CAV history -- the real story!

New Member
#1
My name is Andre Loubser (South African Identity Number 4002185063080). I reside with my wife Gillian (Gill) at 51 Forest Glade, Tokai 7945, Cape Town, South Africa. My postal address is PO Box 31, Constantia 7848. My telephone numbers are, work, +27 (0)21 706 5272 and home 712 0030. Fax number is 671 1140, cell/mobile 082 723 5632 and E-mail - [email protected]. I'm also now a new member of GT40s.com. I'm available to communicate with anyone at any time on the subject of GT40s as I believe that I'm fairly well informed about the car and its history.

There are some confusing and contradictory reports and questions circulating about Cape Advanced Vehicles (CAV) in Cape Town, South Africa. As the one who motivated the formation of the company and a former director I wish to set the record straight. 40bud in particular wants to know about CAV's backgropund

I'll go right back to the beginning. In 1990/91 my former partner, Norman Lewis, and I built a KVA-type GT40 from a locally manufactured kit. I got the order from an English client and was responsible for all admin and parts sourcing. Norman, an experienced car builder and former RAF jet aircraft electrician, physically built the car. The car was eventually sold on behalf of the English owner to a Mr Hansjorg Winkler, a VW dealer in Feldmeilen, Switzerland. When David Piper and Jochen Mass were in Cape Town at different times I showed them the magnificent car resplendent in Gulf colours. They were suitably impressed but when I lifted the nose and tail sections to reveal modified Ford Granada suspension at the rear and a complete Ford Cortina 'K-frame' with suspension at the front, they visibly paled! Remember that was how Ken Attwell built the very first GT40 replica.

In November, 1991 I visted GT Developments in Poole and took with me my complete costing schedule, build details and photos of the GT40. The then MD, Simon Osborne, couldn't believe how cheaply we could build cars in South Africa. Not cheap by our standards, I explained, but competitive in pound sterling terms as the SA rand then traded at 4,8 to the pound sterling. GTD founder, Ray Christopher, was off the scene at the time of my visit due to ill health. I suggested to Simon, as he was so impressed with our pricing that he should think in terms of our building his cars in Cape Town.

During the following six and half years I visited GTD again and kept in touch by phone and fax. Then one day, out of the blue, in May, 1998 I received a fax from Ray Christopher, who had in the meantime returned to GTD. He referred to all the past communication with Simon and suggested that as the SA rand had weakened to 8,5 to the pound sterling 'we must now talk'. I replied that I would do my best to set up a local manufacturing facility.

In March, 1999 I met up with James Fisher who together with friend Oliver Mcleod-Smith had made a great deal of money though their Snakeboard invention. Snakeboard was a variation on the basic skateboard theme but with wheels and axles attached to swivelling platforms at either end of an aluminium backbone. By the movement of both feet on the swivelling platforms Snakeboard can be propelled in a horizontal plane at quite some speed. Both James and Oliver were looking for a new investment in Cape Town and when I mentioned the GT40 opportunity they decided 'to go for it'.

In May, we invited Ray and partner, Graham Kelsey, to visit us in Cape Town and to finalise the under-licence manufacturing. A deal was struck in the clubhouse of the Steenberg Golf Estate, Tokai. During the meeting it was suggested that Ray and Graham would send out their production moulds and chassis jig, but when Ray posed the question what would happen if the ship sinks, it was agreed that they would send a body/chassis kit for us to copy

A new company was formed and James and Oliver were to be joint CEOs with a shareholding of 40% each and I was to be MD with a shareholding of 20%. Trading name was to be CAPE ADVANCED VEHICLES, which I named after FORD ADVANCED VEHICLES. I designed the corporate identity consisting of a horizontal blue band and a white circle with green vine leaf inside a yellow triangle. The vine leaf was symbolic of the Western Cape which is a major wine producing area. I brought a competent, hand picked team, including Norman Lewis on board and we got the show on the road. We were then joined by a fourth partner and director, Bruce Stirk.

Initially a small factory in the suburb of Diep River was leased and in October the container arrived with the body/chassis kit and a host of parts. CAV chief engineer, Robbie Senekal, immediately commenced with the manufacture of the chassis jig which turned out to be a masterpiece. The body panels were given to fibreglass artist and specialist, Keith Bright of Brightglass, from which to make a new set of production moulds.

At the same time, ie about November, we were informed by Ray that GTD had sold the GT40 marketing rights to a Roger Marsh who would be trading as GTD Supercars in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmigham. We were then effectively in three cornered arrangement.

Subsequently we were visited on more than one occasion by Ray, Graham and Roger.

Production began in May, 2000. Initially CAV was to be a small operation supplying two body/chassis kits per month to GTD.Then we received a fax from Ray asking us if we would be interested in a bigger picture by supplying an American dealer with many more near fully-built cars. We considered the request and replied in the affirmative.

In the early part of 2000, Owen Ashley, a local race car builder was brought on board, by James and Oliver, as a consultant. Later that year James and Oliver decided to appoint Owen as MD, assuming no doubt that he would do a better job than me. If big boys want to play big names they know full well that they will sometimes lose out or will be voted out. Politicians also know that. Ask Bill Clinton. Also as cowboys don't cry I accepted the situation but decided to sell my shares in March, 2001 to pursue my own interests. My last job at CAV was to write a 65 page build manual and a 45 page owners manual.

I'm now planning to set up a new factory to build cars for four British manufacturers. This is with the full support of the British Department of Trade and Industry who invited me as their guest to attend the Racing Car Show at Birmigham a year ago. British DTI has targeted South Africa and four other countries as joint venture manufacturing bases for the British Automotive industry. South Africa, formerly largely ostracized by the rest of the world because of its race policies, is rapidly gaining a good reputation as a major builder of specialised motor vehicles. Jimmy Price, owner of Hi-Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth is the largest replica manufacturer in the world and exports about 35 Cobra replicas per month to his eight US dealers. He also builds the Noble M12 for export back to the UK. Manufacturing cars here has become more lucrative in recent years, for both builders here and overseas agents, as the rand has weakened to about 14 to the pound sterling. Remember 4,8 when I visited GTD in November, 1991!

CAV produced 17 space frame GT40s and then went on to produce a stainless steel monocoque version. The original GT40 agency in the New York area was short lived and subsequently, as is now common knowledge, Bob Lacey was appointed CAV's US dealer.

As I left CAV at the end of March, 2001 I've lost count of the politics involving Ray, Graham, Roger, GTD Unichassis, GTD Supercars, etc, etc. It would therefore be unfair for me to comment any further. Grant Nelson of CAV says 'please feel free to contact us directly with any issues involving CAV.'

However, I would agree with 40bud's comment 'that CAV would not be in business building the wonderful cars they do if it were not for Ray and Graham's efforts'. I know the British kit car industry better than it knows itself and since 1986 I've been well informed about who's who in the zoo in that country. In view of the quality of the GTD cars, and in view of many complimentary magazine reports, including one involving Jonathan Palmer, I was more than happy to recommend a deal with GTD. If after the event and after my departure from CAV there were disagreements or personality clashes, all I can say in conclusion is that that's just part of being in business. Business these days!

I entered the workplace in 1958 in Cape Town. I worked for Porsche in Germany from 1962 to 1964, where I was closely involved with the 904 project. From 1964 to 1967 I worked for the Stirling Moss Paint-a-Car System in London, followed by
a year on the Enfield electric car project in Wimbledon. I then returned to Johannesburg, South Africa to start the Mike Hailwood Autospray group, which was the world pioneer of automotive polyurethane paints. On a philosophical note those were happy years when life seemed easier, friendlier, more honest and less complicated than our current, fast computer driven world! The mere fact that classic replicas, in particular the GT40, are so popular today and the fact that there has been a world-wide explosion in recent times in historic motor racing might prove my point! It seems that many people just want to wind the clock back! It also seems that today business partnerships and associations are more difficult and complex than in the good old swinging sixties.

There's another exciting GT40 development in Cape Town. More later!
 
#2
Andre,
Welcome to this forum. It is always a pleasure to here from someone who is willing to tell it like it is.
We must be of the the same generation as I agree with your " good ole' swinging sixties" statement.
I do hope that you will come here and contribute often. I'm sure there will be many questions from this great forum.

Hersh
 
#3
Andre,

Welcome to the Forum and thank you for the historical insight about CAV. There's been many super comments on the Forum about the CAV so that too will be added to your history.

Have fun!

John
 

40 Bud

Active Member
#5
Andre I can't thank you enough for coming forward and shedding some light on this great story. You can,t imagine how long I have tried to find someone with an inside perspective of the GTD/CAV story who was willing to lay it out for public inspection. I thought that I was knowledgable about lots of the issues but your tale fills in lots of gaps and the early history and certainly dispells a few industry myths. Thanks again and I can't wait to hear more about your future project. All the best - your input is really appreciated. I might add that I have a lot of respect for the South African engineering talent as I lived in Stellenbosch and was involved in the fruit canning industry there for a time during the late 60's
 

New Member
#6
Andre
As a CAV owner, It's very enlightenning to really know about the history and the evolution of my car. I thank you for a job well done
 
#7
Someone, (I don't know whom actually) should log this down & save this for posterity's sake. I've been around a long time and seen a lot with SAAC (the Shelby Club), and Kopec & the guy's spend a LOT of time, money & effort chasing facts and keeping vehicle history(ies) accurate. In effect, this protects us in the long-run. Someday, 10, 15 or 30 years from now, this too may be of such importance to us & others... The more you can track history, be it a vehicle or the OEM manufacturer from day-1, the better off you are.

Hmmmm... Maybe there is a posibilityfor an online GT40 Registry. If you have not seen the SAAC registry, go find one & give it a look. Some of THE BEST reading anywhere. (2 thumbs up!)

Andre, thanks for your efforts & giving this a go. I'm not too far away from laying down a big chunk of coin for a CAV. Guess I owe this to you.

Many kind regards,
 

Jac Mac

Active Member
#8
Bringing this very old thread to top for Bune & CAV owners wanting background to CAV cars. Contact info may be out of date!
 
#10
CAV CONFUSION! CONFUSED? YES I AM...

Phew! I have been interested in the Cape Advanced Vehicle history (VERY CONFUSING INDEED!) here in Cape Town since the 90’s. I designed and built a Mini Roadster racing car circa 2001- 2002 and used a top tigwelder after hours to help me with specialised tigwelding my s/steel pieces I had designed and lasercut… and... the welder worked for? Yes! CAV! He was Richard Stober, used to have a cigarette non-stop in mouth while welding! So it was cigarette smoke and Argon gas fumes galore in my garage. I had to stand outside while he was busy. Amazing that he lived thru' all these toxins! And... the end result was totally AMAZING! Welds looked like soft smeared butter... a true artist indeed. CAV was situated in Pelican Park about 24km from Cape Town CBD according to Richard.

Today I decided to research CAV the company afresh and… found Andre Loubser ex-CAV post of Jan 2003. Great stuff! But not complete. Can't blame him for not telling all the nitty-gritty goings on that happened during his time (and after).

For an interesting UCT (University of Cape Town) business research report into CAV... Google (I am not allowed links in post...) gsblibrary.uct.ac.za/researchreports/2000/HendryMotsopa to read quite an in depth story on the CAV background. I sat mesmerised reading this. From background histories of all involved to the obnoxious double selling of intellectual property (Here extracted from the above business report: 'In late 1998, Ray Christopher was negotiating the sale of the business and use of his intellectual rights to Roger Marsh (Grand Touring Designs Supercars), when he heard of Andre Loubser’s proposal to build cars in South Africa. Christopher saw the opportunity of doing some underhand business by selling the intellectual property TWICE, once to Marsh in the UK and then a second time to Loubser and CAV in South Africa.) and how James Fisher (from Snakeboard fame) saved the day by trashing the rubbish non-triangulated spaceframe (WTF?!) from the UK to design his own chassis thereby avoiding costly lawsuits et al to recoup half of the 'double' royalties that were being paid. Phew!

Going to the CAV website you will see a certain Jean Fourie is running the show (so it seems...) and is also busy with a brand new project involving a 1960 VW Beetle and V8 engine… the V8StealthBeetle project with similar lasercut chassis as the GT40 (but aluminium) and exotic suspension et al. Google v8stealthbeetle. Awesome concept. Beautifully executed... hats off! Jean also arrives on set (videoshoot of v8StealthBeetle) with a CAV GT40 and states in video he's built about 72 of these GT40s.

But then looking further online I see a certain Jody Reddy and associates bought CAV (from who?) in 2013 according to a Cape Argus newspaper article by motoring editor Henri Du Plessis. Weird… as Jean is in control (again?) of CAV in 2017/18. Getting VERY confused now.

Final weird story I remember well in the early noughties (2002 - 2004). A friend of mine was building a yacht in an industrial warehouse in Woodstock Industrial (opposite the Cape Town harbour). Late one night he was working alone on the yacht… and saw trucks arriving and people offloading fibreglass molds of some sort into the warehouse opposite the one he was building his yacht. After they left, he went for a peep thru the gap in door using a torch to light the molds and saw that they were GT40 body molds! He said that they MUST have been from the defunct CAV (hushed rumours were rife then). A few nights later he phoned me to say there are angle grinder noises coming from said warehouse. Next day we went to look again and saw that ALL the fibreglass molds were cut into pieces! A few days later cops and sheriffs of the court were all over the place. They were packing everything onto trolleys and moved out to their trucks. My friend (the yacht builder) tried in vain to retrieve his electrical tools and bandsaw he stored in said warehouse, but to no avail. The sheriff just told him to 'F-off and write a letter to the court' (to explain why it was his tools and equipment). I would LOVE to know what THAT was all about!!

So there is a helluva gap from 2002- 2004 to 2017. Hope someone can fill the gap as this is beginning to stink like the Bermuda Triangle!
 
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Jac Mac

Active Member
#11
By your comment ' early noughties ' do you mean somewhere in 2000 thru 2009?, adding 'fat to the fire' remember the earlier RF operation was going to be moved to SA during this period, maybe some of the stuff being destroyed was tied up in that mess. Interesting but history now.
 
#12
I had a GTD GT40 back in 2004 and heard back then that GTD went out of business or stopped building GT40s and all their moulds went to CAV who further developed the car. Then I read this post from 2003 shortly after. As far as ownership now, I thought Jordy and associates bought CAV from Jean Fourie back in 2013 so if Jean is in charge now maybe it was a buy out deal over several years that defunct, however I just bought a windshield from CAV back in November and dealt with Jordy.
 

Ken M.

New Member
#13
Awesome read! It makes it that much more special to own a GTD #219 to be specific. now that I have read some more history behind the car!


Thank you Andre for sharing.
 
#14
By your comment ' early noughties ' do you mean somewhere in 2000 thru 2009?, adding 'fat to the fire' remember the earlier RF operation was going to be moved to SA during this period, maybe some of the stuff being destroyed was tied up in that mess. Interesting but history now.
Yes, I have edited the time more detailled... also added much more dope to read. Not sure about 'RF operation moving to SA'...? Please elaborate.
 
#15
I have CAV #82 and if Jordy doesn't own CAV he should anytime I have emailed a question or ask for help he responds immediately they have been great to deal with and I would highly recommend them !!!
 

Jimmy P

Active Member
#16
I visited the CAV factory a few years back and met both Jordi and Jean. At the time it appears Jordi had scaled the operation back into a smaller building where a small team kept the flame alive. During my visit I took photos of Walt Williams car which was under construction at the time. Both Jordi and Jean retained immense passion for the CAV brand. Jordi was definitely the guy in charge at that time while Jean provided his excellent engineering talent on a consultation basis from what I could tell. Jean was involved in creating his own business in a shop located not far from the CAV unit of which is the one building the Stealthbeetle mentioned.

An interesting side story shared with me by Jean.....for those with early CAV cars your cars retain the "original rounded nose" upper lip until after Jean took over. Jean had sent the front clip out for work and when it came back the guy performing the work decided to re-shape the front nose to a more square design. Jean liked it so much he kept it so all CAV's after have the "squared" upper lip versus the original upper lip.
 
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