1988 Spice SE88,

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Lot 660
1988 Spice SE88,

Sold for £ 133,500 (US$ 167,787) inc. premium
1988 Spice SE88


  • Chassis No. SE88C-003

    Fledgling constructor Spice Engineering earned its place among endurance racing’s greats by beating allcomers in the secondary division of the World Sports-Prototype Championship in 1988. Introduced for 1982’s World Endurance Championship, the Group C regulations were based on a fuel formula. Engines were free, provided they could run 100kms on 60 litres of fuel (51 litres from 1985). A return to closed cockpit cars also harked back to the glorious GTPs of the 1960s and early ‘70s, when Ford, Ferrari and Porsche went head to head on the global stage. The C2 class gave cars a weight break (750kg minimum), and saw intriguing racing between atmospheric and turbocharged engines. Only the mighty Porsche was more influential as a supplier of customer cars over the history of the series, which evolved into the World Sports Car Championship of 1991-1992.While Spice chassis later contested the premier division, it was the junior league – which was more accessible to the paying privateer - in which they excelled.

    Founded by automotive parts magnate Gordon Spice – a versatile racer whose first taste of sportscar racing’s blue riband event, the Le Mans 24 Hours, came with Christopher Lawrence’s Deep Sanderson in 1964 – Spice Engineering effectively entered Group C in 1983, running Neil Crang’s Tiga-Chevrolet. It was converted to take a Ford Cosworth DFL engine in 1984, and in 1985 Spice and Ray Bellm - the pharmaceutical company boss and team partner - used the Spice-Tiga to win the new C2 Drivers title and the Teams (new Manufacturers’) crown, formerly the domain of the Alba-Giannini turbocar.

    Spice Engineering built its first eponymous cars in 1986, having landed a deal with General Motors in the USA to construct IMSA Camel Lights cars powered by Pontiac four-cylinder engines. With rakish bodywork mirroring the marque’s new Fiero sportscar (if you squinted!), the Graham Humphreys-designs – which featured carbonfibre-topped aluminium honeycomb monocoque chassis - set new standards in the field.Those tenets of quality, strength and reliability held firm throughout the company’s parallel Group C and IMSA product lines. The Spices’ driveability flattered privateers yet satisfied discerning professionals, thus a enviable record of success was established.

    Although Spice lost the C2 Teams title to Scottish rival Ecurie Ecosse in ’86, Bellm and Spice retained their Drivers championship in a Fiero-bodied SE86C, powered by a Cosworth DFL V8. The DFL was a long-stroke version of Keith Duckworth’s fabled 3-litre DFV Formula 1 unit, winner of 155 Grands Prix from its debut in Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 at Zandvoort in 1967, to Keke Rosberg’s Monaco triumph with Williams in 1983. Spaniard Fermin Velez took Bellm’s place alongside Spice in a revised SE87C the following year, when the team won seven of the 10 rounds en route to both Drivers and Teams honours. The 1988 cars looked dramatically different, with new bodywork and aerodynamic packages, but the steamroller continued. With Bellm back on board, Spice claimed his fourth successive World title as a driver (jointly with Bellm), while Spice bagged the Teams crown for the third time in four seasons.

    This car, SE88C-003, was the factory team’s frontline entry in the 1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship, the most successful of its type.Driven by Spice and Bellm, it won C2 in six rounds – Jerez, Jarama, Monza, Le Mans (with Frenchman Pierre de Thoisy), Brno and Brands Hatch - and finished second at Silverstone and Spa. Pride of place among the results was Le Mans, where it covered 2951.56 miles at a remarkable average speed of 122.27mph. For 1989, 003 was campaigned by world-renowned powerboat designer Don Shead, with son James and Canadian Robbie Stirling under the Team Mako banner. Again it served impeccably, winning C2 at the Nurburgring, Spa and in Mexico. Seconds at Brands Hatch and Donington, and fourth at Dijon gave them second in the Teams and third (James Shead) in the Drivers’ title chases. They also finished second at Le Mans, now a non-championship race.

    The French classic was again stood alone in 1990, and Team Mako finished third in C2. Thus the gallant warhorse completed its 1-2-3 of class podium places at the world’s most gruelling and longest-running 24 hour race. Since 1999, 003 had reverted to the ownership of Bellm, who had it fully restored. Receipts are available. After only a couple of tests (Bellm was by then immersed in Historic Rallying) it was sold to the current owner in 2003. He has subsequently competed with the growing Group C GTP Racing organisation, which promotes events for these sensational prototypes at Europe’s premier circuits. Phil Stott Motorsport has prepared the car which – mirroring its heyday - has regularly won the C2 division.

    Both its 3.9-litre Cosworth DFL engine (034, by Nicholson-McLaren) and its Hewland DGB transaxle have been rebuilt. Key components have been crack-tested and the Premier fuel bag tank re-certified. Indeed, the Spice is described by the vendor as race-ready. Useful spares include wheels, wishbones, bearings, gear ratios, air jacks and a high-speed Le Mans wing. Also with the car – which is well-documented in reference books - are original set-up sheets from the1988 season, press releases and photographs. As a World Championship winner, Spice SE88C 003 is not only a highly-affordable and sustainable piece of motor sport history, but also a passport into Group C GTP Racing, one of the most charismatic and vibrant series on the international motorsport calendar.
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
1988 Spice SE88,
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