeth in 1896 and transported to Pretoria. HESS became the sole agent
for Benz Motors in South Africa.
The Bank of Africa was later taken over by Barclays Bank.
The first Ford to be sold in South Africa was the Ford Model A of 1903,
which was sold by Henry FORD himself to Arthur YOULDON of Johannesburg.
Arthur was a financier who specialised in imports. In September 1903 he
visited the USA and while in New York, he saw a motor car demonstration in
Broadway. The man behind the demonstration was Henry FORD, who had founded
his company, Ford Motor Company, on 16 June 1903.
Arthur placed his order and was told that it would be the first Ford to be
sold outside North America. The car arrived in Port Elizabeth in February
1904 and was transported by train to Johannesburg. Today it is displayed at
the Heidelberg Transport Museum.
It is not clear who was the first Ford agent in South Africa. There are 2
possibilities - Arkell & Douglas of Port Elizabeth and Georges CHAPART of
Durban - who started at the same time. It is believed that Arkell &
Douglas was the first company to import the Fords directly from the
factory, while CHAPART worked through agents.
CHAPART was French and since 1906 he travelled all over Natal selling
Fords. The Model N Ford was a popular choice. He later expanded to the
Orange Free State and finally settled down in Potchefstroom, selling cars
until his death at age 80.
Other early Ford dealers were H.G. HOLMES of Kimberley (later moved to Cape
Town) and Atkinson's Motor Garages in Bloemfontein (later became part of
the McCarthy group).
In July 1923 HOLMES and H.F.A. STOCKELBACH visited Canada to investigate
the idea of opening a Ford assembly plant in South Africa. From February
1924, Ford Model Ts were assembled in an old wool packing shed in Port
South African research http://www.rupert.net/~lkool/