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Best Historic Racing Cars: Top 10

Thoroughly exciting weekend at the Goodwood Revival got you interested in historic motorsport? Here are ten great options for getting into the sport

With over 100 years of motoring heritage to draw on, the historic racing scene has grown to cover a large cross section of some of the best periods in motor racing. Dozens of racing events such as Le Mans Legends, Historic Formula One and Touring Car Racing across all eras means that whatever your interest, there is most likely an event out there for you. 
The availability of race prepared cars for sale are on the rise, and while few can be considered cheap, running in a series once you have car can be more reasonable than you might think. 
With the amazing racing at this year’s Goodwood Revival fresh in our minds, we’ve taken a look at some of the more popular historic racing options out there – as couple you might need a lottery win to think about…

Ford Anglia

Ford Anglia
Not perhaps the first car to pop into your head when considering classic racing cars, but the Anglia is an affordable and surprisingly sensible entry point into the sport. It has racing pedigree too, with regular finishes in the gruelling Monte Carlo Rally in the ‘60s and a driver’s championship in the 1966 BSCC. The fourth generation 105E models are the most popular, and decent road cars can be found from £5000, while race prepped start from around £12,000 and up. 

Austin A35

Austin A35
If the Anglia seems like an unlikely racing candidate, then the rounded little Austin A35 will seem even less so. But as with the Ford, once you dig a little deeper, you see that these little cars can be developed into serious racing machines. Why else would James Hunt have used an A35 Van as his weekday car? While top race prepared examples can sell for £40,000, this is the exception. The little A35s are favoured for being cost effective – with many interchangeable parts from similar era cars. Basic cars start at £3000, and at least a further £5000 should be budgeted to get them into racing trim.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo has been a prominent name in motorsport for decades, having achieved success in a vast array of disciplines. For us, it’s the extremely successful touring car back catalogue that appeals, securing 17 championship wins over the years. The small and nimble Alfa Giulia saloon cars are a prominent feature in the pre-66 touring car category for this reason, and with solid specialist backing, are a great way to get into historics.

Jaguar Mk1 + Mk2

Jaguar Mk2
Jaguar has had a chequered racing history, and some of its most competitive years were during the ‘50s and ‘60s when a wide array of XK, C, D and E types carved up the globes race tracks. The Jaguar Classic Challenge caters for all of these pre-1966 cars, as well as the more affordable MKI and MKII saloons. Both versions were regular touring car champions during the early ‘60s, and their great performance did not go unnoticed by criminals and the police alike who used their accelerative abilities to great effect. Race cars can be found from £30,000, but it’s the slightly more expensive 3.8 models that are the ones to go for outright speed. Avoid rusty bangers, as restoration costs are very expensive. 

Lotus Cortina

Lotus Cortina
The original Lotus Cortina – developed for racing with the aid of Colin Chapman – was very successful in period and remains a much loved historic racer today. The revvy little 1.6 litre engines combined with a lightweight body shell gave them excellent performance, and made for a very entertaining race car. Good ones are available from £30,000 with FIA certification, and are eligible for a number of historic events. Beware of fake cars.

Lotus and Caterham 7 

Caterham 7
The Lotus 7 was the essence of driving, distilled down to its core. A timeless formula copied by many, the original cars now command healthy prices. There are dozens of racing categories for these cars, from the stock standard originals to highly modified modern interpretations. Entering classic events requires the right car though, so make sure you have done your homework beforehand. Running costs are among the most affordable here thanks to lightweight chassis that exert less strain on the running gear. Competing in something like the Caterham Academy is also the perfect launchpad for more serious historic events.

Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper

The Masters pre-66 touring cars cater for a wide variety of machinery, and it’s here where you can see Mini Coopers diving inside Ford Falcons as they vie for position. A former BTCC champ in 1962 and repeat class winner in the Monte Carlo Rally, the Mini is the ideal historic racer for those keen on developing their cornering skills and taking advantage of less nimble machinery. £25,000 is where competitive FIA approved machinery starts, but good cars can be found for less.

Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang
If you prefer to play the role of Goliath in the Pre-66 touring cars category, then a V8 Ford Mustang is right up your street. Who needs cornering prowess when you can out drag the smaller-engined opposition on the straights, anyway? £40,000 will get you a well-prepared race car, however maintenance costs may be somewhat higher than the smaller cars. Parts are well catered for and there is a lot of expertise on extracting the most out of the American bruiser if you care to look. 

Porsche 911

Porsche 911
Arguably the most iconic sports car of all time, the 911 has competed successfully in most forms of motorsport since its arrival way back in 1963. The majority of early road going 911s are now pricey classics, however race prepared examples can start from £30,000. Top cars with successful racing histories command huge sums. Eligible for a number of historic categories, parts are also widely available, with dozens of specialists just waiting to build you a competitive track or rally car.

3 litre F1 cars

Historic F1 racing
The FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship caters for all 3-litre F1 cars built from 1966 to 1985. With eight rounds held around Europe, one being an endurance race, this is a historic racing discipline that requires serious commitment and deep pockets. The cars available vary from Arrows mid-fielders to ex-Alain Prost McLarens, with prices ranging from the merely expensive to the truly terrifying. A ready-to-race ‘80s F1 car can start from £250,000…

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO
For those that prefer to compete in historic racing events in priceless irreplaceable classics then the Ferrari 250 GTO is your car. Bonhams auctioned one of the 39 cars built for just under £30 million in 2014 making it the most expensive car ever sold at auction. Running costs are probably not a concern at this level, but if you do decide to enter into a few races it will be more than a match for the competition.

Notes from the pit lane

• Take a look at the historic events you would like to take participate in and then look for a suitable car. Buying race prepped cars tend to be more cost effective than preparing your own; however cars with racing history and good pedigree usually command a fair premium. 
• Regular maintenance is essential so ensure you leave space in your budget for brakes, tyres and of course lots of fuel. 
• Running costs for a year will vary depending on the car, frequency and types of events entered into. 
• Joining a club or organisation is essential to take part in events and gets you access to like-minded people with a wealth of knowledge. 
• An MSA licence is a must and can be applied for online. 

Seriously considering racing? Here are some places to get started

www.historicracing.comHistoric racing site for varied events. Annual memberships start at £450 and events range from £850 to £1950.
www.motorracinglegends.com Historic motor racing event organiser
www.750trophyracing.co.ukHistoric racing site
www.teamdeville.co.uk Source of parts for most classic Ford’s including Lotus Cortina
www.austina30a35parts.comSource for A35 parts
www.eb-motorsport.co.ukSupplier of race parts for air-cooled 911’s
www.alfaholics.comClassic Alfa specialists
www.mini7.co.ukClassic Mini Racing site
www.minicooper.org/index.php/competitionMini register and source of info for events
www.lotus7.clubEnthusiast site for road going and racing Lotus 7’s
www.riversdale-restoration.co.uk/restorationRestorers of ‘50s and ‘60s historic race cars
www.classic-jaguar-racing.co.ukClassic Jaguar racing specialists

Words: John Tallodi

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