|18 Jan 2021|
|Passing of friends|
Andre Loubser (1957O) | 1940 – 2020
Like many automotive journalists, André Hugo Loubser’s love of cars began at an early age when he started collecting Dinky cars. By the age of just seven, he moved onto the real thing when he took his father’s Morris 10 for a drive’. The Dinky soon gave way to another all-too-common passion: collecting car brochures from local dealerships. André would later joke that his school satchel was usually 80% brochures and 20% school books!
The son of an English teacher, André was schooled at Cape Town’s prestigious Diocesan College (known as Bishops) and was by all accounts a prolific reader who spent much of his teenage years following the local and overseas race scene through various publications. He also enjoyed a flair for sketching, often frustrating his teachers by using school notebooks to bring to life his thoughts on ‘improving’ the lines of production sports cars such as the Mercedes 190 and 300 SLs.
After leaving school in 1957, he worked for an oil company before taking up a position as a PA and salesmen with a motor dealership in the provincial town of George, some 275 miles east of Cape Town.
It was a rather far-flung location but his responsibilities there would pay a fruitful dividend towards his dream of working abroad for a German car manufacturer after he was asked to host Porsche works boss Baron Huschke von Hanstein and driver Jo Bonnier, who was visiting the area en route to the East London Grand Prix. The association led to an offer of a position with Porsche’s Sales and Export division in Stuttgart, which André took up in 1962.
It was an exciting time to be at the famous company which was on the cusp of launching the iconic 911. And the dream-come-true job delivered a further surprise when, as the salesman responsible for orders from VIPs, André received an enquiry for a Porsche 904 GTS from none other than Stirling Moss - one of Andre’s boyhood heroes.
The negotiations with the great hotshoe, whose SMART race team featured two South African mechanics, led to an offer to head up the implementation of Stirling’s Paint-a-Car franchise across the UK and parts of Europe. And a life-long friendship with Stirling, something André was enormously proud of.
In late 1966 André married his English wife Gillian, who was secretary to the Sales Manager of the Rootes Group. The couple lived in London and, for the next few years, André turned his hand to automotive design, establishing Dynamic Designs which offed a Kamm-tail boot extension for BMC’s 1100 sedan, among other products.
André was also involved with the production of the Enfield electric city car before using his experience with Stirling Moss to go into the business back in South Africa with motorcycle racer Mike Hailwood. The pair founded Autospray, which – much like the Paint-a-Car system – offered a rapid, on-demand, respray service. André oversaw the opening of 17 branches across the country over the next three years.
It was his friendship with the two-wheel race that put him in touch with the country’s colourful international racing scene and he developed a deep passion for the South African 9-Hour Sports Car series and the annual F1 Grand Prix.
For the remainder of his career, André was involved in various car design projects, including the design and launch of the CAV GT40, a South African replica of the famous sports car racer. He also increasingly turned his hand to writing for a living, publishing numerous articles, including a comprehensive account of South Africa’s pre-war Grand Prix era which featured the likes of von Delius and Rosemeyer in their mighty V16 Auto-Unions.
It was his passion and unrivalled knowledge of the racing scene – along with his many treasured friendships with some big racing names – that led to André fulfilling another dream: to document the history of the country’s famous Kyalami race track.
Some 25 years in the making, his 400-plus page 2011 book Kyalami is a comprehensive and arguably unrivalled summary of one of the most colourful and eventful periods of motorsport at a much-loved international circuit.
With a foreword from 1979 F1 Champion Jody Scheckter and input from a raft of top drivers, including the likes of Denny Hulme and Jackie Stewart, this meticulously researched work is a fabulous legacy to one of South Africa’s most passionate and knowledgeable motoring and racing enthusiasts.
GOMW president Nick Mason said: "We are very saddened to lose such an enthusiast. André was always very committed to keeping us up to speed in his world. We really need that sort of commitment and he will be sorely missed."
RIP André, you will be missed and our condolences to your wife Gill during this difficult time.
Graeme Hurst – fellow Guild member of Motoring Writers and only other South African member.
Andre (right) presenting presented a complimentary copy of his book ‘Kyalami’ to his lifetime friend Sir Stirling Moss.
The OD Union calls upon its members to submit applications for the position of Honorary Treasurer of the Union. More...