Of course, the Can Am story is one we’ve told before, but having now had the chance to fully explore the fury of one of these cars, and finally realising just how brutal a machine it is, I feel it’s worth a recap. It started with the legislatively-liberal approach of ‘We need a competitive race car, so let’s shoehorn the most powerful engine into the lightest body and convince the authorities to sell this model in sufficient numbers to the public’ that spawned many homologation specials the world over, including the SA-specific BMW 530, Alfa Romeo 3.0 GTV 6 and Sierra XR8, to name just a few. In 1972 the requisite production volume was 100 and the advert provocatively read: “You and 99 others”. The Sorensen car, tagged 575619, is the one of the last of the road cars off the line at the Kempston Road factory in Port Elizabeth.
Today a Can Am is a very rare beast, ever more so in anything approaching original, unmolested condition. Most were modified, drag-raced, broken, crashed and have at the very least been rebuilt from the ground up. A few have been shipped offshore too, now oddities in the UK, Australia, the US and Sweden. Dick’s son Richard bought the car from his father quite recently, and rather than take it back to factory standard, it was simply wound back a notch to its slightly less wild 1978 spec. That makes it road-drivable at a stretch, but preserves the heritage of the only remaining Can Am with race-winning history in-era. Richard considers the car too special to track, considering it still has its original matching-numbers engine and gearbox, and fears the car might not pass scrutineering for lack of any kind of modern safety equipment!