Wednesday, November 18, 2009

South-Afica's own Sportscar - well almost!

The Phoenix was supposed to be South Africa’s answer to sportscars like Ferrari and Porsche during 1987. The project came to a screeching halt when the owners, Spiron Motor Holdings and their mother company Turf Holdings were involved with many Risk Capital Projects that embezzled millions out of investors which meant the end of the South-African dream

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Phoenix was the brainchild of Pretoria businessman, Ben de Klerk who already started with the project in 1982. The Fibreglass clad body was to be made at the Koedoespoort plant and assembled by hand by the 70 string workforce. Originally it was decided to incorporate a twin-turbo Alfa Romeo engine, but due to Alfa Romeo’s demise from the South Africa, due to the political situation, it was decided to use german mechanicals. They promises performance of up to 360kw that would have pushed the Phoenix to 300km/h.
Designed by Argentinean born mechanical engineer Julio Alcorto the Phoenix would have had a chassis similar to Formula-1 cars at the time and would have utilized locally sourced parts in it’s construction. Alcorto would later also be involved with the design of Mazda’s answer to the Nissan Sani, the Mazda Kalahari 4x4 vehicle.
The Managing director of Spiron, Nic Deetlefs and his son in law Zirk Engelbrecht were notorious for fly by night investment companies and Engelbrecht in to this day operating similar schemes in the US.
So South Africa never got to have it’s own sportscar – the Phoenix - but we did build Lamborghini’s, Lotus’s and Nobel’s locally so we have the ability to do it but who will have the courage to invest again…..

I wonder what happened to the prototype(s?) and if someone still drives it. If anyone has more information about the Phoenix, I would love to hear from you.