Fulfilling the ultimate fantasy

They’re not cheap, but ex-GP cars are very definitely available

Returning from this year’s Monaco Grand Prix Historique with absurd fantasies about buying an old-school Formula 1 car, I began trawling the web to see what was available. I quickly alighted on the site of the super-successful French dealership GTC, which is based outside Marseilles, not far from Paul Ricard. Founded by enthusiast and talented historic racer Jean Guikas almost 30 years ago, it usually offers an inventory of at least 60 cars, all of which are owned by the business rather than being offered on behalf of clients.

That means Guikas has used the knowledge and experience he has built up over decades to decide that the cars are worth buying in the first place, and that he’s confident his good reputation will be upheld when he sells them. It didn’t take long to open up the details accompanying a photograph of a Footwork Arrows that was depicted sitting provocatively on a race track at a three-quarter angle.

It turned out to have been the car driven by Michele Alboreto in 1990, when he first joined Jackie Oliver’s Arrows team before it was sponsored by Japanese logistics firm Footwork Express. But, despite being offered with spare body panels, wings and floors, the car currently has a major drawback – because GTC is selling it as a rolling chassis, minus the Cosworth-Ford DFR V8 engine that propelled it in period. Which might explain the tempting €80,000 price tag…

A better buy, however, is probably the superb March 771 that’s also on the GTC stocklist. Not only is it eyecatching in vibrant yellow and blue Rothmans livery, but it has a bit of history (if not an especially remarkable one) in that it was one of the two cars built by March for the 1977 season – and, as chassis 771-01, it was the one driven by Ian Scheckter, elder brother of 1979 F1 champion Jody.

Long-standing F1 fans will know that the 1977 season proved to be something of a non-event for March, not to mention the end of Ian Scheckter’s F1 career – but the 771 chassis and its 761 predecessor proved to be a popular choice among privateer teams and drivers, because they were simple, cheap and available. (Frank Williams, for example,  used one as a stop-gap when the Williams Grand Prix Engineering team made its  debut in the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix).

By 1979, the car on offer at GTC  was back in England and being used for hillclimbing, after which it was prepared for historic circuit racing by the renowned Martin Stretton, after which it went to Italy and has, says GTC, since been raced only ‘occasionally’.

Offered in fully operational condition with a fresh Cosworth engine, FIA passport – and, in my opinion, looking superb in its now non-PC Rothmans livery – it’s a perfect opportunity to scratch that historic F1 itch. Although it’s worth remembering that the €300,000 price tag will just be the first of many large bills you’ll have to meet in exchange for all those heroic feelings…..