In 1964, the Ford GT40 was released to the world. This was a car born purely out of the eagerness to give Ferrari a beat-down at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, after a deal to buy Ferrari went sour between Enzo and Henry Ford – something that’s sure to be showcased in the forthcoming feature film Ford v. Ferrari.
The car’s first year of competition returned pretty dismal results, which is why the entire project was handed over to the legendary Carroll Shelby to try and make it successful. And successful it was when Ford beat Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. GT40 production came to an end in 1969, but since then numerous kits and replicas inspired by the original car have been built throughout the world.
It just happens that South Africa’s Cape Advanced Vehicles (CAV) create some of the very best.
The company was founded in 1999 in Cape Town, and today CAV specializes in building both roller and turn-key replica GT40s to the highest standards.
Many other GT40 replica-makers try to closely emulate the mechanicals of the original car, allowing for an authentic experience. But that of course comes at the expense of the driveability and creature comforts we’ve all become accustomed to in the modern age. CAV decided to do things differently by creating cars that are still as close to the original as possible when it comes to design, but step things up when it comes to the overall driving experience. Company CEO Jordi Reddy took over CAV in 2013, and that’s when the focus was shifted towards creating the world’s best modern GT40 replica – the CAV GT.
In 2016, CAV relocated to their current facility, where design, body and component manufacturing, paintwork and final assembly is all handled in house.Under The Shell
Every CAV GT begins life as a photo on a customer’s wall, a roll of fiberglass, and some steel sheets and tubes. As an order comes in, the GT’s inception begins as a mix of handcrafted skill and cutting-edge technology – not to mention many man hours.
Unique to CAV is a stainless steel monocoque chassis, designed for rigidity and able to accommodate drivers up to 6’4″ in height. CAV produce the only Ford GT40 replica in the world with this type of chassis.
Chassis panels are laser-cut and bent to specific tolerances, as are the bespoke CNC-machined aluminium components. In the welding bay, the chassis and other various components are meticulously assembled and welded piece by piece in their respective jigs. Typically, the team have the manufacture of a complete chassis down to four days, including all quality checks.
The bodies themselves are an absolute work of art, although they don’t look that way when starting out. Beginning with fiberglass moulds, each CAV GT body is individually shaped and finished.
Once the body is ready, the shaping department begins the process of mating the panels to its corresponding position on the chassis. Most of the build time is spent here, ensuring a millimeter-perfect body fit.
After sign off, body shaping and custom upgrades, such as ‘Gurney Bubbles’ or snorkels can be fitted. Finally, the body is carefully gapped before preparing for paint.
The colour above isn’t just any blue hue – it’s the base for what will end up being a Gulf-liveried car. This is an extremely popular exterior scheme for these cars, but CAV offers the world’s only officially licensed Gulf Oil replica GT40. Having a spray booth in-house allows the team to keep a close eye on every stage of the painting process and address any concerns as and when they happen, allowing for the best possible finish.
In the booth, the body undergoes a rigorous priming and surface preparation process to ensure every last imperfection is eliminated. Paint is then applied in any standard or special colour option, as requested by the customer. Current standard colours are limited to Racing Red, Wimbledon White, Le Mans Blue, Viper Yellow, Deep Black, Guardsman Blue Metallic, Polar Silver Metallic, Titanium Silver Metallic and the aforementioned Gulf Oil livery.
For painted stripes and Gulf liveries, everything is meticulously measured and masked by hand. This intricate process ensures that after the final layers of paint are sprayed and the body has been polished, striping is undetectable by touch.
Throughout the body and paint process, various sub-assemblies, first stage production and electrical checks can take place on the chassis.
CAV’s storeroom is where all the smaller parts are kept, with countless little items neatly named and organized.A Comfy Place
Another key part of a CAV GT build is the interior, which can be customized with a few options according to a customer’s needs. All the cars carry hand-stitched and upholstered custom-designed panels and seats in European-spec leather, with historic eyelet details for the ultimate ergonomic GT40 experience.
Because CAV is a low-volume company, they can also take on certain individual requests. For instance, the brown leather above was supplied by the customer as it’s the exact material he wanted. He also had some driving gloves made up with the same material.
All the analog gauges and switchgear look really great and timeless. You’ll also notice that on some of the cars the switches are exposed, where on the car with the black interior the switches have aluminium covers over them. This is because of American safety requirements. Each CAV GT also comes with a fully adjustable pedal box.All About The Ride
Adjustable lightweight dampers are standard fitment on the CAV GT, allowing the customer to adjust bump and rebound with ease. The suspension uprights are bespoke to CAV and machined from billet aircraft-grade aluminium.
Customers can also upgrade to fully adjustable rose-jointed suspension, where you can fine tune castor, camber, toe-in and bump steer.
Multiple wheel options are available to suit individual needs, and include 15-inch BRM, 15-inch Hallibrand, 17-inch Hallibrand and 15-inch BRM in Gulf orange. Tyre choices for the wheels are all dependent on the customer’s preferences and budget.
When it comes to stopping power, Wilwood 4-pot fronts and rears with bias control is the standard fitted option, while customers can also upgrade to a big brake kit if desired.
In the case of a customer taking a roller option, at this point the car would be inspected before being readied for shipping. Where a turn-key car is ordered, the engine and transmission are installed next, with wiring and looms routed as well.V8 Or Nothing
When it comes to powerplant options, CAV offers a classic Ford small block V8 installation with a choice of Holley or Weber carburetors pushing out 450hp and 550Nm. There’s also more contemporary option in the form of a Ford Mustang Gen2 5.0 L Coyote engine which produces 435hp and 542Nm.
With the newer motor setup, allowance have been made to accommodate Ford’s CMCV valve system, allowing the engine to maintain factory emissions compliance. The dual fuel tanks are a baffled aluminium design with a rear catch can. Each car also gets a beautifully crafted stainless steel exhaust system to let the the V8 engine sing.
Two transmission options are available for the GT, either a Porsche 6-speed gearbox or the tried and trusted ZF 5-speed unit. Depending on the car’s use, either a copper button or organic woven clutch can be selected.
With each of these drivetrain setups, 0-60mph comes in at around 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 200mph. This is achieved with the help of a low kerb weight of only 1,160kg.
The process comes to an end with a final and extensive quality control check and of course that all-important test drive to ensure everything works perfectly, as it should. Then it’s off to the happy customers all around the world.
Now, I wonder when my CAV GT order is arriving…Cutting Room Floor