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Media Release - Stuart Johnston Communications
25 March 2019
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  • For more information on the Knysna Motor Show, regards venue, admission prices etc, see details at the end of this media release

A stand-out feature of the 2018 Knysna Motor Show , sponsored by Sanlam Private Wealth on April 29, 2018 will be an historical display of production sedans and sports cars only available in South Africa! These cars date back to the 1950s to the present day, and chart the amazing engineering and design ingenuity that existed in our country in the “golden age” of car enthusiasm, and still exists today!

The following cars will be on display in a special section dedicated to these South African-only cars, which today enjoy huge international interest (and value!), because of their rarity.

The Protea , 1956-1958

This humble sports car was designed and built in Johannesburg by a team led by sports car enthusiast John Myers. A prototype version was completed in 1956 and production versions first appeared in mid-1957. It featured a strong square tubular chassis, and running gear culled from the side-valve four-cylinder Ford/Anglia 100E series of cars. This meant that, performance-wise, it wasn’t ultra-quick, although an overhead valve conversion available from the UK improved things dramatically.

It was the first fibreglass-bodied car to be built in South Africa and a total of 15 Proteas are known to have been built. A number of examples exist today, including a Protea Triumph, which features a completely different body, clad in aluminium.

The GSM Dart, 1958-1965

Just a few months after the Protea was launched, the GSM Dart broke cover early in 1958, also featuring a glass-fibre body and Ford 100E mechanicals. This car was the product of collaboration between a Cape-based trio, Willie Meissner, Bob van Niekerk, and stylist Verster de Wit.

The shape of the Dart was actually decades ahead of its time, and in the early 1990s, experts remarked how similar the 1958 Dart looked to the BM Z1 sports car!

These cars were built in Cape Town, as well as in the UK, under the name “GSM Delta”. Until production ceased in the mid-1960s, a total of 116 GSM Darts were built in South Africa, and they were extremely successful in motorsport, later being fitted with a Cortina GT 1500 cc engine, as well as “hot” racing engines, including Climax and Alfa Romeo units.

The GSM Flamingo, 1962-1965

The GSM Flamingo came about as Bob van Niekerk realised that many South Africans would want a more sophisticated sports car. Thus the GSM Flamingo was born in 1962, initially featuring a 1.7-litre Ford Taunus engine.

Later, racier Ford Cortina GT 1500 cc units were fitted, and a one-off V8 model was also built and raced successfully by Bob van Niekerk. The Flamingo featured a distinctive split-window rear window design, actually pre-dating the famous 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray split-window model.

A total of 128 Flamingos were built at GSM’s factory in Paarden Eiland, Cape Town. Production ceased in 1965.

Renault Alconi 1964-1967

In the mid-1960s, two Jo’burg race drivers and engine tuners John Conchie and Eric “Puddles” Adler achieved something really unique. Renault Africa homologated and listed for sale Renault Alconis a as production cars, for sale as new models through Renault dealerships in South Africa, with full factory warranty.

Alconi Developments was in essence a performance or speed shop, based in Johannesburg, and specialising in conversions for many light cars, but, significantly Renault R8s (and later the longer-nosed R10s). The achievement in having an Alconi kit ratified by a major manufacturer was huge and testimony to the thoroughness and reliability of Alconi conversions.

The R8 and 10 Alconis were based on the 1100 cc Renault motor, and featured modified cylinder heads, camshafts, a Weber DCD twin choke down draught carburettor on an Alconi manifold and an Alconi exhaust system.

The results were amazing, and in 1967 a Car Magazine road test showed the home-grown R10 Alconi to significantly out-perform lager engined performance rivals, such as the Mini Cooper S 1 275, and the 1 500 cc Cortina GT.

Marauder Sports, 1971-1974

The Marauder was a steel-chassis, fibreglass-bodied sports car built in Randburg in the early to mid-1970s by enthusiast Peter Meefan. It was sold as a kit or in built-up form, and was modelled after the Lotus 7, built in the UK and designed by Colin Chapman. Typically, Marauders were fitted with the popular Ford Kent crossflow 1600 cc four-cylinder engine, and Ford Escort running gear. It is believed that over 50 were built. A surprising number survive today.

Ford Capri Perana V8, 1971-1973.

Arguably the most iconic South African-developed performance car is the Ford Capri Perana, devised and built by race-driver and speed shop owner Basil Green, of Johannesburg.

This magnificent car offered “Ferrari performance” for a fraction of the cost in the early 1970s, and it was hugely successful on the race tracks too, providing countless wins for the likes of Bobby Olthoff, Basil van Rooyen, Koos Swaneopel and Peter Gough.

The basic ingredient was a hot 302 cubic inch Ford V8 slotted into the body of a Capri 3.0-litre, with suitable mods to cooling, suspension, gearing, and also to the colour schemes, which were distinctive in yellow or red with contrasting black bonnets and striping. Over 300 were built and sold to lucky enthusiasts in the wild and woolly early ‘70s, before fuel crisis of 1973 bit hard! Capri Perana V8s had a 0-100 km/h time in the mid-six second bracket and a top speed just shy of 230 km/h!

Chevrolet Firenza Can Am, 1972-1973

They only built 100 of these cars, and they were designed to do just one thing, and that was to vanquish the nightly Capri Peranas. And they did just that, thanks to inspiration of race drivers Basil van Rooyen and Geoff Mortimer, who were closely involved in the development. Basil it was that specced specified the amazing 228 kW Z28 Chevrolet V8 for this car, built for racing in America.

It was wild, fitted with a four-speed Munci gearbox with a first gear so tall in could almost run to 100 km/h without shifting. It ran a verified 0-100 km/h of 5.5 seconds; with a top speed exceeding 230 km/h. Distinguishing features include the aluminium boot spoiler and Personal alloy rims, as well as a Personal steering wheel.

And yes, it cleaned up on the race tracks, and in rallying too!

Alfa Romeo GTV6 3.0 1983-1985

The important bit about this car is the “3.0” designation. Everywhere else in the world, Alfa Romeo GTV6s had 2,5-litre engines. But in South Africa, the likes of race engineer Sampie Bosman and his team sourced Autodelta parts from Italy to enlarge the beautiful OHC V6 to three litres, and at the same time, junked the restrictive fuel injection and added six individual single-choke Dell Orto carburettors.

The result was a firebrand, tamed by special suspension, gorgeous Compomotive rims, red striping and a big power bulge on the fibreglass bonnet with fresh air ducts. It was the car to beat in Group One racing, driven by the likes of Nico Bianco, George Fouche and Abel D’Oliveira.

Ford Sierra XR8 1984-1985

Ford couldn’t take the GTV6’s track success lying down, and in mid-1984 introduced the amazing Ford Sierra XR8. This was essentially a Ford Sierra V6, but fitted with a five-litre V8, special limited slip diff, five-spoke alloy wheels and dual-plane rear wing in the boot.

In time the likes of Serge Damseaux, John Gibb and Willie Hepburn gave these XR8s legendary status in Group One and Wesbank racing!

Initially the XR8 engine was a bit tame, rated only at a little over 150 kW, but this was solved by big-valve, big port cylinder heads. Only 250 units were produced, and finding a mint one today is a rarity!

BMW 333i, 1984-1985

Until 1984, the largest-capacity BMW 3 Series model was fitted with a 2.3-litre straight six, known as the 323i. But amidst the flurry of homologation specials being turned out by the likes of arch-rivals Alfa and Ford for production racing purposes, BMW in Rosslyn had to get in on the act.

Rather outlandishly, the 333i was produced by shoe-horning in a 3.2-litre straight-six engine from a large BMW 7 Series sedan. The engine so filled the engine bay that you could either specific air-conditioning, or power steering, but not both.

Somewhere along the line, race regulations for Group One and Group Two (Wesbank Modified) racing resulted in the 333i not being able to compete notably for honours on track, but it made a great road car, with its Alpina rims, quality body add-ons and special seats. It was very quick too. Zero to 100 was tested at 7,2 seconds, and the top speed was over 230 km/h. Just over 200 examples were built.

Volkswagen Caracal Prototype, 1990

This car was conceived by Cape Town architect Gerrie Steenkamp, who distinguished himself in the mid-1970s by importing Lotus and Lamborghini CKD kits and assembling them outside Cape Town!

In late 1989 Steenkamp employed race-rally driver Nic de Waal to design a sports car and the result was the rear-engined Caracal, which used Golf 16V running gear and transmission, miunted behind the cockpit.

The car was in fact approved by VWSA for production, but then political events saw the move towards a new democratic government in South Africa, and the need for a home-grown SA sports car became redundant, as manufacturers could then start importing such cars without prohibitive tax duty. The car shown at Knysna is believed to be just one of three or possibly four prototypes to have been built by Steenkamp’s company, Inter Motor Makers.

AC Zagato 378 GT 2012

The AC Zagato 379 GT is an evolution of a similar car, known as the Perana Z One, which was first shown in 2009. It was the result of collaboration between Hi tech Automotive of Port Elizabeth, who built the car, and Zagato, the Italian styling house, which provided some design detailing.

Hi Tech is world famous for building top quality AC Cobra and Ford GT40 replica and continuation-series cars, as well as the Shelby Daytona Coupe, and also the Noble sports car.

In 2012 the AC Zagato 378 was launched, and featured a Chevrolet Corvette C6 Fuel-injected V8 motor, mated to a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox. It is touted as a real “driver’s car” with no electronic traction control aids, and has a claimed 0-100 km/h time of under four seconds and a top speed in the region of 300 km/h.


The Knysna Motor Show is a one-day only event, held at the Knysna High School sports grounds, with elegant food and drink stalls providing refreshments in keeping with the glamour of this top-quality classic car event. Nevertheless, the show is extremely family orientated, with a relaxed atmosphere a key note. There is a beer garden and a food court to cater to all culinary tatstes tastes.

The show also falls just one week before the Jaguar Simola Hill Climb in Knysna, making it ideal to combine these two top quality events into an unbelievable Petrolhead Family Getaway!

The show runs from 9 am to 4 pm on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Admission prices are very family orientated: Adults R50, Children 12-18 R10, and children under 12 free!

Contact details are: Peter Pretorius, email on peterp@afrihost.co.za, or by cell phone on 082 321 4724. For more information, go to the Garden Route Motor Club’s website on www.grmc.co.za                                                                                           


For additional information, please contact:

Stuart Johnston

Cell : +27 83 450 9255

Email : stujohn@netactive.co.za

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