The Retro World and Motorsport

When the urge strikes I build retrospective racing sports cars as a hobby. In essence a replica is a near to exact copy of a vehicle that actually was made at some time in the past, while a retrospective is a vehicle representing what might have been made if only someone had got around to it. Both are allowed in classic racing. A few years ago I had a conversation with Neil Doyle. I asked him if he had ever thought of building up another Anglia Corvette, the original one having long since disappeared. He answered that he had looked into it and got a ruling that if he built one for himself it would be regarded as being a rebuild of the old one. But if someone else built one it would not be accepted. MNZ rules, then as now, did not allow replicas of historic saloon cars or the creation of retrospective specials of that sort. Having agreed that was a poor deal, but that at least I got to race mine, we left the conversation at that.   

At this years Scope meeting I found just such a machine. Here it is. This car was built with some guidance from Neil but not by him, and is powered by Ford rather than Chevrolet, making it a retrospective rather than a replica. Its builders are having trouble getting acceptance for classic racing and ran at Ruapuna with the muscle car field. The funny thing was that it was not the only replica/retro saloon or GT car on display. A close look around the grids found plenty more happily competing without comment. So why the distinction? The answer may be found in the two mixed threads that make up classic racing. These threads are actually a split between modified road cars and out and out track ones. Thread one (Schedule T&C) relates to road going production cars, while thread two (Schedule K) relates to historic purpose built track racing cars. T&C cars have less scope for performance modifications.

The out and out racers don’t mind sharing the grid with replicas or retros, and in fact their grids would be sparse without them. T&C owners don’t have that necessity. If you want a car just like theirs then you can go out and buy one, after all there are plenty of them out there. There are obvious cross-overs between the two threads. For instance Shellsport cars begin life as production based T&C cars, but the scope of their race class allowed modifications quickly take them out of schedule T&C. So what would happen if I turned up with a freshly minted Shellsport Revival car, in a proper period body shell with proper period running gear? My guess is that no-one would bat an eyelid. Such a car would, strictly speaking, be a replica. Shellsports fall within the purpose built race car definition (period category S of Schedule K) but they are patently not single seaters or sports racing cars. But if I did the same for say, a replica Zephyr Corvette, then my bet is that eyebrows would be raised all over the place, even though it would fall within the same Schedule K period category as the Shellsport car. A retrospective/replica OSCA or Allcomers car would be even more fun, it needn’t replicate anything! And maybe that’s the problem. But why should an OSCA or an Allcomers be regarded as any less of a New Zealand special than say the Stanton Corvette? Time perhaps to talk about it! If we accept a line drawn between cars originally built specifically for the track, and cars built for the road, then we could lump historic racing saloons in with the historic single seaters and sports cars. We could also note that while MNZ Manual Schedule CR covers the design and construction of replicas and retros, it is not actually limited, in itself, to just single seaters or racing sports cars. (It uses the generic term “vehicle” throughout). Should we step along that path then regularizing what is already happening could be simply done by adding another line covering schedule K period category S cars to Appendix 6 of the MNZ Manual (the bit that deals with COD’s). Should we push down that road? What do you think?