Watch: The Story of Dan Gurney’s Jag-Beating, BTCC Impala

What do you do if you’re legendary racer Dan Gurney and you see a bunch of fat Jags winning British Touring Car Championship? You import a ’61 Impala and beat them.

Now, after being lost for years, Dan Gurney’s Impala is finally getting the restoration it richly deserves from Goodwood, to be ready for their St Mary’s Trophy saloon car race.

The story goes that Gurney was sick of seeing Jaguar’s famous MkII winning everything in the BTCC, and figured that a stock Impala could beat England’s best.

So he ordered one with and had it shipped to England. The engine got a quick looking-over, Gurney installed Corvette roll-bars, he installed some brake cooling ducts, and that’s it.

In its first run, in free practice, the Impala was in the mid-field. By qualifying he was leading the pack.

The Impala started from pole position on its first race in BTCC, much to the annoyance of the British teams, who noticed with annoyance that Gurney hadn’t even bothered to take the radio out.

The car led every lap it raced until the rear-left wheel broke off on the second-to-last lap.

So Gurney bought some NASCAR wheels and was ready to lineup for the Sivlerstone race, when the organizers decided that they didn’t much care to have some upstart yankee coming across the pond with an unmodified car and spitting all over Jaguar’s parade.

The series lost Gurney’s homologation papers, required him to get new ones from France, and effectively red taped him out of the race, and the season.

Of course, Gurney would turn out alright. He went on to invent the Gurney flap and is one of only three drivers to have ever won a Grand Prix in an F1 car of his own construction. But according to his son, Alex, Dan loved that Impala and right up until his last days the broken wheel continued to annoy him.

Watch the video above, and the three more to come, for the full story.

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