This South African Company is Building Beloved American Supercars

Do you know what Massey Ferguson tractors, World War II Lancaster bombers, and Volkswagen Beetles have in common? Their parts have become some of the most iconic race cars ever. In the mid-1980s, Jimmy Price started making replicas via Hi-Tech and entered the American market in the mid-90s through Superformance, a US distributor he founded.

Talking about it, Prince says, "No one was doing a perfect car." The search for parts of the last car manufactured in the 1960s included a lot of reading,  visits to the British cobra maker AC Cars, and a long-suspended supplier.

In 1995, the company shipped 35 cobras. By 2000, it shipped 450 units annually. The number of staff rose from 20 to 650. The late global recession led to reduced orders and layoffs. Today, the company's workforce has returned to about 300. It is focused on manufacturing the Cobra, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, GT40, Shelby Daytona Coupe, and many others.

Price says that his company doesn't technically manufacture cars. Rather, it creates a bespoke classic body and chassis with the original manufacturer's approved seal. Also known as "rollers" or "turnkey minuses," they have everything you expect from a car, except for the engine and transmission.

The US is the largest market for Hi-Tech, where cars without these make up a "collection of parts" from a legal point of view, making importing easier. After they are imported and sold by the dealer, the customer ensures the engine and transmission are installed by a third party or himself.

Hi-Tech has a 200,000-square-foot workshop in Gqeberha. Unlike their Racing Four Bears, the replica models are equipped with air conditioning and comfortable seats. The company is also working on practical aspects that racing cars might have omitted, like ensuring that door seals work.

The Buyers

Several cars that tech supplies to Superformance and Shelby Legendary Cars as rollers are impossible to own as originals.

Price stated that orders are increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated, "At the moment, it's booked here for a year. It's the first time (it happened) in the last 15 years."

The New Bill

A bill has been enacted to revolutionize this replica industry in the US. The Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturing (LVM) law was made in March. It allows replica car companies to produce up to 325 finished vehicles annually.

Thanks to that, Superformance will be able to install engines and transmissions. It would also sell ready-to-drive cars through traditional dealerships.

According to LVM, the vehicles need to meet certain emission standards. It is why Superformance is planning to create an electric version of every car.

Passing the Authority

Hi-Tech now has new people in charge. Price has passed the company to his sons, who are overseeing the workshop. Price says he couldn't sit at home after 30 years in the industry but has relaxed his duties and will continue to do that in the future. It would be interesting to see how his sons take things forward.




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