- Daytona Coupe, GT40
and Noble M400
date : 17th December 2006
Some of the most beautiful cars
ever made evolved from Ford Motor Companyís commitment to
its Total Performance campaign in the 1960s.
Both the Shelby Daytona Coupe and the Ford GT40 had a common
goal back then. To blow the doors off Ferrari.
Now the most faithfully-built replicas of these cars on the
planet are being offered for sale in South Africa by
Retromobile, a company that was formed in late October.
The Superformance GT40 and the Daytona Coupe are both products
of Port Elizabethís Hi-Tech Automotive, which has been
selling replicas of the Cobra, the Daytona Coupe and now the
GT40 in America.
Hi-Tech, of course, is already known to local enthusiasts for
the production of the Noble M400, an English design that uses
a twin-turbo version of Fordís V6 to astoundingly good
The Noble M400 is rated all over the world as one of the best
supercar deals you can get.
Itís thoroughly modern in its appointments including
up-to-date race-car instrumentation and controls. And yet itís
basic enough to appeal to the enthusiast who likes his
performance without the garnishing of sophisticated
electronics and creature comforts.
The most noteworthy achievement of Hi-Tech Automotive,
masterminded by PE businessman Jimmy Price, is that it has
achieved world-class levels of fit and finish, something that
even traditional small-volume UK builders like Lotus and TVR
havenít quite managed to match.
The Noble M400 is now even on sale in Russia, and the Nobleís
success has enabled Jimmy Price to build the cars he really
wants to build.
Up until now, Jimmyís favourite toys, the Daytona Coupe and
the GT40, have been familiar to only a few South Africans,
like Andre Strijdom.
This car is known simply as the Daytona coupe, or Coop as the
Americans would have it. Itís based on the Shelby American
Cobra Coupe which won the GT Championship in World Sports Car
racing in 1965, beating Ferrari in its category.
In fact the Coupe ran at all the world championship circuits
besides Le Mans, including Kyalami at the Nine Hour race in
1964, when a Willment-prepared car driven by South African ace
Bob Olthoff challenged strongly for the lead.
The carís shape was the handiwork of 22-year-old Shelby
American employee Pete Brock.
Although many scoffed at the un-Cobra-like shape, the fastback
design and smoother nose added 30 km/h to the top speed. And
this Hi-Tech version is strikingly accurate in essence, thanks
to a re-design forty years later by the original Pete Brock!
Brock said he was sceptical about getting involved with a
replica, but when he heard that Jimmy Price wouldnít build
the replica at all unless Brock designed it, he realised the
PE man was very serious.
Itís evident in every detail on the Daytona Coupe that this
car is built by someone who understands the very essence of
what made motor racing in the 1960s, the Golden Age.
As for the motor, itís the same massive Detroit iron, but
with appropriate modern up-dates.
A car that talks a similar language is the GT40. It doesnít
use the Ford nameplate because of licensing issues, but in
every other respect, this is the real thing, just as it came
from the Ford Advanced Vehicles race factory in 1965.
Jimmy Price pulled off the amazing trick of not only building
the car from the original drawings, but gaining the rights to
the GT40 name, which belonged not to Ford, but to an English
company called Safir Engineering of Surrey.
Right down to the original suspension uprights, Halibrand
wheels, Mk II bodywork with all the correct air ducts and tail
spoilers, an interior with distinctive ventilated seats, and a
200 mph speedo situated way to the left of the driver, this is
the original GT40.
This car is painted black and silver and carries the number
two, identical to the car which finally gave Ford itís first
Le Mans victory in 1966.
Ford then went on to win the event three more times, using
both seven-litre and five-litre V8ís.
The Wesbank Raceway is far too tight for the GT40 to stretch
its legs, but that doesnít stop Peter Lindenberg from
enjoying his car to the full.
As a director of Retromobile, heís already placed his first
order and he reckons that five GT40s have been sold since the
carís debut at Auto Africa in late October.
At a price of R1,4 million, Retromobile are saying the GT40 is
the best investment anyone could make.
Due to the chassis number continuation of the original 133
cars and the painstaking accuracy of the build, values of
these cars will soar in coming years.
Even the oil coolers were sourced from the original supplier
and they were originally fitted to Cessna light aircraft!
Whether you go for a retro racer like a Daytona Coupe or a
GT40, or a more modern tar-burner like a Noble, we tend to
agree with Andre. We bet youíre smiling right now just
watching these beauties.
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