MENTION Ford GT40 and immediately the discussion turns to the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race of the 1960s when Henry Ford made it his mission to topple Ferrari from the podium. His conduit was Carroll Shelby and his name and the car were forever immortalised with a clean sweep in 1966 and going on to win the race in 67, 68 and 1969.
But Shelby’s entrepreneurial success is largely as a result of the Cobra that packaged his beliefs around big horsepower and simplified driving thrills into a fantastic all-round package.
Later the Cobra Daytona Coupe, considered by many to be one of the most beautifully designed cars ever, took aerodynamics and speed to a new level, which earned it many victories and speed records around the world in a wide range of events.
It stands to reason then that being able to own one of these classic heritage cars would be the cherry on top for any classic car lover.
Well, that’s exactly what people can order from around the globe from Hi-Tech Automotive based in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).
Founded in the mid-1980s by Jimmy Price, the company specialises in the construction and customisation of Shelby’s most revered and iconic cars with fine attention to detail and authenticity.
They have built almost 6 000 cars since then and employ 300 highly skilled technicians to keep them rolling off the floor.
Jimmy Price and Peter Lindenberg are well known figures in South African motorsport. The two met during Lindenberg’s power boating and water-skiing days, and the friendship soon evolved into motor racing.
Lindenberg won two SA National Oval Championships as well as two Sascar Championships in cars built by Hi-Tech. He then expanded his racing career at the wheel of a diverse collection of Nobles and GT40s, also built by Hi-Tech. The two operate a Shelby Mod Shop in the Western Cape and another Shelby showroom in Johannesburg.
Each of the Shelby Heritage Cars can take up to 2 000 hours to complete and are hand-built to the customer’s own personal preferences to ensure a unique product that is tailor made for the driving enthusiast.
Very important in these circles are official approval for the cars. To that end, Shelby approved Cobras and Daytona Coupés are supplied with official Shelby chassis plates and the cars are registered on the Shelby registry, which authenticates them as meeting the strict global Shelby registry approvals process.
Vehicles produced by Hi-Tech Automotive leave the factory as a rolling chassis without an engine or gearbox, so it is up to Hi-Tech Automotive’s retail partners, such as Shelby South Africa, or Superformance in the US, to provide and install the engine and gearbox selected by the owner for their Cobra, Daytona Coupé or GT40, making virtually every car unique.
“We are proud that Jimmy Price and the entire Hi-Tech Automotive team are keeping Ford’s esteemed racing history alive by producing these iconic models for car collectors from all over the world.
“It’s also fantastic to have the team from Shelby South Africa, led by Ford racing aficionado Peter Lindenberg, involved with Hi-Tech in making these vehicles available to South African customers, delivering the highest quality product for current and future generations to enjoy,” said Doreen Mashinini, general manager for marketing at Ford South Africa.