Of course if you are going bare yourself to the world you should do it in style. And if you literally want to blow your hair back the Cape Cobra has to be one of the most thrilling topless cars around. The leather seats, the flawless shiny paintwork, the two distinctive racing stripes down the middle… Make it in pink and add an auto-lipstick fandangle in the dashboard and you’d have Penelope Pitstop whimpering with longing. And it’s not just easy on the eye. It also handles like a kitten with an unfeasibly throaty roar and a tad more oomph in its 5.7l engine than the standard hire car. It’s no surprise that the Cobra is rumoured to be the reason that the UK introduced speed limits back in the 1960s.
So it was with a squeal of glee that I headed out with Dean, owner of Cape Cobra Hire, for an afternoon’s jaunt around the vineyards of Constantia. A classic car, it seems, is like a good wine – fun, indulgent and immeasurably pleasurable. So how very sensible of me to familiarise myself with both at the same time.
The speed bumps on the driveways of some of the estates had Dean cursing mildly, but the leafy lanes and the beauty and history of our surroundings were idyllic. Less so my attempts to get in and out of the car with anything like the elegance it demanded (not helped, perhaps, by my reacquaintance with the joys of the Muscadel grape for which Constantia is particularly renowned). But what the hey – I felt like a film star when ensconced in the Cobra, and we certainly turned heads wherever we went. What a blast.
We also happened to pick a peach of a day, with the trees in their fullest greenest glory and the agapanthus coming into bloom all along the sides of the roads… but there are many more fabulous driving days ahead. Almost any direction will do, winding over the mountain passes or along the coast spotting whales, cruising down to Cape Point, heading inland to the winelands – take your pick. In a Cobra on a good Cape Town day you are bound to have a ball. But watch out… once bitten by a Cobra you may never fully recover.