Almac (automobile)

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Industry Car manufacture
Founded 1984 (1984) in Upper Hutt, New Zealand
Founder Alex McDonald
Headquarters Upper Hutt, New Zealand
Area served
New Zealand
Key people
Jem Marsh, Phil Derby, George Ulyate
Products Almac 427, Almac TC, Almac TG
Parent Almac Reinforced Plastics Ltd

Almac Sabre
Almac AC Cobra replica

Almac is a New Zealand based kit car company founded in 1984 and located in Upper Hutt.[1] Almac cars is a part of Almac Reinforced Plastics Ltd fibreglass product manufacturing a company founded in 1971 by Alex McDonald. McDonald's interest in kit cars started while he was living in England, having purchased a Jem Marsh Sirocco. Jem Marsh founded the Marcos car company.[2]

First car[edit]

McDonald continued his interest in kit cars when he migrated to New Zealand. At that time the most common kit cars in New Zealand were Beach Buggies based on a Volkswagen chassis and a wedge shaped sports car, the Australian Purvis Eureka. In 1976 McDonald set about designing a sports car, similar in shape to the 1974 Lotus Elite and based on a Volkswagen chassis. This car was sold to Phil Derby who uses it as a track car.[3] No further models were made.

Almac 427[edit] 427 Cobra chassis awaiting its Almac body

McDonald's friends suggested he create a replica car instead as Volkswagen based kit cars were reaching their end. Using a plastic kitset model and photographs, with the help of George Ulyate, McDonald created scale drawings and started work on a replica Shelby Cobra 427. McDonald contracted (Then Graham Berry Race Cars Limited) to create the chassis and build the Cobra using McDonald's Fiberglass body. The first car was shown at the 1984 National Hot Rod Show.[4] Seventeen cars were sold that year. None were badged as Almac's, and some have been mistaken as genuine Cobra's. More than 250 Cobras have been produced and are still producing them using Almac made fibreglass bodies today.[5]

Almac TC[edit]

As the Cobra was selling well, in 1986 McDonald decided to add another model more of his own design. The car was loosely based on the MG TC. It was not a replica and designed to fit a Triumph Herald chassis. Twenty-five kits were sold in two years.

McDonald also began to build turnkey models of this car. Construction of these and their kits ended in 1988 because sound Triumph Herald chassis were becoming difficult to obtain and the engine size was limited by the chassis.

The specification for one owned by Mike Boven compared to a TG of Roy Hoares:

TC - Mike Boven[6] TG - Roy Hoares[7]
Acquired 1995 2002
Engine Triumph 2.0 L 6 cylinder Front Mounted Toyota 2.0 L Front Mounted
Length 3660mm 3660mm
Width 1600mm 1600mm
Height 1240mm 1240mm
Wheelbase 2400mm 2400mm
Track 1360mm 1360mm
Brakes Drum Front/Rear Disk front/Drum rear
Seating 2 2
Kerb Weight 590 kg 590 kg

Almac TG[edit]

Production and work began on the TG in 1988. Although similar to the TC, the TG had an Almac designed chassis and used Holden Gemini as a donor car. The first kits went on sale in 1989. The TG model did not sell as well as the TC and demand tapered off after about sixteen had been made.

Almac Sabre and Sabre Series 2[edit]

2004 Almac Sabre S2
Manufacturer Almac
Production 2004
Body and chassis
Class Two-seater sports coupe
Body style fibreglass body
Platform tubular space-fame chassis
Engine 4.0 litre Toyota 1UZFE Lexus, all-alloy,quad-cam V8
Transmission Five-speed manual, Toyota Supra
Wheelbase 2300mm
Length 4050mm
Width 1830mm
Kerb weight 1175kg
Predecessor Almac Sabre

McDonald had still not been able to build a car that was a unique Almac. McDonald and his son Stuart started work designing a modern interpretation of the Cobra. The first design took some of its design cues from the MGB. While the prototype was under construction McDonald became disenchanted with it and consigned to the tip.

In 1991 redesign began using a purpose built chassis and Ford Cortina parts and a Leyland P76 V8 engine. Named the Almac Sabre, it was featured in the NZ Classic Car magazine in May 1994. By this time the market had changed. The Mazda MX-5 was available and, due a legislative change, cheap second hand Japanese cars were being imported. A new MX5 was only a thousand New Zealand dollars more expensive than the Sabre kit. Also the Ford Cortina did not have a good lineage for a sports car. Despite having good publicity through Driver magazine in 1995, Which Kit in 1996, and Classic Car again in 2000 production ceased in 2001 after only nine models had been made.

With a revival of the kit car industry, in 2002 McDonald began development the Almac Sabre Series 2. A newer and stronger chassis was designed, the Cortina windscreen was retained, a Toyota Lexus V8 motor was added, and the body received a significant face lift. The new Sabre was launched at the Hamilton Motor Show in March 2004 and with five being ordered.

Almac Clubsprint and Clubsprint XL[edit]

When kit car production slowed down towards the end of the 1990s McDonald began to look for alternatives. Graham Berry had a completed chassis for a Lotus Seven based car. His intention was to a cheap kit car that could be built for less than $10,000. The kit used Mark 1 or 2 Ford Escort parts and was launched through Classic Car magazine in 2002. The XL was created to meet a demand for a slightly larger chassis.


  1. ^ "Kit Car Manufacturers". 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Nevison, Tim (19 March 2009). "2004 Almac Sabre S2". NZ Classic Car. Photos by Jared Clark. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Birth of the 427sc". 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Almac 427 SC Replica". 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Nevison, Tim (27 February 2011). "AC Cobra 427SC vs Almac Cobra Replica". NZ Classic Car. Photos by Sean Craig. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Mike Boven's Almac TC". 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Roy Hoares Almac TG". 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 

External links[edit]