Skip to main content

You are here

TopGear.com at the Silverstone Classic

  1. Fittingly, in the year of the Diamond Jubilee celebrating 60 years of Her Majesty’s reign over these, erm, rain-swept isles, no less than 60 Ferrari F40s descended onto Silverstone’s hallowed turf to make a new world record. That’s right, sixty Ferrari F40s. Drooling, much?

    The world record parade of sixty F40s took place last weekend at the ‘Silverstone Classic’ which, as the name suggests, is a motorsport-infused celebration of all things old and magnificent. Think TVRs and Jaguar D-Types and BMW 1800Tis and 1980s Formula One racers.

    We were present to witness some of this machinery being hustled around quite liberally. It’s time to take it back to the old school…

  2. The other M1, the McLaren M1A, the first Macca the team designed, way back in 1964. In the late 60s, before F1 success the team dominated the Can-Am series. The M1A at Silverstone raced in one of the many monster classes, this one ‘World Sportscar Masters’ against Lolas and Chevrons and others from the 60s and 70s.

  3. /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:”“; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}

    Classic racing. The car behind is a Aston Martin DB2/4 (as if you didn’t know - just look at that grille), but the car in front is a Fraser-Nash Targa Florio from way back in 1952. This was the ‘Pre-56 Sportscar’ class and was packed with Jaguar C-Types and D-Types. The prize, the wonderfully named ‘Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy’.

  4. /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:”“; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}

    Proving that the price of entry at the Silverstone Classic is not a priceless Jaguar or Aston Martin, here’s a deeply funky Fiat Abarth 850 Twin Cam from 1964. The ‘Under Two-Litre Touring Car’ class is the home of the Lotus Cortina and the equally wonderful BMW 1800Ti, the Alfa Giulia Sprint and of course proper Mini Coopers.

  5. And there you go… Lotus Cortina leads BMW 1800Ti fighting it out in the sun of Saturday’s 18-lap race for the Alan Mann Trophy. The Cortinas came out on top this time around, with a one-two ahead of a Giulia. The cars might be older than most of us, but it doesn’t stop the racing which is closer than anything you might care to witness elsewhere.

  6. /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:”“; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;}

    And the grids are massive too. You might have been at the Grand Prix just two weeks ago to see 22 F1 cars start on this same start/finish straight. We reckon there are over 50 cars in this shot or just out of it - classic races start from a rolling grid so the drivers with more enthusiasm than talent won’t have made it around the last corner yet.

  7. Here’s a couple of legends well known to Top Gear. Brian Johnson of AC/DC (and James May’s Fisker film off the Telly and the pages of Top Gear Magazine) and Jay Kay, erstwhile fastest Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Both were competing in Saturday’s Morgan Celebrity Challenge and both had reason to believe they in were in with a shout…

  8. …as did Sir Patrick Stewart, another celeb with Stig-honed skills. At the flag it was some actor called Andy Sugden who plays Kevin Fletcher on something called ‘Emmerdale’ who led from pole to flag. We think. Jay Kay proved his racers credentials by landing a Vettel-style time penalty for driving off the track, which dropped him behind Johnson in third.

  9. As we were saying, just because the cars are historic doesn’t mean the racing’s not close. The car on two wheels pointing the wrong way is a Lancia LC2, in our humble opinion the best looking of all the Group C cars from the 1980s. This accident eliminated one of three entered for the event in a major prang on the opening lap of Saturday’s first event, held at dusk.

  10. So this, we think is the coolest racing car ever built, maybe the coolest car ever built. Back in the 1970s, when James Hunt was racing, there was a European Touring Car series. Jaguar entered this V12-engined XJ-C monster with some success, even though nobody told them you are supposed to remove the chrome from the outside and the wood from the inside of a racing car.

  11. From the same era and the same series the altogether more humble, but no less rapid Escort RS2000. The Touring Car class was a stroke of genius from the organisers who opened it up to racers from 1970 through to 2000, which meant a whole bunch of BTCC racers from the series glory days when it was a highlight of Saturday afternoon telly.

  12. The Saturday evening race for Group C cars was a heady reminder of Le Mans Group C glory days for those who could remember. Starting at half-past eight and ending just after nine, and with a glorious sunset, it was the perfect end to the day. The ex-Schumacher Mercedes C9 won (as it would in a stunning second race on Sunday) but not before…

  13. …three cars took themselves out on the first lap. Going in to Abbey, the Ferrari-engined Lancia LC2 of Robin Ward tipped David Mercer’s Spice in to spin and came off worse. A third car, one of the mighty Nissan R90s, made for the gravel. Others in action on both Saturday and Sunday included Porsche 956/962s, and a Jaguar XJR-16.

  14. Grand Prix cars took to the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit again just two weeks after Mark Webber’s victory in the British GP, only these cars were from anywhere between the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, and included freaks like the six-wheel Tyrrell P34 and the uber ‘wing car’ the Lotus 80. The entire field of 30 cars were accommodated in the same two garages that housed the Marussia team at the GP.

  15. From the same era ‘Before Bernie’ was a grid full of F2 cars. Like today’s GP2, Formula 2 was the grand prix feeder series, though it’s races were never co-hosted and it faded away in the 1980s. In the 70s, it was however the place for young drivers to prove their speed in cheap, largely uniform race cars…

  16. …at The Classic, the F2 cars raced alongside the larger engine F5000 cars (the clue is in the name). F5000 was an international formula with various series across the globe, but was most successful in the US where it’s ‘anything goes so long as its not expensive’ approach meant folks saw it as an open-wheel version of Can-Am.

  17. Is it just us or can you not move for Jaguar E-Types these days? At Silverstone they had their own race and many of the racers in that series also took part in the ‘Gentleman Drivers’ cup for pre-1966 GT cars, which featured some of the prettiest cars of the whole weekend including Cobras and really rather lovely TVRs, neither of them pictured here, sorry.

  18. Back to the World Sportscar Masters and that McLaren M1A. Here it is with classic competition from the time, a big old Lola T70 and a nimble little Chevron B8. Sunday’s race featured another massive grid and a reminder of the success of historic racing. Also taking to the tracks was Ferrari 312PB, various GT40s and some earth-shaking Chevrolet Corvettes.

  19. Maybe the best thing about the Silverstone Classic is the access. There is no purple rope in the paddock and those who could be bothered with the internal bussing system and make it to the Wing, were able to wander around the garage and get up close with some of the most famous and most beautiful race cars of all time.

  20. Sixty Ferrari F40s. Sixty! We’re sorry if you missed this because it was the most extraordinary sight. It didn’t matter where you stood to watch, there were always a few just around the corner and out of sight so it just seemed to go on-and-on. A little more speed and a little more noise would have been nice but with over £100 million on the track what possibly could have gone wrong…?

  21. Just weeks before the Jaguar F-Type makes its debut, its grandfather was out in force at Silverstone. Of all the D-Types, we liked this one the best, though the Canary Yellow version also tweaked our thing. What we really want to see is the white-with-blue-stripes version Jaguar used to race in the US, anyone?

  22. And finally, the car clubs. Here are the good people of the Morgan club, but just about every make and model hosted it’s own little corral of cars. It’s more than possible to spend the day just wandering around the car parks picking out the randomly parked oddities but then that would mean missing the racing. Oh well, next year.

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content