Motoring art: Pete Shepherd

| 7 Jun 2023
Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd

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Classic slot-cars have had a recent resurgence, particularly during lockdown.

Scalextric has enjoyed a record year, and talented builders such as Pete Shepherd have been inundated with orders.

In his Essex workshop, Pete’s hobby has turned into a business building a wonderful range of classic subjects.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd
A slot-car recreation of Allen Grant’s Coventry Motors Cobra racer

Having grown up around cars, he was indoctrinated from an early age: “My father restored Austin Sevens and used to take my brother and I to Vintage Sports-Car Club events.

“He briefly raced a Seven but didn’t enjoy it.

“While my brother was into pre-war cars, my leaning was ’60s sports cars and GTs.”

In the early ’90s an interest in slot-cars was fired when his father bought a collection at a local sale.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd
This bespoke Lotus Elite is the work of Pete Shepherd

“By then my brother was more into music and girls,” says Pete, “but I was happy to play on my own.

“We built a track above the kitchen and I started rebuilding and repainting the cars.

“My favourite was a Revell Corvette Stingray that was always fastest – I still have it.”

A move to a converted Dutch barn allowed room for a bigger track: “The slot-car scene had really taken off. The internet had just started, and I began going to swapmeets to find rarer racers.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd
A faithful recreation of a Lotus-Climax Mk IX racer

“I’d always preferred American brands such as Monogram, Revell and Cox,” Pete continues.

“They produced my favourite cars. I found a group in Southend with a 90ft four-lane track where I started racing pre-1972 slot-cars.”

It was French enthusiast Joel Thura who cultivated Pete’s building talents: “Joel introduced me to the Slot Racing Club de Bordeaux, which ran international classic meets.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd
A Daytona Cobra was among the first models Pete built for Slot Racing Club de Bordeaux competitions

“They were fantastic, with a different theme each year including Goodwood and the 1967 Le Mans,” he continues.

“Enthusiasts came from all over Europe and even America.

“Points were split 50/50 between presentation and speed.

“They had two tracks, including a 1:32 and an eight-lane for really fast 1:24s.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd
Pete personalises the slot-car drivers for customers, too

“I started building cars for the event, first a Daytona Cobra then a Bizzarrini A3/C, and began getting awards,” explains Pete.

“My most ambitious was a 1:24 Grand Prix Talbot-Lago with full engine detail, based on the old Merit kit, but it was destroyed in the race when hit by another car.”

Pete has recently had a flood of orders for bespoke builds: “In 2020 I gave up my job in social care and went full time with Racing Replicas.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd
This AC Aceca was built for a Spanish collector

“Commissions are split between collectors and those who want miniatures of their own cars, which take a lot longer to build,” he says.

The diversity ranges from a pair of ERAs made from George Turner kits to an AC Aceca, with driver figures personalised for customers.

Pete has built a huge stock of spares, and he’s started producing his own models from scratch, beginning with a series of Austin-Healey 100s: “I’m planning more, including the Seven Ulster in which I learnt to drive and an Alfa Disco Volante.

“I also want to do a Shapecraft Lotus Elan, which a customer has agreed to part-fund.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Pete Shepherd
A pair of Shelby Cooper Monaco King Cobras demonstrates Pete’s incredible attention to detail

Pete has now started racing at 1:1 scale after the acquisition of a Sebring Sprite: “Clayton Hole helps with the preparation and I run with Equipe Classic Racing.

“They have big, well-prepared grids and really respectful racers.

“My car is underpowered but last October I won at Silverstone in the wet.

“The cars I race against really inspire me, and when I took a few models along for a display they produced a wave of interest.

“One day I’ll make a scale Sprite to match mine.”

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This was originally in our January 2022 magazine; all information was correct at the date of first publication

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