Even the legendary designer fantasises about cars he’ll never own
Asubject that has always fascinated me is the positioning of racing cars as classics. There has been a huge increase in the value or perceived value of classic cars in the last 15 years or so, but the racing car segment has seen an even steeper climb in value, and I am extremely interested in the driving factors behind this trend.
As I have been involved with racing cars for most of the life, I obviously fall into the group of classic car lovers that see racing cars as more important than road cars when it comes to classic status, but I equally understand that many others are not really interested in classic racing cars. The growth of interest in historic racing and the increase in the number of organised events has certainly been a factor and the growing interest in cars with good provenance has been influenced by so much more available literature on the history of these cars, the drivers and their competition records. The very limited numbers built of works team cars is, of course, another factor when it comes to value.
I remember in my early days at Brabham in the mid-seventies, the only chance we had of selling the Formula One cars was if they were current enough and competitive enough to be raced by a privateer team. The two- or three-year-old cars were not really saleable. In today’s climate an iconic racing car that achieved a high level of success at the hands of a great driver can command quite stupendous numbers. A Mercedes W196R driven by Fangio in 1954 achieved nearly thirty million dollars at auction a few years back. This trend has now begun to filter down to racing cars with more humble backgrounds and today the lesserknown marques and even specials are increasing in value.
In a previous column I wrote about my 1951 Cooper Mark IV, which I bought for nostalgic reasons in memory of my father. I have to hold myself in check sometimes when I see one of my all-time favourite racing cars for sale. A recent example was when I saw a Lotus 25 for sale and I had to give myself a good talking to – I’d probably not be able to get more than one leg in a 25. As much as I’d like one, it’s better that these cars are owned by folks who will look after and race them so that many more people can experience the enjoyment of seeing and hearing them in action. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed recently, where there were several of my Seventies Brabham Alfas and Brabham BMWS, I had so many classic car fans come and tell me how happy it made them to see the cars driving up the hill.
There’s a group of cars that keep both classic car camps happy – the Fifties and Sixties GT cars and homologation specials that can be enjoyed on both the road and the track. I’m happy to say that I enjoy cars from all three categories – everyday road car classics, pure racing cars and the GT crossovers – but I still lust after that Lotus 25!
Murray’s 6”4’ frame means he can only dream of setting his inner Jim Clark on a Lotus 25