Emulating the heroes of 1965 on a dodgy old laptop


Author: James PagePublished:

I’m not much good with computers. I can use them, but I don’t pretend to understand them. It was therefore with a mixture of surprise and delight that I recently managed to revive a previously dead old laptop.

Before you start thinking that this has become the ‘Classic & Laptop’ website, there is a motoring angle to all this. Kind of.

You see, the computer in question had on it a copy of Grand Prix Legends. This game was released in 1998, and faithfully recreates the 1967 Formula One season – with one exception.

That year, the French GP was held at Le Mans’ terminally dull Bugatti circuit; the game's developers wisely chose to replace this with the majestic Rouen-Les-Essarts.

It’s not your average driving simulation. A friend of mine who works for a computer-game publisher described it as being “harder than diamond shoulder-pads”, and there’s no doubt that you’ll spend most of your time inadvertently chucking your car at the scenery. The rest you’ll spend messing around with its set-up.

But once you do become more proficient, it’s just fabulous. Best of all, a huge community grew off the back of it. People with infinitely more computer know-how than me, and clearly with more time on their hands, have come up with add-ons including the 1.5-litre F1 cars of 1965, and the be-winged 3-litre machines of 1969.

They’ve designed new tracks, too, so you can race at Goodwood, Brands Hatch, Sebring, Crystal Palace, Levin, and even the 44-mile circuit used for the Targa Florio – the list goes on.

I could have tried to reload the game on to the newer laptop we eventually bought to replace the one we presumed dead, but that would have involved lots of faffing around with updated operating systems and ‘patches’. Clearly all the old one needed was a little rest and time to think about what it had done.

I think I might be on to something here, so the next time one of my cars breaks down, I’m going to try the same tactic...




Yep, that was one damn hard game!

Got it when it reached the bargain bins, I think I lasted about 30 minutes, laughed at the arms, which resemble Tobelerone wrapped in tinfoil, then went back to Rally Trophy, which gave any wannabe Aaltonens the chance the throw the Mini around like your stole it. But that too had it's challenges. Brake in a straight line and it was safe, brake and turn and you were into the shrubbery faster than Titchmarsh chasing a naked Dimmock.

Got my Xmas planned though. Main PC moved into the lounge. 42" Telly to be put on dining table. Connect the two, add in a steering wheel and pedals, and launch Dirt 2 and Microsoft Rally Challenge, which are still the two best rally games out there. Get the lad 'round and enjoy. Random car, random stage, £1 per entrant, winner takes all!

Oh And pack it all up before T'wife gets home from work!


Old Cars - A lesson in wasting money delivered in a timeless shape.


Martin Port

Bit modern for me - I'm still playing Chequered Flag on my ZX Spectrum...

Art Editor, C&SC

James Alder

I also really liked thisgame, but could not control my car.....even on the training mode with reduced horsepower.

Is there an updated version  as I still have the desire to be a gp star from that era!!

Please advise,

James Alder


Only bought GP Legends about 4 years ago & never really got it to work properly on my last (XP) PC. Must get round to seeing if it will run on Win7. Another great driving sim that would appeal to classic enthusiasts is GT Legends which came out in 2005. As the name implies it is based on GT & Touring cars, actually the 2004 FIA Historic championship. Cars included ranging from Minis to Cologne Capris & Lotus Elites upto the GT40.
There is a thriving 'mods' community producing lots of extra tracks & many extra cars ranging from Abarth 850TC to the mighty Porsche 917LH, & many people taking part in online races every week. A little easier to get to grips with than GP Legends so I'm led to believe, but still quite a learning curve to get near the fast guys!


I am still trying to get around Brands Hatch on "Revs" on the BBC Micro!

James Page

@James Alder: The original game, with the 1967 cars, didn't really offer enough low-speed grip. I found it a struggle. The subsequent mods brought out by the GPL community are much, much easier - especially the 1965 one, which features the less-powerful 1.5-litre F1 cars. Well worth a try.

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