Work on this dramatic road linking Hout Bay to Noordhoek almost never started because the project was initially turned down as impractical. What made Chapman’s Peak Drive a reality was a mining engineer’s report that the peculiar geology of that section of the mountain made a road possible. Charl Marais discovered that the lower third of the mountain face of hard Cape granite rested on a reasonably flat, and importantly soft, layer of thinly bedded sedimentary rocks of the Graafwater Formation. This layer could be excavated with minimal use of explosives.

Roadworks began simultaneously in 1915 from the Hout Bay and Noordhoek ends. 700 convicts from the Cape were allocated to do the back-breaking and dangerous work of constructing and excavating. Work was completed in 1922.  The roadbuilders left a large piece of graffiti on the rock face for motorists that read ‘Good Luck’. In 1960 the road was widened and improved, and in 1980, after parts were washed away a bridge-like structure was built to reinforce it. After 1994 funds for maintenance were cut, and following the death of a motorist from a falling rock, the pass was closed in 2000 and handed over to a private company to open a toll booth to collect money for maintenance upgrades.  The upgrade of Chapman’s Peak Drive received international acclaim winning the 2004 civil engineering award for road design. Nevertheless, there have been several incidents of motorists driving off the cliffs to their deaths. Some have survived the precipitous falls.

Source: Mountains in the Sea – an interpretive guide to Table Mountain National Park by John Yeld and Martine Barker