Five cars to watch at the 2022 MF Autobody 24 Hours of iLamuna
  • Africa’s only 24 hour endurance race kicks off at Red Star Raceway this weekend
  • A full field of 71 rust buckets expected to make the start, and all are cheap lemons that cost under R50,000
  • Follow the action on Facebook or Instagram and watch the live stream HERE

The second annual MF Autobody 24 Hours of iLamuna – an endurance race open only to lemons costing less than R50,000 – kicks off this weekend at Red Star Raceway in Delmas.

Proudly supported by Insurisk insurance, fuelled by Siyanda Petroleum and driven by Tyremart and Davanti tyres, this event is the only competition of its kind on the African continent and it demonstrates that you don’t need armfuls of cash to live out your wildest Le Mans fantasies at the racetrack.

Here’s a list of five of the best (or worst) entries that will line up at the start this weekend. Whether they make the finish is another story, as this is a race of attrition like no other.

Nissan NP200 | Team Rim Runners | #33

Bakkies. South Africans love ‘em and so do the Rim Runners who are rocking a tricked-out Nissan NP200 that not too long ago seemed destined for the scrapheap.

“It’s an old security vehicle that had its whole front smashed to pieces,” explains driver Gavin Thiele. “We rebuilt it with an assortment of pirate parts and then set about tuning the chassis and suspension for maximum corner speed. The 1.6l engine and five-speed manual remain stock standard.”

Wearing a coat of fresh white paint, this reborn workhorse is stanced to perfection with 95mm of ride height up front and 115mm at the rear. Thanks to some fettling from Big Boss Auto and race car builder Stan Black, this little Nissan should be dynamite through the twisty bits. It’s sure to earn kudos from the discerning Boksburg faithful.

Volkswagen Beetle | Team Short-Shifters | #71

The oldest and only air-cooled car on the grid, Team Short-Shifters is again entering their quirky nineteen-sixty-something VW Beetle that surprised many in the first half of last year’s event before a leaking gearbox seal saw it spend over four hours in the pit lane.

“The great thing about these Beetles is that they’re super easy to work on,” explains driver Wernher Hartzenberg who could quite easily pass for a member of The Doors circa 1969. “You can literally drop their engines and gearboxes out in a matter of minutes. But hopefully we won’t have to do any of that this year. We have fixed and double checked everything that broke in the 2021 race and we’re hoping for smoother sailing this time around.”

With its retro SoCal-inspired livery and fire-spitting exhaust, this Volkswagen is sure to be a fan favourite.

Fiat Palio | Team Fiatrarri | #88

If there were ever a machine that embodies the true iLamuna spirit then the lightweight Fiatrarri would be it. The drunken love child of two revered Italian manufacturers, this lesser known hot-hatch was picked up for R15,000 – about the same as the drinks bill at your year-end office party.

“This one happens to be the rare Gulf Edition model,” driver Rob Darby is quick to point out. “The stripes got delayed in the mail but, don’t worry, we’ll be reapplying them in time for the race. The team and I have also worked tirelessly in making the car as light as possible. We managed to strip away 100kg of body putty; a trick that pays dividends through the corners. Topped off with a fibreglass bonnet we brought the car’s kerb weight down to exactly 851kg.”

According to an old back issue of Octane Magazine, reliability has never really been a Fiatrarri strong suit but, hey, if it manages to keep going then there’s hope for everyone.

Mazda Astina | Team King Asstina the 3rd | #236

The 1990s gave us many great things but the Mazda Astina wasn’t one of them. Having said that this particular example was bought from a man who was gutted to see it go.

“The dude had tears in his eyes when I arrived to take it away,” recounts driver James Derbyshire who paid R12,000 for this universally unloved Mazda. “It was his pride and joy.”

Since that sad day the team has spent countless weekends fettling the Astina for life on the track. While the cylinder count was restored from two and a half back up to four, the chassis was upgraded to feature a set of budget-blowing 17-inch alloy wheels and a set of upgraded shocks to keep them planted. As for the livery, well, it reads like a scene from the first circle of hell where flames merge with painted outlines of dead bodies.

“This year we’re going to outline the chief scrutineer on the car’s roof as a subtle reminder of what might happen should he not accept our bribes.”

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Mazda MX-5 | The Gentleman Drivers | #227

Looks can be deceiving. Smartly attired in chinos, crisp white shirts and matching bow ties, the Gentleman Drivers on face value seem like sticklers for automotive originality. In reality this couldn’t be further from the truth as their first-generation Mazda MX-5 is one of the zaniest creations on this year’s grid.

“We bought it as a total write-off,” explains driver Mike Dodd. “The front end was non-existent and I rebuilt it using a mixture of Opel Corsa and Sports 2000 parts. Everything else was fabricated including the fixed fibreglass roof, which is inspired by the MX-5 tuning scene in Japan. It’s a one of a kind design and helps to make the car a lot more aerodynamic, which should help us down the long Red Star main straight.”

The little roadster rides atop standard suspension and still sports its original 1.6 engine (“1.6 plus VAT” according to Dodd). For better weight distribution the Gentleman Drivers converted their steed from right- to left-hand-drive as well as relocating the fuel tank and battery. These unassuming dark horses are certainly in it to win it.

The 2022 MF Autobody 24 Hours of iLamuna opens for timed practice on Friday 28 October (including a night session to get drivers’ eyes tuned in for the darkness) with the race set to begin with a genuine Le Mans-style standing start on the afternoon of Saturday 29 October. The race will be streamed live on the National Motorsport Mzansi YouTube Channel and fans can stay posted on Facebook or Instagram.