it because the replica is easier?
Basically most of the thinking has
already been done.
This in true in the case of the Lotus 7
where some manufactures copied the design down
to the last nut and bolt, also in the case of
many Cobra, Porsche and Lamborghini replicas the
bodies are made from moulds which were taken off
an original car.
In producing a replica of a Cobra, Lotus
7 and an early MG, the manufacturer hasn’t to
worry about creature comforts like heaters, wind
up windows or even any windows and, in the
Lotus, no doors!
I think the replica is so popular is because the
owner/builder wants a car that is recognisable,
one that they have admired or wanted since they
probably became interested in cars.
Worldwide, the replica type of kit is the
biggest seller, especially the Lotus 7 and
is interesting to note that the first phase of
special/kit car building in Britain and to a
lesser extent, New Zealand was in the late
1950’s when fibreglass bodies became popular
fitting them mainly to Ford 10 chassis or
specialist chassis like the Buckler.
of these were original designs. I cannot think
of any that were replicas, some were influenced
by the sports car of the day but none were
Then from the early
1960’s to the early 1970’s the industry went
very quiet, it then stirred again with a rash of
VW powered cars, cars like the beach buggies,
the Stirling in America which became the Eureka
in Australia. There were, also in America, VW
based MG TD’s and Bugattis.
So we come to Almac Reinforced Plastics
Ltd. Which I established in 1971 manufacturing
diverse range of products has been made over the
years but a consistent theme has been the
manufacture of automotive components. This
interest stems from those early sixties when I
built my first fibreglass bodied special.
was in 1976 that I decided to build a car, with
the idea of producing bodies, using a VW
The car was an original design but having
a strong influence of the 1974 Lotus Elite and
the Espirit. The plug and moulds were duly made
and a body was produced, because I used a yellow
gelcoat, the car was called the ‘yellow’ car; it
never progressed to a name.
With other work commitments the car was
never finished and the body was sold to a young
man in the Hutt Valley.
1982 I decided to build another car. This was
going to be loosely based on the Cobra, but as I
got more and more into the project I decided to
scrap everything and start again and make the
body as exactly as I could to the
street competition shape.
studying dozens of photographs and scaling up
model plans, with the help of a good friend,
George, I then drew up full size drawings and
transferred these to sheets of particleboard
flooring. I cut the main contours of the body,
and then assembled them into an egg box
Filling in the gaps then covering it with
a good layer of body filler, I made the Cobra
After almost a year went by the plug was
finished, moulds were made and a body produced,
painted and put on wheels and trailered to the
National Hot Rod meeting at Masterton, Easter
1984. From then until the present day, the
427SC has sold well. I was never 100 percent
enthusiastic about copying a shape, in this case
a Cobra, as I like original design, but the
business reality is that the replica does sell.
to see that one of the biggest selling Cobra
replicas kits sold in America is made in South
To cater for the marketing and selling of
the car Almac Cars was formed.
The next car in the stable was the
TC, a traditional type of sports car loosely
based on the MG TC/TD, it used a Triumph Herald
chassis and mechanicals, this evolved to the
Roadster which was basically the same
body shell but used a custom made chassis and
In 1990 with steady sales of the 427SC
and the TG Roadster project Sabre was started.
design brief for the Sabre was that it could be
used every day wet or fine, the body shape was
to be an original design, not a replica, using a
space frame chassis and the mechanicals from a
popular donor car.
The first prototype was registered in
1994; the design used a Cortina Mk 4 as a donor
car. Motive power came from an all alloy
V8 engine from the Leyland P76.
At the present time the
Sabre body is getting a major facelift, the
chassis redesigned for a new and in house
developed front suspension combined with
Jaguar rear suspension, engines will
be Commodore V6 or Lexus V8.