Buy Theo Paphitis' race car to join the Austin A35 Academy
Dragons' Den star's HRDC Academy race car will be offered by Silverstone Auctions at Race Retro – and it's estimated at significantly less than its build cost
A 1959 Austin A35 'HRDC Academy' race car owned by former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis will be offered for sale at Silverstone Auctions' Race Retro Competition Car Sale on 23 February.
The A35 was built to the required HRDC regulations in 2016, specifically for Theo to compete in the highly successful Academy series, which pitches identical specification Austin A30s and A35s against each other. The series has been running since 2014, and has included invitation races at the prestigious Goodwood Revival in 2016 and the Silverstone Classic in 2017.
This car was also raced by Theo and Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen at the Goodwood Revival race, and also appeared at the Silverstone Classic.
Jonny Shears, classic car specialist at Silverstone Auctions, said: 'Many spectators consider the Academy series to be the most enthralling championship series and the car being offered is ready to race.
'Aside from being great fun, this 1959 model is a solid investment opportunity and is well-worth a "cash investment" when it comes to auction at our Race Retro Competition Car Sale. I’m sure Theo would agree!'
The Academy cars are all built to the same specification, with 1275cc engines running identical camshafts, modified cylinder heads and single SU carburettors. They produce around 85bhp, and are sealed to ensure that they remain unaltered. Gearboxes and rear axles are also sealed.
All the cars also undergo the same suspension and brake upgrades, and are fitted with the same rollcages, as well as fire extinguisher systems and race-spec fuel tanks. Some fibreglass panels and bumpers are allowed, to keep down costs as much as weight.
The Academy cars weigh around 600kg, meaning the modest 85bhp is still enough to produce highly entertaining racing. They usually cost around £30,000-plus to build, including the purchase and restoration of a donor car. Theo's car is estimated at between £18,000 to £22,000.
AutoClassics editor David Lillywhite raced the very first Academy A35 for the first two seasons of the series, and was involved in the development of the specification. Initially the Academy formed a class within other HRDC races, but as more cars joined the series, the Academy took on its own races, the first of which was at Mallory Park (below) in 2015.