SAKER SVI (1989-1992)

NZV8 - - SPECIAL FEATURE -

The Saker started life in the lit­tle Manawatu town of Feild­ing, in the hands of a well-known race car con­struc­tor Bruce Turn­bull. Since then, it has been pro­duced in four dif­fer­ent coun­tries with very lit­tle credit be­ing paid to its cre­ator. The Saker was never de­signed to be a pure rac­ing car. Bruce wanted to cre­ate an af­ford­able and prac­ti­cal car that was great fun on the road and even more fun on the track. It was a car that he en­vi­sioned as be­ing able to be driven to the track, raced, and then driven home. Bruce was pleas­antly sur­prised when the Saker turned out to be a win­ning for­mula on the track, clean­ing up against Fer­raris and Lam­borgh­i­nis in its early com­pet­i­tive out­ings. It set a fastest­lap record at Pukekohe and com­peted in the Welling­ton Street Race in 1993. The Saker was so good that it has its own rac­ing se­ries in Europe. Most of these Sak­ers are man­u­fac­tured by Dutch man­u­fac­tur­ers, claim­ing a pro­duc­tion of around 50 cars per year. Sadly, Bruce re­ceives no roy­al­ties, de­spite agreements made. The car is mar­keted as a feat of Dutch en­gi­neer­ing not Kiwi in­ge­nu­ity. Bruce can­not af­ford to pay Euro­pean lawyers to put things right, so he set­tles for the en­joy­ment of turn­ing the TV on and watch­ing a car that he de­signed be­ing driven com­pet­i­tively around race­tracks in Europe. Only a few Sak­ers were built with V8s — most use Subaru flat-four mo­tors. The first car was in­tended to be a one-off, but later, af­ter be­ing ap­proached by Ken­wood — which was look­ing for a pro­mo­tional car to mar­ket its Jensen ra­dios — Bruce agreed to make a sec­ond car. Know­ing that one of his cars would be tour­ing the coun­try, with all the pub­lic­ity that would pro­duce, he de­cided, dur­ing the sec­ond car’s con­struc­tion, that he would pre­pare for full-scale pro­duc­tion. The car shown in the pic­tures is the Ken­wood car as it looks now. The fi­bre­glass moulds and body were cre­ated with the help of David Short in Field­ing, with Bruce do­ing the de­sign work on what would be a very ca­pa­ble chas­sis. This car was orig­i­nally pow­ered with an Audi mo­tor and used as a rolling ad­ver­tise­ment in shop­ping malls and shows to pro­mote Jensen and Ken­wood prod­ucts. Even­tu­ally, it was bought by Matthew Coo­ley, who slot­ted in a more re­al­is­tic Lexus V8, giv­ing it the per­for­mance to go with its looks. Ten cars were pro­duced in SV1 con­fig­u­ra­tion. ‘SV1’ meant that it was the first Saker ve­hi­cle type, and it was de­signed to take a va­ri­ety of en­gines us­ing a Re­nault 25 transaxle. Dur­ing the early ’90s, Bruce de­signed a new Saker based on Subaru com­po­nen­try. The car was called the Saker SVS, with the sec­ond ‘S’ sig­ni­fy­ing that it used mainly Subaru run­ning gear. Most of these were pow­ered by a four-cylin­der Subaru boxer en­gine. Not count­ing the hun­dreds that have been built over­seas, the Saker has pro­vided a steady-if-mod­est in­come for Bruce.

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