It started as a motorsport outfit but today Pablo Clark Racing also keeps older Prancing Horses in fine form...

It's a sea of crimson. Except for a few white and black 308s and a newly restored yellow 365 GTB/4 Daytona, rosso paintwork covers the sinuous curves of nearly every Prancing Horse at Pablo Clark Racing (PCR) in Johannesburg. Here, the owner Paolo Cavalieri’s passion is on proud display.

PCR was founded in 1980 when Cavalieri chose the pseudonym “Pablo Clark” because he wanted to go racing without his parents’ knowledge. Why that name? Well, the initials are the same as his own and it’s in honour of a hero of his, Jim Clark, who Cavalieri saw piloting a Lotus at Kyalami when he was a young boy. Racing remained in the picture and, in 1981, Cavalieri drove for the BMW factory team. From 2007 to ’09, PCR was the official Ferrari SA dealer team. PCR owns a number of Ferrari racecars, including three 360 Challenge cars from 2000 to ‘01, as well as the 2009 Italian GT championship-winning 430 Scuderia GT3. There are plans to import a rare, earlier Ferrari racecar to South Africa next year.

Paolo expanded the business into its current form in 2011 when it officially started to restore and maintain customer Ferraris and it has grown into a well-respected service centre for out-of-warranty road cars. It’s one which has made a name for itself with its meticulous restoration of classic Ferraris, often in partnership with other local companies. PCR also runs its own cars during track events and keeps customers’ racecars in fine working order for track outings.

At the entrance to PCR, I spot a number of 512 BB road cars and Dinos. Once inside, we’re greeted by a 458 Italia Challenge – one of just four in South Africa – as well as a white 365 GT 2+2 entering its final phase of restoration before technician Massimo Vecchio ambles over to say hello. Trained by Ferrari, Massimo beams with pride when he tells us of his years of experience working on Prancing Horses. There’s real passion here, but also razor-sharp business acumen.

The sheer scope of the company becomes evident once you see the number and variety of Ferraris on the floor. Managing director, Paul Gerber, explains: “The first restoration we did was the 1969 365 GTB/4, followed by an M-Series 246 GT Dino and Giallo Fly Yellow 1970 Daytona.

“At the moment, we’re working on that 365 GT as well as a 328 GTS. The bodywork we send to either Ivo Sega at Carrozzeria (the official Scuderia South Africa repair shop) or Piero Giovanelli at Rosso Sport Auto. It is up to the customer to decide which one they want to use.

“Another important part of our business is sales. We have a price index and I’ve personally tracked the values of these cars – whether road or race – over the past five years. We also research all Ferrari models in the country and make notes of their history.”

Sadly, Paul says, some exceptional Ferraris have quietly been exported to other countries…

Alongside the workshop, PCR has a store where enthusiasts can buy Ferrari memorabilia. Most impressive is a cupboard Paul opens storing owner’s manuals, brochures and invaluable Ferrari literature. If PCR doesn’t have something you’re looking for, they’ll know where to source it.

Hung on a wall near the entrance is a beautiful, bare-aluminium 250 LM body shell, while another wall features pictures of Enzo Ferrari as well as Jim Clark behind the wheel of his Lotus 49 F1 experiencing an oversteer moment during a race at Kyalami in 1967.

Despite the obvious nostalgia evident at PCR, Paolo is equally excited for the company’s future: “We want to establish ourselves as a complete, integrated Ferrari business, while also expanding our racing division with hopefully more GT3 race cars in the country.”

With such care taken with customers’ and its own Ferraris, we’ve no doubt PCR will play a pivotal local role in preserving the reputation of one of motordom’s most illustrious carmakers.

Hit the track in a Ferrari

Few motoring experiences are more thrilling than sitting in the passenger seat of a sportscar as a professional driver takes you around a circuit. Starting at R3 850, Pablo Clark Racing offers four high-speed passenger laps of Zwartkops Raceway in a 360 Challenge racecar.

Want to take the wheel? Three different packages are available ranging from R9 800 to R19 900 for 40 minutes on the track followed by two hot laps as a passenger. Book well in advance and ex-F1 racer Ian Scheckter might be there on the day for these memorable hot laps.