- reprinted from Apr/May 1999 Sports Car International - story written by Peter Brock, who is the original designer of the legendary Daytona Coupe. This article has been edited for correct nomenclature regarding protected trademarks...

South Africans are a hardy bunch… self reliant, clever, and enthusiastic. For over 200 years they've been several thousand miles from any major industrial center, so they're used to working against the odds.

Take cars for instance… Until recently, an Afrikaner couldn't afford to import any car into their country without paying a 100 percent duty. At the already astronomical prices of rare classics like this vintage car, the cost of the Rand, the local currency, would have been double the going rate in the outside world.

In an economy where the Rand is currently worth only one sixth of the American dollar, any foreign purchase is almost prohibitive. It didn't always used to be that way… the gold-backed Rand was once worth almost twice the value of the dollar, but alas, times have changed.

          The universal desire to own an asphalt-ripping Mark-III however, never seems to diminish.  No matter where on earth you reside, the classic English AC shape still has tremendous appeal. But appeal isn't enough to overcome economic reality in a land where government tariffs can shatter dreams.  So car enthusiast extraordinaire Jimmy Price of Port Elizabeth (on the southernmost tip of South Africa) decided to build his own. Right from the beginning he had no desire to be in the "kit car" business. Price wanted only to build real automobiles.  Not an easy task when anything you might need is halfway 'round the world and literally weeks away by sea.
          But the dream of owning this vintage car never diminished and Price persevered. It would take far longer than he originally estimated, but that was because the burley six-footer wouldn't compromise his own standards of quality. Like so many with similar dreams, he found that it would be almost impossible to replicate the mid '60s design because many of the original OEM suppliers to AC Cars in England had gone out of business.  Most of that cottage industry had simply vanished in the modem world of mass production.

Although Price was well along in his project to build roadsters for the South African market, all that changed when an ex-South African living in London named Alan Lubinsky purchased AC Cars.

           Lubinsky's plan to resurrect the famed English firm meshed with Price's goal to build exact AC replicas. Price began by offering to re-create the unobtainable critical items for AC Cars' new owner so that they could meet the renewed demand of for real AC-built vintage-style roadsters. Consequently, Price's Superformance company has become AC Cars' main OEM supplier of practically anything the English firm needed that it didn't or couldn't make itself.  In addition, Price's factory now builds all the chassis and bodies for the modern AC Ace in South Africa and ships the semi-completed cars to England for engines and running gear. There the cars are sold as English-built ACs - not really an unusual circumstance in this world of multinational automobile corporations that source parts from all over the globe for assembly in various locations.

           Ironically over the last five years, tiny Superformance has become the largest producer of aftermarket vintage style roadsters in the world. Price's small but super-modern factory produces more classic roadsters today than AC Cars in Thames-Ditton ever did at the height of its production of rolling chassis in the 60's.
          The vintage cars's main contribution to the legend was engineering. Almost everything supplied by AC except the body was modified by engineers to create a solid but rather antiquated chassis. Price never attempted to replicate the original vintage chassis, since he felt a modern design would be more acceptable to current buyers. The original Tojiero-inspired body that was originally designed and built by AC has endured.

The Modern Touch
          Under American law, fully completed Superformance Mark-III's can't be shipped into the United States, but their semicompleted chassis can be imported (just as they were shipped in during the '60s) for home completion. Price's Mark-III bodies aren't finished in aluminum like the AC originals.  He builds his in modem lightweight composites. "It's far more durable than alloy and we can finish their surfaces to a much higher degree" says Price.