Just because a car is old doesn't mean it's slow. Yet there's a tendency for people to think that's the case, even if the car in question is a racer. If you show people a picture of an old racing car, such as this writer's own 1961 Lotus 20/22 Formula Junior, and tell them it will lap a track faster than a modern supercar, they tend to think you're nuts. Even automotive writers will look at a prewar racing car and wonder if the drum brakes actually stop the vehicle, to which you're tempted to reply, "No, you throw an anchor out the back."
We decided to see just how fast old racing cars actually are. Where do they get their speed compared with a modern supercar? Where on a track-and why-are they slower? How do different generations of racing cars compare with one another and with a supercar?
We assembled three great old racing cars and a Porsche 911 GT3 at England's Donington Park circuit. We chose cars that are the fastest of their breed today: an ERA (English Racing Automobile), to represent the prewar era; a Lotus 16, as the ultimate front-engined Formula 1 machine; and a Brabham BT11A from the early mid-engined period. We used our Racelogic VBox to analyze acceleration, braking, and cornering performance objectively, and we drove all four for subjective comparisons.... Read full article