For many motoring enthusiasts the thought of owning a classic car is likely to feature high on their bucket list, but nameplates that carry credible motorsport provenance, like the iconic Ford GT40 (MkI and MkII), Shelby Cobra and Daytona Coupé, are often considered closer to fantasy than reality. However, that is exactly what Jimmy Price set out to change when he established Hi-Tech Automotive based in Gqeberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth).
Founded in the mid-1980s, Hi-Tech Automotive specialises in the construction and customisation of Shelby’s most revered and iconic cars with immaculate attention to detail and authenticity. The company’s workmanship and reputation has resulted in demand from around the world with car collectors from the US and the UK being among the biggest markets. Hi-Tech has built approximately 6 000 cars since opening its doors, with close to 300 highly skilled employees helping to keep this pantheon of Shelby’s Heritage Collection alive and well.
Many attribute Carroll Shelby’s entrepreneurial success to the Cobra, which fully embodied his attitudes and beliefs around big horsepower and simplified driving thrills. This formula provided the impetus for the Cobra Daytona Coupé which took aerodynamics into a more modern era, achieving higher top speeds which earned it countless victories and speed records in a wide range of competitive events. Meanwhile, the Ford GT40 rose to fame by competing at Le Mans with its clean sweep of the podium in 1966 being among its most noteworthy achievements – which was subsequently immortalised in the Ford vs Ferrari motion picture. The GT40 went on to win the 1967, 1968 and 1969 editions of the Le Mans 24-hour race, cementing its status as arguably one of the most successful and iconic cars of all time.
Jimmy Price and Peter Lindenberg are well-known figures in South African motorsport. The two met during Lindenberg’s powerboating 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. Lindenberg and Price operate a Shelby Mod Shop in the Western Cape and another Shelby showroom based in Johannesburg.
Each of these special 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. 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.
With all the vehicles produced by Hi-Tech Automotive leaving the factory as a rolling chassis without an engine or gearbox, 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 new owner for their Cobra, Daytona Coupé or GT40, making virtually every car unique and an expression of their personality.
“Being able to carry on the Shelby legacy through these Heritage Cars is a fantastic achievement and pays tribute to Ford’s passion and success in motorsport,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager for Marketing at Ford South Africa.
“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.”
More information on these legendary vehicles can be found on the Superformance website, or the Shelby South Africa website.