Yes, there was a time when folks took their Ferraris and Corvettes and Daimler SP’s to the track on Sundays. And raced them for all they were worth, which was a lot less than they are now.
Is that some sort of racing stripe covering the front of the 250 GT SWB, or is it masking tape preserving the finish for when the car would be worth more than many private jets?
Early AV test? Where are the drivers?
Is this a starting grid or a staging area? I feel like Daimler should have lobbied harder to have the SP250 classified in C-Production to avoid this sort of thing.
That’s for sure. The Ferrari that was used in Disney’s The Love Bug was for sale for $7.5 million in 2012, goodness knows what it’s worth now.
One factor we happened to be discussing at engineers’ coffee this morning was that old sports cars have relatively modest performance so you could actually use it. I think most owners of modern sports cars would be scared to use them on track because of a) the cost of repair after a shunt and b) being killed by an extreme high speed incident
I think you are on to something regarding the older sports cars having relatively modest performance. It is easier to drive them at their limits,rather than the limits of the driver. Today’s supercars, with their high horsepower, traction control, steering aids, and the like on, test the limits of the driver well before the limits of the car hit.
However, the Miata, the associated Fiat 124, the BRZ/86, and possibly the Z4/Supra are all still relatively affordable AND easily used on the track as well as the street. I know the Miatas are well represented in several forms of racing, especially Auto-X and low dollar series.
Perhaps the 1950s was more remarkable for the egalitarianism exhibited at the time. Rich and not rich raced side by side. The Count raced against the Yokel, both in cars they probably drove to the track. Not so much today. Big money races big money, the rest race each other as they can.
I don’t think performance was modest by design. In fact it’s only really modest when viewed through a 2019 lens, but how many cars were hitting the horsepower and top speed numbers of cars like these at the time they were new? Subsequent engineering and racetrack oriented marketing campaigns simply pushed technology to a place that arguably exceeds average human driving abilities, this era just represents the sweet spot in time where basic technology matched normal human ability.
In that sense I’d say that not having 600+ horsepower and formula 1 technology makes for a better “drivers car” is a relatively recent revelation to enthusiasts. These old sports cars may have performance similar or even subpar to a regular late model appliance, but at the time they were new they were likely perceived to be as state of the art in technology as Teslas are today.
Hot Rod magazine had a feature a couple of months back, that featured an early 90’s Camaro. Article was titled “Sketch Pad Supercars.” These were represented as budget builds that their readers might consider. They called the Camaro the “Ferrari Hunter”. referring to the handling improvements that could be made to the car. I’ve always felt that the early Mustang and Camaro were Detroit’s version of Everyman’s Ferrari or Aston Martin. While this is a bit of a stretch, consider what Carrol Shelby could do with a Mustang. There is even more hipo equipment available Today. Even complete replacement chassis for those early Pony Cars.
I’ve always regarded too much power as a curse, not a blessing, and get an automatic eyeroll when I’m reading the inevitable “moar horsepower” comments regarding modern automobiles (BRZ/FT86 immediately comes to mind, it seems to be a great sin that they never had 300hp from day one, or an immediate turbo option, or a factory turbo option, period).
In motorcycles, we have a saying, “It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast, than a fast bike slow”. This was really driven home to me the years I had a ’69 BSA A50R Royal Star. It was a 500cc motorcycle that looked identical to the 650cc Thunderbolt and Lightning with two important differences: Color (the 500 was blue, the 650’s were either red or black). And the 500 had 22 horsepower, making it a go to work commuter bike, while the 650’s had 44hp, which was essentially state of the art before the Japanese fours took over.
The beauty of the A50R was that you would run it full bore thru just about everything, being the same chassis as the bigger bikes ensured it handled the same (read: very well) while never allowing the rider to get into trouble thru over-judicious use of the throttle. This was a godsend for riders of average, competent ability like myself.
Kicking it up one notch, it’s also why I could outrun squids on their 600’s (and 1000’s) with my ’69 Triumph Bonneville 650 – as long as I chose the route. 44hp is a heck of a lot better than 95hp, if you don’t have the skills necessary to get a competition license. And you don’t let the four have any straights to wind it out, which is all most squids can do in the first place.
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