--
 
Meet VW's SA-bound baby SUV, the T-Cross

A disguised prototype of the T-Cross, VW's new baby crossover SUV, is being tested on public roads.

WATCH: Bentley's new 467kW Continental GT

The new third-gen Bentley Continental GT boasts 467kW, 900Nm and a top speed of 333km/h.

The birth of a petrolhead - the passion for automobiles

2017-12-24 06:00

Natalie-Dominique Louw

Image: Supplied by Natalie-Dominique Louw

  Video

The guys at Motor Trend pit the recently-launched Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio against the performance yardstick - the BMW M3. Which is faster? Fast forward to 8:15 to find out.

Johannesburg - Wheels24 reader Natalie-Dominique Louw sent in an interesting email about Ferrari vs Maserati in SA earlier in September and it made us realise here's a woman who has a deep love for automobiles.

Louw told Wheels24's Janine Van der Post that she could recognise all types of cars at the tender age of 5 back in 1958, and it got the two of them talking.

Natalie-Dominique Louw tells us about her journey for all things cars...

Louw says: "You have asked me where my passion for automobiles comes from and to which I said I really do not know. Did anyone ever teach me the names to the different makes of autos we had in South Africa at that time?

In looking for the answer I asked my dad whether he could recall him ever teaching me the names to the autos back then and he said no, he never did and neither did my Mother nor my grandparents. An incident that happened when I was around 5 comes to mind. We had family over at our house, family from Tzaneen. I can’t recall what exactly triggered my Uncle, but he started asking me to name the cars as they drove past our house. I identified all of the makes correctly leaving my uncle in astonishment with eyes as big as saucers. To reiterate, I haven’t the foggiest how it came about or what triggered it.

My dad didn’t own a car at first but sometime between my birth and my fifth year of existence, he acquired a Plymouth Coupe (2 door).

After the Plymouth came the Studebaker Commander, a Ford Zephyr a Chevrolet Bel Air left hand drive (my Portuguese uncle brought it over from Canada).



What was your first car? Or what was the first car you fell in love with? Email us and we'll publish your stories.


My uncles on my dad’s side had between the three of thm: Chevrolets, a Morris and then a Ford (my dad’s younger brother), ohh and a Holden and a Borgward.

On my mother’s side her youngest sister married a Portuguese guy from Mozambique and he owned a Chrysler Desoto with the husband of one of her older sisters a DKW 3=6.

As can be seen the cars owned in the family were just the ordinary run of the mill family saloons from America, except the Borgward and DKW, which was a small German family station wagon (DKW) with the Holden from Australia and the Ford Zephyr from Great Britain. These cars were no exotic luxury cars in the same category as Mercedes or BMW, Jaguar, Bentley, Aston Martin, Ford Mustang, Chevy Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo.

I don't have a specific love for Fiat per say except for the sports models – e.g. the Fiat Abarths and Scorpions and in fact, I owned a Fiat Stilo Abarth (sold it this year). My very first car was a Fiat 124 Special - a 1400cc little four seater and neither sporty nor unique at all and the only reason I purchased the Fiat was because I couldn’t afford the Alfa Romeo Berlina 2000 or GTV2000.

                                  Image: Supplied by Natalie-Louw Dominique.

The first car I fell in love with must have been our family doctor’s Alfa Romeo Giullietta.

His Giullietta was red and small with a huge steering wheel (as most cars of that era sported). For me the Giullietta seemed to be feline – a Siamese cat readying itself to launch itself on its prey. I think what really clinched it for me was the sound of the engine – the rattle-clapping of the rockers on the twin camshafts mingling with the wheezing sucking sound of the Weber carburettors and the throaty burbling from the exhaust.
 
I grew up in a conservative Afrikaans home with my dad not involved in any other activities apart from his gardening.

My father certainly was not interested in cars in any way apart from it to be a form of transport. However, having said this, there were a number of guys living in the area who would take a very ordinary car and modified these cars to be faster. For example there was this guy, in one of the technical schools around who took this Morris Minor and substituted the 1000cc engine for a Volvo 2000cc engine and he also did a custom paint job on the body with alloy rims and wide tyres.

Then there was this guy “Oom Japie” I think he was called. He worked at Triple A Garage and workshop. He built the most beautiful hot rods with big V8 engines and exhaust pipes coming out from the side of the car.

Mr. Sterne of Sterne Glass owned a Maserati Ghibli and he would make the odd appearance in the area. All of this I suppose did have an effect on my upbringing – the love for the exotic, the beautiful once off autos (the hot rods modified sedans) and those in limited numbers.

In 1970 the World Endurance Sportscar Championship took place at the “old” Kyalami.

Word did the rounds at school that there was to be a bus going to Kyalami – leaving early on the Saturday morning and coming back after the conclusion.

I begged and pleaded with my Dad to let me go, I just had to be there. I had this feeling that if I missed the race I would die a slow death. I was in grade 10 then.

My dad said "yes, you may go".

Oh the excitement, the anxiety and the one all-encompassing thought milling through my mind – I am going to see in action the monsters of endurance racing – the Porsche 917’s and the Ferrari 512LM’s (Jacky Icks), the Lola T70’s.

Although in a different class the Alfa Romeo GTV2000’s (Arnold Chatz) and the 2.0-litre Chevron, the David Piper/Tony Maggs Ferrari 250LM, not to mention the Renault Gordinis and the Mini Cooper S’.
 
At long last the great day arrived. To say I was overwhelmed is such an under-statement. I was literally bombarded with a sensory paradise and I almost OD’ed on the sensory assault on all of the five senses – hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste.

The smell and taste of burning rubber, racing fuel. The roaring, screaming of highly tuned racing engines at maximum revolutions. And all of this in daytime.

It was infinitely better in the evening. Imagine yourself standing at the side of the track next to the Kink. As if from afar the roar and the screaming of a banshee getting louder and louder and as the roar and the banshee passes you it reaches an ear-splitting crescendo.

Porsche 917K and Ferrari 512LM chasing each other. I never knew until then that the changing of a gear could sound like a cannon shooting. I also did not know that downshifting gears in these racing cars caused flames three feet long to erupt from the exhaust pipes.

At the moment I drive an Alfa Romeo GT 3200cc V6 sport coupé. This is the type of automobile I always wanted ever since being a child. The GT was made from 2004 up until 2010 at the same time as the Alfa Brera and Spider and sporting the same engine, slightly detuned, as the Alfa Romeo 147GTA.

                 Natalie-Dominique with her current Alfa Romeo GT. Image: Supplied by Natalie-Louw Dominique.

In 2005 I acquired my first Alfa, the GTV2000 (the red one in the photo) and then I bought a 147 2.0-litre Selespeed.  

To conclude – my love and passion is not for the ordinary automobile one sees everyday on our roads – the Volkswagens and Nissans, the Volvos and BMWs, Mercedes Benz, Fiat etc. Rather, it's for those automobiles I do not see every day going to work – the Aston Martins, Audi R8’s, Ferrari 458’s, Alfa Romeo 8c and 4c.... these are the vehicles at which the sight of which causes me to drool and covet.

NEXT ON WHEELS24X

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.