As New Year resolutions go, vowing to race a historic car in 2018 beats dieting and exercising by a country mile. Question is, what to drive?
A good place to start looking is the Coys auction at the Autosport International show at the NEC on January 13th. There’s lots on offer, but here we have selected just three machines perfect for historic-racing virgins…
1957 Austin A35, £20-30,000
Recognise it? This is the car Sir Chris Hoy drove in the St Mary’s Trophy at the Goodwood Revival in 2016. Anyone who saw that race, and subsequent A30/A35 track battles, will know that these lovable little layabouts offer some of the closest and most fun historic racing going, adored by spectators.
This car, immaculate in Old English White, is a ’57 A35 with the full beans. That’d be 85bhp from the A-Series engine then. The car was subject to a bare metal rebuild to 2017 HRDC race spec for Sir Chris to drive, benefiting from new sills, floorplans and door braces as well as a full HRDC roll cage and fibreglass wings, bonnet and boot.
Said to be one of the best prepared A35 racers, it was first in class at the 2017 Donington Historic Festival. It comes with all the eligibility papers for HRDC Academy and A Series Challenge, HRDC Touring Greats, Coy’s Trophy and CTCRC Pre ’66 races, among others. It’s road legal, so you could even drive to events in it – and the vendor says he will offer race support to the new owner.
Here’s a rarity from down under: a 120mph refugee from Bathurst and a very pretty little thing. It the first (of just three) MG J2 chassis re-bodied with an aerodynamic fibreglass shell in the style of the Ferrari Monza.
The racy MG was built in Australia in 1959 by Bruce Leer, with the body provided by Aussie specialists JWF Glass-Fibre Industries. The motor now is an MG TF 1500 block with all steel internals and the head has been set up to run on unleaded petrol. There’s a close ratio MG TC gearbox and TC diff housing.
In competition in period, it was successful, holding the under 1,500cc lap record at Warwick Farm, competing at Bathurst and, it is said, hitting 120mph at a circuit in Orange, NSW. It’s said to be mechanically excellent and with a recent repaint in its original orange would certainly cheer up any historic grid. It comes with a CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) historic logbook and is said to be eligible for FIA HTP papers.
1984 BMW 635 Group A, £200-250,000
Start the new year right with your own Marlboro BMW Group A touring car! No, this is not an original but a rebuild finished in 2016 that turned an ’84 BMW 6-Series coupe (sourced in Italy) into a Group A weapon, complete with period livery.
The job was entrusted to Geoff Steel Racing and involved stripping everything back to a bare shell, dipping it and adding all the good bits including rollcage, Group A gearbox and 100-litre tank, all to correct FIA spec. The 3,453cc, 24-valve, six-cylinder engine – originally used in the BMW M1 – was rebuilt and now puts out 310bhp, usefully up on the 286bhp of the standard unit in the road car.
As a road car the M635CSi could get to 62mph from zero in around six seconds and hit 155mph, but with a weight around 1,200kg this track version will be able to beat that. It’s already had a number of high-placed finishes in the European Group A season, including a second at Spa in 2016 and second at the Algarve classic in 2017. As Coys says, it’s a contender – in the right hands.