American wild cat racer set to return to competition

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A Chaparral is being prepared for historic racing in Europe next season for the first time in nearly five decades.

The ex-Team Meridan 1962 Chaparral 1– which last competed in 1964 – was spotted being tested at Donington on 9 November with historic race expert Sam Stretton at the wheel.

Acquired at RM Auctions’ 2009 Battersea Park, London sale by Spanish collector José Fernadez, the car has been road-registered with a view to also entering regularity events next year.

This Troutman & Barnes built sports racer is powered by a small-block Chevrolet V8 and is the fourth of five that were made.  Young hotshot Skip Hudson enjoyed some success with it in California in period but, by 1964, front-engined sports cars were outdated compared to their mid-engined rivals and chassis number 004 was put into storage.

The car was later crashed while being used as a prop in television commercial and eventually sent to a dump in Los Angeles. Fortunately many of the mechanical parts were saved and, in 1988, collector Barry Watkins commissioned legendary race engineer Dick Troutman to recreate a new chassis and body, but it wasn't raced.  After acquisition by Fernandez, the Chaparral has been sorted by UK historic race preparation specialist Spencer Longland.

“The car had just been chucked together in the US, so it’s taken longer to sort than planned,” said Stretton. “It was too short-geared for Donington but it was great to have some V8 grunt.  Due to its 1962 build date, we should be thrown in with Lolas and Ford GT40s, but Duncan Wiltshire has agreed to let us run in the Stirling Moss Trophy series for 1950s sports racers provided we don’t run away.”

A second Chaparral will also be competing next season after marque expert Richard Falconer completed his long-term Roadrunner 2A replica project (below).

Debuted successfully at Shelsley Walsh on 18 September, the dramatic replica features a 327cu in Chevrolet with quadruple Weber carburettors and uses an authentic 1964 2-speed General Motors transaxle with a torque converter. Falconer intends to enter a few low-key hill-climbs next year including the Crystal Palace sprint and events at Prescott.

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