“Boet Ferreira” 1937 DKW F-7 Racing Special
Side View of Boet Ferreira's 1937 DKW Racing Special
driven by present owner Hubert Ten Doeschate
The remarkable story
of this unique F-7 racing car
With the return of motorsport to South Africa after the second world
war, and the relative scarcity of suitable vehicles and funds, it was
customary to build 'specials' with pre-war car parts.
Front View of
1937 DKW Racing Special
One very ambitious young racer, "Boet" Ferreira, decided to build
such a racer with pre-war DKW parts. He also hoped to impress the
Auto Union factory in Germany, and get the agency for DKW. Boet
was a partner in Peter Gauche Motors, the DKW specialists in
Johannesburg, at that time. He was also motorcycle race champion in
1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953 and had his National racing colours in
1953 and 1954. Boet was in his early twenties and raced mainly a
A 1937 DKW F-7 was used as the basics for the special. The two
stroke 2-cylinder 690cc motor modified and a new lightweight single
seater aluminium body was made and fitted on the original chassis.
The car was built in a matter of a few weeks. Other modifications
included fitting an Austin 7 seat, a battery and a fuel tank (which was
pressurised by a hand pump inside the car) which were fitted behind
the driver seat.
A vernier coupled motorcycle dynamo replaced the standard ignition,
instrumentation was kept to a minimum, a crankshaft and an Amal
motorcycle carburetor was fitted and special gears were made up.
These special gears were largely responsible for its impressive speed.
Various cylinder head and exhaust modifications were fitted as time
went by and the car soon earned the nickname of "The Deafening
Einsitzer". The steering box was moved to the center of the much
lightened chassis. 17" wheels were fitted up front and 19" at the rear.
Brakes were standard cable type, but according to Boet weren't really
necessary as you slowed down enough while sliding sideways into
corners. The colour was silver with the four rings painted on both sides.
Side View of
1937 DKW Racing Special
The DKW made its debut on the track at the Grand Central race
track (Halfway House) on 25 February 1950 wearing number 4 in the
race for 750 and 1500 cc cars. On 21 February 1950 an article and
photograph of the car appeared in Die Vaderland newspaper. Other
races in which it took part took it as far as Salisbury, Rhodesia
(Zimbabwe) The car is known to have taken part in the following
races: - The Natal Easter Motor Races at Alexandra Park,
Pietermaritzburg (Junior Coronation Race), on 24 March 1951 -
wearing number 31. On 12 April 1952, wearing number 24, it took
third place behind two Austins and ahead of a Ford. During the Easter
race of 1953, average speeds of 60 mph (96 km/h) were achieved.
On 24 May 1950 at the Grand Central race track with number 20.
On 21st August 1954 at the Queenshaven Motor Races at Grand
Central race track, where Boet was leading the race for the first 25
laps of the 26 lap race, a front stub axle broke and the wheel left the
car, while, according to newspaper reports, the DKW was doing
85 mph (136km/h).
The wheel injured three spectators and killed a fourth, Mr. J.H.
(Hannes) Neethling of Pretoria. This was also the only spectator ever
killed at Grand Central race track. Following this incident and with more
modern machinery taking to the track, the DKW's days were numbered.
The last report of the car at a race meeting was when it failed to start
the 10 lap handicap race at the Festival races at Grand Central on 29th
September 1956. It had the number 25 allocated to it, and this was the
number still painted on its sides when the car resurfaced some thirty years
later. Although the DKW never won a race, it usually came second or
third. Having a 2-stroke engine, the car was severely handicapped - the
belief being that its 700cc 2-stroke engine was equivalent to a 1400cc
4-stroke. It was very reliable and the same motor was used all the years
that it raced.
1937 DKW Racing Special
In 1957 Boet split from his partner, Charlie Macallum, and the car
remained at the workshop. Boet was under the impression it was scrapped
at the time. An former apprentice, a Billy (W.J.) van Rensburg, eventually
took over the business from the late Mr. Macallum and with it he inherited
the DKW. Billy was one of the of the car's original pit crew and did
a lot of work on it while it was raced. He still has a workshop in Johannesburg
and was equally surprised to hear that the racer still existed. The car lay
at the garage for a number of years and around 1963 it was sold to a person
who intended racing it, but neither he nor the car were seen again.
From what can be ascertained the car lay on a small farm near Eikenhof,
south of Johannesburg up to the early eighties, when it was bought by
a Mr. T.A.P. Marneweck of Deelkraal Mine near Carletonville. Mr.
Marneweck was under the impression that it was a 1933 DKW of
which "there were plenty according to an article in the Reader's Digest" !!?.
The car then lay for a few years at Mr. Marneweck, after which it changed
hand a number of times, from Pierre Pretorius to Corrie (C.J.) Labuschagne,
who bought it middle of 1988. Corrie made contact with the DKW Owners
Club to try and get spares and information on the car. After Boet Ferreira
confirmed, that it was not a production model, Corrie lost interest and
decided to sell it. On 24 March 1989, Hubert Ten Doeschate, the
resent owner, had a look at the car and immediatley decided to buy it.
There were 2 standard motor/gearboxes but the original modified unit was
missing as were instruments, seat, gearchange, grille, floor.... The body
work was in reasonable condition while most other parts were badly
weathered. It still wore number 25 and the four rings as it had 40 years
earlier. Corrie had done some "work" on the car which involved painting
almost everything - even the brake linings. Wheels were yellow, suspension
and hubs red, the chassis was black and the steering mechanism white!!
Strangely the original magneto and fuel filler cap were still with the car.
The 2-stroke 2-cylinder 690cc Engine of Boet Ferreira's
1937 DKW Racing Special
Boet, who was to establish what else was missing from it's original condition,
would not believe that it was the same car until he actually saw it.
It was delightful to see Boet's face when he saw his car after so many years -
the memories and stories that this get-together brought out was truly remarkable.
Luckily, Boet still had his scrapbook, which had a lot of reports and
information on the DKW.
A year of hard work followed, frayed tempers, a lot of searching for spares
and history and of course a lot of money. The car was striped down to the
last nut and bolt. Chassis, suspension, wheel hubs and axles were sandblasted
and powder coated black, rims were sandblasted and powder coated silver. The
chassis was then completely assembled with wheels, new brake linings and
cables which had to be specially made up. A better steering box was also
found and fitted. In the meantime tyres and a grille which still had to be
modified were located. An Austin seat was found and made to fit, aluminium
was cut to size for the floor, firewall and dashboard, the radiator was
reconditioned, radiator cap and hubcaps re-chromed and the electric's
were redone. Instruments, steering wheel and other missing parts were
made or found.
The engine was re-built from several old motors, by pre-war DKW
car ace Jelle de Vries. A DKW F-89 crankshaft and oversize pistons were
fitted. Carburetor and ignition are now standard DKW. Paint work was done
in polaris silver. Where possible the car was kept as original as possible.
Engine and body work was completed in February 1990, followed by late
nights and busy weekends to complete the car in time for the Fine Car
Races at Zwartkops less than a month later.
As the saying goes "where there's a will there's a way", and the DKW was
completed the night prior to race day and taken out of the "family" room of
his house (he was not married at that stage), where it had been rebuilt by
Hubert Ten Doeschate, because his garage was packed with other DKW's
and spares. On 17th March 1990, exactly 51 weeks after getting the car,
it was trailered out to Zwartkops with number 42 on its sides.
The car drew great interest and brought back many memories. A few
"teething" problems were experienced which caused it to miss practice.
However, minutes before the official race the old Deek was mobile again.
There was time for a short lap around the pits and then onto the track.
It was a 10 lap handicap race and Hubert was first to leave the line. The
second race, later in the day and following a few adjustments, saw the
DKW going much better. This was a 24 minute Le Mans with compulsory
wheel change. Both races were completed and even though the DKW
was probably the slowest and smallest capacity car there, it did not come last.
Another reason for pushing to have the car ready was the fact that Peter
du Toit was bringing out the ex Sarel van der Merwe senior Mitter FJ DKW
for the first time since its rebuild. What a lovely sight and sound to have
two DKW's on the track together! Several small problems have been sorted
out since then and Hubert can't wait to take out the "Rennwagen" again.
The car has since then been on the track a few more times. An aluminium
F-89 cylinder head and better carburetor were fitted and it is going much
Each time Boet saw the car, he seemed to get more enthusiastic and he
was determined to see it going as well as it did in the fifties. So he
convinced Hubert, that it was essential to get the gearing back to what
he had fitted. So the engine/gearbox was removed, gearbox stripped and
the gears/sprockets taken to Boet for the necessary modifications. On paper,
the top speed should increase from 90 to almost 120 km/h, top speed in
second should change from 50 to almost 80 km/h. In standard configuration
the top speed was around 90 km/h and average speed 80 km/h on
Zwartkops, without the necessity to change gears.
Now at least the driver will be able to drop to second in the corners and
pull out a lot faster, as the new top speed in second is almost what the
car was getting in top previously. Unfortunately on two occasions, the
modified gear broke, and Hubert decided to fit back the standard gear -
it still has the modified sprocket. Top speed is much better, but the
gaps between the ratios stays the same.
Some unanswered questions remain. Was the car used at all from 1963
till the eighties? Rumours say that it was used on the road and at
stock car meetings. Who owned it during this time? What happened to the
original parts, especially motor/gearbox? Only two photos of this car
have survived from 1950. Movie footage of the car should also exist
somewhere. The car has attracted great interest at various motor shows
and club outings and appeared twice on television.
In early October 1993, another chapter in motoring history came to an
end when Boet Ferreira passed away. It was an honour to have known
Boet and to have shared with him a part of his past. Without his
recollections it would have been difficult to restore this DKW