FAST FRENCH BEAUTY

AN 86-year-old French automotive beauty that can outrun a modern sports car will be one of the stars of the 17th annual historic Leyburn Sprints.

The 1926 Amilcar AC has run a quarter-mile sprint in almost 13 seconds flat and holds lap records for its class at three Australian racing circuits.

The Amilcar chassis is French, the bespoke bodywork Australian and the 2.0 litre supercharged AC six-cylinder engine English.

“In its heyday it was running about 20 psi (supercharger) boost and methanol (fuel) and was making about 260 horsepower,” says owner Andrew Wilson, a Brisbane plumbing contractor.

“It’s detuned now but still scares the hell out of you.”

The Amilcar will be the oldest in a field of around 190 historic, classic and high performance cars lining up for the popular time trials in the tiny former gold town 220 kilometres southwest of Brisbane.

The entry list spans eight decades and includes other European and British thoroughbreds such as MG, Auto Union, Sunbeam, Jowett and Alfa Romeo and rare Australian-built racing marques Elfin, ASP, Bolwell, Centaur, Skelta and Bowin.

Australian enthusiasts’ love of a good Ford-Holden battle will be fed by the entry of four pre-1972 V8 muscle cars, a Holden HT Monaro, Ford Falcon XY GT, Ford Mustang and South African-developed Ford Capri Perana.

Wilson’s low, black Amilcar two-seater was built in Victoria in the mid-80s from parts collected over several years. It was a purpose-built track machine, but the next owner converted it for road use and successfully contested several targa rallies.

Wilson bought it a couple of years ago and now competes in as many historic events as possible.

Old it may be, but it drives like a more modern machine, he says.

“It’s not like driving an old car. It’s very rigid, steers directly and has hydraulic brakes.

“It’s got an Alvis 12/50 four-speed non-synchro gearbox, 18 inch wheels and skinny tyres.

“It likes the wet and when it rained at Leyburn on the Saturday last year we were able to be up with some of the faster cars.”

The Amilcar is still road-registered and Wilson recently took it for a spin to the Gold Coast.

“It certainly got some looks!”


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