Silverstone Classic Ferrari F40 GT/LM, Nissan Primera SATC, Rapport Forté and BRM P48 make their post-rebuild debuts
Nineties GTS and sports prototypes crown a distinctly different Silverstone Classic
The spectacular Gt-class supercars of the Nineties and their even more radical opencockpit sports prototype counterparts fought it out in a new headline race – the Masters Endurance Legends – at this year’s Silverstone Classic. The event felt more focused on the motor sport of more recent eras than previous editions, with no pre-war classes plus a new race for veteran competitors of the World Superbike Championships. Elsewhere though, the 60th anniversary of the BTCC meant that touring cars stole the show.
Nissan Primera SATC
This experimental Nissan touring car was making its UK track debut following restoration by Club Tropicana International.
‘It was built in 1997 for the South African Touring Car Championship,’ said Tropicana’s Johnny Westbrook. ‘South Africa’s motor sports association was the first to recognise that the costs of Super Touring were getting out of hand, and created its own formula halfway between Super Touring and production – this car was the first built to the new specification.
‘It has 315bhp, a dogleg manual gearbox, centrelock wheels, no aerodynamic add-ons and the engine was in its normal place, not tilted back like a Super Tourer’s. Although built by Nissan Motorsport South Africa, there was a lot of input from Sunderland, and funnily enough it ended up influencing the design of the 1999 Primera – one of the most expensive Super Tourers built.
‘They had to drop the four-wheel-drive floorpan, which had been homologated to take on the Audi Quattros but after four-wheel drive was banned they used its independent rear suspension. On this car they developed a twist-beam with an adjustable link in the middle.’
Ferrari F40 GT/LM
This spectacular F40, recently restored by DK Engineering, made its historic racing debut in the Masters Endurance Legends. ‘It’s one of only seven F40 GTS built by Michelotto to CSAI-GT specifications,’ said Paul Barrett of DK Engineering. ‘Originally it had 560bhp – later developments have taken it up to 690bhp – in a package weighing just 1050kg, with rose-jointed suspension.
‘Amazingly, all the Michelotto GTS were road cars originally. This was a 1989 car converted to GT specification in 1991 for the Jolly Club to run in the 1993 Italian GT Championship. Marco Brand won eight of the nine races, winning it outright.
In 1994 it was sold to Team Taisan in Japan, which got Michelotto to upgrade it to Le Mans specification before racing it in the Japanese GT series in 1994-1995.
‘It remained in this specification, unused, until we acquired it last year and returned it to GT spec – complete with original Monte Shell livery.’
This bizarre shooting-brake, just restored and driven all the way from Switzerland by its owner, Georg Dönni, was the star of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club stand.
‘As far as I know, it was never publicly shown – it just appeared in publicity photographs,’ said Dönni. ‘In the Seventies Rapport mainly produced longwheelbase Range Rover conversions, but it wanted to get more into the car business with models such as the Ritz, which was a luxury wedge-shaped version of the Triumph Acclaim.
‘Rapport wanted to build its own car. Designer Chris Humberstone acquired an unknown number of Jaguar XJ12 chassis and created prototypes of the Forté in coupé, cabriolet and estate form. After launch in 1980, 12 orders were taken, most from Alexander Patrick of the Patrick Motor Group, but Rapport went bust before it could build any cars. In the end Graham Hudson of Ladbroke Avon offered to build them – he started three but only finished this one.
‘Jaguar historian Andrew Whyte tested it and said its handling was awkward. Patrick wasn’t satisfied with it either and didn’t drive it much. When I acquired it in 2009 it only had 690 miles on the clock. Part of its problem was that the nose only left a small inch-high slot for the V12 to take air through, so it’d overheat after about 15 minutes. When I restored it, I had to devise a completely new and more powerful cooling system for it.’
This BRM was competing even though its restoration wasn’t complete yet, running without paint. ‘It’s the most successful P48 there ever was,’ said Rob Hall of restorer Hall & Hall.
‘It got the best results during a difficult 1960 season for BRM.’ Graham Hill finished third at Zandvoort, and Jo Bonnier managed fifth at Monaco and Riverside. Dan Gurney mainly drove it, including at Silverstone, finishing 10th.
‘Robs Lamplough has owned it since 1971, but it hasn’t run since then because bits from it were put in a P25. We’ve spent the last five years restoring it and it’s still not finished, but it is running!’
This F40 was recently returned to its original flamethrowing GT spec
The only completed Rapport Forté Estate
BRM hadn’t run since 1971
South African Nissan Primera touring car in its ‘semi-super’ spec