Evolution of Kenya’s top motor show

Courtesy of Sunday Nation

The annual CBA Africa Concours d’Elegance is, once again, expected to attract hundreds of motorists and their families to the Nairobi Racecourse next Sunday, but only a few of the spectators know about the origins of the event.

Way back in the days of horse drawn carriages, the French aristocracy paraded them in the parks of Paris during summer weekends and holidays.

In the 17th century this pastime became known as the Concours d’Elegance (a gathering of elegance).

Magdi Riad (right) works against the clock with Fred Karanja (left) and Titus Baraza (right) to prepare this 1927 Dodge saloon for the CBA Africa Concours d’Elegance which will be held by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club at the Ngong Racecourse on September 24, 2017 | Courtesy of the Sunday Nation

In due course, carriages became museum pieces and the advent of the motorcar brought a competitive edge to the Concours.

Rival manufacturers vie with each other for prizes and the attention of potential buyers.

Today there are Concours d’Elegance events around the world which feature classic and vintage cars and motorcycles for the assessment of standards of presentation.

Satpal Singh Jabbal poses with his trophy and bike after winning the overall price in the motorbikes categories with this DKW 1925 bike at a past Concours d’Elegance competition. Jabbal also won last year’s bikes category with a 1958 Norton Racer. | Courtesy of the Sunday Nation

In Kenya, the Concours d’Elegance tradition has been maintained by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club backed by CBA.

Some 47 years ago, the initial Concours was held in the grounds of a Nairobi hotel to mark the Club’s first anniversary.

This has grown into a major spectator motoring event with Africa continental status for cars and motorcycles.

The regulations are approved by the Kenya Motor Sport Federation (KMSF) and the Concours is recognized and sanctioned by FIM Africa.

Entrants of classic and vintage cars and motorcycles compete against each other to win prizes for the best prepared machines.

The assessment of the Concours vehicles is based entirely on cleanliness and condition.

Teams of experienced officials start the car judging at the Total Inspection ramp to assess the underside.


After this check, competitors drive along the judging line in front of the main Racecourse grand stands.

There are checkpoints for the paintwork and external finish, the interior and boot and the engine.

The process ends with a pair of judges marking roadworthiness.

The motorcycles are assessed in a similar way in the Racecourse parade ring adjacent to the grand stands.

There are 12 classes for cars, SUVs and pick-ups and seven for motorcycles of all makes and types.

The assessment of cars will start with utility vehicles followed by touring cars of different engine capacities, rally cars, sports cars and machines made in 1940, or earlier.

The motorcycle classes cover street, enduro and competition bikes.

To compensate for wear and tear there are bonus points for the age of the competing cars and two-wheelers.

Already car entries for the 2017 Concours have reached the maximum of 70 which is specified in the regulations to ensure high standards of judging.

The Concours office is located in the Bob Dewar Publicity suite in Block ‘G’ of Norfolk Towers, Kijabe Street, Nairobi.

The car entry list includes the 1966 Peugeot 404 of Arusha based Tor Allan, Dr. Joseph Alouch’s 1991 Mercedes Benz and Gayling May’s rare 1967 Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint.

Vitafoam Products Limited are resting their hopes on a 1966 MGB sports car and a 1972 Austin Mini.

Last year’s overall car winner was Steve Parkinson with a 1950 Jaguar Mark V followed by the 1930 Ford Model A of John Wroe.

The top bike award went to Sati Jabbal with his 1958 Norton Racer and second place was taken by a 1981 Yamaha XT.

Several of the 29 competitors from outside Kenya featured in the prize list. Ugandan Ronald Walusimbi took home the award for first place in the up to 2,500cc touring car class with his 1974 Mercedes and Jinja based Lesley Carvell earned second place in the up to 1,300cc touring car class with her 1970 VW beetle.

South African motorcycle enthusiast Ronald Nancekivell won the up to 350cc street bike class with his 1957 NSU Supermax.

The top three places in the trail and enduro motorcycle classes were all filled by members of the Uganda Bikers Association who rode their machines from Kampala to contest the Concours.

The forthcoming Concours on Sunday has attracted an even bigger field from outside Kenya.

The 12 strong Uganda car contingent includes rare cars like the 1991 Mitsuoka le-Seyde of Kakooza Wazzir and the 1983 Nissan 240RS rally car of Bob Roberts.


Members of the newly formed Classic Car Club in Dar es Salaam will be driving on the Total ramp with a 1976 Falcon Roadster and a 1998 Ferrari F355 replica.

Under the sponsorship of Galleria shopping mall the Vintage Motorcycle Club of South Africa will bring a 1929 New Henley, a 1935 Sunbeam and a 1960 Velocette Viper to the racecourse.

Ugandan classic bike enthusiast Stephen Tabaruka will ride his 1957 BSA round the judging ring followed by Robert Lule with his 1939 Matchless.

In addition, 12 members of the Uganda Bikers Association will ride from Kampala to contest the Concours on their massive trail and street bikes.

The classiest event on the Kenya motor sport calendar will end with a massive parade of all the competing cars and motorcycles after the finish of judging.

This will be followed by a podium prize giving in front of the main Racecourse grand stand with a grand finale closing the programme for the day.