The Cape Town Motor Show makes its debut to the senses not through the traditional visual route – the blinding shine of highly polished bonnets, the glint of sun bouncing off chrome, and the crowds of motor enthusiasts – but through a soundtrack of squealing tyres and the roaring of engines built for extreme performance.

And then, making your way through the show’s entrance gates, you see them: sleek, low profile sports cars pulling off sharp turns, drifting around obstacles, and sending plumes of smoke skywards. The smell of burning rubber and cast off pieces of tyre belie the gracefulness with which the cars move around the course. My eyes were out on stalks and my ears ringing with the protestations of tyres on the asphalt.

The GrandWest Grand Arena

The entrance gates to the Cape Town Motor Show lead one directly out into the impressive Grand Arena, which not only hosted the action-packed drifting course I just spoke of but also a vast showcase of the world’s top car manufacturers and brands, as well as spanking new cars and concepts. From BMW to VW, Ferrari to Lamborghini, and Mazda to Mercedes, they were all there: sleek and polished and sexy and expensive. There was also a spectacular line-up of Porsche and other sports cars, one of which was so low-profile, I spent a good five minutes trying to figure out how anyone other than a toddler might fold their body into it.

The Sun Exhibit Hall

Suitably impressed and our hunger for anarchy somewhat satiated by the drifting, we headed into the Sun Exhibit hall, which showcased the latest releases in top motorcycle brands, including Honda, BMW, India, Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha, Royal Anfield, Kawasaki, Viper, and, my favorite, Harley Davidson.

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What truly captured my attention (and heart) was the Cape Town Motor Show’s nostalgia display, which featured, in chronological order, a line-up of classic cars that epitomized the design ideals and innovations of their respective decades: the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. These motor vehicles – Ford, MG, Bellair, Studebaker, Lynx, Mustang – weren’t just new concepts for their time, they were major milestones that illustrate the evolution of the automotive industry and, in fact, changed it forever. To this day, they have remained iconic, beautiful, and highly coveted by collectors.

CT motor show

The Explorer Arena

Almost two solid hours of admiring cars and motorcycles (classic and cutting-edge) we had only seen half of what the Cape Town Motor Show had to offer. The Explorer Arena was dedicated to the industry’s most impressive and powerful 4×4 vehicles, SUVs, caravans, and trailers. So basically, it was the main attraction for outdoor lovers who literally prefer to do their exploring off the beaten track.

The Market Hall

The final stop on our tour of the incredible Cape Town Motor Show was the Market Hall, which was packed with industry related exhibits and brand-new innovations in the automotive world, from snazzy interiors, engine modifications, and tyres to specialty accessories, fuel injectors, car makeovers, and a bunch of other tools and trinkets that would have made the avid petrol head drool. We couldn’t, however, leave the Cape Town Motor Show without a souvenir and since we didn’t have several hundred thousand Rands to spare on a new ride, we settled instead on a pair of perfume pods, which have been sweetening the air in our cars since.

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A show for anyone and everyone

I must admit that I routinely confuse BMWs with Mercedes; I couldn’t tell a Porsche apart from a cobra, and what lies under the hood of my car is a greater mystery to me than how Donald Trump made it into the White House. I am no petrol head by any stretch of the imagination: on the contrary, I am a total car cretin. And yet, I was captivated by what the Cape Town Motor Show had on offer and on display. Yes, it was geared at car lovers, but it appealed to all, which I believe to be the hallmark of a truly successful expo.

The Cape Town Motor Show is set to return around March 2019, so if you missed it this year, you’ve got to pencil it into your diaries for next year!