Museums & Collections

The Classic Cars of the Parnell Bruce Collection

A quick tour of a gem hidden in an industrial corner of South Africa

Pre-event mixers at automotive events are usually a formulaic affair that involve VIPs, an open bar, acceptable-to-everyone food, throngs of old white guys, and, if you’re lucky, a cool location for all of this to be hosted at.

The location Jaguar chose for its event ahead of the 2018 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, a classic car shop in the industrial area of the town of Knysna, South Africa—the kind that’s filled with all kinds of auto shops, boat shops, and microbrews—was spot on. There was a large open-air area for people to mull around in while holding their plastic cups and a separate building that housed some pleasing cars, including a pair of Ford GT replicas.

There turned out to be a surprise treat, however—a couple of rounds in, word started getting around of additional classic cars to look at in a nearby building, many of them Jaguars.

Those additional cars turned out to be the Parnell Bruce Collection, a private assembly of a few dozen vintage motorcars, most of them British. Aside from the aforementioned Jags there were several Rolls-Royces, including a green one with wood trim that was used by an Indian Maharaja for tiger hunting back in the 20s—a spiritual predecessor of the new Cullinan SUV. Mixed in with the big boys was a Sunbeam Tiger, a Mini, a couple of MGs, a bugeye Sprite, and even a handful of Italians.

In all, it’s a well-kept and well-assembled collection that would certainly fetch millions were it to be auctioned off—which, of course, it’s highly unlikely to be. And there’s always something extra enjoyable about unsupervised exploration of a collection of museum-quality vehicles. Fortunately, no drinks were spilled in the process.

Photos courtesy Jaguar.

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