Low volume performance car enthusiasts will be well acquainted with the skills of Port Elizabeth based Hi Tech Automotive, under the leadership of Jimmy Price, renowned for building the Noble supercar range bodies.
Team Perana vision
Jimmy has always hankered after the idea of producing a home-grown supercar. At the Geneva motor show next week this dream will finally take a step closer to tangible reality with the unveiling of the Perana Z-one.
Although the exquisitely styled Z-one has very little to do with Basil Green’s Ford Perana racing cars (or even the local Sapphire conversions of the early 90s) it’s a laudable local achievement.
Jimmy has pooled his considerable skills base and engineering friendships locally, built up over years of motorsport involvement, to bring the project to fruition.
Local track and aquatic racing legend Peter Lindenberg is onboard and so is Basil Green, the original Perana man. The result has been the founding of the Perana Performance Group.
Though the Z-one is styled by famous Italian design house Zagato – and styled being the operative word considering how absolutely gorgeous it looks – it remains a proudly South African product.
Made for real driving
Framing the otherworldly bodywork is a traditional 60s F1 car tubular and box section chassis. Suspending the Z-one, on both axles, is an unequal length double-wishbone set-up with Eibach springs and Blistein dampers controlling rebound.
Targeted kerb weight for the car is a lithe 1195kg. With only a ZF limited slip differential keeping some semblance of control over the 6.2l V8’s 330kW driving through the rear wheels, Z-one is a thoroughly traditional driver’s car.
There’s no ESP or ABS to keep things neat. With Z-one it’s just a well sorted tubular chassis, big Michelin PS2 tyres (275/35/18s front, 345/30/19s rear) for grip and your own sense of right-foot circumspection straddling the fine line between divine performance and disaster. The way it should be, right?
Brakes are dual and single-piston sliding calipers front and rear respectively, clamping 325mm discs on the front axle and 305mm at the back. Considering the Z-one’s low weight one hardly needs more.
Considering its capacity and V8 layout the engine must be a GM sourced Corvette unit. This would make considerable sense as GM’s LS9 Corvette V8 is a popular power source for many low-volume performance car manufacturers.
Dream come true?
Jimmy Price intends the Perana Z-one to be a limited production model (as are all Zagato-inspired sports cars), with factory capacity in Port Elizabeth not to exceed 999 cars during a yearly production cycle. If they sell such numbers, Hi Tech Automotive could probably balance the Eastern Cape budget – for a change.
Once a dealer network has been appointed in Europe – after the car is showcased at Geneva next week it’s a mere formality – full production should start.
Conceived to conquer the European performance car market, exchange rates should ensure a keen local price (we hope) with retails numbers in Europe rumoured to be around €50 000.
Bespoke Italian styling, reliable American V8 power, and local chassis/assembly know how and design from a factory which managed to please the notoriously pedantic Lee Noble.
Could the best looking performance car of the 21st century be from Port Elizabeth? You had better believe it.