Monday, 11 March 2019



I am often asked to advise on the purchase of cars suitable for historic racing. Many inquiries come from enthusiasts who want to get a start in historic racing but find the marketplace to be a minefield of opposing criteria as to what car is eligible for which event or race series. My main advice to these inquiries is to do your homework before parting with your cash! But getting a good staring point is often the $64,000 question! Looking for cars certified by race organisations such as the FIA, HRDC, HSCC etc automatically gives the prospective purchaser and insight as to the versatility of any one car. Do note that some cars, such as single-seaters, have a very limited and specialised application. When starting out, a good point to consider is the versatility of the car in question. Is it road legal? Is it just a circuit racer or can I Sprint or Hillclimb it as well? Could I use it in European events? One might never find a car than satisfies all criteria but the more versatile the car, the better the options are for those starting out in historic motor sport. 

Here I have picked out a few adverts for cars that I consider warrant looking at. Not all will suit everyone but I trust that these selections of mine with give a better perspective to those enthusiasts who want to get a start in historic racing and get a better understanding of what to look for.

These Lancia Fulvia Berlinas are relatively unknown as competition cars and wholly underrated when compared when compared to their sleek Lancia Fulvia Coupe siblings. Thus these Berlinas do not carry the price tags commanded by the Coupes and offer tremendous value by comparison.
This car has a great provenance, having won a Hillclimb Championship in 2018. Converting it to a circuit racer would be straightforward and from an HRDC angle ( it would sit well in the 'TC63' class structure of HRDC 'Touring Greats' and HRDC 'Coys Trophy' plus being eligible for HRDC 'Allstars' too. Whilst it may not repeat its event-winning form within the framework of the HRDC, it would certainly not disgrace itself and would make a welcome and most interesting addition to the HRDC grids. 
At an asking price of £13,950, this worthy Lancia offers a good footing on the ladder of 'proper' historic racing.

Whilst these Berlina versions of the Lancia Fulvia range are considered to be relatively rare, here is another proven example that is currently on the market. Recently updated with new safety equipment, this now U.K domiciled Italian competition car carries older FIA historic documentation, which may prove to be an asset in opening up entry to a wider range of historic events if updated and renewed under the new FIA HTP (Historic Technical Passport) system. Taking the trouble to do this sometimes laborious process can really pay dividends to the wise purchaser who can invest the time in doing so.
With the vendor having reduced the price of this little Lancia to £11,950, one cannot help thinking that this interesting competition car surely merits closer investigation.


Now here is what I would call a 'sleeper'. This car has been posted for sale a couple of times and remained unsold. Why? Well it's because the presentation of the car is not telling the prospective buyer quite what it is. The detail finish is not what is usually associated with that which is favoured by most historic racers: Firstly the advertising needs to be removed as most historic race series' regulations do not allow commercial advertising on historic cars. Then there is the issue of various chrome detail fittings having been deleted in the build of this racer, contrary to normal historic practice, which advocates such detail to be retained on this genre of race car. The lack of bumpers (often a requirement of pre-'60 race series regulations) also detracts from the accepted overall presentation of such cars.

All these aspects and a lack of interior trim (also a general requirement of period regulations)  send out a negative vibe to prospective purchasers. But here is my point: If one can see past these omissions, reading through the mechanical description of this Wolseley 1500 there looks to be a very sound basis of a good historic race car here. Indeed, if one can negotiate a fair price that gives room for representing this car in a proper period manner, then there is a great deal to be had here. A little vision will go a long, long way with this particular historic racer. A car well worth consideration.


Here we have another worthy historic race car that is surprisingly proving hard to shift for the dealer offering the car. Armed with current FIA HTP papers, which are valid through to 2026, this is a well presented historic race car that would be just at home on a race track or on an International road event such as the 'Tour Auto'. Maybe the car being right hand drive puts European buyers off despite the fact that RHD is a generally regarded optimum driving position for clockwise race circuits.

Driver's seating position aside, this is a car worthy of closer attention. Simply as a road-going Jaguar Mk.2, this example looks to be in great shape and, for that, already establishes a strong market value. Add the subtle race preparation, excellent period-correct presentation of  this car and one wonders why this car has not been snapped up before now?

The fact that the car resides in Sweden should not deter a buyer. Transportation is easily sorted as I have found through buying many cars from the Scandinavian countries. I know the dealers involved and their reputation and product knowledge is excellent. Here is a typical example of a car not selling through a misplaced perception that there are too many hurdles to overcome in obtaining the car. An astute buyer could easily build up a good dialogue with the vendors and through such transparency, I predict that a sensible deal for a great example of this genre of competition car would be easily achieved. Well worth an exploratory phone call.

Friday, 14 February 2014


We rather take for granted the spectacle of full grids of immaculately (and very expensively) prepared historic Touring Cars in today's historic racing arenas. But was it always like this? I rather think not. Wind back the clock to the mid 1970s and you would see equally full grids - but the preparation techniques back in those days owed far more to the enthusiasm of the owner/driver/preparer than to the cheque books of the well-heeled historic 'Gentleman Racers' of today!
In the pioneering days of the Classic Saloon Car Club, donor cars were bought for just a few hundred pounds - or less! Preparation costs for a season may have run to as much as £600........ a far cry from the tens of thousands of pounds casually spent over a Season's racing nowadays. Cars were rarely trailed or transported to meetings as they often doubled-up as the everyday transport of the keen amateur racer. Preparation was basic. Cosmetic issues were left unattended, a secondary issue to finding a second-hand gearbox or buying some part-worn race tyres!
So if the cars were a little 'second-best' in comparison to today's beauty queens, did that ethos follow for the racing? Not a jot! Take a look at this charming and enlightening film - you'll see the same verve and competitiveness that hallmarks the HRDC 'Touring Greats' today. So not all that much has changed since those pioneering days - after all .................
Oh, and do watch closely - a very youthful Touring Car Champion getting his first talking to by a Clerk of the Course! Can you work out who it may be?

Friday, 24 January 2014


Without doubt, the Retromobile exhibition in Paris commands the greatest respect of the world's most influential car collectors and connoisseurs. No doubt the location at the Expo Port de Versailles in Paris is a bonus, but the real attraction is the tangible sophistication of the chic, Gallic charm that pervades over the entire presentation. This is where you must be if you consider yourself to be a true car enthusiast. But like a visit to the Louvre, the sheer scale of the event requires any visitor to take a measured view, or sensory overload will surely cut in! Most visitors take in the show in several stages - as one would naturally do when in France. An early morning promenade through the extraordinary range of trade stalls, selling every type and aspect of Automobilia that one can visualise, will tie you in nicely for a pause for a strong coffee and a snack at one of the many excellent bars that serve the halls. 

Fortified, one can then take in the European Dealers' stands. Here we have the Premier League of classic car dealing - offering the rare and often unrepeatable exotica of the classic car world. You will be sure to see unrestored 'discoveries', the unveiling of fresh restorations and many cars 'new' to the market - such is the drawing strength of Retromobile that many dealers programme the restoration of their prize offerings so as to be first seen here in Paris. That says a lot for the stature held by the movers and shakers of the classic car marketplace for this sublime event.

By this time, you really will need to sit down and take in lunch. Thankfully you are in Paris and the Retromobile has a popular restaurant which, in typical Parisian style, will offer you a choice of one dish! The food is excellent, the service fast and to the point and the beer and wine most palatable. 

Refreshed and reinvigorated, it is now time to take on the special exhibitions, another speciality of this wonderful house. One of the star attractions of this year's show is the Cultural Lancia Retrospective, curated by International classic car dealer, Lukas Huni, who was responsible for lasts year's sublime Citroen Retrospective. Huni has collated an inspire collection of historic Lancias from his clientele. The cars in this special retrospective consist of a selection of no less than 14 of the finest LANCIA models that will be exhibited on Stand S61 in Hall 1, ranging from Pre-War (1924 Lambda, 1938 Aprilia, 1939 Astura), through the significant 1950s, (a full range from Aurelia to Flaminia) through to the iconic 1974 Stratos, purpose-built competition car for the International Rally Championship. The crowning glory of this seminal set-piece must be the 1954 D24 Competition Barchetta. This particular, D24 – 0005, Winner of the 1954 Targa Florio, the 1954 Giro di Sicilia (Taruffi) and the 1954 Porto Grand Prix 1954 (Villoresi), is the only D24 in private hands, forming part of the European Collection. Having been given by Lancia to Eva Peron in 1955, it returned to Europe in the '80s. It is the only original D24 Competition Barchetta in private hands and forms part of a European Collection.

Amongst the many special displays will be a an alluringly titled exhibit "Retromobile and the Thousand and One cars of the Maharajas". In India, during the 1920s and 1930s the automobiles of the Maharajas were of the most extravagant kinds: amazing shapes, extraordinary accessories, flamboyant colours. In order to stand out from their rivals, the Indian princes resorted to every possible option to be the most original - taking the most incredible leaps of imagination possible.

For the first time in Europe, fifteen automotive jewels of the Maharajas will be strutting their stuff here in Paris at the Retromobile Salon this February. Amongst these fascinating line-up will be the incredible Swan Car of the Maharaja of Nabha, several polished aluminium Rolls-Royces, purpose-built Tiger-hunting cars and lavish ceremonial cars. 

There is so much to take in and see that no article can do this extravaganza justice, but before you leave this preview of the Retromoble, just feast your eyes on the thought of getting up close to this veteran of the 1967 Le Mans - to be shown in this seminal Paris exhibition with its original transporter:

For the last three years, the highlight of the Retromobile show has been the auction sale organised by Artcurial Motorcars, which provides thrills and surprises : in front of a crowd of 3,000, the most desirable cars on the planet parade across the stage like the stars of Hollywood or Haute Couture, under the gavel of former racing driver Maître Hervé Poulain.

This year, the department is delighted to present two exceptional sales on 7 and 8 February 2014.

The first sale will offer approximately one hundred lots of fine automobilia and one hundred collectors’ cars, to include a significant choice of important Ferrari and some truly iconic automobiles. Amongst the line-up will be an exceptionally rare Ferrari 166MM Barchetta Oblin (estimate in the region of E 3,000,000) and a hydroplane, the Abbate Motoscafo Ferrari racing boat fitted with a Formula 1 engine (estimate E 400,000 – 500,000).

In the second sale, the Motorcars team will present some sixty Alfa Romeo motorcars, including a unique collection belonging to an Italian enthusiast. This collection features post-war models, every example perfectly restored and preserved. It includes one of the most iconic models of the Milanese marque, the TZ1.


Opening times: 
Wednesday:              11am - 10pm,
Thursday:                   10am - 7pm
Friday:                        10am - 10pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am - 7pm

Admission: Adults 14€ when purchased in advance, 16€ at the gate. 
Free for children under 12.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013



As seen at the world famous Goodwood Revival meeting

Built in 1965 for the Mariot family of shoe retailers by the respected French coachbuilders ‘CRANSAC’, famed for their eccentric promotional vehicles so often employed on events such as the ‘Tour de France’ in the 1950s & ‘60s, this unique mobile retail outlet was retained by the original Mariot family until Spring of 2012, when we discovered it in South West France.


Completed with Drinkwaters customary painstaking attention to detail, the final touches were applied by Derek Pennicott who restored all the original sign-writing by hand. ‘Mariot’ was then ready for its first assignment at the fabulous Goodwood Revival 2012 meeting where ‘Mariot’ was commissioned to act as the main-event programme sales outlet to the 158,000 historic racing and vintage clothing enthusiasts who attend this world-class meeting. The Goodwood Revival meeting’s ethos is to create a ‘True step back in Time’ and therefore nothing gets used on this centre stage that is not 100% genuine and original – ‘Mariot’ certainly fitted Goodwood's bill exactly. So much so, that Goodwood invited 'Mariot' back as a prime display exhibit at its prestigious Festival of Speed Press Day in March this year.


‘Mariot’ is ready to be used as a retail outlet or could be converted to your desired specification by Drinkwaters, be it for food, beverages or retail/promotions/gallery space. It goes without saying that this vehicle is unique – there is none like it on the vintage festival circuit and it has already proved its credentials at a world-class event (where it will certainly be asked back again).

PRICE: £P.O.A + VAT (dependent on your specific application)



For more details, please call:


Mobile: 07919 577496 / 07919577489

Telephone: 01428 685349

'Mariot' is sited in Chiddingfold, Surrey GU8 4TF

P/X cheerfully accommodated!
Derek can convert or re-design any aspect of this vehicle to suit your commercial application.

Monday, 23 December 2013


As driven by NASCAR Legend,
Neil ‘Soapy’ Castles

American stock car racing as a sport developed out of the need for fast and efficient delivery of illegal alcohol. The pride associated with turning out fast cars needed to outrun the Police developed from rivalry between gangs to organised races in fields or on horse tracks. The early Stock Cars were practically standard road cars, and drivers competed in hard, rough-and-tumble action. During the early years of the sport – the professional drivers would tow their ‘Sportsman’ class cars from town to town, racing up to five times a week. All the rural track surfaces were dirt – as mostly these provincial circuits doubled as horse racing venues. Whilst the cars appeared ‘stock’, outwardly running full bodywork, a black art quickly emerged that produced faster cars from the clever manipulation of standard parts. From these early racers, more sophisticated tuning techniques were developed and after-market tuning parts in the form of twin-carburettor set-ups, aluminium cylinder heads, and quick-change rear axles were to be seen on the more professional ‘team’ cars. As there was a severe shortage of new cars in post-war America, such race cars were built from pre-war cars. Weapons of choice were coupes and two-door (Tudor) saloons. Carrying less superfluous tinwork than their four-door sedan counterparts, these smaller bodied models were in great demand by racers – and the casualty rate for such cars was atrociously high – and true survivors are very rare. Many of the great stars of NASCAR started out in these self-built cars: Lee Petty, Curtis ‘Crawfish’ Crider, Fonty Flock, Wendell Scott – as did hard man of NASCAR Neil “Soapy” Castles.

Neil "Soapy" Castles was born 1st October 1934 in Charlotte, NC. Castles competed in the Grand National and Winston Cup ranks for 19 years before retiring from the sport in l976. He was nicknamed "Soapy" from his boyhood competition in soap-box derbies. A true ‘Redneck’, it was said that if you wanted somebody whacked, “Soapy” would do it for $300, and if you wanted flowers, it was $5 more. His NASCAR Grand National Division debut came on 20th June 1957 on the half-mile Columbia Speedway dirt track, driving Bill Champion’s No: 5 Ford. Castles was to start 17th and survive the race to finish 18th – and unharmed. He returned at Darlington Raceway, driving his own No: 68 Ford in which he was to make a further three appearances for a total of five professional major league races that year. Throughout the ’60s "Soapy" was highly competitive, spending four seasons in Buck Baker's cars and finishing eighth in the point standings in 1965 and ninth in the final standings in 1966. Other than those years, Castles fielded his own cars and was considered one of the leading "independents" -those without a factory-backed program. He was eighth in the standings in his own cars in l967 and then 12th in 1968. His best seasons came in 1969 and 1970 when he was fourth and fifth in the final point standings. During his long career he made 498 starts and although he never scored a victory, he had 51 top-five finishes and 178 top-10 placings. He also performed stunt driver duties in the Warner Brothers film "Greased Lightning" alongside Wendell Scott.

Proudly wearing the later Castles No: 06, the 1938 Ford Tudor ‘Sportsman’ stock car offered today comes from the now defunct Rod Long Museum of NASCAR. Restored several years ago at a cost of over $30,000, this original warhorse was prepared especially for Neil “Soapy” Castles to demonstrate at NASCAR events. A high specification ‘Sportsman’ class racer – it features period Edelbrock aluminium race heads on its flathead V-8 engine, fuelled by twin Stromberg 97 carburettors via a rare Edmonds dual intake. A massive roll cage protects the driver, while safety hubs ensure that he will not lose a wheel during contact with another racer. Wide ‘dirt’ race wheels are employed, which give the car a menacing stance and straight through pipes emit a thunderous presence. With all this ‘go’ on tap – it’s reassuring to know that the brakes on this racer use ’40 ‘juice’ (hydraulic) brakes rather than the earlier rod type. This is no ‘Jalopy racer’ but a professionally restored survivor. Specialist maintained to a high standard and ‘on the button’ here is an evocative NASCAR racer that has already been seen and much admired at both the 2009 and 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Eligible for both Spedeworth’s THORA vintage stock car series and BRISCA’s Heritage series, this potent piece of Stock Car history is ‘ready to rumble!’ However, earlier this year (2013) the car’s ‘staggered’ suspension set up was converted for track use and this car was taken to Goodwood for a full track test. Unlikely as it may sound, the car behaved perfectly on Goodwood’s fast and sweeping circuit – much to the amazement of the other drivers on track! So whether you want to race this as a vintage Stock Car, Drag Race it in the ‘Flathead Meltdown’, participate in the Pendine Sands event or simply Rod it – there’s no question that you will ever find another quite like it (or with such history) in the U.K. This car has been imported into the U.K and is duty paid. It comes with a DVLA approved dating certificate and does not need an MOT!
Car is viewable at
High Hurstwood,
East Sussex, TN22 4AE
CALL: 07850 361159

Sunday, 15 December 2013


The HRDC Austin Academy, so what’s this all about then?

Historic saloon car racing is one of the few flourishing categories of motorsport in the UK today. But this popularity brings with it a level of competitiveness, which in itself brings added expense to improve and push the boundaries and levels of your chosen vehicle.
A tried and trusted formula in motor sport to try and ‘level the playing field’ is a 'one make' race series, where all cars are expected to be equal and thus the ability of the driver shines through, or not as the case may be!
To my knowledge this has not been tried with Historic saloons (maybe with the exception of Minis) certainly never with Austin A35s!

So why the A35?
Firstly, the Austin A35 has an iconic reputation as a race car - hitting well above its weight. Furthermore, the Austin A35 is still readily available to buy secondhand at sensible prices, £3.5K to £5.5K will buy a nice sound car if you buy wisely. The best advice is to buy as good as you can because welding a car up will not only cost you more than you expect, it will also take far longer than you expect, and your aim is to get on the grid in a reasonable time frame, not getting a suntan from your mig welder!
The mechanics of the A35 are tried and tested, and whilst not being cutting edge, these can be surprisingly reliable. The engine / gearbox / suspension / brakes package that has been designed is there to provide beginners - as well as seasoned racers - with a safe and rewarding experience.
Whilst the specification for the HRDC Academy cars could have gone a lot further with the engine output  and sophistication of suspension tuning; safety and reliability have driven the key factors with the Academy project - thus allowing novice drivers to build their experience with a stable and solid tool in the form of a HRDC Academy car. 

So you have bought your A35, what happens now?
Your first point of contact will be the HRDC

The key elements of the package are the engine, which is a sealed and tested unit, (only available to buy outright from Classic and Modern Engine Services), the roll cage which is a 6-point bolt in with welded-in strengthening plates, (only available from Caged Laser in Somerset), and then the suspension, brakes, auxiliary engine parts, interior and body accessories (available only from Moto-Build Racing).

The idea is that you buy the parts from the HRDC suppliers as and when it is convenient to you. During the assembly of your car, there are a certain amount of parts that are mandatory to buy via the HRDC suppliers, but also there are many other parts that are required to complete the car that you can source yourself. These other parts are also available via the HRDC suppliers if required. However if you do source certain items then you must ensure they are suitable for inclusion in your build, so don't be afraid of asking questions before you buy!

So you have built the car, what happens now?
The car needs to have it’s own HRDC chassis plate and passport, this is to ensure that all cars competing are known to have been built to the correct standard, if during the build you are in any doubt about how to do something or if a part is compatible / acceptable, there will always be someone available at the end of the phone or an email to help and advise. When built the car will be inspected to confirm eligibility, the chassis plate will then be stamped and fitted.

Once it has it’s passport and chassis plate that’s it, off to the first available race with the HRDC!
The 2014 HRDC Calendar is available on:
HRDC Academy cars will initially run as a separate class within the HRDC 'Touring Greats' Series for pre-'60 historic touring cars. Once HRDC Academy car numbers increase - a stand-alone Series will be formed.

Here's a pictorial journey through the build-up of an HRDC Academy car:

Firstly buy yourself the best car that you can - it will be money well spent!

A project like this - no matter how cheap - could be a step too far!




To see an HRDC ACADEMY car in action, go to:

'Starter' Academy cars can be sourced via: