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A few years ago I purchased and imported into New Zealand a 1967 Pontiac Firebird with the intention of building it into an FIA Group 2 historic racing car. Over the next couple of years I collected various parts, some of which were quite rare. But I didn’t progress beyond parts-collecting, and the project really didn’t go anywhere.

A big part of the problem was that, as a motoring writer, I’m blessed with being both really busy and with little time to build a race car from scratch, but not wealthy enough to pay someone to build the car for me! The stalled project was eventually abandoned, and I sold the rolling body and a few of the parts. I kept most of the rare parts.

Having sold the Firebird, I was almost immediately struck with sellers remorse. I started looking for another Firebird, destined to repeat the very same problem. Completely by chance, I happened to be on Facebook one day when an advert popped up in my feed for a Ford Anglia Pre-65 race car. It was an older build, and sported many features that could make it a good candidate for converting it into a historic racer, including some nice steel flares, and4-spoke American Racing Wheels. Better yet, the price was under NZ$10,000. I suddenly began questioning why it was I ever considered building a larger, much more expensive car form scratch, with a build time spanning several years, when I could simply purchase the old Anglia, buy some trim pieces and nudge it in the direction of a historic car, and be racing it the next summer.

The trouble is, I was born in the 1970s, and when I started attending racing events later in that decade, nobody was racing Anglias anymore. But that Anglia inspired me to start looking seriously at a small-bore car. When I started going to the races as a kid, Ford Escorts and Datsuns were the small-bore cars of choice, and while I’ve owned a couple of Escorts before, I really preferred the idea of getting a Datsun. I’ve always loved the look of the Datsun 1200 coupe, and with that, jumped on Trademe, thinking I could pickup a cheap project car for a few hundred bucks. I was shocked to discover how desirable these little Japanese classics have become; nice examples had shot up to around $30,000, and project cars simply don't exist.

So I decided to see if I could find something in the US. My preference was to find an old race car with period history, but one that needed some sort of restoration work. I didn’t really want a stunning turn-key car, but likewise I didn’t want a rotten hulk that required everything. I still wanted to get my hands dirty. I scrolled through various Facebook pages, and eventually discovered what appeared to be the exact thing I was looking for. It was an old racer, with known Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) history dating back to the early 1980s. It appeared to have good bones, and a well-built roll cage, but it needed stripping down, the body cleaned and straightened/repaired, and new paint applied. It came with a short block race motor (no cylinder head, header, intake manifold, carbs etc),and a stock 4-speed gearbox. The only trouble was, it had originally been posted for sale four months before I discovered it. As Facebook doesn’t remove old ads, I assumed it had surely been sold. I tentatively contacted the seller, and waited until the next day before getting a response. Thankfully, it was still for sale.

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