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So precisely which classic car is going to gift you with the maximum amount of fun behind the steering wheel? Which classic will leave you constantly smiling from ear to ear, as you once again find yourself invariably taking the long way home?

Most of you will have probably already heard of the exceptional 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO which RM Sotheby’s have on auction at Monterey at the end of August. Expected to achieve in excess of US $ 45 million / Euro 38.5 million / £ 33.9 million, it will be the most expensive car to ever sell at auction. Surely such rarity, pedigree and not least somewhat excessive pricing will equally guarantee you the ultimate driving experience and not least the most amount of smiles?? Hmmm… or will it?

I’ll argue that there are cheaper options – MUCH cheaper options – which while they obviously can’t quite be compared with such a legendary piece of Modena history, will in fact leave you smiling just as uncontrollably after every cross-country sprint.

Enter the wacky little Davarian Imp!

Here we have a Davrian Mk2 produced between 1967 and 1969.

In 1965, structural engineer Adrian Evans constructed his own special sports car based around the remaining parts from his recently crashed Hillman Imp. The first couple of prototypes used the complete Imp floorpan, but once actual production got under way, a complex monocoque fiberglass shell was constructed, similar in concept to that of the Lotus Elite and Rochdale Olympic. However, the Davrian Imp still utilised the Coventry Climax based Imp engine in either 875cc or 998cc form, the Imp transaxle and not least front and rear suspension components from the Imp.

As Adrian Evans had a clear focus on motorsport, there were no luxuries to be found. The shell was light yet strong, and was even built to customer specification so that it could be as light as possible for circuit use, or somewhat heavier but also much more rigid for rally use. The road car shells would fall in somewhere between the two. Initially the Davrian was sold only in component form for the client to complete, but as VAT was introduced in the UK in 1973, Davrian started to offer complete cars as well.

It proved a highly successful concept and impressive results were achieved within motorsports. Even in regular road trim, a Davrian with a 998cc engine would easily match the performance of the much bigger engined Lotus Europa. I still recall in my Imp owning days, I would often daydream about Ginetta G15’s and even Clan Crusader’s – both of which of course also relied on the fabulous little all-aluminium Imp powerplant. But while I never had the opportunity to try a Davrian, those in the know informed me that for sheer performance and handling excellence, it was the Davrian which took the laurels. Apparently, this quirky little component special is the most uncompromised performance tool ever based on Imp mechanicals. When that includes a Ginetta, you know the Davrian must be quite exhilarating!

The meticulous and high-tech Davrian factory during its heyday…

If you want one – and I know I do! – you’re in luck as one has just come up for sale. The car in question is a Davrian Mk5 but sporting a Mk6 nose cone. To my eyes, these Davrians with the pop-up headlights are by far the best looking of them all. The front is actually a fairly accomplished design, while the rear is perhaps a little fussy and unfinished. More importantly though, this Davrian has a rather special story to tell. While being first registered in March 1972, the current owner has been enjoying his Davrian since he bought it back in 1978 – that’s an impressive 40 years with the same owner!

The specifications are spot on too, as it has the bigger 998cc engine with all the right ad-ons such as the large port Sport head, a R17 cam and not least a Weber 28/36 DCD carburettor. Suspension is stock Imp components but with adjustable Spax shock absorbers on all four corners. Amazingly, this miniature powerhouse has only covered 33,000 miles in its life. Here are a few pictures from the advert to wet your appetite even further:

The long-term owner is apparently only selling his Davrian as he now struggles getting in and out of it, and thus ends up using it too little. So it’s time it goes to its next appreciative owner to keep another enthusiast smiling with sheer delight over this largely unknown giant-killer. With an asking price of £ 7,000 (currently equating to approximately Euro 8,000) this seems excellent value for money. You could of course bid on that Ferrari 250 GTO, but I honestly doubt it’ll entertain more than this little buzz-box. Sometimes less really is more!

Here’s a link to the full advert: 1972 Davrian Mk5

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

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2 Responses

  1. Claus Ebberfeld
    I’ve always had a weak spot for British specials like this. And I am fully aware that the Davrian is said to be one of the best handling of them all.

    And while I absolutely agree that the front is great looking one could equally say the opposite of that rear end. I have to say I prefer the Ginetta G15 for that and for the overall package.

    But what great value for money this little screamer is.

    Love the seller’s comment in the ad as well: “The headlight pods do not have a raising / lowering mechanism, I just put my arm through each wheel arch, lift the lights and insert a nut and bolt to keep them up.”

    Of course you do!

    Reply
  2. Anders Bilidt
    , I fully agree. On the whole, the Ginetta G15 is an altogether happier design. But the Davrian has both performance, handling and not least rarity on its side. Furthermore, the price of this Davrian will only buy you a rather rough G15 these days…
    The Imp enthusiast in me is dying to give the seller at call!! But having committed to the resto of my Rochdale Olympic, I think it’s best I leave this ultimate of Imp-based specials to one of our readers.
    Reply

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