FMM recently acquired a rare South African car, the Caracal. It was conceived in the late-1980s by Intermotormakers, a Cape Town company established in the mid-1970s to assemble Lamborghinis and Lotuses, a scheme cut short when the Government withdrew an exemption clause from the industry’s then Local Content Programme. The company then went back to industrial design, and a plan to build a local sports car came to fruition.

Gerrie Steenkamp was the driving force behind the car’s design and overall development. Local rally driver Nic de Waal was responsible for most of the engineering work, which utilised a mid-mounted VW Golf Mk.2 GTi 16V powertrain subframe along with other Golf hardware and a number of fabricated suspension components. The glass fibre body was laminated to a subframe that was rubber mounted to the chassis to reduce NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness). The car was named Caracal after a wild cat native to Africa, Central Asia, Southwest Asia and India.

Four cars were built during 1989/90. The first, with a Ford Escort 1.6 motor, was last reported to be in PE but in need of repair. The second Mk.1 version was destruction tested by VWSA. The first Mk.2 version was written off in an accident, and the fourth is this example. FMM purchased the car from Bernie Koch, who had bought the car in early 2014 from the estate of Billy Young who, in turn, had purchased it from Steenkamp. First registered in 1996, it was widely used as a show car. Koch refurbished the Caracal but without affecting its originality, especially the distinctive body colour.

The car’s looks have not really dated and the build integrity is strong. It would not have taken much to turn the Caracal into a pukka production vehicle, but at the time VW was launching the first Golf convertible so its fate was already sealed. A case of what might have been…

But the car is now in the capable hands of FMM’s workshop crew, and is being refurbished.  Although Gerrie Steenkamp has passed away, Nic de Waal, now living in New Zealand, has been contacted and has provided some background info on the car. Once tidied, the car will be put on display.