55 years after it was built, the only Formula One car constructed in South Africa is primed to make its international racing debut after being accepted for entry into the illustrious Historic Grand Prix of Monaco this coming weekend, May 13th -15th.
Built in 1961 by South African engineer and racing driver Tony Kotzé, who sadly passed away three weeks ago, the Assegai was due to contest the 1962 Rand Grand Prix in Kyalami but did not qualify.
After occasional track appearances and changes of ownership, the car was purchased at classic car auction specialists, Historics at Brooklands, in August 2015 by former F1 team member and now Oxfordshire classic car collector and enthusiast, John Carpenter.
Together with long-time friend, historic racing car preparation guru and racing driver Iain Rowley and his Nuffield-based company, Delta Motorsport, John embarked on a painstaking journey to return the car to exactly the same mechanical specification as it appeared at Kyalami, in order to fulfil the very stringent regulations of the Monaco GP organisers. Iain will be at the wheel of the car as it lines up on the immortal 3.34km Monaco road circuit.
The purity and simplicity of the Assegai – named after a zulu spear – follows the lines of a Lotus 18 but with a distinctive Italian styling cue…It’s creator is said to have been obsessed with the sharknose of 1961 Ferrari F1 cars and hence the front styling of the car, which is powered by a 1.5 litre, 4-cylinder Alfa Romeo engine and five speed gearbox.
“It’s such an honour to be accepted by the ACM, The Automobile Club de Monaco, to compete the car at the tenth running of the biennial Grand Prix de Monaco Historique,” said John.
“Since buying the car at Historics at Brooklands last year, Iain and I embarked on a hugely time-consuming voyage of discovery to ensure the Assegai is presented in entirely original mechanical specification in all respects, as demanded by the organisers. It’s been a great challenge but also a real labour of love.”
Iain added: “Let’s hope we are more successful at Monaco than the car’s creator at Kyalami in 1962 but whatever the outcome, it will be a hugely memorable experience, and a fitting tribute to Tony Kotzé and his unique racing car after so many years.”
A magnet for classic car enthusiasts and collectors, Historics at Brooklands next major auction of 130 varied classic motor cars is at Brooklands Museum near Weybridge, Surrey on Saturday June 11th. All consignments and information are at www.historics.co.uk