Sport Almanack: Racing cars for sale: one careful owner

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The Independent Online
A SPORTING trivia question: what's the connection between Terry Venables and Damon Hill? Consolation marks awarded for 'dark hair', 'north London' and 'nice manners concealing a will of steel'. Full marks, however, for 'Landhurst Leasing'. The explanation? Sports-crazy Ted Ball's company not only lent money to Venables which may or may not have helped to fund his takeover bid for Spurs; it also lent no less than pounds 6m to the Brabham Formula One motor racing team, for whom Damon made his debut in last year's British Grand Prix. Sadly, though, Brabham were even less successful than Spurs, and Landhurst (who are understandably reluctant to discuss the matter on the record) ended up owning the assets they had financed. So it is that Damon's car, along with the team's 'name/logo, spares, engines, pit and paddock equipment, race trailers, workshop and inspection equipment', is for sale by tender tomorrow. The vendors: the Joint Administrative Receivers of Landhurst Leasing Plc.

Investigations suggest that the cars, at least, will not fetch fancy prices: sources in this particularly specialised second-hand car market indicate that the going rate for a recent-model grand prix car (one careful owner, no expense spared on maintenance, always garaged etc, etc) is not unadjacent to 15 grand, without an engine. Chris Alford, a dealer who specialises in pre-1971 racing cars, explains: 'A two-year-old unsuccessful Formula One car is not worth much - there's not much you can do with it, except use it as a wall ornament.' Apparently most redundant racers end up disguised as their successors and employed as exotic centrepieces - or kiddies' climbing frames - at sponsors' events.

Would-be grand prix magnates recalling the days when Brabhams conveyed the likes of Lauda and Piquet to victory may still want to jump at the chance of owning a great Grand Prix team: they should note that the Brabham cars at present for sale were painfully slow last year, and are thus unlikely to trouble the chequered- flag-man next year, when they will have to conform to a whole bunch of new regulations. Starry-eyed berks with money to burn, or those in search of a really unusual wall ornament, should note that tenders must be in by noon tomorrow.

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