Although he was far too big for a modern Grand Prix Car, Colin Crabbe made his racing debut in a Maserati 250F at Goodwood, in 1964. He thought he had won: “I waved to the crowd and slowed right down, then realised that there was another lap to go, and so I came last. That was the sort of silly thing one did.”
His first ‘serious’ racing car was the Aston Martin Project 214 which had been homologated as a DB4GT. When his American godmother left him $10,000 — “A helluva lot of money in those days” — he bought a half-share in a Ford GT40, which was campaigned in South Africa and Europe.
“It was a super car,” he recalls, “fast and very reliable, but I had a monumental shunt at Brands in 1967. The left-rear wheel came off and the left-front wheel ended up under the driver’s seat. After straightening it out I managed to sell it, but that was the end of my modem racing.”
Crabbe set historic motorsport alight after finding a Mercedes WI 25 in what was then East Germany. The deal was clinched in Berlin, where he paid cash at Checkpoint Charlie.With this car he won the VSCC’s Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy races at record-breaking speeds in 1971 and ’72. Crabbe remembers it as being “very, very, very quick”and wonderfully reliable despite its engine’s prodigious power and torque. He also found and demonstrated a D-Type Auto Union whose speed verged on the unreal.
He stopped racing Fora few years, then started again in a Talbot-Lago. However, this return ended in 1988, after his horrified wife and children saw his blue car ploughing into a colossal first-lap pile-up during the VSCC’s meeting at Oulton Park
Removing Crabbe from the wreckage took more than an hour, and the doctors thought he would die. He spent five weeks on a life-support machine and was in hospital for three months.
His racing days were over.