MAY 12th 2014

On track today: Cobra Drivers’ Club (12/05)

There’s a rumble in the paddock today, as the Cobra Drivers’ Club has descended on day two of its Sussex GT, which is run by Classic Car Tours. Despite the name, the Cobra Drivers’ Club is open to any car with a Carroll Shelby or 427 connection, whether original or replica, so we’ve seen Mustangs, Cobras, GT40s and Sunbeam Tigers en masse. There’s even a rare AC Greyhound in the mix. Yesterday, the Sussex GT took in a two-stage rally in the South Downs and a run up the Goodwood Hillclimb.

Today is a private track day. Special guests are Jack Sears and Sir John Whitmore, who can share brilliant tales of racing Cobras in period. In fact, we were fortunate enough to spend a fascinating hour with them and will bring you the interview soon. In the meantime, here are some of the cars that caught our eye today.

Sunbeam Tiger: Dean McGee

IMG_9221 copy Dean McGee’s Sunbeam Tiger caused a few turned heads as it powered down the start/finish straight. Fitted with a 7-litre V8, its deep rumble stood out even in a field full of eight cylinders. We’re told that, when it’s running on open headers, it can create 130dB. That would shake our noise meters out of the ground!

Dean has owned the car for 18 years, during which time it has received bigger brakes, a T56 6-speed gearbox and 5-link rear axle. He says he hasn’t done many track days, but the car has been to Spa, Le Mans and the Nürburgring. “We’re more into suitcases and picnics than race overalls,” says Dean.

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Ford Mustang: Dave Butler

We met Dave Butler at a recent GRRC track day when he was exercising his Lotus Exige. Today he has brought out his Mustang and, while he was still as reluctant to have his photo taken, he was still happy to chat. Good thing, too, as his Mustang has a terrific specification.

The 1965 car was sent from the US to Australia in 2008. While down under, it was treated to a bare metal rebuild and numerous upgrades, including a 5-speed manual gearbox, disc brakes and rack and pinion steering. It was also ‘mini-tubbed’ a process that extends the inner wheelarches to allow wider tyres to be fitted without protruding the wheelarches. It was also converted to right-hand drive. While it could barely be more different his Lotus, Dave relishes driving his Mustang around the circuit. “It loves Goodwood,” he says. “Or I should say, I love driving it at Goodwood.”

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AC Greyhound: Gerry and Jill Bagshaw

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The AC Greyhound may not fit within the Cobra theme of the event, but owner Gerry Bagshaw has some Cobra heritage of his own – in the late 1960s, he owned the famous Le Mans racer, registered 39 PH. At the same time, he also owned an AC Ace Bristol, and raced both until selling them in around 1973. He didn’t return to AC ownership until 2010, when he bought the Greyhound at the Revival. He and wife Jill always give their cars relevant names, so the Greyhound is now affectionately known as ‘Goodie’.

The original Bristol engine was substituted long ago with a 2.5-litre straight six, but it hasn’t detracted from the car’s appeal. “It’s very much like the Ace to drive,” says Gerry. “It’s just a bit softer and heavier.” Only 82 Greyhounds were built, making this a rare sight.

 

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