Classic Race Car History

Firenza GT

Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by Firenza GT » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 05:24

There is talk of the car originally known as the "Animal" Sierra XR-8 being restored. Would anyone know which was the "Animal" post Willie Hepburn era ? From what many of us believed at the time and myself until recently when told otherwise, this was the actual ex-Hepburn XR-8 also as noted in the media at the time. Here in the hands of local Ford Dealer Jurgen Zu Bentheim behind Paddy O'Sullivan.

However, since this photo was taken June 1989 at Zwartkops, I have seen at least three other such looking cars besides this one. At this specific race meeting there was a black one too which was just behind these two in the same race which at the time was also told, that was a Hepburn "spare" car that was commisioned when the cars were sold off after Ford's involvement. So that is 4 in total, there was only one actual "Animal" the car that the struggled with crank problems initially. Wonder now which of the 4 similar looking cars I have seen will step onto the platform as the actual Hepburn "Animal XR-8 Sierra.

Anyone know ?
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Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by FairmontGT » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 08:23

Yes excellent info on the Toranas, I always wondered where they fitted into the AUS car scene.
Yes we did build muscle cars in RSA!!!!
http://www.africanmusclecars.com

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henryk
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Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by henryk » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 10:50

Hi Lino

Re the original ANIMAL.

Yes it went from Hepburn to Jurgen Zu Bentheim.

He raced it for some years in the W P Super Saloon formula.

The car went through many changes over the years. It was lowered, made wider, was fitted with the later type Sapphire nose, got a full NASCAR V8 engine from U.S.
and many other modifications. The remains I last heard is lying on Gert Brink's farm outside Paarl. To restore this car is impossible as over the years most of the metal disappeared and it became mostly a tube chassis with fibreglass bodypanels.

But for the full story telephone Jurgen Zu Bentheim at Novel Ford Paarl and ask him !
Escort's Forever !

Firenza GT

Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by Firenza GT » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:53

Thanks for that Henry, that is exactly how I knew it as I have photo's of it when Jurgen first raced it in a National before he used it in Super Saloons. Quite facinating how a story gets twisted and almost becomes fact by the time it's gone full circle. Was recently told that the other one of Leon Booysen was the "real" one. But I remember reading that the Hepburn car was now Jurgen's car and saw it raced in Novel colours soon after that. How difficult can it be to get that bit of right ?

Yes the car had most of the front end replaced and "tubed" and as modifications as you've mentioned. So would we say the ex-Hepburn original Sierra XR-8 "Animal" is no more ? Whatever surfaces now is a replica ?

Firenza GT

Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by Firenza GT » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 15:12

At this race meeting at Zwartkops 24 June 1989, it was a very special moment in time refering to two era's of muscle. The 70's which ended with the Can Am and the 80's that sort of was revived (V8's) with the XR-8. So when I saw the programme for the first time with both cars, both ex-works originals even though the Sierra was a bit modified by then, this was going to answer what many always spoke about. Can Am was fast, beat most etc. Sierra is now fast, would have beaten the Can Am's etc. Here was 11 years seperating the two and what followed was of the finest moments I have every experienced as a race fan. Hearing Paddy O' Sullivan rev the 302 the way they were built to rev, rear wheel lifting under heavy breaking and front off the tar exiting bends. The answer was as you see in the photo. Second race the Sierra won right at the end after the Can Am had a flat front tyre. Paddy then raced the Can Am in the historics for another two races and swopped the lead with gary Dunkerly's Chevron B8 and Richard Baker's single seater Lotus 49B which was an awsome sight a saloon right there with full out race cars.

There are some moments in time one never forgets. This was the one Can Am of the four (one rally) which I had not seen or heard actually run. I had seen it for the first time mid 1980 in the Kyalami paddock parked. It did not race for some reason. Owner/driver at the time was Mietre Mietre. I had run out of camera 110 film so never got to take a pic of the car then. I walked away from that car satisfied that I had now at least seen all four works car in real though only three run. I keft Kyalami that day wondering if I'd ever see that car again, hiked back to camp and just put it to rest. The other two Dealer Team cars had been dismantled for the manufacturer's Challenge race Chevair V8's. 9 years passed, walking into the Zwartkops pits seeing this same ex-Dealer Team car that I had not seen run, the Chapter was closed. I'd now seen and heard all four V8 Dealer Team cars run be it post Dealer Team days.

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vanz2
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Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by vanz2 » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 16:23

Animal or "Wolf" ?

Image

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Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by vanz2 » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 16:55

Novel V8

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Firenza GT

Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by Firenza GT » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 17:15

That's the car ! See what you mean Henry, not much metal left there. The car is completely revamped since the old photo's I have of the Hepburn car in the pits. I do remember seeing some of the front frame when the one fender was ripped off at Zwartkops in 1990 the year after it raced against the Chev Dealer Team car of Paddy O'Sullivan.

So is the ORIGINAL Willie Hepburn Sierra XR-8 "Animal" being restored as runoured or would it be a clone ? Clone is would be easier to recreate than try assemble what may be left of the very much modified shell if it is still around. There is no issue with copie's/clones/replica's. As long as anounced as such is proper for the paying enthiusiast that goes to watch racing.

Firenza GT

Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by Firenza GT » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 18:45

The other Sierra V8 replica I refered to in previous post. This was the parade lap with Paddy O'Sullivan (ex-Chev Dealer Team Can Am) on pole pole, Jurgen Zu Bentheim (ex-Willie Hepburn XR-8) and a black Hepburn XR-8 replica. Then there is another one which was in Ford Motorsport colours as the original "Animal" XR-8 was.
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Firenza GT

Re: Classic Race Car History

Post by Firenza GT » Tue 23 Oct 2007, 19:58

Here you can see the same original ex-Willie Hepburn Sierra XR8 driven by Jurgen Zu Bentheim behind Paddy O'Sullivan's Can Am. Note here the Sierra still has not been changed to the Saphire front end and wider flaring, pipe frame front etc. This was 24.06.1989 at Zwartkops North v South V8 Supersaloon race.
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