There was a constructor of a mid-1950s sports-racing car — to save any blushes we shall call it the Gestetner Mk1 — who many years later was invited to present the prizes following a race purely for his cars. Before he handed over the laurels to the winner, however, he not only congratulated him on his performance on the track but also for ensuring that there were more Gestetners out and about than there had ever been in their day!
The issue of replicas, recreations and fakes in historic motor racing has long been a thorny one, but the recent huge growth in this arm of the sport and the subsequent increasing value of the cars have made owners and restorers even more prickly about the subject.
And now they're apoplectic. For FIA President Max Mosley, who decided against racing a Brabham at the recent Historic Grand Prix at Monaco, has waded in and opened the door to new 'old' cars — albeit 100 per cent accurate facsimiles (see news story, page 17).
Max's view would seem to be that people are becoming more reluctant to race cars of real provenance. And it's true that some million-pound machines have been mothballed in order to protect their value. But the general consensus would appear to be that owners of significant racing cars still want to see them being exercised, used for the purpose for which they intended.
Historic motor racing is not Mosley's area of expertise. He does a pretty good job at smoothing the waves created by 10 F1 teams — but there are over 10,000 historic cars/owners worldwide with a keen interest in keeping fakes out...
Whatever the FIA says and does, it will be the well-established clubs, packed with marque experts and dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts, who will keep an eye on the situation and decide whether to cold-shoulder fakes or not But for how long will they be able to keep tabs on them all?
There are 'dishonest' cars out there, but fewer than you might think. Would it not be better to expose them now while those who know the truth are around to pass judgement, rather than create a huge problem 30 years down the line?
Paul Fearnley, Editor