A Bailey GT40 in road trim getting the final touches before delivery to a lucky client. Picture: FREDDY MAVHUNDA
A Bailey GT40 in road trim getting the final touches before delivery to a lucky client. Picture: FREDDY MAVHUNDA

Peter Bailey manufactures replicas of legendary sports cars by hand, from scratch, in a nondescript corner of the East Rand. Customers from all corners of the world come knocking on his Boksburg factory door and he also has US- and EU-based agents who sell his products. He has created and sold about 80 bespoke sports cars since opening Bailey Edwards cars in 2003.

What makes the entrepreneurial journey of this man even more remarkable is that the products he creates were famous when he was a young tyke playing with toy cars. And what fascinates even further is how some clients arrive at his factory brandishing a toy car to be recreated in life size and operational form. Not any hot wheels toy, though. It has to be a Le Mans World Sports Car racer from the sensational 1965-1972 era when the Ford GT40s, Porsche 917s, Lola T70s,Chevrons, Alfa Romeos and Ferrari P4s were beasts of note, easily able to attain speeds upwards of 350km/h and also outrunning even the period Formula One cars.

Bailey Edwards was established in 2003 by Bailey and his brother Greg. You can charge Bailey with turning a childhood dream into reality, but the aim is to satisfy the yearnings of like-minded individuals who want a good-quality, race-ready replica of those majestic Le Mans cars to compete with on the world’s tracks. 

This Bailey 917, inspired by the Porsche prototype, is among the spectacular replicas the company hand-assembles at its workshop. Picture: FREDDY MAVHUNDA
This Bailey 917, inspired by the Porsche prototype, is among the spectacular replicas the company hand-assembles at its workshop. Picture: FREDDY MAVHUNDA

The replica build business addresses this scenario. The race cars were built in small batches and remain elusive and unaffordable to the average person. As a case in point, a few years ago an original Le Mans-winning Ford GT40 was sold for a cool $9m. The Bailey GT40, a reproduction of the legend, costs a lot less, but will still set you back about R1.5m. Bailey Edwards says it strives to align things as close to the real thing as possible, including the fitment of imported American V8 engines.

Though the company primarily builds these cars for racing, the Bailey GT40 can also be made in road-going trim, with the addition of niceties such as cabin upholstery and air conditioning. Other well-known and hand-built recreations are the Bailey GT1, a GT racer based on the first-generation Ford GT, and a Bailey 917, inspired by the sports prototype car that gave Porsche its first overall Le Mans wins in 1970 and 1971. The company also produces the Bailey T70, a replica of the Lola T70 endurance racer that scored a one–two finish in the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona. The Bailey T70 is produced in both coupe and open-topped spyder form. 

The workshop floor is also a hospital where they rebuild classic Porsches for clients. Picture: FREDDY MAVHUNDA
The workshop floor is also a hospital where they rebuild classic Porsches for clients. Picture: FREDDY MAVHUNDA

Though production has ceased, the other special racer the company built was the Bailey P4. This was a recreation of Ferrari’s revered 330 P4, one of the most beautiful racers of the time. Most of the cars the company has built can be seen on local race tracks regularly taking part in historic and GT-class racing.

Bailey Edwards also fully restores some of the most exotic road cars on the planet, such as Porsche 911s, Aston Martin DB6s and Lamborghini Muiras. “All is well going into 2019. The business model hasn’t changed much. If we aren’t building cars for customers, we are restoring cars, maintaining existing client cars and, if time allows, work also continues on a special project to recreate the drop-dead gorgeous 1966 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33,” says Bailey.

For more information visit www.baileycars.co.za