SAKER SVI (1989-1992)
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.