It’s confession time – we actually really like American cars.

A very good friend of ours just came over to the dark side, by buying himself a project car. Yes, you may gasp in horror, or at least in a combination of admiration and pity, but either way this is important work.

The world needs people who see potential where others only see missing parts, ruined paint and a terrible idle. The windscreen looks like a madman with a machete decided to play tic-tac-toe across it, which doesn’t do wonders for visibility when driving into the sun. The gearbox boot is missing, so feedback on the road surface beneath you is provided partially through the steering wheel, and partially just through the hole in the floor!

The car in question is a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, a half-mile long brute with some interesting features, like a straight-six engine instead of the more usual V8 associated with big American cars, as well as a rear shape that Google has revealed to be very unusual.

Yes, there is some rust, the bumper squeaks while you drive and the dashboard looks like it was involved in a drive-by shooting, but the potential here is enormous. She has curves in all the right places and a fantastic rear-end with her name written right across it – Chevelle. Don’t forget it, because you will be screaming it later (especially when you aren’t sure if the old shocks are actually going to work around the next corner)!

The initial impression of this car is undoubtedly its sheer size. At 5.1m long, the Chevelle wouldn’t be your first choice for a quick parallel parking attempt on Bree Street at rush hour. The red paint, whilst clearly needing a return to former glory, is certainly striking.

In stark contrast to the tight fit of our Alfa 105 series or other sporty car from the same era, the seats in the Chevy are as comfortable as they are enormous.

The Alfa was clearly intended as a tool for two people to scythe through the twisties, whilst the Chevy was designed to devour the open road with your girlfriend, four best friends, three dogs and two hitchhikers all comfortably seated. That’s on the front seat alone. The possibilities for the back seat are…ahem, endless.

Any quirks? Yes, definitely. The fuel cap is actually underneath the rear number plate, which is a complete mystery before you find it and an endless source of surprise and joy for onlookers thereafter. Turning on the brights requires some left foot action, with a switch located on the floor near the clutch pedal. In this particular car’s case, the door panel likes to shed interior handles whilst driving (our Alfa does that too), with the net result that the only way to open the passenger door became to first lower the window and then press the button from the outside.

If it all sounds wonderful, that’s because it is.

The cloud pattern in the sky and first rays of sunset looked irresistible. Cape Town was about to show off in all her glory. With a delicious burble, we headed east into the rolling hills of Durbanville. The N7 north offers an opportunity to clean out the cobwebs and warm the car up properly, with an easy offramp into Durbanville about 10 minutes up the road from where we joined at Plattekloof. 100km/h is effortless and comfortable, although you can hear the world’s oil supply being depleted with every roar. 120km/h (and no doubt more) is easily achievable, but this car still needs quite a bit of mechanical love, so we held back.

Once we were on the country roads headed towards Fair Cape Dairies, the number of Big Macs consumed by this Chevy became even more noticeable – this car is BIG. That’s not a bad thing though, as it gives you a motoring experience at the opposite end of the spectrum to the small coupe we are more accustomed to blasting through the hills. You just have to be very conscious of cyclists and other hazards on the side of the road.

We were right. The clouds were going to deliver an incredible sunset. We found a place to stop and admire the view. We have a strong opinion that classic cars (and any modern cars worth their salt) need to give us that “little boy” feeling. We want them to make us laugh, for no reason other than sheer joy.

This car does that. There’s an authenticity to her that cannot be denied. A working-class hero, the sheer simplicity of everything only adds to the charm. The soft burble of the straight-six idling was the only thing audible as we watched the sun go down behind the most beautiful place in South Africa.

And the best part? Every single person who sees her on the road gives a wave or a smile. That’s priceless.