5 unmissable sports cars at 81MM

12th April 2024
Adam Wilkins

From Edwardian-era big-bangers with aero engines to monstrous Can-Am cars via road-derived classics from the 1960s, there’s no shortage of sports cars taking to the Goodwood Motor Circuit during the 81st Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport. Here’s our run-down of sportscars you won’t want to miss this weekend.


Lotus Elan 26R Shapecraft

The diminutive Lotus Elan looks notably out-gunned amid the Graham Hill Trophy grid. The race is for pre-1966 GT cars which means there’s no shortage of V8-engined muscle vying for victory. Cobras, Bizzerrini, Corvette all appear on the entry list, as well as several Jaguar E-Types. By comparison, the four-cylinder Elan is tiny. But it has agility on its side, helped out by the fact that this 26R derivative is designed for the track. Lighter wishbones, stronger suspension pick-up points and sliding spline driveshaft all toughen it up for competition. What’s more, this one has the further benefit of a slippery Shapecraft fastback roof. Everything is in place for a classic David versus Goliath battle.

Image courtesy of Motorsport Images

Image courtesy of Motorsport Images

Cooper Monaco T61M King Cobra

When you think about British cars that have been given a V8 makeover by Carroll Shelby, the Cobra is the first thing that comes to mind. But there’s another machine that followed a similar recipe, albeit with different ingredients. The King Cobra is Shelby’s reinterpretation of Cooper’s T61 Monaco. Shelby worked with Cooper to uprate the chassis to accommodate the Ford 289cu in V8 engines before they left the UK. It grew in width by 8.5 inches, length by four inches and ran two inches lower. The rear suspension is carried over from the contemporary Cooper Formula One car. The King Cobra moniker was coined by Car and Driver writer Steve Smith. At 81MM, it will take to the track amid a field of other 1960 to 1964 sports racing prototypes in the Surtees Trophy.


Shadow Mk1 Lowline

The shin-high Shadow Mk1 Lowline cuts a distinctive dash in the Can-Am demonstration, even amid the unusual silhouettes of its stablemates. In the light regulations of early Can-Am seasons, Don Nichols’ team worked on the theory that a small frontal area combined with a big engine would give Shadow the advantage. It was a design principle that presented problems. The small wheels necessitated by the low bodywork meant that the brakes were small too. This was overcome by air brakes that emerged at the press of a button but such devices were outlawed by the SCCA. Undeterred, Shadow continued to create some of the strangest shapes in Can-Am racing before claiming the title in 1974.


Mors GP

The Brooklands era S.F. Trophy has become a much-loved fixture of the Goodwood Members’ Meeting. There’s nothing quite like the spectacle of these Edwardian leviathans being wrestled around the circuit. One of the many stand-out cars for us is the Mors GP, which combines a 1907 chassis with a Curtiss aero V8 that’s a relative spring chicken, dating from 1905. The old adage may say there’s no substitute for cubic inches, but despite its generous 8.2-litres, it develops a modest 90bhp. The redline arrives at just 1500rpm. That’s more than enough, though, when you factor in skinny tyres and brakes that work only on the back wheels.


Ford Mustang

We celebrate 60 years of the Ford Mustang at 81MM with the Ken Miles Cup, a single-make race for what, when new, was the fastest-selling car. A stand-out car amid the grid of notchbacks Allan Mann Racing’s entry, finished in the team’s signature red and gold livery. In 1964, Ford sent a pre-production chassis to Alan Mann for evaluation, and it was tested in secret here at Goodwood. Alan Mann prepared the cars for European rallies, winning the  Tour de France and giving the Mustang its first competition success. It was a Mustang that Alan Mann used to relaunch his team in 2004, and it’s coming to 81MM. The drivers will be none other than former BTCC driver Steve Soper and Ford’s President and CEO Jim Farley.

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