A model poses in front of a Z-one car by South-African producer Perana designed by Italian design company Zagato during the first media day of the 79th Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo in Geneva March 3, 2009. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann (SWITZERLAND)

A new partnership between English company AC Cars and South Africa’s Hi Tech Automotive will see the locally-built Perana Z-One supercar carry on in the future as an AC model called the 378GT Zagato.

The front-engined grand tourer was first announced to South African media in February 2009, and it received an overwhelming response when it was shown to the world at the Geneva Motor Show on Italian coachbuilder Zagato’s showstand shortly afterwards. But original plans for the locally designed and engineered Perana, which was to be launched in Europe by late 2010, were thrown into disarray by a downturn in the world economy and the Perana project was put on hold.

Work continued slowly on the car in Port Elizabeth at the Hi Tech factory (which is also responsible for cars such as the SPF GT40 reproduction, Daytona Cobra Coupé replica, Noble M400, as well as a host of AC Cobra recreations), and the time was used to update it with more modern electronics and a new infotainment system.


Because of Hi Tech’s experience with AC Cobras, and a close working relationship between Hi Tech’s owner Jimmy Price and the staff at AC Cars, a new and more commercially viable partnership between the two has been formed and the project will once again get off the ground. The old Perana Z-One, now badged an AC 378GT Zagato, was again shown at the recent Geneva Motor Show in its final production form.

AC Cars plans to launch the car in the UK and South Africa in April 2012. It will be sold locally from Investment Cars dealerships in Johannesburg and Cape Town at about R1.1-million.

The Perana name became famous in South Africa in the late 1960s as an aftermarket Ford tuning company, but Price says it wasn’t known in Europe and so the AC name is welcome because it is a more established brand globally. AC, which is well known for its open-topped Cobras, is expected to launch a new model offensive which will include a more modern range of cars which could all be built in South Africa at High Tech.

The 378GT Zagato is a tubular chassis design (Jimmy’s speciality), and is powered by a General Motors LS3 Corvette V8. The engine’s 6.2-litre displacement equates to 378 cubic inches (hence the car’s name), and it makes about 330kW and 583Nm. Although performance figures aren’t yet confirmed, its makers claim 0-100km/h times in the sub-four second region.