Port ponders a race car, but not for racing


Author: Martin PortPublished:

I know for a fact that I’m not the only individual in the C&SC office that is almost always on the lookout for something new to capture their imagination – long, or short term. It may not (and often won’t) lead to anything, but it’s a bloody good way to while away the hours when it’s too wet to work on the cars that we do own.

And this brings me neatly onto my latest infatuation. I’ll tell you what I want. What I really, REALLY want… and that is an early Formula Vee car. Mock all you like, but the air-cooled enthusiast in me can’t help but be lured by these pint-sized racers that helped kick-start the careers of such luminaries as Lauda, Fitipaldi and Rosberg.

Based on stock Beetle parts, the single-seater was conceived in 1959 by a VW Porsche dealer in Florida who commissioned Nardi to build a prototype based on a 1958 car.

Two years later and George Smith and William Duckworth created the Formula Vee series using the Nardi car as the model for their Formcar, thus launching an ‘affordable’ way to go racing.

So why do I want one? Not sure really.

It could be that there’s a little bit of a racer in all of us big boys and the romanticism of being able to open the garage door to discover your very own race car obviously appeals.

Curiously, though, I’m not that bothered about actually taking to the track with it and there lies the problem. If I managed to get my hands on an early car, I’d want to be able to pull it out of the garage and take it for a spin around the Berkshire lanes.

Therefore, it would have to be road-legal and unless I was lucky enough to hit upon the Holy Grail (ie one that had been road registered in period) I would be fitting it with cycle wings, indicators, filing off the sharp edges etc and the end result would be a diluted dream.

If that had to happen then I may as well buy a Caterham and be done with it. Oh well. Looks like that infatuation was one of the short-lived ones. Sigh.



Chris Martin

Know exactly where you're coming from........
Chris M.



I too had that itch over 20 years ago when I used to be into Westfields, Martin.  My answer was to get a Westfield Eleven which can feed all of your frustrated racer fantasy at relatively low speeds, and you can take the odd passenger along too.  (They do need to be a bit odd).

Chris Martin

Of course it is more likely you could find something from the old sports car races that may be registered, but as for single seaters the only one I saw was that Lotus 51 Formula Ford that had Seven type 'guards and lights.
I am sure someone will post that famous racing car show photo with the sixties 'Dolly Bird' and stick on flowers.
Chris M.


Chris Martin

Further digging found a bit more about the 'Flower Power' Lotus 51R. It was originally intended for the Earls Court show but was thrown out by the SMMT. Even better publicity for Lotus, it was then driven around Hyde Park by Nick Brittan who reported the whole saga in Car magazine. One of the two built came up for auction at Bonhams RAF Hendon sale in April 2009 and sold for £24,150. Here is a link to Bonhams catalogue page for photos and description;
Meanwhile a German has converted a Formula Ford Reynard for street use, and one would expect their TUV reg's to be among the toughest.
For the full story on that see;
It seems for UK Mot and registration purposes it can be quite simple, there is even a 'daylight use' clause which means you can use it without lights.
So, Martin, you now have no excuse, it can be done. Here is your chance to get even with Simon Taylor; we look forward to a new addition to the 'Our Classics' page soon.


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