Zerex Special

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The hype of the Goodwood Revival may centre on Ferrari 250s, Aston Martin DB4 GTs, rumbling Cobras and enduring E-types. But nestled in the entry for this year’s event is a car that’s arguably more significant and storied than all of the more extravagant exotica in the paddock combined.

The Zerex Special is probably the most important and influential car you’ve never heard of. This diminutive, unassuming prototype is the car that first displayed Roger Penske’s cunning engineering genius. It’s the car that first wooed Bruce McLaren into wielding a spanner in his own name, and in many ways launched the global automotive empire that’s become his legacy. In a former life this car also competed in Formula 1 and, on top of that, it sowed the seeds for the legendary Can-Am category.

While the Zerex has a bit of a cult following across the United States West Coast – thanks to Penske’s exploits with it in the early ’60s – its competition pedigree in the UK was brief, but highly successful. Plus, to us, its name sounds like a photocopier – it’s not. Zerex Special was actually a brand of antifreeze from Dupont, Penske’s sponsor. At the time America frowned on monetary sponsorship in motor sport, so Penske simply stuck two small white stickers on the sides and gave the machine the moniker of the sponsor. The Zerex Special it became.

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