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Feeling competitive? 10 ready-to-race cars at the Race Retro sale

by Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
21 February 2023 5 min read
Feeling competitive? 10 ready-to-race cars at the Race Retro sale
Photos: Silverstone Auctions

Race Retro is one of the UK’s number one historic motorsport events. Whether you’re drooling over the iconic racing cars on display or marvelling at the action on the live rally stage, this is your chance to get lost in all things related to historic racing.

But what happens if spectating isn’t enough? That’s where the Race Retro Classic and Competition Car Sale comes in, with around 50 race-ready cars going under the hammer on Friday 24 February. We’re not going to list them all, but here are some cars to consider if you’re feeling competitive. All would be very much welcome to the Hagerty Hill Climb, at the end of May, where they’d be rubbing shoulders with Group B rallying legends…

Lotus Elise S1

Lotus Elise S1

Price: No reserve

From one iconic driver’s cars of the ’90s to another, the Lotus Elise S1 rewrote the rulebook for how a sports car should feel. Weighing just 725kg, the original Elise made great use of the modest 118bhp from its 1796cc K-series engine and would accelerate to 62mph in just 5.8 seconds.

This 1996 S1 has been modified several times to compete in various race series, with the vendor spending around £6000 to prepare it for sale, the bulk of which was an overhaul of the braking system. Silverstone Auctions says the Elise is only for sale due to the vendor’s increasing years and imminent race licence renewal. This is just the car for hill climbs; if you’re bidding, put the dates of 27 and 28 May in your diary, and make a beeline for Shelsley Walsh and the Hagerty Hill Climb.

Mitsubishi Starion Turbo

Mitsubishi Starion Turbo

Estimate: £40,000 – £50,000 

This 1987 ex-works Mitsubishi Starion Turbo was campaigned by the late Colin Blower through the 1987/88 production car season. Blower also shared the car with Tiff Needell in the 1988 24-hour endurance race at Snetterton. Following a sympathetic recommissioning by Mark Wright Motorsport, it’s wearing its correct livery from the 1980s.

Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

Estimate: £22,000 – £26,000

Talbot won the World Rally Championship in 1981, with Henri Toivonen, Guy Fréquelin and Stig Blomqvist securing a nine-point victory over Datsun. In the previous year, the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus dominated the Lombard RAC Rally, finishing first, third and fourth. Make no mistake, the Talbot has proper race pedigree.

This example left the factory at Linwood in May 1981, just a week before the plant closed. From there, it was sent to Lotus in Norfolk for completion, before being registered in October 1982. Having enjoyed competition use in the 1980s and ‘90s, the car ended up in Portugal before returning to the UK in 2021. The vendor is selling it to concentrate on his Datsun 240Z project.

Alfa Romeo GTV6

Alfa Romeo GTV6

Estimate: £70,000 – £90,000

Silverstone Auctions calls this GTV6 “a significant part of Alfa Romeo Touring Car history”, pointing to its competition use in the 1980s. It has been identified as a GTV6 built for the 1985 European Touring Car season, specifically car number 43 campaigned by the Belgian trio of Bernard de Dryver, François-Xavier Boucher and Loudwig Boucher.

The vendor travelled to Belgium in 2016 to collect what the auction house calls “a very dejected looking Alfa”, before spending the following couple of years rebuilding the car to its original specification.

Austin-Healey 3000 MkIIA

Austin Healey Mark IIA

Estimate: £60,000 – £70,000

The Austin-Healey 3000 MkIIA (BJ7) arrived in 1962 and was notable for its wind-up windows and easily folded hood, along with a return to twin carburettors. This left-hand drive example was ordered in 1963 with wire wheels, overdrive, heater, adjustable steering column, tonneau cover, white-wall tyres and laminated windscreen.

Around 18 years ago, with the car in need of restoration, the vendor decided to create a homage to the British Motor Corporations works cars of 1964 – four were built and all survive. Highlights include a works-style hardtop, black bucket seats, full harnesses, twin timing clocks, drilled pedals, factory-style overdrive switch and Moto-Lita wood-rim wheel. We rather like it.

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Estimate: £35,000 – £40,000

If this 5 GT Turbo sells for its guide price, it’ll cost the same as a new Renault Mégane E-Tech. Do you fancy an electric car or something electrifyingly good to drive on a track? We suspect it’s the latter. Just look at it.

This example was originally a Radbourne Racing Cup Car and badged ‘Coupé’. Prima Racing’s Tony Hart enjoyed some success with the car, including several race wins, before it was rented out to another driver. Prima sold it a couple of decades ago, before Tony was reunited his former 5 in 2015.

The Group A engine specification sees the little carburettor-fed 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo deliver around 200bhp, which is a significant hike over the 113bhp figure of the original, road-going model. We suspect this would be a bundle of fun in any historic touring car championship.

Morgan AR V6

Morgan AR V6

Estimate: £45,000 – £65,000

At its launch in 2014, AR Motorsport said the Morgan AR V6 had ‘been designed with one thing in mind – competing in motorsport and winning races’, before going on to say that it was ‘the perfect Morgan race car for experienced racers and novices alike’. At the time, it was the most powerful race car the Malvern-based company had ever sold. [What about the Aero 8 GT and GT3? Ed]

Its 3.7-litre Ford Duratec V6 produced 320bhp, which, in a car weighing just 950kg, was quite enough, thank you. Only six were built, with five remaining in the UK, making this a rare opportunity. Despite costing £60,000 when new, the vendor has spent a further £50,000 on upgrading the car, which makes the guide price look like a bargain.

Opel Manta 400

Opel Manta 400

Estimate: £100,000 – £120,000

The Opel Manta 400 was an ambitious but relatively unsuccessful attack on Group B rallying. Unfortunately, its four-cylinder engine was down on power, while its rear-wheel drive layout slowed it down on loose surfaces at a time when four-wheel drive was proving a game-changer. Still, Opel did manage to finish third in 1983, behind Lancia and Audi. The Manta also secured a class win at the 1984 Paris-Dakar.

As Manta 400 spotters may have worked out by the guide price, this isn’t an actual 400 rally car. It’s a faithful recreation build by a motorsport engineering workshop and features new Bilstein ‘Group 4’ suspension with spring rates matched to Russell Brookes’ Tarmac car.

Mini Clubman 1275GT

Mini Clubman 1275GT

Estimate: £22,000 – £26,000

This Mini was built in 1988 to pay homage to ‘XJB 308H’, British Leyland’s sole entry in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally. Unfortunately, the Clubman failed to make it out of Europe, blowing its pistons in Yugoslavia due to poor fuel.

The vendor worked as an apprentice at RTS Motorway Remoulds, which entered a Ford Cortina GT in the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon. He said: “I’ve always had Minis ever since my first car, so it was natural for me to make a replica of the only Mini to take part in the World Cup Rally.“

Ford Puma

Ford Puma track car

Price: No reserve

In roadgoing form, the Ford Puma was one of the greatest driver’s cars of the 1990s. Other small coupés were rendered obsolete by Ford’s brilliant Fiesta-based upstart, especially in thrilling 1.7-litre guise. Pert styling, sparking handling and a precise gearbox were the hallmarks of this brilliant coupé.

This 1998 Puma didn’t stay standard for long, having been pressed into competition use just a year after it left a Ford showroom. Highlights include a 1.4-litre twin-cam engine, uprated exhaust, limited-slip differential, Quaife gearbox, Proflex dampers, Cobra bucket seats and welded-in roll cage. A summer of grassroots rallying awaits.

Read more

Buying Guide: Alfa Romeo GTV6 (1981 – 1987)
The Greatest Car Show You May Never Have Attended
The Lotus Elise is unlike any other car ever made | Revelations with Jason Cammisa

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