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Retromobile - Daytona Coupe, GT40 
and Noble M400

Broadcast 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 effect.

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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