Matamata Panelworks Buys Iconic Almac Cars


Matamata, 31 May 2024 – Already renowned for its quality crash repairs, epic custom builds and home of Shelby New Zealand, Matamata Panelworks has just purchased the iconic Almac Cars business to add to its already impressive portfolio.

The Almac name dates back to 1971 when founder Alex McDonald formed Almac Reinforced Plastics in Upper Hutt.

Initially the company specialised in industrial fibreglass products, however Alex who is a fitter/turner and draughtsman by trade also had a huge love for cars, particularly the legendary Shelby Cobra 427SC, or AC Cobra 427 as marketed outside the USA.

In 1981 Alex and engineering friend, Graham Berry, joined forces and set out to build a very accurate Shelby Cobra 427SC replica, initially just for themselves. 

In March 1984 the first car was completed and taken to the National Hot Rod Show. Demand was so great that a new company called Almac Cars was formed and seventeen 427SC’s were built and sold in the first year of production.

Back then Alex believed he might be able to sell between 25 and 35 cars total before the New Zealand market was saturated. However, he was very wrong as well over 450 427SC Almac cars have been manufactured to date, of which at least 30 were sold overseas, including the USA.

In 2002 another car was added to Almac’s lineup, this was a Lotus 7 replica called the Almac Clubsprint XL. Although not as popular as the Cobra 427SC replica, the Clubsprint XL still sold in good numbers, especially in kitset form for those wanting to attempt to build their own lower cost project vehicle.

Both the Almac 427SC and Clubsprint XL have a large following here in New Zealand, with the 427SC reaching iconic status within our local automotive scene.

With Alex now well past the normal retirement age and the Graham Berry partnership long finished, Almac Cars has recently been purchased by Matamata Panelworks, who believe there is a huge opportunity to continue manufacturing and developing both models, however focus will be aimed initially at the iconic 427SC model.



Malcolm Sankey, Owner and Managing Director of Matamata Panelworks said “taking onboard Alex McDonald’s iconic and successful business of 40 years, and then combining it with our own well-known establishment will result in the perfect match”. “This perfect match will not only see Alex’s legacy continue but will also result in another very special company division being added to our already powerful line-up, which includes exclusive New Zealand agencies such as Tickford and the legendary brand, Shelby American”.

Operations & Sales Manager Ross Prevette said, “Our Almac models will initially only be made available as turnkey – drive away vehicles, however, further down the road, we also plan to look at the kitset (build it yourself) market, just like Almac have done in the past”. “Plans also include further development of the recently redesigned 427SC chassis to take advantage of more modern components, along with the possibility of a full carbon fibre bodied 427SC cobra replica sometime in the future”. 

A new Almac Cars website is currently being developed, however for more information about Almac Cars (a division of Matamata Panelworks) in the interim, please contact Ross Prevette – Operations & Sales Manager – Phone: 027 500 2875 or email: