I was very interested to read your June article on historic authenticity, particularly since it featured a photo of one of the Lancia D50s I’ve reconstructed in partnership with Guido Rosani. I own one of these cars, which has been seen in public many times at Goodwood and various other events in Europe.
All racing cars are subject to wear, and in time, as parts are worn and replaced or suffer accident damage, almost any car loses its original character. Cars are not like paintings. A valuable, restored historic car which is fit to race today will have very little left of its original character and components whatever its present owner would lead you to believe.
Secondly, car developments (including engine, transmission, brakes and suspension) have taken performance to unimaginable levels based on the period in which the cars were first built. This has also caused loss of originality; this time self-inflicted.
Thirdly, there are the differences between ‘fakes’, ‘replicas’, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘copies’ — terms that are often used without distinction. ‘Fakes’ set out deliberately to deceive people that they are what they are not. ‘Replicas’ and ‘copies’ are different: they’re reproductions of originals that may or may not still exist; they may be good or bad depending on how accurately they are carried out. ‘Reconstructions’ are collections of period parts, which may either be reunited as they once were or be a correct reassembly of period parts which did not at any time form part of the same single car — like ‘copies’ and ‘replicas’, they can be carried out well or badly.
Unless they are abusing trademarks or other intellectual property rights, anyone is free to make a ‘replica’, a ‘copy’ or a ‘reconstruction’. Until a few years ago there were no such things as FIA Historic Vehicle Identity Forms, and when one sees the results that the old system produced one wonders if ignorance was not bliss. There are strong arguments for letting race organisers decide what they wish to invite or accept rather than having an often erratic and bureaucratic international history identity system. The new Appendix K seems to be an improvement, particularly since they concentrate for the first time on cars running to correct period specification.
And where does this leave the apparently controversial D50s? There are only two surviving ‘original’ cars, both non-runners in museums. Both incorporate racing modifications and neither is remotely in the condition in which they were built in 1954/55. ‘Our’ D50s have original engines and transaxles and are built to the original drawings. They produce the same power and torque as in the 1950s — brakes, transmission and suspension are unaltered from the original. Some might agree that they are closer to being the original Lancia D50s than any of the restored, developed and improved 250Fs out there are to being Maseratis. One thing is certain — any time one of ‘our’ D50s appears it attracts huge public enthusiasm and, I think, approval. Which is better: a very rare historically important car reconstructed from original parts to the original specification, giving pleasure to large numbers of enthusiasts and spectators, or a collection of unused parts gathering dust in garages in England and Italy?
Anthony MacLean, Geneva, Switzerland
Copies of what?
You write in your June editorial of FIA President Max Mosley having waded in and opened the door to new ‘old’ cars, “albeit 100 percent accurate facsimiles”. Accurate facsimiles of what, I wonder?
What a fine mess we shall have when new copies appear of any of the inaccurately repaired cars, of various makes, as already admitted to the competition, in spite of their deliberately unoriginal configurations. I’ve no doubt the mess will truly delight those two gentlemen masquerading as Laurel and Hardy at major events during last season!
Bill Colson, Isfield, East Sussex