GRR

Dan Trent: Fighting the urge for a historic racing Mustang

04th September 2017
dan_trent_headshot.jpg Dan Trent

There won’t actually be any Mustangs racing at this weekend’s Revival, though they have in the recent past. And they’re no strangers to Goodwood Circuit, not least at the Members’ Meeting earlier this year where Steve Soper and Craig Davies knocked seven bells out of each other in an epic battle in the Pierpoint Cup: This following Davies’ delicious appetiser with some fabulous on board of his pre-event shakedown. Lovely stuff! 

The above provides at least some of the inspiration behind this week’s choice from the classifieds, resplendent in white stripes over blue metallic with gold Torq Thrust wheels. Yes, it’s a Mustang built to FIA pre-‘66 GT350 R spec and ready for me to live out my historic racing dreams for just shy of £100,000. Quite a bit of money, admittedly. But, given the way of things, that doesn’t sound entirely ridiculous for a car seemingly eligible for top class historic events like Members’ Meeting, Silverstone Classic and the Six Hours of Spa. Going by another GRR video, old Mustangs are quick enough to embarrass modern machinery too so no reason it shouldn’t be mixing it at the sharp end, especially with nearly 400hp to play with.

Additional motivation for browsing old GT350s came from having a go in the new one, a car I’ve previously singled out here as worthy of adulation. Though tantalisingly brief the experience didn’t disappoint either, the caged animal rawness of the modern car entirely living up to the legend of the 1965 original Carroll Shelby transformed into a race winner.

The Mustang was already a commercial success in this, its first full year on sale. But Ford spotted the value of competition credibility too and the GT350 was born. All things relative the 289 cubic inch (4.7 litres just doesn’t sound right, does it?) GT350 was a light and nimble car – these early versions the leanest and hardcore Mustangs sold until, well, the new GT350. Going by the videos I’ve been overdosing on while ‘researching’ this story they seem reassuringly straightforward and fun to drive too. Check out the Davies lap, the torque meaning round Goodwood he’s simply swapping between third and fourth, even for the chicane. Goes without saying the noise is a big part of the appeal too, a tradition I’m pleased to report the new car more than honours. Is there a more pleasing under-bonnet sight than a big, blue-blocked V8 with polished Cobra cam covers and a pan-lid air filter atop? Can’t think of many. 

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Uh-oh though, what’s this? While the blue car has been painstakingly built to be fast and competitive here’s a ‘real’ one that raced in the SCCA at Riverside, Laguna Seca and elsewhere from 1966 onwards. And it’s up for auction this week, the lower end of the estimate not too much of a stretch from the price of the recreation. It’s perhaps not as tidily presented but the patina is all part of the story, the RM Sotheby’s listing detailing its half-century of competition use with a succession of owners across America. The kind of thing that makes an escalation from just shy of £100,000 to potentially double that once the hammer falls and the fees have been paid seem little more than a trivial escalation.

Given the state of the cars raced by Soper and Davies after their ding-dong battle, I might be a little cautious about mixing it at the head of the pack though.

Photography courtesy of Cheshire Classic Cars/Jason Dodd with RM Sotheby’s

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