Top Ten: SA built race cars
10. Opel Astra – Wesbank modified saloons saw the return of Shaun Watson-Smith backed by Petronas. The turquoise Astras won straight from the get-go, the car was remarkably twitchy due to its short wheelbase and only in the hands of the factory Opel outfit did the car show its true potential.
9. Audi A4 – The beginning of team Terry Moss, with Engen backing the A4 won three straight titles. First with Shaun Watson-Smith then two consecutive championships for Johan Fourie. With a 3.2-litre V6 and a Quattro system on board as soon as the circuit got slightly slippery the A4’s streamed to the front.
8. Sierra XR8 – AKA the animal driven by Willie Hepburn in the glory days of V8’s. Hot competition between Morgenrood in the RX7 and Hennie van der Linde in the Skyline. The XR8 was everything the watching public wanted at the time (a big V8 and aggressive driving).
7. BMW 325iS – The car that started the trend of more power less weight in production cars. The 325iS was immensely fast for the three years between 1990 and 1993 but only managed the one production car championship in 1993. Its crowning moment was a one-two-three finish in the Castrol nine hour in Cape Town in ’93.
6. BMW 535 – Tony Vianna and Paulo Cavalieri piloted these in BMW’s first true production car venture. The 535 was successful in both 1982 and 1983 in its class. The 535 even managed to finish 13th in the Kyalami 1000km race in 1983, a race competed by the likes of Porsche 956’s.
5. Nissan Primera – In 1997 the Primera showed its true colours. In the hands of Giniel de Villiers the Nissan team picked up four consecutive drivers titles from 1997 to 2000. With Glyn Hall running the team it was an outright success story that would eventually propel both of them to the Dakar.
4. Nissan Skyline – The car that took Hennie van der Linde into the South African record books as the most successful V8 driver ever. Hennie was unstoppable even on a bad day. Hennie became legendary for his work both behind the wheel as well as under the bonnet.
3. Audi 500 quattro – Two of these cars were bought from Audi Sport Germany, they were continuously developed here in SA and was driven by Sarel van der Merwe in Audi colours. The car took him to three straight modified saloons championship between 1989 and 1991. It was rumoured the turbos were boosting close to 3.2 bar.
2. BMW E46 330i – Still to date the most successful South African production car, the E46 racked up four straight titles shared between Shaun van der Linde and Anthony Taylor. Prepared by Hennie van der Linde, the E46 was in a league of its own.
1. Opel Superboss – In the hands of Mike Briggs, the Superboss was a stroke of genius. The car went against the believed theory that rear-wheel drive was always better than front-wheel drive, the Superboss beat the more powerful BMW 325iS for two years running to the driver’s title.