Spiron Motor Holdings Phoenix

With a legacy that amounts to little more than a handful of grainy photos and court case that torpedoed Spiron Motor Holdings' parent company, Turf Holdings, it's safe to say you won't be seeing the Phoenix sports car anytime soon.

I've only been able to locate a bit of information on the car, but it appears as though 1982 was the year the project started, in a place not really known for its sports cars: Pretoria, South Africa. So besides raiding the Audi parts bin and looking like one of the made-up cars featured in one of my all-time favourite racing games, Top Gear, what's the Phoenix all about?

Whether it was first shown publicly in 1987 or that's when the project ended, I'm not sure, but in the company's roughly five year existence, businessman Ben de Klerk managed to design and build at least one mid-engined sports car. 

It wasn't an overly advanced design, mind you: hand made, with a fibreglass body, there were eventually 70 in Spiron's workforce. I'm not sure what everyone did—all of the three photos I've seen of the Koedoespoort assembly plant show only one near-completed Phoenix and one other shell.

Every reference to the car I've been able to find states something like, "The Phoenix offers up to 480 horsepower, thanks to a German engine," but it's never clear which German engine it uses. Given its tire sizes, however, I can't imagine it would have been very controllable at a reported top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).

Anyway, all of the money used to fund the project was caught up in a major embezzlement scheme and all of the assets—including the car(s)—have all but vanished. It seems that the best we can hope happens is that the Phoenix prototype lives up to its namesake.