Once upon a time there were no motorcars, and a young man’s proudest possession was his shiny new American bicycle. In his book Early Motoring in South Africa RH Johnston records that Durban ladies used to be able to go shopping by rickshaw, and horse-drawn buses were available — men sat upstairs in the open air and women were seated inside. In Johannesburg weddings that featured bicycles made for two were not unknown. Then came the motorcar. A "buzz, a whizz, a cloud of dust, a blood-curdling yell ... then silence, and a smell, and life was changed forever", Johnston writes. He takes the reader through the history of the motorcar in SA from the early days, when one afternoon, on January 4 1899, to be exact, Pretoria citizens gathered with President Paul Kruger in Berea Park to see a carriage travel along a road without the aid of horses, donkeys or oxen. As Johnston says, this was phenomenal progress, bearing in mind that only a year before a bicycle took part in the Jameson Raid a...

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