By Holly Upton

AN EX-TEST driver and mechanic has built a road-legal replica of the iconic Sauber-Mercedes C9 using a 1:32 scale model as a guide

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Videographer / director: Charles Meadows
Producer: Holly Upton, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper

Johan Ackermann, from Gauteng, South Africa created a custom-designed chassis for the supercar - famous for winning the 1989 Le Mans - so that modern Mercedes-Benz parts would fit into it.

The impressive custom-built model boasts a twin-turbo 3.2-litre V6 under the bonnet capable of 370hp and 332lb of torque at 5000rpm and reaching speeds of over 186mph (300km/h).

The 64-year-old mechanic built a lightweight frame, skinned with 4mm-thick cardboard which was coated with diluted resin and fiberglass cloth on both sides.

He told Barcroft TV: “To describe the C9 Sauber to me it is just a stunning-looking car, awesome to drive and so exciting.

“The stages of the build basically took a bit of planning, but I went the economical way.

“The final fibreglass body, which is very strong, is a honeycomb-type structure.

“The steering is nice, I tried to make it as comfy as possible.”

On 11 June 1955, a motor crash at Le Mans caused large fragments of debris to fly into the crowd killing 83 spectators and injuring nearly 180 more.

The tragedy prompted Mercedes-Benz to retire from motor racing until 1989.

Lifelong car enthusiast Johan explains the build was a nod to Mercedes’ dominance after a 30-year hiatus from motorsport.

He told Barcroft TV: “The main reason I chose to build the car was the return of Mercedes-Benz after having that huge accident in 1955.

“They pulled out of motorsport, they came back in 1989 and completely dominated with this car.

“It was an unbelievable achievement for a manufacturer to be out of motorsport for so long.”

The build took over 16 months to complete with the biggest challenge being the roof profile – with Johan having to cut it off four times to start again.

Its lightweight frame, coupled with German engineered parts means the build in total weighs an impressive 1000kg, making the car light on the road and easy to drive.

Although the replica was bought by Mark Burger for an undisclosed amount, he’s yet to drive it, admitting he’s too big for the model.

The car’s chassis, floor and seats are now being modified by Johan so the new owner can drive the model.

Mark told Barcroft TV: “I bought the car without sitting in it. The reason I haven’t driven this car is that I don’t fit.

“Johan was kind enough to take the car back in and modify the seats, pull it back so I can fit in it.

“I can’t wait to drive it.”

In the future, Mark plans to take his new purchase to car shows.

He said: “I will take it through to the car shows, people that have also a passion for speed and fast cars can see it and drool over it.

“I will use it weekends, Sunday morning drives and with all the other super car clubs.”

Johan’s next build project is a replica of the BMW V12 LMA that won Le Mans in 1999.

A two-seater model with an open cockpit, the South African mechanic predicts that it will be an exciting drive.