Southern Roadcraft was formed in 1984 by brothers Ian and Brian Nichols who saw a niche for a quality product available within a realistic price range.
Together with their team of craftsmen Ian and Brian built an enviable reputation for quality products based on superior engineering, ease of assembly and outstanding value for
Initial success came from the quality of their Cobra replica, the SRV8 which is still driven today by many satisfied customers. Meanwhile, back in the booming 80’s with prices of classic Ferrari’s soaring Crocket and Tubbs in Miami Vice brought the gorgeous Daytona to the attention of millions. People were duly impressed with espadrilles, rolled back sleeves and the Daytona and they wanted them all! Though it was a Mc Burnie replica many Americans believed it was a hybrid Corvette, which it in fact was!
Ian and Brian considered their options and contacted McBurnie (providers of the Miami Vice
black Corvette based replica) in the States to see if they could become agents for them. A body duly arrived in Brighton but the brothers were not impressed and literally had to start again retaining
only small elements of the McBurnie body. The rear end was completely changed, the flared wheel arches were removed and the doors were changed to accept the distinctive Daytona door handles and
quarter lights. More importantly, the whole body was resized to more closely resemble the real car and accept parts directly from a Jaguar XJ12 Saloon or Daimler Double-Six.
The Cobra (although a great car) is a raw, loud, bum on the ground Sunday blast with no decent hood and no pretence towards comfort. The market was ready for a more refined replica that could be used ever day in all weathers and the Daytona filled the role perfectly.
So, with the body sorted and the moulds produced the next challenge was a chassis that could facilitate
a big front mounted V12 and still allow the car to handle well. This is where Brian Nichols’ experience working for Hansen Engineering paid off. Hansen was involved in Formula Ford and
responsible for the early DAX Cobra chassis. Using this experience and everything they had learned in the development of the SRV8 Cobra Brian and Ian produced a fantastic chassis that comprised a
rigid lower section with tubular
The chassis was designed to accept the suspension units from the donor vehicle without the need for retaining the original sub frames thus simplifying reconditioning and assembly. This approach greatly increased the strength of the car in the area of the rear suspension and improved the handling. The mounting points are also there to accommodate left had drive steering columns, a true indication of the thoroughness of the design. However the driver sits high in the car and the over 6 foot drivers had their heads over the top of the windscreen rail!
When you first see a car the shape is always the first impression but the interior and exterior fittings are a very important aspect of any replica and in this area Southern Roadcraft excelled. Not many people know but many of the moulds for the fitting were taken directly from a real Daytona. These included the heater slider controls, bumpers, front and rear lights, seats, 5-spoke alloy wheels and the exhausts. Each one beautifully made, making Southern Roadcraft accessories the most accurate and sort after.
The desirability for these items can be seen in how many Daytona from other manufactures are now
using Southern Roadcraft wheels and seats. Apart from the many Jaguar parts most other items for the build were easily available from the usual sources to keep costs down and guarantee
availability into the future. These included the windscreen and side windows sourced from a TR7. In order that customers could use their cars everyday, comfort was provided with a full set of carpets
for the cabin and boot, leather seats and a high quality hood. The result is a very spacious and comfortable interior that tweaks all the right senses and prepares you for the drive
Although not an identical replica the SRV12 bears a very, very close resemblance and when seen in the flesh virtually indistinguishable to anyone except those with a well trained eye. Ask yourself this, how many Cobra replicas are exactly the same as the real thing? The answer is very few. When looking at these cars it is important to remember that component based replicas are generally designed to be built by enthusiasts. They give the owners huge satisfaction and create the impression and joy of owning the real thing at a fraction of the cost.
The myth is that the Southern Roadcraft SRV12 is a McBurnie some even expect to see a Corvette V8 under the bonnet. This is clearly not the case and although the bodies do share some distant genes the two cars are very different and should not be confused or referred to as the same car. Southern Roadcraft were a late entrant to the Daytona Replica market but that proved an advantage as all the experience the team had gained on the SRV8 was used to deliver a quality product, straight off and there were many satisfied customers. You only need to look at the customer cars to see the difference.
At just under £10,000 ex vat in 1988 for a semi-complete car the SRV12 appealed to a world market. In all Southern Roadcraft sold over 100 cars in right and left hand drive to the UK, America, South Africa and Australia to name a few. In 1991 with the boom times ending and people becoming more cautious with their money Southern Roadcraft had to make a decision and decided to only continue with the SRV8 Cobra.
The activities of Ferrari in sueing many of the Daytona Replica makers must have also played a key part in the demise of the SRV12 at SR. It is a pity that more attention was not paid to making the body more accurate, this would appear to be a Mc Burnie legacy as it too has elongated doors and a reduced distance between the rear of the door and the wheelarch.