Vintage Review. Road & Track. April 1973. Testing Nine Showroom Stock Sports Cars As SCCA Racers

As the Pony Car Wars seen and experienced during the  mid to late 1960’s-early 1970’s Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans-Am race series began to fade with declining factory support and waning fan interest, the SCCA began to shift to race series using “showroom stock” small sedans (like the Opel Ascona 1900 and the Vega 2300) and to an additional “showroom stock” series using the multiple affordable sports cars available in the early 1970’s.

To make the sports car racing series affordable $4000 (inflation adjusted to $22,742 in 2018) was the allowable price ceiling.  This R&T test comparison included most of the sports cars available in the US in 1973 qualifying within the financial limits of the SCCA.  The results in many ways were surprising, not the results expected by “common sense”.  Sophistication didn’t always translate to racetrack success.  Who would have suspected that the relatively ancient Triumph GT6 and the MGB roadsters would be as good as they actual were on the race track.  Who would have suspected that the Opel GT would set the second fastest lap times, or that the mid engine 914 would come in third place.

The horsepower figures for all the participating cars were all lower than the same cars in 1970/1971 due to the industry wide shift from S.A.E gross horsepower to the newer S.A.E. net horsepower values.

Some of these cars were soon to disappear (Opel GT and Karmann Ghia) from the market or would soon have large, heavy even ugly bumpers (like the MG’s, Triumph, and Fiat)  due to the pending soon to be required Federal mandated bumper standards.

The Datsun 240Z  didn’t qualify for the Showroom Stock Sports Car due to price and power.  When the 240Z was initially placed in a class with the MGB GT, Porsche 914, and Opel GT, in 1970-1971 , it blew the doors off its competitors, by having a higher top speed than the Porsche 911T.  Ineligible for the Showroom Stock Sports Car Series,  Datsun 240Z was placed into the SCCA C-Production class where it dominated with drivers like Peter Brock, Bob Sharp, and later Paul Newman (who ultimately won the C-production national championship in his 240Z).

This comparison test was published by R&T in April 1973.