Mys­tery car

# 258

New Zealand Classic Car - - AUTOMOBILIA -

Still in the early 1960 sand an­other tale of two con­ti­nents, but the con­trast be­tween last month’s light­weight South African / UK sports car and this month’s be­he­moth is very ap­par­ent. Who can tell us about this very flam­boy­ant ve­hi­cle? Send your so­lu­tion to ed­i­tor@clas­s­ic­car.co.nz, or by mail to Mys­tery Car No. 258 Au­gust 2017, New zealand clas­sic car, PO Box 46,020, Herne Bay, Auck­land, by Au­gust 4th. Our mys­tery last month was the lively GSM Dart, or GSM Delta, sports car, which carved out quite a rep­u­ta­tion for it­self on rac­ing cir­cuits in the early 1960s. The car was first con­ceived in mid-’50s South Africa (SA) by Bob van Niek­erk and Wil­lie Meiss­ner but didn’t be­gin to take shape un­til 1956, when Meiss­ner, by then work­ing in Bri­tain, learned about fi­bre­glass and van Niek­erk hur­riedly went to Bri­tain to work with him again on their sports car project. Ver­ster de Wit, work­ing then at Rootes, also be­came in­volved to help out with body de­sign. By mid 1957, van Niek­erk and Meiss­ner were back in SA, where they built the ini­tial two GSM Darts, which first raced (and won!) on New Year’s Day 1958, us­ing Ford 100E en­gines, con­verted to over­head valve (OHV) for more power. A fair amount of Ford run­ning gear was used. ‘GSM’ was the ab­bre­vi­a­tion for ‘Glass Sport Mo­tors’, and the body was a light­weight glass-fi­bre con­struc­tion fit­ted on a tubu­lar lad­der-style chas­sis. The ‘finny’ styling was vaguely rem­i­nis­cent of the Sun­beam Alpine at the rear — this was no ac­ci­dent, as de Wit had been in­volved in the body de­sign of the Alpine while at Rootes. GT coupé ver­sions were avail­able. Pro­duc­tion be­gan soon af­ter, and 41 cars were built in the next two years. A va­ri­ety of en­gines could be fit­ted, rang­ing from side­valve 100E and OHV small Fords to Peu­geot 403; twin-cam Alfa; and, later on, Lotus Cortina as well. The cars cer­tainly seemed to have enough road­hold­ing to cope with that sort of power. They were suc­cess­ful in rac­ing in SA, and well over 100 were even­tu­ally built there, plus there were pos­si­bly an­other 60 built by GSM Cars in Bri­tain from 1960. The UK cars had to be re­named ‘GSM Delta’, as the ‘Dart’ model name was trade­marked — Daim­ler’s SP250 sports car, orig­i­nally an­nounced as the ‘Daim­ler Dart’, was caught the same way. In­for­ma­tion on the net about these cars is eas­ily found, but con­tra­dic­tory — no sur­prise! The above notes on the early his­tory of the car come from van Niek­erk’s own ac­count, so should be re­li­able. Writ­ing as usual to an early dead­line, we are un­able to up­date on re­cent con­test win­ners. More next is­sue, per­haps.

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