Hopping in to Historic Racing: Three Timeless Tin-Tops
We love historic racing; what could be better than a weekend at the track with your historic race car or bike and some good friends? So we’re taking a look at entry-level machinery that’ll get you going with something fast, competitive and fun.
And we’re kicking off where the racing is at its most rambunctious – tin-tops!
Image via Car & Classic UK
Something simple to start: Ford Escort
Introduced in the late ’60s, the Ford Escort was huge in Europe and the United States, and found success around the world.
The classic variations, Mark I and Mark II, Twin-Cam, RS 1600, RS 1800 and RS2000, were neat, quick and agile little rear-wheel-drive monsters. They tore up the rally circuit, with Mark I and Mark II Escorts dominating the category for a decade.
And while they’re probably best known for their rally prowess, they were no slouch in touring car, hill climb and GT racing.
Their popularity and variety means that you can pick one up to suit a range of entry-level budgets, and there’s plenty of knowledge, parts and expertise available for running, maintaining and developing them. You’ll also find plenty of places to race them, depending on where you are in the world and your preference for performance.
Take this little Escort Mk. 1 for sale at Car & Classic UK for example. It’s running a 200bhp dry sump Pinto motor through a Quaife gearbox and an LSD, has a genuine Mexico Type 49 shell, is currently competing in historic racing and can be had for £20000.
Allow us to escort you to more Escort action: Video: How to treat a Mk2 Ford Escort
Image via Car & Classic UK
Something small: A Mini
They’re an obvious choice, and for good reason. Minis offer an amount of fun inversely-proportional to their stature, and they can throw a punch that’ll knock the smile off of cars boasting significantly more plentiful horses.
Every time we’re out enjoying some Group S and Group N racing, there are Minis up the inside of absolutely everything, inside rear wheel cocked. And that looks like a good time to us!
The ’60s were a glorious time – especially if you were, or were driving, a Mini. They dominated international rally racing, placing a particularly prominent stamp on the Monte Carlo Rally, blew everyone away at Bathurst, stomped the British Saloon Car Championship and more still.
And they haven’t let up since. They’re extremely popular in historic motorsport, making them well-supported opportunity to get into the sport. Plus they’re absolutely adorable, and we want our cars to bring a smile to our faces each time we catch a glimpse of them.
The Mini Cooper S up above, also up for sale through Car & Classic UK, will set you back £19500, or nearest offer. And that gets you a working FIA race car in good nick with a nice spec and tune. And like the Escorts, because they were so prolific, you’ll be able to find a Mini to match almost any budget, including some very, very nice cars with race history.
We all need more Minis in our lives, so check out: Video: Absolute Chaos – Mini Madness
Image via Racecars Direct
Something substantial: Ford Mustang
Who wouldn’t want a Mustang? Big power, big beautiful noise and a stance with the presence to match. These are the cars blasting past the Minis down the straights, and making sure everyone knows about it.
Ford have been building and racing Mustangs since 1964, wasting no time getting them out onto the track by organising one as a pace car for the 1964 Indy 500. From there they went on to find success in drag racing, road racing, Trans-Am, stock racing and pretty much any form of four-wheeled motorsport.
Since they’ve been built and raced for half a century, you’ll find plenty of these on the historic racing circuits of the word. And that means plenty of variations and options to suit your racing budget, along with a huge support network when it comes to maintaining and developing them, and learning the odd setup trick or two. It also means a good community to share the historic racing experience with!
They start a little more expensive than the Escorts or Minis, but you can pick a good one up around $40,000 and go a long way north from there, should you so desire!
The above 1965 Notchback Mustang up for sale at Racecars Direct is a great example. British racing green, obligatory go-faster racing twin-stripes and well-sorted, it could be yours for $52,000.
This man rallied his Mustang around the world: Video: Rallying across the globe