Inside the South African company making some of America’s rarest and most beloved cars

Two Superformance Ford GT40 replicas, the leader sporting the iconic Gulf Oil racing livery from the 1960s. The cars were hand crafted by South African manufacturer Hi-Tech Automotive. Scroll through the gallery to learn more about this low-key company producing some of the most sought-after replica cars in the world. courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography

Hi-Tech Automotive founder Jimmy Price says the Shelby Cobra is the world’s most replicated classic car. It was the first vehicle the company decided to create in the mid-1980s and each can take around 2,000 hours to complete. Today it sells them to US companies Superformance and Shelby Legendary Cars through official licensing deals that see vehicles registered with official Shelby chassis numbers. courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography

The Shelby Cobra began life in 1961. Former racing driver Carroll Shelby imported vehicles from British manufacturer AC Cars into the US and installed an American V8 engine. By 1962 he’d formed Shelby America and was building cars in a workshop in California (pictured September 1965). Around 1,000 were produced, the last in 1967, and the replica market remains huge. Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

An archive photograph of Cobra replicas in construction in the Hi-Tech Automotive factory in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), South Africa. Hi-Tech builds the chassis and body of each vehicle, which are imported to the US by Superformance and Shelby Legendary Cars, whose customers choose their own engine and transmission. Despite its reputation from those in the know, Price says he’s happy for his company to “fly under the radar” — it has helped secure contracts to build bodies and chassis for multiple other supercar companies, he explains. courtesy Superformance

The Ford GT40 MKII driven by Englishman Ken Miles and New Zealander Denny Hulme at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966. The GT40 was commissioned by Ford to take on European manufacturers at the event, which had never been won by an American manufacturer. Starting in 1966, the GT40 would do so for four years in a row. Reg Lancaster/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hi-Tech has built a GT40 in the same livery as that raced by Ken Miles and Denny Hulme. Though the duo did not win the race (coming second on a technicality), the driving prowess of the Ford team entered motorsports lore. courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography

An aerial shot of a replica GT40 #1075, arguably the most famous GT40 ever made. Hi-Tech Automotive crafts an exact replica of the GT40 that bore the chassis number 1075, which won the race in 1968 and 1969. To do so, Price received special access to the original car, which at the time was housed in the vault of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography
A Shelby Daytona Coupe driven by American Dan Gurney in 1964 during the 29th RAC International Tourist Trophy Race at Goodwood, UK. The car was conceived by Carroll Shelby and designed by Peter Brock to take on Ferrari in the FIA World Sportscar Championship series. In 1965, the car won Shelby the International Manufacturers’ GT Championship — the first time an American constructor had done so. Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As only six Shelby Daytona Coupes (including the prototype) were ever made, they rarely appear at auction. A replica is still expensive — Superformance’s Daytona Coupe models can cost around $500,000, says CEO Lance Stander. courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography

The 1963 Corvette Grand Sport (pictured at Sebring International Raceway that year) was Chevrolet’s big hope for the GT-class circuit. Designed with Le Mans in mind, it was lightweight and packed a whopping 550-horesepower V8 engine. The plan was to produce 125 cars, but the program was halted by General Motors after just five had been made before it could make it to Le Mans. GM Heritage Center

Hi-Tech built and Superformance supplied vehicles including Shelby Cobras and Ford GT40s to the production team of 2019 film “Ford v Ferrari.” The film told the story of Ford’s victory at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race and the engineering feats of Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles, as played by Matt Damon and Christian Bale. courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography

A range of Hi-Tech built replica models: (left-right) the Ford GT40, Daytona Coupe, and Shelby Cobras. The licensing deals Hi-Tech and US importer Superformance have with Shelby means they are described as “continuation series” vehicles. courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography

The Superformance Cobra MKIII E has been fitted with an electric drivetrain. CEO Lance Stander says that in the future the company will offer electric versions of its entire range. A law recently finalized in the United States, the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturing Act, will allow Superformance to sell a limited number of complete, ready-to-drive classic replicas. courtesy Superformance/Ted7 Photography

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