A huge amount of emphasis – and subsequently value – is put on competition history in the classic car world, but this week I received proof that a wonderful back-story doesn’t necessarily have to catapult a car’s price into the squillions.
I was up at H&H’s Chateau Impney sale near Droitwich and, while there was lots of of lovely kit there and some very tempting unlovely kit, too, for me one relatively humble offering stood head and shoulders above all others. The fact that someone drove away in it after the hammer came down at just £12,500 – barely any more than a ‘normal’ example of the model – was as life-affirming as it was envy-inducing.
What made this particular car interesting was that it had belonged to legendary Autosport figure Gregor Grant. Legendary sound a bit strong? Bear in mind that Grant not only founded the weekly bible of British motorsport in 1950 but then edited it for nearly two decades before his death meant someone else – C&SC’s own Simon Taylor, no less – taking up the reins.
Grant was a fascinating character, so utterly immersed in his subject matter that it was his oxygen. And, of course, he loved to compete. As a result, having been used as a press car in 1953, his MG YB was driven by him on the 1954 Rallye Monte-Carlo. Setting off from Glasgow with George Phillips – who also took the car circuit racing – on board. It finished as well, but was subsequently disqualified for checkpoint skipping.
I’ll be honest, it is not the most campaigned car in history, nor the most successful, but it was being sold with its Monte Carlo badge, some more history and a couple of book appearances under its belt. It was just a charming car that I would have loved to be in a position to buy, but seeing as I am not I am delighted that someone could without paying through the nose for it.