Grant Clearwater

Though a young bloke, Grant has packed an awful lot of living into a short number of years. After training as a mechanic in Gore, he soon left New Zealand to work for an IMSA racing team in the United States. In time, Grant become a gun for hire, offering his race-engineering services as a freelancer to rally teams all around the world. His talents were quickly pounced on by several teams, and he found himself living a high-speed, jet-set lifestyle from the UK to Europe and the US.

Eventually,the constant commuting took its toll. Grant ended up exhausted and gave up the fast-paced motorsport life to return to New Zealand. But despite his best intentions, he was soon back again in the northern hemisphere, working as an engineer for a rally team in the UK. When this team disbanded, Grant and another member bough the team out and set up their own company. They got picked up by SEAT, the Spanish motor vehicle brand which was heavily involved in touring-car racing, in both the World Touring Car Championship, and they also ran the one-make SEAT CUpra CHampionship, which involved running and maintaining 24 identical cards.

As the recent recession hit and car manufacturers began to withdraw from motorsport involvement, SEAT pulled the pin on its BTCC efforts, and Grant returned once more to New Zealand, this time with his wife Julie. Here he set up his own company offering an array of services from race preparation and trackside support to fabrication and restoration.

Interestingly, despite a career at the very pointy end of the motorsport spectrum, Grant himself claims to have never actually raced a modern car. Despite carving out a living building and preparing race cards, he loves to climb into the driving seat – but when he does, it’s behind the wheel of an historic race car.

Grant’s collection has been assembled from cars bough in New Zealand and overseas. Whereas many historic race cars seems to leave our shores as their value rise, Grant has actually been responsible for bringing cars into New Zealand. Perhaps the jewel in the crown is his incredible 1952 Conaught A5. This car, built from new with a four cylinder Lea-Frances motor, made its racing debut in the 1953 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, driven by Leslie Marr. The connaught raced throughout Britain over the next three years before making its way to South Africa, and was eventually purchased by Kiwi Ron Duncan in 1957 and imported into New Zealand. The connaught ended up with Jim Fenton, who raced it until 1959 before having it cloaked with a sports-car body. When he eventually retired the Connaught in 1961, he kept it for several decades until it was purchased by Grant.

Other cars in Grant’s collection include a McLaren M10 Formula 5000, a pair of Brabham BT16s. one of which was raced by Denny Hulme, a Cooper, and the New Zealand specials; the Capella and the Begg Twin Cam. Grant aso purchased, while in UK, a Mkll Zephyr that had been a race car there since the early 1970s, plus a Lotus Cortina which he was part-way through race-preparing for British and European historic touring-car racing when he returned to New Zealand.

Unfortunately for Grant, a cracked vertebra has kept him out of the driver’s seat for the last couple of years, but he is recovering well and expects to get back behind the wheel soon.