Cape Town - It must have been a pleasant summer’s evening as the Lindenberg family sat down for dinner. Father Peter, wife Debbie, and daughters Chiara, Paige and Abbi, presumably eager to enjoy a traditional South African meal. Probably braaivleis.
With a sparkle in his eye patriarch Peter said to his family: “Girls, we need to apply for the Shelby franchise for South Africa.”
That might not be exactly how it happened because I wasn’t there, but the discussion and eventual decision to introduce Shelby locally did occur around the family’s dinner table. Lindenberg and his family are all about cars, specifically Fords, and they are the first to introduce the Shelby brand to a right-hand drive market outside of the USA.
Seizing the opportunity
When Lindenberg heard that Ford would be exporting its Mustang to right-hand drive markets, including SA, he believed the iconic muscle car needed Shelby in South Africa. Working with partner Jim Price at Hi-Tech Automotive, the pair received approval from Shelby America.
Lindenberg and his family are, in a sense, like Carrol Shelby. Shelby was involved in motorsport, racing Cobras, until one day he added a personal touch to the standard Mustang.
The rest is automotive history.
A Shelby-badged Mustang is everything a muscle-car aficionado could want in a vehicle; lots of power wrapped in outrageously awesome bodywork, spearheaded by one of the richest heritages in the auto industry.
For Lindenberg, who has been racing Fords for nearly 36 years, this is the start of something great - much like Carrol Shelby did all those years ago. Lindenberg said: “The opportunity for Shelby as a brand to expand worldwide is there on a plate.”
Building the Shelby family in SA
Ford South Africa imports, on average, around 80 Mustangs per month locally, which translates to even fewer potential Shelby clients.
The Shelby team, however, says, they prefer it that way. Shelby, says the Lindenbergs, needs to establish itself in SA and even if the name carries a tremendous amount of prestige, it needs to be “protected and not taken advantage of”.
Every petrolhead and follower of American muscle cars will understand the desire to own a Shelby Mustang and the Lindenbergs are all too aware of that.
Shelby is not a mass-market brand and clients can apply for the Shelby conversion either via a selected dealership or contacting Shelby SA directly.
At the time of writing, Shelby SA is still in the process of selecting their preferred dealer network across SA, with Crossley & Webb in Cape Town the only confirmed dealer. The reason, Lindenberg says, is that a lot of dealers want the Shelby franchise, but Shelby does not want it that way round. Shelby is a niche brand and that needs to be taken into consideration should a customer require any technical assistance.
In doing so, the company aligned itself with three reputable workshops across SA to provide the technical backup: Rob Green Motorsport in Gauteng, Hi-Tech Automotive in PE, and Lindenberg Racing.
The Crossley & Webb facility is the first modshop to get Shelby approval outside of the US, and has since been joined by Australia, the UK, Cananda and China.
Dawn of a new era
Shelby South Africa and the Lindenberg family have paved the way for Shelby to reach new markets and will make it possible for locals to acquire these almost-godlike vehicles.
The South African public will be allowed to view these machineries at Crossley & Webb on July 8 (1pm - 5pm) and 9 (9am - 5pm). Shelby SA merchandise will also be on sale, as well as prizes to be won. In addition, the GP store in Sandton City, Johannesburg, will stock the full range of Shelby apparel.
For more information visit the website.