30 years ago, almost to the day as I write, Mick Walsh – my then boss at Classic and Sportscar magazine – and I set off to Angouleme in a DAX Cobra replica. We had a wicked agenda, as the AC Owners Club had their international rally on at the same time as the Circuit des Ramparts weekend, and we thought pitching up in a replica might spur some interesting conversation.
Nowadays such a prank doesn’t seem funny, but 30 years ago Cobra replicas were the new yobbos on the block and considered ‘inappropriate’, ‘nouveau’ and ‘naff’ by the purists. We were reviewing the DAX and wanted to see just how much we could get away with. Besides, the DAX had a V12 Jaguar engine in it, just to make the point.
We were given the heads up that 6 Lancia Stratos were coming. I immediately smelt a rat, as original cars are super-scarce…
There was no doubt that we weren’t the most popular folk there. Although ironically, after suffering a puncture with no spare wheel in the car, it was at the same event we bonded with David Hescroff, owner of the 1964 ex-Earl Court Motor Show Cobra MkII which he still owns to this day. But oddly the pretty MkII was, at that time, only replicated by one company, the fat 427 MkIII being the replica of choice. And the DAX was among the best of a pretty bad bunch.
At one of the Wilton Wake-Up breakfast meets this year we were given the heads up that 6 Lancia Stratos were coming. I immediately smelt a rat, as original cars are super-scarce, especially on these shores, but when six superb Hawk replicas turned up I was taken aback by how lovely they were.
Ironically, now that real classic cars are worth such huge money, the role of replicas seems more poignant than ever, as at least the dream can be lived. Besides, they are very personal builds, and can be great fun to put together. But the part I can’t get used to is the pretence at being something that it isn’t. As I know from 30 years ago, there’s little appeal in that. But maybe that really doesn’t matter in this day and age, so long as we’re still having fun?