The Ralph Watson-built Lycoming Special is a famous part of New Zealand’s motor racing history. Not so well known but no less innovative is the BSA Special he built before the Lycoming
t the 2018 Historic Racing Club’s Icebreaker Meeting at Hampton Downs my attention was caught by a tiny, shiny alloy-bodied sports car – the considerable volume and unique sound from its exhaust system and the fact it was well out in front in each race made it hard to miss. A plate over its number plate said it was a 1931 BSA Special. In one of life’s little coincidences, that night I read in Eoin Young’s book, Classic Racers, about Ralph Watson travelling the length of New Zealand in his 1931 BSA Special. Could it be? Fortunately for me, the current owner has a relatively unusual surname, so it was easy to track him down, and yes, it most certainly was the same car.
Ray Ferner is the custodian of this mobile historical treasure. He is fully aware of the car’s history and significance, and takes his responsibilities seriously. Importantly, he uses the car mostly as its creator intended, taking part in hill climbs and sprints, competing on race tracks and, sparingly, on the road.
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