To replicate or restore - the contentious issue surrounding historic racers

Hindsight is a horrible phenomenon. We're sure many a race team around the world is kicking themselves for selling race cars they no longer needed.

However survival was the primary factor and many used the money they received from selling previous racers to fund their new projects. Currently one cannot shy away at the tremendous value attached to historic race cars, especially ones with a rich racing history.

The 2 projects keeping the Evolution 2 Team busyEvolution 2 Motorsport is fortunate enough to have been provided the opportunity to restore four racing greats: the late Tony Viana's BMW 745i and 325i Shadowline, and JSN Motors' E30 BMW 325is and 325i Shadowline, raced by Robbi Smith and built by Alec Ceprnich. In addition the team is currently busy restoring Farouk Dangor's E30 BMW M3 Touring Car.

All these cars have and will continue to become valuable propositions. All of the current owners will also be reluctant to sell them either. Many of the other original racers from this period no longer exist or have been modified into specimens that no longer resemble how the car looked or performed.

The market is in demand for such racers, however there is great difficulty in finding such and if you do how much will you pay? [Editor: Click here to hear the replica Schnitzer BMW 635csi soundtrack, and click here to hear the replica Group 3 BMW CSL Batmobile on the dyno.]

Time to look at other options and resort to a plan not many people favour. The word replicate or replica is frowned upon by many within the industry. This is due to people sourcing road versions of the car that raced, strip them and then re-build them to look like the cars they lust over.

Evolution 2 Motorsport is currently busy with two such builds. A replication of a Group 3 BMW E9 3.0 CSL Batmobile and a Group A BMW 635csi. At face value both seem like ambitious builds, international followers who keep abreast of developments with these projects are continuously in touch with our webmaster asking for advice on certain parts of the build. Definitely not an easy task, and one that needs to be proceeded with care.

Anyone care to argue that the 'Bat' does not look authentic?There are two sides of belief to the worth of such builds. Many are excited to see the projects finished, while others harp on the fact that neither really represent the cars they replicating. The soon to be CSL racer was formerly a CS, while the 635csi was a road car that was maroon in colour and had a automatic gear box type instrument cluster, hinting that the car may have not been a manual all of its life. Neither of these circumstances are issues that we are ashamed of, the fact is we have a solid chassis base to work with and build upon.

When BMW chose to race these cars they inherited test cars that had covered thousands of kilometres. Once they had reached their quota they were meant to be scrapped. Instead of such sacrilege, the motorsport department took them in and turned them into race cars. Case in such point is the late Tony Viana BMW 745i, the donor chassis is actually that of a 735i, as BMW SA were not prepared to give Viana the more up market version due to expenses. This is also why the race car does not posses the all leather dash that came out standard with 745i's.

You may be seeing the point being made. For racing a base is obtained and built upon. These days sourcing and purchasing an original CSL or 635csi race car is nigh on impossible, and the costs involved are not even worth getting into. Instead of breaking the bank people are looking at the replication process as an alternative.

Many people will get upset when questioned on the overall authenticity of their creation. Is it something that represents an actual model raced by a brand, or is it an entry level option of getting into motorsport. Let's be honest racing is not a cheap sport, therefore entry level cannot even be considered as a discussion. However if one is going to replicate a car why make the livery design look like that of a rally car when it will be used for track racing? If it is a Ferrari or a Porsche, why must it use engines from other manufacturers? Yes costs and locating such units is difficult, but such aspects will always develop the argument of the value and worth behind racers bringing replica's to events.

Currently in South Africa there are many debates on the worth of such cars being introduced to our tracks. Then there are also grey areas surrounding those who announce that their example is an original version, when other pieces of information suggest it may not actually be. These circumstances leave the whole situation surrounding replicas being very contentious.

The ex-maroon BMW 635csi has been given a new lease of lifeIn Evolution 2 Motorsport's case the owners of the respective CSL and 6 Series mules which are being built into race machines that represent the originals, simply had a dream to one day own and race such examples. One thing is for sure when they do arrive at local tracks they will uplift the overall historic racing scene because no one has really been exposed to such race cars. They will look, sound and perform in the right manner, a manner developed by the originals that competed for and cemented the BMW brand.

Evolution 2 Motorsport under the leadership of Alec Ceprnich believe that if something is going to be done, it must be carried out properly. Half measures are not accepted. This methodology is evident in the builds completed and currently being carried out by the team.

Similarly the saying goes, if you want to run with the big dogs you cannot piddle like a puppy! Many develop a mindset that these replicas will be exorbitant to build and then prepare. However if money is invested in the right manner, yes invested in a car, and the build is carried out properly, what one will have is a car that does not require huge amounts of expenses in terms of preparation, and the car will hold a value that in time will grow to an amount that will exceed the money you put into the car.

Restoring an original racer is still the first prize option. As the case stands this is a difficult process. Therefore sourcing a donor car and building, or should we say restoring it to replicate the original has become the only viable option for racers. What's more the paying public will thrive on the opportunity to see such cars in action, because there is a degree of authenticity and they represent cars they have seen on television and pictures, but never had the opportunity to see up close in real life. Now they will have the opportunity to do so and in the process develop an understanding of just how impressive, consider their age, these cars really are.

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