The Porsche 550 Spyder was imported to South Africa through Lindsay Saker in 1958 by Ian Fraser-Jones. This is where the life of our Spyder starts... Below is a photo of Quentin Fraser-Jones holding a photo of his father with a big trophy in the car from Lourenço Marques (Mozambique). Ian Fraser-Jones went on to win the "SA National Championship" in 1958 and 1959 in the little Spyder.
Quentin still owns the original fire extinguisher used to prevent the Spyder from going up in flames..apparently it used to spew some serious flames from the exhaust when started up ...
To me this looks like a work of art in itself...when last did you see such a beautifully crafted canister...the guys from way back sure knew how to put design and craftsmanship into everything they did. I miss stuff not being imported from a cheap and cheerful China factory.
Another one of the big names involved with the Porsche Spyder is mr. Alois Klesse. He was trained at the Porsche factory in Germany and came to South Africa on a 3 year contract for VW Lindsay Saker in 1956. Mr. Klesse was the only person to work on the Spyder's Four Cam carrera motor whilst it was in the possession of mr. Ian Fraser-Jones. While taking care of the Spyder on behalf of mr. Fraser-Jones, Klesse enjoyed travelling extensively to the races in and around South Africa. Races including Lourenço Marques (Mozambique), Salisbury (Rhodesia), Bulawayo (Rhodesia), Luanda (Angola), Kyalami, Grand Central, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London were mentioned...what a job!
Later mr. Klesse also had the opportunity to race the Porsche 550 in the 1962 nine-hour at Kyalami with Dawie Gous. He went on to become a Porsche specialist and started Peco motors in Pretoria in 1964. Now retired, Alois Klesse still lives in Pretoria with his wife.
My wife reckons he looked like a model advertising either Ray Bans or the car :)
I recently made contact with Francois Pillman and Rita Pillman, the son and daughter of one of the major players in the Porsche Spyder's history. Their father, Arthur Pillman was the sponsor and motor-sport engineer of the Porsche 550 team, which included the famous drivers John Love and Dawie Gous. As can be seen below, they won the Kyalami 9 hour races in both 1960 and 1961 with the very successful Porsche 550 Spyder RS.
29 9 h Porsche Gous A. H. Pillman & 1st
October Johannesburg 550 / Love Son (Pty.) Ltd.
4 9 h Porsche Gous A. H. Pillman & 1st
November Kyalami 550 / Love Son (Pty.) Ltd.
Rita sent me this fantastic, never seen before, photo (below) of Arthur Pillman, Dawie Gous and John Love JUST after winning the 'Rand Daily Mail" 9 hour Endurance race on Kyalami. You can still see the dirt and oil on their faces, exhausted after driving the 615 miles during the 9 hours in the reliable Spyder. These three men were motorsport giants in their own right indeed.
Rita, now living in the States, also sent me an image of a very interesting watercolor done in 1963 by Andrew Embleton with the text: "Porsche RS Spyder, Kyalami 9 hour Race 1963, 3 Times Winner, Dr. Dawie Gous by Andrew Embleton". The colors have almost completely faded over the more than 50 years since it has been created. Only the strongest pigments, mainly reds and black have remained. I could not find any other photo with the number "3" on the car, as in the artwork. Maybe it referred to the 3 nine-hour wins stated in the text on the painting? But from the helmet it is definitely dr. Dawie Gous and the Spyder aka "the Tank".
Thanks to the Smokejumpers team for all the support with the "Unearthing the Giant Killer" documentary. They make sure everything happens behind the scenes...
It was such a privilege to bless oom Mervyn with this piece of modern art - and happy he was indeed. "Now I can see my brother every day..." he said.
The artwork features some photos from when mr. Richards and his brother were young men, some 50 years ago. Mr. Mervyn Richards is in the center with the black jacket and his brother Paul to the left. All the 550 photos are of the South African #0140 Spyder.