Team Harper

  • Owner’s Spotlight: Jim Page’s Harper Type 5

    Jim Page’s automotive journey took a remarkable turn when he discovered Harper Sports Cars and their unique Harper Type 5. Living in Port Elizabeth and working abroad, Jim had long envisioned his dream car, sketching it on serviettes and even constructing a balsa wood model. His vision was a three-seater, steel tube chassis car with a mid-engine layout, similar to the McLaren F1, and open to the elements like an Ariel Atom or DJC V-Storm.

    However, lacking the means to build it himself, Jim scoured the internet until he stumbled upon Harper Sports Cars in 2013. Convinced that the Harper Type 5 was the answer to his automotive dreams, Jim flew to Cape Town to meet Craig, the builder behind Harper Sports Cars, and promptly ordered one.

    Craig initially promised a 3-4 month build time, but fate had a different plan. Just two weeks later, Jim received a call informing him that one of Craig’s early builds was available due to lack of use. Jim seized the opportunity, and Craig traveled to Nelspruit to collect the car and bring it back to Cape Town.

    The car, now named Roxy, was equipped with a Toyota Blacktop 20v motor and C63 transaxle with LSD. Jim enjoyed driving Roxy, especially during a year-long sabbatical when she became his daily driver, racking up 30,000 km in just 17 days out of the cockpit.

    Jim’s passion for driving didn’t stop there. Encouraged by a friend, Sparky Bright, he joined the Algoa Motorsport Club and began racing in the local “Street car” class. Roxy’s performance on the track earned Jim several trophies and solidified his bond with his Harper.

    Over the years, Roxy underwent upgrades, including a switch to a 2.0L turbo Toyota 3SGTE engine, boosting her power from 105kW to over 200kW. Despite changes in Jim’s employment that limited his time with Roxy, he continued to enjoy road trips between PE and CT and even participated in a 3050km round trip convoy to spectate at the 24 Hours of Ilimuna at Red Star Raceway in Mpumalanga.

    Reflecting on his ten years of driving joy with Roxy, Jim has covered over 110,000 km and has no plans to stop anytime soon. Roxy has become a familiar sight on the roads of Cape Town, even attracting attention for her passenger, Theodore Edward Beare, the mascot of the Cape Town Toy Run, who sits in the passenger seat promoting charitable causes.

    Jim’s Harper Type 5 is a testament to the fulfillment of a dream, the joy of driving, and the bond between man and machine. With each mile, Jim continues to write the story of his Harper, adding new chapters to a journey fueled by passion and a love for the open road.

  • Exploring Rear Engine Configurations in Harper Sports Cars: Transverse Type 5 vs. Inline Transaxle Type 6

    In the realm of Harper Sports Cars, the placement of the engine can significantly impact performance and driving dynamics. Two common rear engine configurations are the rear-mounted transverse engine, as seen in the Harper Type 5, and the inline transaxle setup, as found in the Harper Type 6. Let’s delve into the differences between these configurations and how they affect the driving experience.

    Rear-Mounted Transverse Engine (Harper Type 5)

    In a rear-mounted transverse engine setup, the engine is positioned at the rear of the car with its crankshaft aligned side-to-side, perpendicular to the direction of the car. This layout is commonly found in smaller cars and front-wheel-drive vehicles, including Harper’s Type 5 model.

    The gearbox in a rear-mounted transverse setup is typically located either directly below or beside the engine. This design allows for a compact drivetrain layout, with the driveshafts transmitting power to the rear wheels. This configuration is ideal for maximizing interior space and is well-suited for everyday road use.

    Inline Transaxle Setup (Harper Type 6)

    In an inline transaxle setup, the engine’s crankshaft is aligned front-to-back, parallel to the direction of the car. The transaxle, which combines the transmission and differential into a single unit, is located at the rear of the vehicle. This configuration is commonly found in rear-wheel-drive sports cars and performance vehicles, including Harper’s Type 6 model.

    The inline transaxle setup offers several performance advantages. By positioning the engine closer to the rear axle, weight distribution is improved, enhancing the car’s balance and handling characteristics. Additionally, this layout allows for a lower center of gravity, further improving stability and cornering prowess.

    Gearbox Options

    Both the Harper Type 5 and Type 6 utilize a combined transaxle design for their gearboxes, with the differential included in the housing. The Type 5 uses a normal front-wheel-drive gearbox, mounted transversely, while the Type 6 uses an inline transaxle.

    A popular gearbox choice for Harper Sports Cars is the Audi 6-speed manual gearbox, known for its great performance combined with strong reliability. Both limited-slip and open differentials are used, with open differentials being adequate for road use. Automatic and semi-automatic (DSG Type) gearboxes are also available options, providing convenience and ease of use.

    Performance and Driving Dynamics

    The choice between a rear-mounted transverse engine (Type 5) and an inline transaxle setup (Type 6) can have a significant impact on a Harper Sports Car’s performance and driving dynamics. While the Type 5 offers a space-efficient design suitable for everyday road use, the Type 6’s inline transaxle setup provides superior weight distribution and handling characteristics, making it the preferred choice for performance-oriented driving.

    In conclusion, the choice between the Harper Type 5 and Type 6 depends on the desired balance between space efficiency and performance. Whether you prefer the compact design of the Type 5 or the performance-oriented setup of the Type 6, Harper Sports Cars offers a range of options to suit your driving needs.

  • Unleashing the Beast: The Harper Series by Craig Harper

    Craig Harper’s passion is not just about building cars; it’s about creating a driving experience unlike any other. His goal? To offer a race car for the street, or a street-going sports car for the track—a vehicle that seamlessly integrates the pilot with the machine, creating a superhuman feeling of connection and control.Bodywork: The Harper series offers three distinct models: A, B, and C.

    • A Type: Inspired by Le Mans prototypes, the A Type features a front bonnet and a pointed nose, reminiscent of classic race cars.
    • B Type: The B Type introduces subtle yet significant changes, such as a redesigned nose section for improved aerodynamics and easier assembly onto the chassis.
    • C Type: The C Type is a refined version of the B Type, with more aggressive wheel flares and a sleek one-piece front section.

    Chassis and Suspension: Every Harper car boasts a bespoke suspension system designed by Craig Harper himself. The front suspension features a double wishbone design with inboard-mounted dampers and springs, offering brilliant handling and exceptional tire life. The rear suspension has evolved from a McPherson strut to a Harper-designed upright with upper and lower control arms, providing adjustable coil-over dampers for optimal performance.

    Cooling: Depending on the model, Harper cars come equipped with either a centrally mounted radiator or a more conventional front-mounted radiator to accommodate different interior configurations.

    Gearboxes: All Harper models utilize a combined transaxle design with the differential included in the housing. Options range from a normal front-wheel-drive gearbox to an inline transaxle, with popular choices including the Audi 6-speed manual gearbox and automatic/semi-automatic options for different driving preferences.

    Brakes: Due to their lightweight nature, these vehicles come equipped with standard production brakes for street use, ensuring sufficient stopping power. Additionally, a range of big brake upgrades are offered for track and racing applications.

    Power: The power output of Harper cars is customizable, with the chassis capable of handling high power outputs. Power-to-weight ratios of up to 600bhp/ton are achievable, offering exhilarating performance.

    Interior and Dashboard: While Harper cars were initially offered without a traditional interior to prioritize lightness, modern models now offer fully customizable interiors. Dashboards range from conventional to fully digital smart instrument clusters, with optional data logging capabilities.

    Wheels: The recommended wheel size for Harper cars is 17 inches, with a 255 rear and a 225 front, ensuring optimal performance and handling. In essence, Harper cars are not just machines; they are extensions of the driver, offering a driving experience that transcends the ordinary and embodies the thrill of the track on the streets.

    For more info on the Harper Sports cars please contact us at info@harpersportscars.com

  • The History of Harper Sports Cars

    In 2004, in Francistown, Botswana, the Harper Type 5 was born.

    Craig Harper simply had a burning desire to create a practical road going race car – one that was equally comfortable on the street at legal speeds as it was absolutely on the limit on a race track.

    Craig has worked hard to instill this passion for the automobile in to his team at Harper Sports Cars. As a team we now offer this passionate, but highly disciplined approach to the general public – for all general vehicle service and care.

    Harper Sports Cars are now based in the Noordhoek Valley, 35km from the worlds most beautiful city – Cape Town. We are active in several social upliftment programs and learner-ships, offering specialised training in all areas of vehicle design and manufacture.

    Harper Sports Cars are R.M.I. and M.I.B. approved.

    Setting and maintaining the highest world class professional standards possible.

    We would love to hear from you about your passion project and where we can help you advance or complete your special project, as well as assist you with the matter of bringing your creation to the street for your daily pleasure.


  • Meet Craig Harper of Harper Sports Cars

    Meet Craig Harper of Harper Sports Cars

    Meet Craig Harper of Harper Sports Cars

    Craig Harper loves driving! He was runner up Zimbabwe National Sports Car Champion in 1995, just missing out on the top spot.

    He has won both the Matabeleland Regional Championship in 1994, and the Zimbabwe National Rally Championship in 1996, and was Bulawayo Motoring Club Champion in 1994.

    Craig has set lap records in cars he designed and built at both national circuits in Zimbabwe, and currently races his Harper Type 5 in selected races throughout Southern Africa, with an emphasis on Endurance events.
    He has competed at the Simola Hillclimb twice since it’s inception in 2014. In his own car, he has won several Gymkhanas in Cape Town, most notably the Porsche track day where he beat everyone in his own Harper Type 5.
    Nowadays, Craig is not so competitive, and enjoys sharing the driving joy with his fellow enthusiasts, whether it be at a track day, or on one of our Driving Tours.