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Aftermarket Buzz

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How a home-built special became a giant killer

By Graham Duxbury @TheRealDux

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According to Alfa Romeo, around 450 people were involved in the development of its 2020 Formula One car. The project involved 8000 design drafts and 100 000 hours of hard work.

How times have changed. Back in 1961, local racing legend Peter de Klerk set out to build his own F1 car. With the help of his friend Pat Phillips and some financial support from local enthusiast Otello “Jack” Nucci, Peter crafted his home-built F1 car using a modified 4-cylinder engine liberated from a road-going Alfa Giulietta.

The attractive maroon-coloured single-seater – dubbed the Alfa Special - made its debut at a mid-season round of the 1962 South African F1 Championship series at Kyalami. Against competitors driving imported Lotus and Cooper chassis, the Alfa Special recorded a fine fourth-place finish.

De Klerk’s first major success came at the ’62 Mozambique Grand Prix in Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) which he won. He repeated his victory in this race a year later.

In 1963, de Klerk stunned the establishment when he took third place behind the “works” Ferraris of John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini in the Rand GP at Kyalami. They beat a star-studded field Including a number of Lotus, Cooper and Brabham racers.

In January 1965, at the South African GP at East London (the first round of the 1965 F1 World Championship) de Klerk’s now-aging Alfa Special claimed 10th place – good enough to have earned him a championship point today.

While this was a major success for de Klerk the constructor, de Klerk the driver would go on to record many great racing achievements in F1 and sports cars in South Africa and abroad. His professionalism and dedication earned him a special place in SA motorsport history.

Photocredit: Vintageracecar.com

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Automotive Business Review January / February 2020

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