It’s a workshop that any home mechanic, engineer or petrolhead would dream of. Des Gutzeit’s garage houses a 3 000 kW dyno, every conceivable tool you’d ever need, electric lifts and enough space to park more than 10 cars… and that’s not all. It’s taken Des decades to build up this car empire, from the 1970s when he was racing a Holden Mondaro stock-car, to quad bike racing and partaking in WesBank championships in the 1990s, and he’s justifiably proud of it.

Today, however, in terms of motorsport, the Gutzeit name is mostly associated with hillclimbing. Des’ interest in this sport was piqued in the 2000s by the Gydo Pass Hillclimb that was staged outside Ceres in the Western Cape. Following this event’s cancellation, he decided to buy an R32 Nissan GT-R to participate in the Simola Hillclimb in Knysna. The Simola event afforded him a chance to hone the R32, as well as others, into full-out hillclimb cars … and success soon followed. Today, Des and his friend Steve Clark build some of the most powerful and capable Nissans for both hillclimbs and drifting.

Des shows me round his collection and I spot the GT-R that has to date clinched an overall win and several podium places in Knysna. Says Des, “Depending on the boost and how the car is set up, this R32 can do anything between 750 and 1 100 kW. And it stays together. It has been a reliable engine.”

It’s a brain-scrambling exercise trying to contextualise these enormous numbers, but it helps when Des starts deconstructing the car’s immense, bespoke RB26 powertrain. Some technical highlights include a single GTX45 turbo; up to 3,5-bar boost; 10:1 compression ratio; Inconel manifold and exhaust; 25 mm metal clamping plate on top of the block; ethanol and Avgas fuel mixture; six fuel injectors; carbon-fibre drive shafts and so on… Most surprising, however, is the 14 mm Mercedes-Benz truck-engine studs that keep this redeveloped engine together.

I ask him why the Gutzeits focus on Japanese cars, and mainly Nissan GT-Rs. “They are some of the most exhilarating, tuneable and reliable cars, plus there are a lot of high-performance parts available for them.

“Believe me, I’ve done the research. There are only a few cars from which you can reliably extract more than 700 kW and launch from a standing start the way we do.”

The collection isn’t solely racing flavoured, however. Des’ wife, Louise, spotted a Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann in a television commercial and took an immediate liking to it. That car was based in Cape Town, but that didn’t deter the couple. Des tracked it down and it now forms part of a collection that includes Des’ son Shane’s drift car and some off-road motorcycles which his other son, Blake, campaigns in local and national events.

“Racing has been a family affair for more than 40 years,” explains Des.

And they have no intention of slowing down. “This year, we’ll go overseas to look at something special to purchase and bring back to SA. It will be a racing car to tackle the hillclimbs and possibly some of the endurance races.” We can’t wait to see what Des has up his sleeve…

The collector

Desmond Gutzeit (63) left school at age 15 and landed a job as an apprentice mechanic. After enlisting in the army, he bought his first tipper truck for R300 with money he borrowed from his supportive parents. That formed the building block of what today is Dezzi Equipment, a manufacturer of earthmoving gear that has a market throughout Southern Africa. Apart from this family business, the family also owns Dezzi Raceway, a track facility at their residence and factory outside Port Shepstone where regular motorsport events are held throughout the year. It was also the track of choice for Performance Shootouts 2014 and 2018.