Where Cars Go To Die

Sutherland Car Wreck


If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in my many travels around the Northen Cape, it’s that there are wrecked cars lying all over the place.

I have a theory about this.

The Northern Cape is one the poorer parts of the country, so I’m guessing that as cars age and pass from owner to owner they eventually migrate from the city to out here. By that time they’re pretty old and worn out. Your brakes and suspension circa 1960 aren’t going to help you much when things go wrong. The roads can be pretty bad too, with tyre-shredding stones, bad corrugations and slippery clay. Then, of course, road rules don’t really count for much when you’ll hardly ever see another car on the road. So no one bothers excessively with trivialities like speed limits and wondering what’s over blind rises.

My hypothesis: old car + bad roads + enthusiatic drivers = wrecks galore

After the accident, well, no-one can afford to move the car. And it never* rains, so that wreck is staying there forever. I have decided that the Northern Cape is the place that cars go to die. I think this particular one is a 1970s Ford Cortina, but if you’re better at identifying cars than me then let me know.

I took the shot on the road from Sutherland to Calvinia. When the road is dry and ungraded the corrugations are terrible. When it’s wet the clay makes it almost impossible to stay on the road. My wife and I drove this bit last year in heavy rain. We were in a Land Cruiser with 4 x Everything engaged, and we could not keep in a straight line. It must have looked like a drunken lemur was driving the car. We had several forays off the side of the road and I was very surprised we didn’t manage a couple of 360s as well. Lots of fun. In retrospect.

* ok, hardly ever

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