• Ford launched its new Mustang with a road trip to Montagu in 2019
• The overnight establishment has an eerie ghost story
• Montagu is known for its many haunted tales
In mid-2019, before I joined the Wheels24 team, Ford South Africa launched its new Mustang. The world's favourite pony car saw a raft of changes that made it a much better proposition. Not only in terms of design but the drive, as well. For this reason, the automaker opted to launch the car with a road trip - figuratively galloping from Cape Town International to Montagu some 200km inland.
'Saddling' up the V8 Mustang, my driving partner and I quickly settled in and made our way out of the parking bay and join the N2. From there, merge onto the R300, and then the N1 towards Paarl. The contingency of Mustangs kept a steady pace, with very few pushing the V8 engine's envelope.
As expected, driving through the Huguenot Tunnel saw it erupt as hundreds of horses (horsepower) rumble and snort, with sounds bouncing off the tunnel walls. Out on the other end, we make our way towards Worcester, and then a round-trip to Montagu via the vast, empty back roads.
Have you ever encountered a ghost while on the road, or especially in Montague? Please Email us your car-ghost stories.
2020 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
When we arrived at our accommodation in Montagu, the friendly staff showed all of us our individual rooms and where we'd be having breakfast the next morning. As I enter my room, I got an eerie feeling that something is amiss. This does not feel right. Why is this room so cold? Why does it feel like I'm being suffocated? And, why do I only have a bath and no shower?!
After a quick, lukewarm bath, I make my way to the shuttle to be transported to the dinner venue. On our way, the driver, I suppose a local, tells us that the road leading into the town is known for its ghosts; that people have made accidents after coming upon a 'spook' in the middle of the road.
"Dear Lord," I prayed, "please protect mine eyes from the things I do not wish to see!"
That night, at the dinner table, I indulged in a few beverages. Not for any reason other than to sleep and not be reminded of the ghosts in the town.
Back at the hotel, I make my way to the room. You have to walk over a courtyard and past the swimming pool. I enter the section, climb the three stairs, and unlock my door. My room is the first as you enter. After a quick change of clothes, brushing my teeth, I'm in bed. It's going to be a good night's rest. Ah Dreamland, here I come.
But then I couldn't find the switch to turn off the bedside lamp. I persevere and attempt to get some shut-eye with the light on. I kid you not, after a few minutes the lamp suddenly began to glow brighter and then it would dim again. This continued for almost 20 minutes. But still I lay, quiet, and barely breathing. What is happening here?
Suddenly, I feel a brush of cold air rubbing over my face. Goodness gracious, my entire body breaks out in a cold sweat, but still I lay, quiet, and barely breathing. I'm not one of those who can see ghosts or even their silhouettes, but that night I had an encounter. I begin singing hymns. Those gentle ones praising the Lord for His protection over my life. I sing Psalm 23, but soon I'm mumming the tune with unsteadiness in my voice. Then I can't get a sound out because of the frog in my throat.
I went to bed at around 23:00. At 04:00 I was still awake. The light is still on. The room is cold again after going warmer a few hours ago. My eyes are closed, but then I see her. A little girl in a white dress standing at the opposite end of the room. She runs towards my bed, jumping on it. I could feel the additional weight on my mattress. Suddenly she's back where she stood moments ago and floats - she floated! - at a considerable speed towards the bedside table where the lamp is, reaches out for my phone and gives a screeching, laughing sound before everything went quiet.
I open my eyes. The light is glowing normal. My phone is still lying where I left it. But I am cold and bewildered.
'He killed her'
The next morning, I was knackered. When one of my colleagues from the same section arrived, we enquired about our night's rests, and she spoke of how she was up all night because her power kept going out. While in bed, she heard footsteps coming from the room below hers (my room) and thought it was me walking up and down.
Ag, Here, nee. I also heard footsteps, but thought it was the person in the room above walking up and down!
As more people came in for breakfast, the story quickly came to light. In the earlier years, long before the property was turned into a hotel, it was a general practice. Where we stayed used to be the old surgery, and the 'good doctor' had apparently murdered a little girl. And the first room was where it happened!
Right, I'm done! Goodbye, Montagu. And goodbye, scary little girl!
Oh, in case you think I'm making this up: Wheels24 editor, Janine van der Post, stayed in the same room as I just the night before. And she, too, experienced the presence of another person in the room - yet we only told each other about our encounters a week later.
I love road trips, but this was on another level!
2020 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
Van der Post says: "Having driven the updated Mustang range, and ending it off with a run in the limited edition Mustang Bullitt, nothing could really deter me from the adrenaline rush. Man, that V8 sounds amazing. Its sonorous roar will make you want to rev up to everyone's delight - as we had do throughout the brilliant driving route through passing little towns en route to sleepy Montague. In honour of the late Steve McQueen 338kW and 530Nm from the Bullitt's naturally-aspirated V8 engine is a genuine tribute. Oh yum!
"I was having the time of my life.
"That evening, the hotel hostess tells us that the building we would be sleeping in was more than a 100 years old, before adding "Don't worry, it's not haunted!" as I was about to ask. So, I put the thought at the back of my mind.
"After a fantastic dinner with my peers, I head to my room, not knowing of any ghost tales. I had bathed before dinner so could climb straight into bed. Yet, I battled to fall asleep as I kept hearing footsteps creaking on the old wooden floors, up and down. I assumed it was the five other motoring journos in their rooms. Eventually I fell asleep. Then at 04:00, an ice cold wave of air washes over my entire body and I jolt right up in bed. I never turned off the lights, and see a small shadow flash pass my bed and through the door.
"I simply thought I had a few more glasses of white wine than I had realised, until my friend asked me why I had been walking up and down in my room all night! Another colleague said he heard a little girl giggling, and assumed it was someone watching a movie. Then we heard about the doctor and the little girl. Charlen only told me about his encounter a few days later. As charming as Montagu is, and the Monte Vista is so quaint and sweet, but I won't ever stay there overnight again. Mustang or not!"
2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt. Image: Wheels24 / Warren Wilson
The new Mustang
The Mustang first made its appearance in 1964, and in the more than fifty years since, cemented itself as one of the cornerstones of the automotive industry. In late 2015, in line with the sports car's fiftieth birthday, Ford SA got the rights to sell the car locally, and it immediately became a best-seller in its segment. In 2019, the model we have pictured here came to market.
The new car still featured the two engines from its initial 2015 launch, but respective increases saw the turbocharged 2.3-litre and naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 petrol engines now develop 213kW/441Nm and 331kW/530Nm, respectively. Both cars send their power to the rear wheels via Ford's new 10-speed automatic gearbox. A Mustang Bullitt also joined the range. But, as Van der Post mentioned, saw a slight increase in power over its V8 siblings, as well as a six-speed manual gearbox in place of the automatic transmission.
The Mustang range consists of both Fastback and convertible models and is priced from R809 200 to R1 029 700. The Bullitt, of which only 50 has been brought to SA, sells for R1 047 900 and is still listed on Ford SA's website.
2020 Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost convertible. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond