If we are not careful, we spectators will see neither Multi-Union II not its P3 base again, particularly if Mr Mike Lawrence’s ridiculous idea of a campaign against either car being recognised as “genuine” is given serious credence. If all less-than-perfect cars were banned, there would not be much to see at Historic events today. What is important is that the full facts are known, particularly to historians and clubs, that nothing is passed-off as something it is not, and that the cars are used with enthusiasm.
From what I have read, I understand the Multi-Union Special which raced at the 1987 VSCC Silverstone Alfa race was actually “Multi-Union Replica”! But, I recall being very impressed with its performance, and nothing can erase that impression. At the same time, I understand that the major original components of the Alfa Romeo P3, having been removed from Multi Union I and II or found elsewhere, have been rebuilt into the Alfa car as it was originally. Whilst it is a pity about the original chassis-frame of the Multi-Union, if this means another pre-war Grand Prix car may join the ranks of competitors, and if the owner can satisfy the authorities he really has the original frame, engine and so on, then good luck to him.
Surely, the major outcome of the “replica” controversy which has raged since the CM Mascrati 250Fs and the Dino Ferraris in the early 1980s was that original components such as chassis-frames and continuous history were the key to the vehicle’s genuine identity?
Surely, the FIA has rules which cover this? If those involved have followed the rules, surely what we have now is a most unusual case of a car with two virtually separate careers and identities — not dissimilar to the 1958-9 front-engined BRMs which were made into rear-engined cars in 1960 and back again later but without the original front-engined frames,! think?
If the original P3 was found to be rebuilt with its major components, which is conceded as the prerogative of its owner, surely the result we have is infinitely better than if “Multi-Union” has been totally destroyed, which must have been a distinct possibility and may even be preferred by some. At least it seems that all the Multi-Union Special features remain and will continue to do so, although if we follow the argument on originality faithfully, we cannot now categorise Multi-Union as “original”. The race programmes do not call the Dino Ferraris or 250F Maseratis “replicas”, so I would have thought the car in its present form should be known as “Multi Union Special” or “Multi Union III” to ensure no-one is confused.
As more and more “real” cars go to speculators, collections or museums to be seen no more, surely we spectators will enjoy watching those which continue in active competition just as much, even if many of them have new, presumably legal, chassis-frames. I for one look forward to seeing the cars again, and hope that the owner will not be too inhibited by the fact that the few people who have written in criticism must be outweighed by the silent many who when they confront the issues will enjoy seeing both cars.
Simon Coates, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex