In the early 1900s, Michael Hughes’ grandfather JJ bought a vehicle from General Jan Smuts, a prominent South African military leader.
This 1911 Ford Model T military pick-up would then become a family heirloom for the motor enthusiasts.
The ancient Ford was used in Voi, Taveta and part of what was then German East Africa.
“My grandfather restored it after the First World War,” says Michael.
This vehicle, considered to be the oldest motor vehicle in Kenya, is part of the Heritage Collection that will be on display at the CBA Concours d’Elegance.
“Old cars are very temperamental. It takes dedication, time and passion to keep it up,” he says.
Coming from a history of motor vehicle lovers, Michael took to collecting vintage cars like a fish to water.
His grandfather, JJ, brought the iconic Ford brand to Kenya after successfully bidding for it. What began as Ford Tractors turned to Ford Motor vehicles which ran until the 1970s.
His father, Peter Hughes, is considered a pioneer in the Kenya motor vehicle assembly industry and was a motorsport lover and champion. Both Peter and Michael served as chief judges at the vintage and classic car pageant.
“The interest in motor vehicles has gone down generations. My father was into motorsport and I have spent my entire life in motoring,” he says.
The 1911 model T is not the only one in the family. They are currently restoring a 1923 Ford Model T, which is still broken down.
“I hope it will be ready by next year’s event,” he says.
His passion for the cars is clear in his words.
“It is such a pleasure to have these cars. It is like owning an art piece,” he explains.
The Heritage Collection has three other vehicles, including a 1916 steam Engine owned by Roger Tanner, an over 60- year-old Mercedes Truck and a Ferguson Tractor by FMD. Tanner found the steam engine in running order 35 years ago in a yard in Langata, but it still took six months to do a light restoration.
This was made by Ransomes Sims and Jefferies at Ipswich in England and imported to Kenya by a company called Gailey and Roberts who were their agents.
The engine was used to power saw mills in the Elburgon and Molo areas. The theme for this year will be ‘the Old and the New’ which will see the vehicles flanked side by side, older and newer versions.
The 47th edition of the event will be held this weekend at the Ngong Racecourse, showcasing the love for collectible and refurbished vehicles.
It will include 36 international entries from South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The Vintage Motorcycle Club of South Africa will present a 1929 New Henley, a 1935 Sunbeam and a 1960 Velocette Viper.
Among the entries from Tanzania will be a 1998 Ferrari F355 Replica and 1976 JBA Falcon Roadster of Shane Ramzanali.
There will be a contingent of classic car enthusiasts led by Leslie Carvell will be driving her 1970 VW Beetle from Jinja to Nairobi.