Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive

Just weeks after announcing his retirement from motorsport, Shelby South Africa’s Peter Lindenberg and his daughter Paige hosted a unique media group visit to Hi-Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth, the constructors of the Cobra and Ford GT40 continuation series cars that are rated as the best of their type on the planet.

Hi-Tech was founded in the mid-1980s to build Cobra replicas, formed by Jimmy Price, who until that time had a connection to motoring via his involvement with water skiing and hydroplane racing in the Eastern Cape. That water sport connection was also pivotal in forming a relationship with Peter Lindenberg, who became a Springbok water skiing champion, and ultimately a world renowned powerboat champion.

Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive
The classic Cobra shape came about in 1962, when Carrol Shelby married an English sports car design with an American Ford V8 engine.

Peter had his first motor race in 1976 as a celebrity that took part in a glamour race at Kyalami driving Sigma Avengers. He later moved to a Capri V6 and followed this up with some Group One and Group  N drives. But it was in the 1990s that Lindenberg hit his stride, winning the 1994 SA Wesbank Modified Championship in a Mustang that was built by Hi Tech.

Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive
The bodywork and paint is of the highest standard in the world.

Lindenberg and Jimmy Price then launched the Sascar V8 series in South Africa, with Hi-Tech building 20 V8 machines based on one of the Nascar entry-level formulas in America. The series was spectacular. As Price explained to the assembled journalists at his factory last Friday, “the Wesbank cars were under-powered and over-tyred. Our Sascars were over-powered and under-tyred, with the result that they were much more spectacular than the Wesbank racers. This didn’t sit well with the sponsors, and eventually Motorsport South Africa instructed us to race on different days to the Wesbank races.”

Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive
Peter Lindenberg of Shelby South Africa, left, and Jimmy Price of Hi-Tech Automotive.

This left Sascar looking for a venue to race, and this ultimately resulted in Price and Lindenberg establishing the Wesbank Raceway at what was previously the Gosforth Park horse racing track in Germiston. The venue was a huge success, but the land was later sold off for business development.

The launching of the right-hand-drive version of the Ford Mustang in South Africa  in 2016 saw Peter, with assistance from Jimmy Price, set up Shelby South Africa, which operates from Malmesbury in the Cape, with a branch in Johannesburg. The venture has been very successful, in selling Shelby performance kits as well as fully ratified complete Shelby Mustangs.

Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive
Jimmy Price playing host to the first group of journalists to visit Hi-Tech Automotive.

In addition to the Mustangs, Shelby South Africa is also the local agent for Hi-Tech-built Cobras, Ford GT40s and Daytona Coupes. Until this point, Hi-Tech’s entire production had been exported to America, where the cars are shipped to America without engines and gearboxes, and sold under the Superformance banner, a company now owned by another South African, Lance Stander.

Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive
Even the smallest of components for the Cobras and GT40s are manufactured at Hi-Tech in-house.

However, because of the Shelby and Ford factory ratifications of the Hi-Tech cars, these machines are very expensive and on the South African market they are only intended for serious collectors, who want the very best. It is estimated that Hi-Tech has built some 6 000 cars since opening its doors in the latter part of the 1980s. And 99,9 per cent of these cars have been exported to the U.S and UK.

The facility has a huge floor space that has evolved over the years, and currently employs some 300 people. The cars under construction during our visit included many examples of Cobras in Mk II and Mk II form, the Ford GT40, the Daytona Coupe, and one example of the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport continuation racer. The Grand Sport project was a series of just six cars built in 1964 to take on the Cobra domination in world sports car racing. But because General Motors had a non-racing corporate policy at the time, the plug was pulled on the Grand Sport program after just a few races.

Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive
Because of its focus on export markets, Hi-Tech is not open to the public.

As far as the Hi-Tech facility is concerned, the amount of historical accuracy and attention to detail was simply stunning to behold on each department we visited, which included chassis construction, component design, component manufacturing, bodywork construction, bodywork prepping and painting.

The tour of the Hi-Tech facility was an amazing eye-opener for the select journalists invited to the event. It was the first time since Hi-Tech was established that any media group had been invited to the facility. And Hi-Tech points out that the visit was very much a one-off, and that the facility is not open to the public at all. Enthusiasts who are interested in Hi-Tech products should instead visit the Superformance website on www.Superformance.com, or the Selby South Africa website on www.shelbysa.com.

Shelby South Africa played host to a unique visit to Hi-Tech Automotive
All bodies made by Hi-Tech are constructed in fibreglass. The finish and attention to historical detail is what seperates these cars from other Cobra replicas.

* Peter Lindenberg rounded off his  four-decade career in South African  motorsport in early November 2021, by winning the V8 Legends of the Nine Hour historic championship in a Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350 replica. Lindenberg’s  association with racing Fords goes way back, and includes his historic race series  appearances in a Hi-Tech-built Ford GT40 continuation racer and also the original Ford Capri Perana V8 racing car, as campaigned by the late Bobby Olthoff who won the 1970 South African Saloon Car Championship.

Ford South Africa’s General Manager of Marketing, Doreen Mashinini, says Lindenberg’s larger-than-life presence behind the wheel of a racing Ford will be sorely missed. “But he will continue to shine a bright light on motorsport for years to come.”

Peter’s daughter Paige will continue to uphold the Lindenberg name in historic racing, where she has been very successful behind the wheel of various Fords over the past few seasons.

By Stuart Johnston

Article written by

CAR magazine