Devil is in the development

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Sir,

No doubt the interview with Max Mosley and his views on historic motor sport will raise hackles.

The question of ‘replicas’, facsimiles in Max’s more correct terminology, has been with us for many years. It seems a facsimile is acceptable provided some improbable history is attached.

Max’s view that all real historic cars should be put into a museum and facsimiles raced is extremely unlikely ever to happen. The cars for which facsimiles will be built will be the highly desirable ones. No one will build the failures.

The important point about facsimiles is that they will never be true facsimiles. Engineering has advanced considerably in the last 50 years and it would be quite difficult to make a copy of a car as badly as the original was built. Materials have changed, together with the methods of crafting those materials. One has only to look at the application of CNC machines (not around 50 years ago) to realise that the accuracy of a component so manufactured will be superior to the original. One has also to consider manufacturer’s liability: if he makes a component which fails he is liable, and components in historic motor sport are stressed far beyond what may have been calculated in period.

The point that Max made about substituting a super crankshaft into a 250F Maserati in order to make it go quicker is a salient one. It is the continued development of historic cars which is the greatest threat. Cars are going much quicker now than they did in period; and often include components for which there is little or no historic evidence of period use.

Appendix K, which is the International set of regulations with which all historic cars are expected to comply, is a code of originality modified by substitute components for which the originals are not available.

The best example is tyres. No tyres for historic or vintage cars are made like they were in period. The tyres specified for pre-1960 racing are from the Dunlop R5 range. These resemble the original in all but materials. In period they would have had a cotton carcase; modern ones use nylon. The tread rubber is to 204 compound; a compound not available until 1970. Thus the legislated tyre is better than the period tyre, and it can come as no surprise that it makes the cars perform better.

No doubt Max Mosley’s letter has raised people’s ire; but the historic movement is threatened far more by development of existing cars than by facsimiles.

Alan Dutt, Hartley, Kent

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