Sports car racing had changed since it was first introduced as the secondary event to the ‘main feature’ in the early 1950s. This was a time when virtually all of the competing cars were genuine factory-built, roadgoing sports cars with a greater level of performance and roadholding than your average family saloon.

That changed very quickly.

Firstly, saloon car racing (or ‘stock’ car racing as it was first called) was introduced, at first much more as a programme-filler than anything, but the antics of drivers in cars that many New Zealanders actually drove themselves was such an attraction that they became increasingly popular.

Secondly, the flocks of MGs that mostly made up the sports car fields were thinned out as so-called sports-racing cars – virtually single-seater racing cars with two seats and all enveloping bodies – arrived and were too fast for production sports cars.

By the mid-sixties the roles of saloons and sports cars had been reversed – saloons were wildly popular, while sports car fields were dwindling rapidly and standard production sports cars had pretty much been relegated to poseur level. We had three or four incredibly fast and brutal, white knuckle sports cars, but the others were half a lap back and scratching around for minor places.

Then came Scott Wiseman.

Jaguar’s E-Type

Originally launched in 1961 as a road-going, production sports car to gob-smacked men and swooning ladies all around the world, the E-Type was the most svelte, sexy, glamorous and desirable car the world had ever seen. But they were thin on the roads of New Zealand for several years. In Dunedin I didn’t see my first E-Type until late 1963. It was the first and last in Dunedin for a couple of years and its appearance caused traffic jams.


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