Knysna is a seaside haven full of surprises. Many of these surprises have engines. That’s the best kind of surprise, right?

This charming little town plays host to the annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, where a selection of magnificent classics, high-end performance cars and firebreathing hillclimb-specialist cars fight for glory up Simola Hill.

The area is a hotbed for classic car restoration work, with exceptional mechanical expertise of the likes of Bodge Engineering readily available to turn your dream project into a reality.

Knysna is also famous for oysters. The odds of finding a pearl inside an oyster are certainly not in your favour (approximately 1 in 12,000 if the internet is to be believed), but thankfully the odds of finding automotive pearls in Knysna are significantly better.

One such pearl is the Parnell Bruce collection.

This privately-owned and curated collection is not open to the public, but is open to those who know how to find it. If you become friends with the motoring inner circle of Knysna and show the right attitude, the door will be opened for you.

If this sounds like you’re starring in the automotive equivalent of The Matrix, it’s because you are. Take the red pill and immerse yourself in an unforgettable collection of automotive history ranging from pre-war veterans through to primarily 50s, 60s and 70s models.

The experience is made even more special by the setting these cars find themselves in. Every room contains extraordinary memorabilia including original metal signs and petrol pumps.

Perhaps most impressive of all is the commitment to nurturing restoration and mechanical skills in the younger generation. The collection has in-house mechanics who are being trained as classic car specialists.

There are a number of project cars in the collection and cutting-edge restoration techniques are being practiced and even developed in certain cases. For example, a specific technique to restore the original leather on the pre-war Bentleys was developed specifically for the collection by South African specialists.

The full size toys are complemented by the smaller variety as well. A brilliant slot car track with an impressive collection of cars fills the loft area of the “Jaguar Room” – truly every kid’s dream! Maybe a few adults too…

This is one pearl that no oyster can compete with.