During the 1960s, an Englishman,
Ken Attwell yearned to own a GT40.
It was only by 1982, and while working for Ford in Swansea,
that Ken decided to build his own car. Ford had asked Ken to help
with the restoration of their own Mk. 3 car that had been involved
in a filming accident. Ken agreed with the proviso that he was
allowed to take moulds off the body panels which he would use to
construct his own car (replica). He designed a space frame/semi
ladder type chassis which turned out to exceed the required
torsional strength and by late 1982 his first blood red
KVA (Kenneth Vincent Attwell) -
here for expanded story of KVA) - ‘Mk 3’ GT40 ‘look-alike’
was complete and was displayed by Ford in the reception area of
their Swansea plant. This car used Ford based suspension, a
Ford CVH 1.6 litre engine and VW Variant transaxle.
Larger engines like the 2.8 litre V6 or 289 CID V8 with ZF or
Renault 30 transaxles were suggested. The interest in this car
was high and due to many requests, Ken started marketing kits that
could be built up as replicas.
By the spring of 1984, 40 such kits had been sold.
At about this time, an airline pilot, Vic Miles, and a flight
engineer, Alan Cutler, working out of Durban, South Africa, came
across a Merlin sports car being sold in kit form in England.
Vic and Alan were very interested in manufacturing this car, and
purchased a kit to be built in Durban. As they were unsuccessful in
coming to any agreement with the manufacturer in England, they
decided to start replicating the car for sale in South Africa on
their own as the English manufacturer was ripping off an American
design in any case. They decided to name the car, the Griffin.
The name Merlin and Griffin have associations with
Rolls Royce aircraft engines.
The Griffin sold well and the two gentlemen were making some
money. To the dismay of Vic Miles, Alan Cutler had heard of the
KVA GT40 and decided to import chassis, jigs and moulds
with an agreement with Ken Attwell to manufacture kits for sale in
South Africa. They would continue with the KVA brand name as
their initials together (Ken, Vic and Alan) were the same. Vic’s
concern was soon realized when it was found that the build of a GT40
was very complex, time consuming and expensive. A rift between Vic
and Alan caused their partnership to break up. Vic continued with
the Griffin and Alan with the GT40. Some ten of these
GT40 kits were sold locally, using the Ford V6 motor and Citroen DS
19 – 21 four speed transaxle with inboard brakes. Two of these kits
were sold to Sarel van der Berg and Fanie van Wyk, partners in the
Prospecton Motors garage. A third was sold to a lawyer, then to some
one in the midlands and finally purchased and completed by Don
Bristol some years ago. No one seems to know where the other kits
have landed up. Maybe there are some answers out there?
Sometime in 1986, both Vic Miles and Alan Cutler independently
approached Rudy Malan of Kit Car Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng
and offered to sell their interests as both realized that they were
better at aviation than kit manufacturers. KCC incorporated
the Griffin into their Lynx stable of cars and
developed the GT40 kit into one that would use the Ford V8 (or V6)
motor attached to an Audi (Getrag) 016 transaxle, using Ford based
suspension. As this first version of a GT40 replica in South Africa
was based on the Mk. 3 car, Rudy Malan decided to modify the
bodywork so that a Mk. 1 style car could be offered. The Mk. 1
version is after all the preferred option as it has the shape of the
race car that beat Ferrari. It is rumored that the modification was
based on the only original GT40 in South Africa at that time, and
owned by David Cohen. (GT40 P/1024- Dispatched from Ford Advance
Vehicles 26 November 1965)
The GT40 kits were popular but by the time 132 kits had been sold
the supply of kits was abandoned. Because the kit was difficult to
build at that stage of its development, causing many a headache,
KCC decided to halt the supply of kits. Two friends, living on
small holdings near Johannesburg, Louwtjie Viljoen and Boet
Labuschagne, who were at that time building their own KCC
GT40 kits, decided to take over the project from KCC. They
named their enterprise GT40 Developments as they
planned to develop the kit further and continue the supply of kits.
However KCC held the body moulds and continued supplying the
body parts for GT40 Developments. 28 kits were sold by
GT40 Developments, but not much was improved on these kits.
Louwjie did not finish his own build but Boet did, and soon
afterwards passed the GT40 Developments project over to the
present owner, John Botha. Being a mechanical engineer and having
had experience with original GT40 cars abroad, John first developed
a new rear end suspension based on the original GT40. Some of the
old chassis parts had to be removed and a new frame, containing the
suspension pick up points, welded into place. To date 27 GT40 owners
have modified their chassis in this way. Soon the old KVA chassis
was no longer available as John had designed and is manufacturing a
brand new space frame chassis to take fully adjustable rose jointed
suspension. The front suspension consists of unequal length A-arms,
fabricated upright, adjustable coil over shock dampening and anti
roll bar. The rear suspension consists of a lower reversed A-arm,
upper transverse link, twin trailing links, a fabricated upright,
coil over shock dampening and anti roll bar.
This design has anti squat and anti dive factored in. This new
chassis allows for increased leg room space and tunnels the coolant
pipes down through the centre of the car like the original did. New
moulds have been constructed (see below) and the body panels from
these moulds are far superior to the previous ones, being smoother
John is currently building his fourth complete car for a customer.
This fourth car is one of 34 of the newly designed and manufactured
Sometime in 2003, Brandon Shaw came across a derelict KVA (KCC)
GT40 replica kit in the back yard of a friend in Johannesburg.
Soon Brandon purchased the kit and started working on it. This
proved very difficult as the kit was in a bad state and the body
panels were not fitting properly. However, Brandon completed the car
in four months and within a week of driving the car he was able to
sell this bright yellow GT40 to a German enthusiast. This prompted
him to start a small business building these replicas. The KVA (KCC)
kit was no longer available and as it took far too long to have one
of John Botha’s new chassis made up, he decided to design and build
his own chassis. He took six months to upgrade the original body
moulds held by John Botha, with an understanding that he would mould
body panels for John and for use on his own cars.
The design principle of his chassis and suspension was very much the
same as the original GT40, but on a space frame of square steel
tubing. Brandon decided to keep safety foremost in his mind when
designing and fabricating. He has named his enterprise Africa 40
and to date has produced 15 complete cars. Of these 15 cars, only 3
reside in South Africa, the remainder being sold to buyers in
Europe. They have been sold mainly to German enthusiasts with one
each going to Italy and Spain. Quite a few of these cars are
competing on race tracks at Nurburgring and Hockenheim with no
reports of failure to the chassis or suspension. This could mean
that the design is over engineered but Brandon has decided that
safety and durability is paramount. His goal is to continue
improving the design and to produce custom hand built replicas to
customer’s specification. He wants clients to feel that their cars
were specifically hand crafted for them to create a special
atmosphere and emotion. Brandon’s future plans include building a
light weight racing car that he or more experienced drivers would
race in South Africa.
The Cape evolution of GT40 replicas in SA (including the Bailey
Edwards Cars) follows at a later date as part 2 of this saga.
Vic Wait, 13 April 2006 (revised and updated 4 September 2008)
I would appreciate any feedback that would help to include
information unknown to me at the time of writing - you can contact
me by email at
My thanks go to the following people for their valued input:
- Vic Miles, who, together with Alan Cutler,
were the ‘Progenitors’
of the South African GT40 replica.
- Don Bristol and Nick van der Merwe, ex GT40 replica
- Rudy Malan, ex Kit Car Center.
- John Botha, present owner of ‘GT40 Developments’.
- Brandon Shaw, ‘Africa 40’
Ford GT40, An Anglo American Supercar Classic, by David
Hodges - used for the early history of GT40 replicas.
GT40 Replicas: The South African Chronicle
Around the time Kit Car Centre started offering GT40 kits, an
entrepreneur from Cape Town, Andrč Loubser, was instrumental in
having one of these kits built up by Norman Lewis, an ex RAF
electrician, for a client in the United Kingdom. The car was built
in Fish Hoek, Cape Town, and finished in 1990/91 and turned out to
be a splendid specimen in the pale blue and marigold, Gulf Racing
Soon after, Andrč took his GT40 costing schedule to a top UK GT40
replica builder, GT Developments (GTD) in order to set up a contract
whereby replicas could be built in Cape Town. This became a sound idea
economically as the South African Rand was weakening against the
British Pound at that time. It took seven years of nagging and
pushing to seal an under-licence manufacturing agreement with GTD.
Andrč had met up with two young men from Cape Town, James Fischer
and Oliver McCloud, who, after making a fortune selling the design
rights to a ‘Snake Board’ (skate board), were looking for an
investment. They formed a new company, Cape Advanced Vehicles (CAV),
named after Ford Advanced Vehicles, the company Ford had set up in
Slough in the UK to build the original Ford GT. CAV would build GT40
replicas with James and Oliver as joint CEOs and Andrč as managing
team of experts were brought together including Robbie Senekal (a
top all round engineer), Keith Bright (a fibreglass specialist), Ken
MacLeod (who had worked under John Wyer at JW Automotive in England)
and Norman Lewis the auto electrician and brilliant fabricator.
May 2000, the first of the GTD space frame chassis cars were shipped
to the United States. Andrč had contracted in Jean Fourie, a local
car builder who had built several Cobras and Porsche Speedsters, and
he was soon appointed production manager, although he still retained
is own business.
There seemed to be a problem with the GTD licence and when a new
managing director replaced Andrč, it was decided to change to a
stainless steel monocoque chassis and continue manufacturing outside
of the original agreement with GTD. Only about two space frame cars
were being built per month at that stage with the possibility of
doubling this figure. With the introduction of the monocoque, a lot
of time and production was lost and by March 2001, Andrč resigned
from CAV, and soon so did many others including their production
manager Jean Fourie.
Back at CAV the focus on the monocoque chassis caused delays in
manufacturing and few cars were being shipped. Due to poor
management, an inferior product and the improvement of the Rand
Dollar exchange rate, the company went into liquidation in January
Jean Fourie, together with John Spence, raised some capital and
bought the assets of CAV from the liquidator, formed a new company,
Auto Futura, and continued production. The company is now on a good
footing, producing excellent GT40 replicas under the name CAV GT.
Jean decided to introduce many design changes that improved the car.
The stainless steel monocoque chassis has been improved and the
suspension layout follows that of the original cars but with modern
improvements. These CAV GT cars are being shipped to eager buyers in
the USA, UK, Europe, Malaysia, Brazil and Australia. To date, 162
cars have been built, making Auto Futura the largest manufacturer of
the GT40 reproduction. Auto Futura is also the only GT40
manufacturer allowed to use the Gulf branding on their cars, since
signing a licence agreement in 2007.
2002 after Andrč Loubser had resigned from CAV, Jimmy Price of High
Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth, asked Andrč to help gather a team
to build GT40s in Cape Town. A facility headed by Robbie Senekal was
set up. Jimmy had somehow acquired original FAV drawings and a set
of Mk. 2 GT40 body panels in the US. “There were 1537 original
poorly photocopied monocoque and suspension drawings which Robbie
had to convert to CAD. A daunting task, but necessary if Jimmy’s
idea of creating an exact replica was to be achieved” said Andre. A
beautiful new factory was completed in October 2002. Robbie had by
then made all the complicated jigs and tooling and the monocoque
started taking shape. By the end of 2003, the monocoque was
completed with five others in various stages of production.
Due to the strengthening of the South African Rand in mid 2003, both
CAV and High Tech Auto took strain in their export endeavours. CAV
eventually crumbling and High Tech Auto pulling the GT40 replication
project back to the main facility in Port Elizabeth. However, both
projects have survived. The Auto Futura CAV GT is possibly the best
replica available, making an appearance and being driven by Sir
Stirling Moss as a pace car during a preliminary race at the 2006 Le
Mans 24 endurance races in France. The High Tech Auto car is in
production and now being dubbed an ‘original’ as, apart from air
conditioning and modern brakes, the car is exact in almost every
detail. These cars are being distributed by Superformance in the US.
Also in 2002, and soon after Jean Fourie resigned from CAV, he was
approached by Peter Bailey of Bailey Edwards Cars in Johannesburg,
to design and build a space frame one off track GT40 replica that
Peter himself could replicate. The car was built, raced
successfully, and replicated. Peter’s production has also found
buyers locally and abroad and is produced as a BE 40.
Allen Grant, a former works driver for the 1965 Shelby Daytona
Coupe, and Robbie Senekal had put together a facility, Classic Auto
Manufacturing (CAMCO) in Cape Town. This was to build sports cars
and for a short period of time in 2005 they took on the task of
building GT40 replicas for Roaring Forties, a builder in Melbourne
Australia. This project was under funded and short lived.
Vic Wait, 2 September 2008
I thank all those persons mentioned below for their valued input. I
invite anyone who feels they can add value to the history, to
contact me by email:
- Andre Loubser
- Jean Fourie and Willem Jordaan of Auto Futura