So you are sitting in the pub chatting to your friends, all petrol-heads, and you are a little bored. So you decide to spice things up by asking them to list what they would consider their top seven performance cars. And all hell breaks loose. The arguing is fierce, people get annoyed, get riled, get angry. They don’t like having their choices questioned or derided. By the end of the evening some friendships may never recover. Its best to be careful around performance cars, they can kill you and lose friendships en route.
So maybe a definition of performance cars would be helpful? These are powerful cars with lightning like acceleration and huge horsepower on tap, but they can also handle corners, the Alps as easily as an autobahn at 200mph. And they can stop as fast as they can accelerate. So in effect you are talking road going F1 cars. They make demands on a driver if they are asked to show their mettle. You’d best know what you are doing.
Just for the hell of it and to get the argument underway here are some contenders I would think of putting in my top seven. A Porsche 911. McLaren 570S, Aston Martin Vantage, Ferrari F8 Tributo, Alpine A110. Caterham Seven and just to annoy Mercedes fans the BMW M5 Competition. OK, are we still friends? No? Well I did warn you this is what happens.
Having one in your drive is a bit like that expression ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’. A performance car is a very big stick and it also speaks louder than you. You can see the attraction. And just ignore than jealous voice who say the car is an indication that you are lacking in certain departments.
Now and again performance cars pop up at H&H sales and they always cause a stir. One such is coming up for sale at Duxford on September 8th – a car owned by the company chairman, Simon Hope no less, a man who likes performance cars and known to use them to the limit. He is selling his own 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG Estimate £25,000 - £30,000. You might call this a cut-price performance car.
An undisputed modern classic this 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG is powered by one of the greatest V8 engines of recent years. It has had one former keeper and has been in Simon Hope’s current ownership since 2011. It is warranted 43,000 miles from new. He describes its condition as “just immaculate, stunning car, aching to go!” He and his wife Karon have used it for various touring holidays. “It’s just a joy to drive and better I think than the rarer SL 65. Its been a pleasure to own from day one.” Simon bought the car directly from its original owner Peter Newmark, a significant classic car collector who had bought it for his wife Maria.
Notable as the most powerful production car ever fielded by Mercedes-Benz upon its launch in 2002, the SL55 AMG received rave reviews from the contemporary motoring press. Boasting one of the greatest engines of the 2000s, its supercharged 5.5 litre V8 produced some 476bhp and 700Nm of torque (the latter at just 2,650rpm). Allied to five-speed automatic transmission, it enabled the two-seater to sprint from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155mph. Though, AMG ‘let slip’ that a de-limited yet otherwise standard example has been clocked at 205mph! Surprisingly civilised given the performance on tap, the SL55 boasted a full suite of ‘creature comforts’ and a firm but not jarring ride. Visually enhanced via re-profiled bumpers, quad exhaust tips and 18-inch alloy wheels, demand for the newcomer soon outstripped supply. An undoubted modern classic and one of those cars which is more than a sum of its parts, the SL55 AMG enjoys something of a cult following.
He is also selling something that is sure to get the purisits among performance car lovers hot under the collar – a Ford!
This stunning Mustang Competition Car was specially built for the H&H Classics founder, Simon Hope. Ever one to maximise his return on investment, the brief given to Gary Spencer of Classic Racing Cars Ltd, Seighford was to create a machine that could be used for circuit racing, sprinting, hill-climbing and road rallies. Put simply, Simon wanted a car that he could take anywhere to promote H&H Classics at as wide a variety of events as possible. The first event he drove it in was the Tour Britania, similar to the Tour Auto event.
Bought in Holland with a second Mustang this car turned out to be completely untouched and undamaged and still had its factory seals and it could have been a significant Concours car. “It’s a beast that is ready to go!” says Simon. “It’s been a great car and its won various rosettes. Its blue and yellow livery echo the H&H colours some years back. He says he is proud of the comment on the back of the car: ‘Going, Going, Gone’. “The car is a cracker!’”
This early '1964.5' car was converted for competition usage by Classic Racing Cars Ltd of Seighford, Staffordshire. It has been sparingly driven since a gearbox overhaul in 2012 with its last silverware being collected at Curborough in 2018.
Coming to market at a fraction of its build and subsequent maintenance cost (the incomplete bills on file total over £100,000), ‘DUJ 278B’ represents a comparatively affordable entry to a huge variety of historic motorsports. Taken to the occasional show and event since then, the Ford is only being offered for sale because Simon has reluctantly decided that his racing days are probably over.
A notably 1964 ½ model year Hardtop Coupe, chassis 5F07F195568 was built at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant complete with a 260 cu in (4.2 litre) V8 engine. Migrating to Europe sometime thereafter, it was found to be remarkably straight and corrosion free when sourced for the project. Chemical dipped and seam welded, the bodyshell was further reinforced via the installation of a FIA compliant roll cage. Tim Adams Racing Engines supplied a suitable 289 cu in (4.7 litre) V8 running on 98 RON fuel with a booster which was allied to a T&C four-speed manual gearbox. A brand new rear axle with limited slip differential and competition driveshafts was added as were Kelsey Hayes front disc brakes gripped by four-pot callipers. A quick ratio steering box was fitted along with a fuel cell and facet pump etc. The purposeful interior was given Recaro bucket seats, drilled pedals, aluminium door cards and a plumbed-in fire extinguisher system not to mention a bespoke dashboard and Brantz trip meter. Rewired throughout, the electrical system also benefited from an alternator and the requisite ‘kill switch’. Putting the cost of the donor to one side, the initial build cost some £70,000 and was completed literally moments before the Mustang lined-up for the September 2006 Tour Britannia.
Treated to a further £12,000 worth of fine tuning encompassing the fitment of new shock absorbers all round and a waxoyl treatment plus much set-up work, the Ford was issued with a MSA HTP (Historic Technical Passport) on April 4th 2007. Winning its circuit debut – a Tin Top race at Silverstone – with Nick Whale sharing the driving duties, the Hardtop Coupe subsequently competed at the likes of Brands Hatch, Donnington and Knockhill. A midfield runner at major track events, it proved every bit as versatile as Simon had hoped allowing him to tackle Prescott Hillclimb, the Benjafield’s Racing Club Cornbury Sprint and the Jersey Festival of Motoring to name but a few. Aside from one minor contretemps with a fellow competitor at the Silverstone Classic, the Mustang has enjoyed an accident-free competition career. Sparingly used since a gearbox overhaul in 2012, it last ran in anger at a Curborough meeting during 2018. Estimate £40,000 - £50,000
And how about another car in the same sale?
UNIQUE, OUTLANDISH, RED BEAST,
DE TOMASO PANTERA, FOR SALE WITH H&H CLASSICS AT IWM DUXFORD ON SEPTEMBER 8TH SALE. ESTIMATE: £60,000 TO £70,000.
1973 De Tomaso Pantera MODIFIED FOR COMPETITION BY SECOND OWNER RICHARD EGGINGTON
One of just 71 UK-supplied, RHD Panteras and heavily modified for competition usage by its second owner, Richard Eggington, this is a “wild and wonderful one-off” says Damian Jones, Head of Sales at H&H Classics who will be selling the car on September 8th at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.
The Pantera has been restored / recommissioned by the vendor including de-tuning for road use.
Any UK-supplied, right-hand drive Pantera is a rare car. However, ‘VNP 653L’ is made unique by its intriguing back story and competition modifications. Worthy of close inspection, this outlandish De Tomaso would surely grace any collection of Italian exotica. As anyone who has tracked Iso Grifo prices in recent years will know, interest in Italian-American hybrids is on the rise.
It is no surprise that the car’s first owner - Trevor Wilkinson of Wilkinson Dynamic Balancing – enhanced its performance capabilities given the renown his company achieved for balancing race engine crankshafts (especially in NASCAR). Taking delivery from Modena Concessionaires Ltd of London on May 3rd 1973, he kept the modified De Tomaso for seven years before selling it to Worcestershire businessman Richard Egginton, a keen amateur racing driver who later campaigned various Porsches and remains a director of G.V. Racing Limited.
Mr Egginton initially used the Pantera in hillclimbs and the occasional race event. He then decided to take things more seriously and uprated the two-seater accordingly. The front air dam, rear wing, side skirts and bulging wheelarches all followed ‘Group 4’ practice allowing the fitment of wider Compomotive split-rim alloy wheels / tyres. A separately adjustable dual circuit braking system was added as were new upgraded suspension components and Koni adjustable shock absorbers. Entrusted to original owner Trevor Wilkinson for further development, the Ford Cleveland 351ci (5.8 litre) engine exhaled via a bespoke ‘bundle of snakes’ exhaust balanced to the firing order with each port mated 180 degrees to its paired cylinder. Remaining in situ today, this intricate system necessitated the removal of the air-conditioning unit. The fuel tank was relocated to the front boot with its place being taken by an oil cooler radiator and pump (an added bonus being improved weight distribution). A competition clutch linked the ZF five-speed transaxle to the fire-breathing V8 and a high-speed water pump supposedly prevented cavitation above 6,000rpm!
Still in motorsport guise when the vendor acquired it during 2012, chassis THPNUY04621 had been partially dismantled and not turned a wheel in over twenty years. Deciding to make the Pantera road legal once more, the seller called upon the assistance of De Tomaso clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, marque specialist Three-Point-Four and Track-V-Road. The Ford Cleveland 351ci engine was coaxed back into life relatively easily but found to be far too highly strung for street use. In trying to decide upon a suitable (milder) camshaft, the seller discovered that the V8 boasted 4V D1AE 1974 NASCAR cylinder heads (complete with 55cc combustion chambers), solid tappets, dished pistons and a 10.22:1 static compression ratio. Detuned somewhat in the interest of drivability, the mid-mounted powerplant was treated to the following new components: Crane 284 duration camshaft, Cloyes TruRoller chain set, Summit Racing 750cfm carburettor (with electric choke and annular boosters), Edelbrock Four Plane RPM Performer intake manifold (gasflowed from carburettor to valves etc), Petronix electronic ignition (distributor and coil) and Crane hydraulic tappets.
A lighter clutch was installed with the flywheel being machined to suit and a custom-made clutch operating stop and pull back mechanism added. The latter enables the clutch to release properly (a known Pantera weakness). The clutch master cylinder was renewed as were the brakes and brake pipes. The steering rack was rejuvenated and the front wishbones modified to improve self-centring. Bushes were replaced and a full check of the steering and suspension geometries carried out. ‘Pop up’ headlights were reinstated albeit using a more reliable Toyota Supra mechanism. The interior was retrimmed in leather (using repurposed Ford Sierra Cosworth seats) and fresh tyres fitted all round (245/40 front and 345/35 rear).
When talking about H&H and performance cars few will forget the sale of the two Ferraris to benefit the RNLI.
H&H ClassicS sell ‘LIFE-SAVING’ Ferraris FOR £10m MILLION TO FUND new LIFEboat for Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM AUCTION IN DUXFORD ACHIEVES HUGE PRICE FOR THE MOST VALUABLE ITEMS EVER LEFT IN A SINGLE LEGACY TO THE RNLI, THE CHARITY THAT SAVES LIVES AT SEA.
OCTOBER 14: H&H Classics are delighted to announce the sale at auction of two of the world’s rarest Ferraris for a total of £9,758,320 (including fees), the proceeds of which will go directly towards helping the RNLI’s volunteer crews save lives at sea.
The sums raised make the late Richard Colton’s legacy the most valuable items ever left to the RNLI.
H&H Classics MD Simon Hope said: “This is a dream result for us. We have worked relentlessly with the RNLI over the past few months, promoting the cars all over the world, to ensure that we honoured the memory of Richard Colton properly. The sale result, including potentially new world record prices when confirmed, vindicates that effort and we are more than proud to have been a part of a legacy that will help save lives in the future.”
The two Ferraris are a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT short-wheelbase (SWB) Berlinetta chassis 1995 GT, of which just 167 were made with a mere ten being supplied new to the UK market; and a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 chassis 10177 GT – thought by many to be the ultimate front-engined, Enzo-era Ferrari road car.
Sold without reserve, they both exceeded expectations, the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT taking £6,600,000, and the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB fetching £1,930,000.
The RNLI’s Chief Executive, Paul Boissier said:
“We are overwhelmed by the sale price of the two Ferraris, a legacy so generously gifted to our charity by car enthusiast Richard Colton. His legacy will help our volunteer crews carry out their lifesaving work around the coast. In line with Mr Colton’s wishes, some of the money raised from the sale will go towards funding a new Shannon class lifeboat which will be named after his Mr Colton and his late wife Richard and Caroline Colton.
“Six out of ten lifeboat launches are only made possible by legacies, large and small, left to the RNLI in people’s wills. These gifts help pay for the training and equipment our lifeboat crews rely on when they launch into the unknown, in all weathers, day or night to save others. We are deeply grateful to Mr Colton for his generosity which will be felt most by our volunteers and the people whose lives they save.”
The Shannon is the first modern all-weather lifeboat propelled by waterjets instead of propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the fleet. Its top speed is 25 knots, which is a crucial factor when lives are at risk out at sea.
Richard Colton, a Northamptonshire businessman, had a distinguished career in footwear distribution and for 40 years collected and actively campaigned sensational classic cars. Described by close friends as “a shy and private man”, he was known to be somewhat nervous of the sea, which may have added to his great respect for the men and women who risk their lives daily around Britain’s coast.
So when deciding on which charity to leave this grand legacy of two classic Ferraris, there was only one choice, the RNLI. Richard was also keen that his legacy be sold by a British classic car specialist auction house – hence why H&H was chosen by his executors and indeed this was in keeping with the wishes he expressed in his will.
This unique sale took place at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire – Europe’s largest historic aviation centre – where other highlights included George Best’s E-type Jaguar, a Sherman tank and a Sotheby Cigarette Special, as well as further classics from the Richard Colton collection.