My Car Quest

August 13, 2022

The Price of Vintage Car Racing

by Wallace Wyss –

One of the reasons why I will go to Monterey Car Week to see some vintage race cars. I might even get out to the track (if my press credential request is approved) and hope to see the great ones of 60 years ago.

I was a little shocked a few weeks ago when I saw the infamous Ferrari Breadvan was smacked pretty hard at the LeMans Classic in Europe (see the video at the end). Thank God the driver –31-year-old Austrian Lukas Halusa–survived and no doubt it will be rebuilt. I am especially fond of this car since, when Matt Ettinger owned it, he took me for a spirited ride in it.

The Ferrari Breadvan crashes at Le Mans.

Ferrari Breadvan Crash

I enjoy seeing the Ferrari Breadvan in action because this was the “bad boy” Ferrari commissioned by Count Volpi, who had a team with two GTOs and was mad at Enzo when his order for a third GTO was cancelled. Enzo Ferrari had refused to sell any more 250 GTOs to Count Volpi, due to Volpi’s hiring of former Ferrari employees at ATS, a startup aimed at competing with Ferrari. Ing. Bizzarrini, who had left Ferrari as a part of the Palace Revolt, engineered the Breadvan out of an old 250 GT SWB fitting a lighter and more aerodynamic body and a six carb dry sump GTO-style engine. It had the potential to thrash the works GTOs but a broken driveshaft put it out. It had been running seventh overall after four hours into the race.

I feel a little guilty wanting to see cars run that are valuable pieces of history that, if smashed, might never be on view again. But in the other hand what if I paid $90 for a race ticket and marveled at a D-type Jag only to find it was built in 2021 and not the Fifties. One time I went to a vintage race in Wisconsin where half the cars in the front couple of rows were replicas and felt conned by that later.

Ferrari Breadvan

Ferrari Breadvan With Gary Wales Leaning On The Rear Fender – Photo by Dave Craddock

In music they have “tribute bands” and though I am not sure how the survivors of the original bands get compensated (or do they?) I enjoy seeing them when I know they are a staged remake as it were. But feel cheated at vintage races when I find out later I was seeing fakes/re-creations when I had paid in anticipation of seeing the real thing. It reminds me of when the public discovered that the short lived music group Milli Vanilli didn’t actually do the singing on their 1989 hit record. When they went to perform, the audience found out they couldn’t sing.

Ferrari 250 Breadvan

Ferrari 250 Breadvan at the Ferrari Museum – Photo by Mike Gulett – 2013

So I want to see the real thing. Maybe I can liken it to WWII planes. I am old enough to where I’ve seen in person P51 Mustangs perform in tributes. I don’t want to see one built from scratch, as some have, I want to see and hear real ones, with real WWII experience. Maybe someday the FAA will say the originals are too old to fly and that will be the end of an era.

Ferrari Breadvan

Photo from Gabriele Spangenberg driving the Ferrari 250 Breadvan on a race track many years ago.

I will understand that, but with vintage cars, I still want to see the real ones. So I will welcome the Breadvan back on the grid but fully understand if it, like the Mercedes 300SLR that won the Mille Miglia, is judged too valuable to be on the grid.

What say you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Author of 18 car histories Wyss is now wielding a paintbrush, depicting his favorite classics in oil on canvas. He will be manning his Art & Books booth at Concorso Italiano.

 
 
 
 
 

Ferrari 250 Breadvan Art

Ferrari 250 Breadvan Art by Wallace Wyss

Summary
The Price of Vintage Car Racing
Article Name
The Price of Vintage Car Racing
Description
I enjoy seeing the Ferrari Breadvan in action because this was the "bad boy" Ferrari commissioned by Count Volpi, who had a race team with two Ferrari GTOs.
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Comments

  1. I’m with Wallace on this one. But I think there are a couple of considerations:
    – If you can afford it, a vintage car is never “too valuable to race.” That’s what it was built for, and it can nearly always be repaired if it gets crunched. It’s only money. (Unless the poor thing gets burned down!) If you can’t afford it, perhaps you should find another hobby.
    – I think the greed for speed leads people to create replicas under a false rubric of “preservation.” Modern tech just makes it possible to go faster while looking fabulous. I’ve raced a few now-vintage classics when they were brand new, and driven properly in their original form, they are completely capable of keeping your attention riveted on the job at hand.
    – There are variations on the theme. For example, Nick Mason’s Ferrari 250 GTO (3757 GT), and probably some other cars, wears two hats. There’s the exquisite original condition hat, and then one the crew can put on for, say, a good competitive run at Goodwood. The point is not to break anything unnecessarily. But the provenance of this car has been carefully preserved, and it is definitely the real thing throughout.
    – Restoration and replication, especially with race cars, are two different concepts. Every race car has always begun to have mods, from the first turning of the wheels. So none of them in a given series will be exactly alike. but each has an exclusive pedigree that establishes its attributes and value. A replica is an image, made with whatever the builder wants, and has no provenance. So racing it is basically the same as running any other “special.”
    – The Breadvan crash exemplifies what I’m nattering on about. We feel strongly attached to this unique piece of history, and I expect it’ll be fixed, good as new. We’ll feel glad for that, and we hope it’ll continue to see use in vintage competition. A replica of it would just be an imitation of the genuine article, and I wouldn’t particularly enjoy seeing it run, or even cry much if it ended up in a landfill.
    Thanks for listening,
    Larry Perkins

  2. The “If you can’t afford it,……..” comment smack a little of elitism in a world already mad with overpriced indulgence.
    True, some replicas are straight up cheat cars, but a whole lot more originals are now cheater cars too. The wealthy who can afford to fix it hen it is crashed can be the worst offenders, as for them the conquest (pride and ego) is paramount.
    Grandad’s axe! Its absolutely original as he used it. Just had 7 new handles and 3 new heads.
    Enthusiasts creating correct replicas that are closer to original (year, month and race meeting) might not have the original chassis plate but they may also be the ones that make those race meetings an affordable $90 entry fee, havi g coughed up their $1500 entry fee and possibly travelled from the other side of the world to share their passion.
    Careful not to confuse passion with prices.
    Just my 5 cents worth 🤔

  3. Larry Perkins says

    I sure agree with your 5 cents worth, Tony. My comments about the “cost of the ride” were meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. Please note that I’m not one of those elites. When I sold my GTO (3223 GT) in 1966, for $3600, I was very lucky to have Bob Grossman take it off my hands. It was just an uncompetitive old (4 years!) race car. When George Sterner bought it a couple of years later, for $2500, it was headed for the Baltimore city impound lot car-crusher! In a word, junk. I haven’t had anything like it since.

    Of course I don’t own 3223 GT now; my daily driver is a 2009 KIA. But I do retain a streak of purity about the original cars. So when Wallace Wyss opines that the tricked-out examples and the replicars don’t give the vintage show the feel of the real thing, I agree with him too.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. Have a look at our book site that Mike kindly posted above. If you like what you see, get back to Petra or me and we’ll discount a signed copy for you.

    Regards,
    Larry

  4. Tony O has written for us here about one of his projects – https://mycarquest.com/2015/04/maserati-tipo-151-a-recreation.html

    His web site is here – https://ollieworldtour.wordpress.com/

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