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Assegai F1, a Unique South African spear – Widescreen Gallery

Submitted by on October 10, 2016


Spend some quality time getting to know the unique South African-built Assegai F1 car thanks to this widescreen gallery by Marcel Hundscheid of Speed-O-Graphica.

Some weeks ago we came across a unique car. Just by running down an entry list for a race of the Historic Grand Prix Car Association as part of the Spa Six Hours, the name Assegai appeared. The name really stood out between the Maseratis, Coopers and Lotus single seaters from the ’50s and ’60s.


A closer look revealed the unique South African-built Assegai, constructed 55 years ago by South African engineer and racing driver Tony Kotzé. He raced Formula One-cars during the ’50s and early ’60s and won, amongst others, the Silver Star in the South African Drivers Championship. The Assegai had a close resemblance with the Lotus 18 and was equipped with double-wishbone independent suspension, coil-over shock absorbers and disc brakes all round.


Kotzé was based in Cape Town as a garagiste. Whenever the Formula One teams arrived in South Africa he was regularly seconded as a mechanic. Besides this Kotzé was a fabricator and, inspired by Ferrari’s shark nose 156 F1 car, he created his own car built under the Bond Cars banner.


He dubbed the car Assegai, named after a Zulu spear. Kotzé planned to construct four chassis, but in the end the car we saw at Spa was the only one which reached completion. This car was planned to be the first of a Bond Tobacco Company-sponsored four-car team. After failing in qualifying for the race at Kyalami, Bond pulled back as the main sponsor and as a result the three others chassis were never built.


Kotzé designed the Assegai F1 car for the South African Gold Cup series. However, the car entered only a single race – the 1962 Rand Grand Prix in Kyalami. After Kotzé failed to qualify the Assegai for the race it went on to compete in local events until 1964.


Thirty-four years later Peter Ferris, a seasoned team owner, bought the car. The Assegai underwent a comprehensive rebuild including the installation of a 1.5L Alfa Romeo twin-cam engine and a Hewland Mk. 8 five-speed gearbox, instead of the heavy 2.0L version. Furthermore the body and chassis were restored and since then the car appeared at the Goodwood Revival during several events. Another Briton, Brian Tyler, bought the Assegai back in 1997.


In August 2015 the car was purchased by former F1 team member and classic car collector John Carpenter.  He began a restoration project together with racing driver and historic racing car preparation expert Iain Rowley.


The car made it first international racing debut 55 years after it was built by Kotzé in the streets of Monaco at the tenth running of the biennial Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. The car was presented in entirely original mechanical specification.  Sadly, Assegai’s creator Tony Kotzé passed away shortly before its debut at the 2016 Historic Monaco Grand Prix.


In perfect condition, the car appeared at the 2016 Spa Six Hours during a race of the Historic Grand Prix Car Association, driven by Richar Tarling. Unfortunately, the Assegai’s race ended as the Alfa engine lost its sump plug.


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