BMW April 2022

As a youngster, Clive Winterstein bought his first car, a “bargain” from a railways yard sale. It was a 1938 Armstrong Siddeley four-door saloon, a rather staid British make, and he paid the princely sum of just under R40 for it. In those days people would have referred to it as a “tjorrie”.

“I learned a valuable lesson from that car, and that was that it is not worth spending a whole load of money restoring a beat-up car that doesn’t have any level of equity. I ended up spending a lot, then selling it before the project was finished, and moved on. “

Winterstein has certainly moved on a long, long way since that experience in the late 1950s. After qualifying as a metallurgist, he worked for JCI, before his older brother Eddy persuaded him to join his fledgling auctioneering business. Some 45 years later he retired, and the business, Aucor, was celebrated as one of the biggest auctioneering concerns in the country.

Having traded cars for so many years, Clive developed a keen eye for machines that have intrinsic, collectable value, and this is obvious the first time you step inside his Johannesburg home workshop in one of the more desirable suburbs north of the city. Your eye roves from one beautiful, achingly desirable car to the next, and it’s a job to decide where you should focus your attention.

Clive solves this problem by picking up a scrap book that reveals pictures of a black roadster with 1930s styling that looks to be in a sorry state indeed. It takes a moment to connect these snaps with the half-completed  but already-beautiful restoration in front of us, an ultra-rare 1938 BMW 327. This is a pre-World War II machine, and Clive says he wanted it because of all the motoring eras, he believes the 1930s cars were the most stylish of all.

“Black paint hides a multitude of sins, and after I imported the car from the UK it turned out that it was riddled with rust. Since then it has had many panels totally replaced. I was really lucky in being able to obtain wooden panels for the convertible roof structure, from a chap in the US that had created his own panels and had the dimensions transferred to computer. He was able to create a whole new set for me, and they arrived here in a crate from America. Beautiful!”

An interesting fact about the BMW 327 was that it continued to be built in what became East Germany after World War II, continuing in production until 1956. However, post-war, it was badged as an EMW, which stands for Eisenach Motoren Werke (BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, which translates to Bavarian Motor Works). Clive’s car is a genuine pre-war BMW, but because of the continued production in Eisenach, he sources many of his parts from what were previously called “Eastern Block” countries.

The 327 is a four-seater cabriolet cruiser, but has clear lineage to its more sporty sibling, the BMW 328, which won countless races in Germany before the war. Clive’s car is powered by a 2,0-litre six-cylinder twin carb engine with pushrods, while the 328 used a triple carburettor engine.

The car that first attracted our attention in the workshop was a beautiful Porsche 356, and this is a very special example of the car that made the Porsche name famous from 1948 to 1965. This is a very rare Carrera 2 model, which means it runs an exotic four-cam engine in the rear, designed by the famous German engineer Ernst Fuhrmann.

Low and behold, on an engine stand at the rear of the workshop was a classic four-cam Carrera motor in all its glory! Winterstein explained that it was there as some heat shielding for the engine needed to be created for the car, and it was also mounted on the stand for the creation of a very special centre-pipe four-into-one exhaust system that Clive uses on his red Carrera 2.

“My nephew Shannon owns the other Carrera 2 which is the cream-coloured one up on that hoist, and although I offered him a stock exhaust system for that car, he insisted he wanted a noisy exhaust like mine,” says Clive with a chuckle. 

It is rare to see one, let alone two, Porsche Carrera 2 Coupes anywhere in the world, as only 276 of the B series cars were made between 1962 and 1963. It is said that Porsche allowed a total engine rebuild time of 32 hours for the four-cam Furmann engine, mainly because of its complex design which included shafts and bevel drives for the four camshafts, which require careful setting up. The four-cammer also employs twin distributors and two spark plugs per cylinder, and Clive says there is a switch in the car to test whether both distributors are working properly, as the engine will run reasonably well on just one plug per cylinder, but not deliver full power. 

Alongside the BMW in the workshop was a mouth-wateringly elegant Mercedes 220S cabriolet. A 1959 model, this is one of two six-cylinder 220 cabriolets that Clive owns, and the major difference between the two is that the second beige-coloured car (a 1960 model)  is badged as a 220 SE, which means it has a fuel-injected motor. The 220S in steel-roofed form is still a fairly common sight, but cabriolets are extremely rare in South Africa.

Again it was out with the scrap book, and Clive showed pictures of the blue car before it was restored that were astounding: barely a single panel on the car, as found, was rust free, and the finished article is testimony to the restoration work. Incidentally, a lot of the replacement metal panel creation was done by Leon Wannenburg at Leeway Auto Body Repairs in Maraisburg. Leon’s name will be remembered by readers who enjoyed our feature we ran on his 1961 Ford Thunderbird in Automotive Refinisher No 211, back in October 2020.

A particularly striking feature on the Merc 220S cabriolet was the beautifully laminated and varnished dashboard finish on the car. Clive did the re-lamination himself, and revealed that careful crafting is needed, as the laminated veneer wood is so thin. It requires special dexterity to match the grains on compound curves on the dash, and here Clive used a combination of a heated iron and a steam gun to blend the pieces properly. He also told us that obtaining the special perforated sections of the 220S’s upholstery cost almost as much as all the rest of the basket-weave leather combined.

The last car under discussion here was a rakish-looking Jaguar XK150, a 1961 model built just before the advent of the Jaguar E Type. ”I wanted an XK150 because I think it looks a lot better than an E-Type. To me there is too much body overhang on the wheels of an E-Type, whereas the XK150 wheel placement closer to the edges of the bodywork look more racy. This car is particularly interesting because Clive converted it from left-hand-drive to right-hand-drive.

“Because Jaguar sold the bulk of its production in America, they designed the car so that the brake and steering systems could be easily interchanged on the left-hand-drive and right-hand drive models. The only really difficult part was lining up the position of the steering column, and here I drilled a number of small holes in the bulkhead and threaded a piece of string through each hole, to see where the column would most accurately line up with the steering arm that connects to the rack-and-pinion. Once I was satisfied, it was a case of making a larger hole for the column to go through, and closing up the whole on the left-hand-side.

“The dashboard gauges are centrally mounted, so those stayed as they were, and moving the cubby hole from the right side to the left was relatively easy too, as the lid is made out of wood, and easy to shape. The pedals also had to be re-shaped to accommodate right-hand-drive. The car is here in my home workshop right now, as the head gasket is being replaced.

“I like the XK150 because it has four-wheel-disc brakes. It’s actually a real driver’s car, nice reaction to the steering wheel, and it’s powerful, with a twin-cam straight six that gives a 0-100 km/h time in under eight seconds, and a top speed of around 220 km/h.”

So that’s pretty much it, for the residents in a home workshops that is far from your common or garden variety. In his upstairs garage, Clive has a perfectly-restored Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, one of the most iconic cars from the 1950s and the early 1960s. These roadsters were owned by the likes of Hugh Heffner and Sophia Loren! But the story of that car, and others in Clive’s stunning collection, are for another time….

Story by Stuart Johnston

Pictures by Jay Groat