Green left school in Standard 8, joining a trade school and earning a certificate in engineering. From there it was off to take up a job in the then Rhodesian mining field in the late 1950s. While there he read an English newspaper and stumbled across an advert that not only set him on a different path but also led to his changing the face of South African motoring for good. The advert sought to fill a spot as race manager on a privateer Formula 1 team using Cooper Climax cars. He applied for the position and cracked the nod on condition he went and spent some time learning the ins and outs of the motor at the Climax factory.
Although being part of a team of this nature meant Green filled the role of everything from mechanic to transporter driver he had time to get to grips with the details of the Climax engines and became an expert in their building – often even freelance building for other operations using the same mill. A move back to South Africa initially saw him employed as service manager at Lucy Motors Fiat in Joburg before buying his own BP service station in Commissioner Street, where some extra service bays meant he could modify race engines and develop what would become his BG Speed Equipment business.
With casting patterns by Bobby Leishman, Basil cast a wide range of bolt-on performance parts for street cars, ranging from cylinder heads and manifolds to alloy wheels. These together with the obligatory Speed Equipment louvres enjoyed a massive following, and were even exported to Rhodesia and the UK, where they were retailed by Winkelmans.
As a test bed for so many of these modification products Basil took to the track himself in the early 1960s – if you are battling to find his name in the race programmes, add the ‘stone’ to his name in the search engine. His initial car was an 850cc Mini bored to 1000cc but this was soon followed by a Ford Anglia. Of course this too was modified, with a 1500cc Cortina engine added. Not a standard one though – the capacity increased to 1640cc and it was fitted with an inhouse-designed and cast twincam head. Although seriously quick the reliability was an issue as the head was porous – this was later solved by adding a Wynn’s radiator repair additive to the water system. No amount of Wynn’s could fix the car during the 1966 9 Hour at Kyalami, though, when a massive crash left the Anglia a pile of mangled scrap. Unscathed, Green figured the best thing for the car was to rip out the mechanicals and fit them to a Fiat 600 he’d had lying in the yard and go drag racing. Of course this proved a success and the gutted out Fiat took the Top Eliminator class win at Rainbow on debut.
Willie Hepburn, Corrie Potgieter and George Gordon were employed to continue the shoe-horning (a favourite being the squeezing of Chevrolet V8s into Austin-Healeys) while Basil focused on growing the business and developing new performance engineering ideas. One such idea he experimented with was the fitment of a Ford Zodiac V6 engine into a Cortina MkI. This proved an issue in the weight distribution department but salvation came in 1967 when Ford unleashed its MkII version of the popular sedan. With some extra room in the engine bay the team could move the engine further back than with the MkI. They took it racing, and although blocked by the rule makers as a saloon entry, it showed some good form in the sportscar class against the likes of the Dirk Marias Sunbeam Tiger.