Andrew Jordan from JRT Racing does not need a big introduction. Running one of the premium car restoration businesses in the UK and as a former BTCC driver, Andrew is well placed for advice on car maintenance. We had a long talk with him at last week’s Goodwood Revival, where he shared his advice and showed us one of his latest commissions, the AC Cobra Dragonsnake.
You have brought to the Revival a very purple AC Cobra Coupé nicknamed ‘Dragonsnake’. What’s the story behind this car?
It’s a car built in the early 1960s. It’s actually a drag racing car. There was a short run of five or six of these AC Cobra cars which ran drag races. This one is quite unique as it’s the only one which was painted in this bright purple colour. Often people come and ask us why we painted it in this rather explicit colour, not realising the cool story behind it. The owner of this car purchased it with the objective of racing here in the Stirling Moss Memorial, a class open for pre-1963 GT cars. The car has gone through a full restoration and recommission. Our job was to make it as quick as possible for this year’s Revival.
What’s powering the Dragonsnake?
It’s a V8, the 260, so the smaller engine. It’s a rather basic Cobra compared to the late cars we race here at the TT during the Revival. The power output is around 365hp, which is still enough. We run on smaller tyres, so that limits the available grip. When a car is being made for drag racing in period, that’s a completely different setup. They are designed to go as quick as possible in a straight line. But our job is to make it as quick as possible through the corners, too. We were fifth in the race behind four Jaguar E-Types so we’re quite happy with the result for the car’s first time here. It was more of a test to see how far we could push the car and come back for better results next time.
Andrew, JRT has several cars on display here at the Revival, like the smaller Austin A40, in which you had an interesting moment yesterday. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, during the race yesterday, which takes about 25 minutes going flat out in every corner, I lost control of the car. I managed to save it quite spectacularly. Although I was running in second place, I tried to keep up with the Thunderbird taking the lead. My dad had to race the day after me and both times are being counted together, so every second I lose in the race, he must make up for it. So, that’s why I was pushing the car so hard [laughs].
With your rich past in BTCC racing, this kind of vintage door-to-door racing has a lot of similarities, would you agree?
Absolutely. In fact, I would say that racing in any historic car is more fun. You really get the smile factor from it. Because the car is moving around a lot, you must be more physical to control the car. They’re not too complicated. In BTCC the competition is huge where you’re driven by your success. In historic racing, we all also want to win and focus on lap times, but the fun of driving these kinds of events is like nothing else. The atmosphere at Goodwood makes this a one-of-a-kind event you can’t find elsewhere and which you must enjoy at the fullest. If I’d have to pick one race, it would certainly be the historic race.
After your BTCC period, you and your dad started the JRT workshop. Why did you decide to specialise in the classic world?
The A40 we are racing is the very first historic car we built after I left the BTCC. The reason we stepped into classic racing is that, on the contrary with the BTCC where you feel a lot of pressure on your shoulders to perform every time again, you don’t get that feeling during historic racing. You simply enjoy it if you have driven a good weekend. The reason anyone gets into motorsport is the thrill and the fun of driving. So, we built that car so we could enjoy our racing. From there it kind of snowballed. We’ve built or restored over 36 cars, and it has taken off into a big business now. It’s a huge passion of mine. I really enjoy the business side of it. My favourite moment is seeing people who ordered a new car or a recommission getting to drive it and even race it with good results. That’s what gives me big pleasure. The historic market is very big these days, and historic events like this give it such a big name and put historic racing on the map.
What are the benefits of Motul to your classic racing and rebuilds?
Quality is the biggest thing. We look after 40 cars at the minute, which are very expensive and are equipped with very expensive components. You must ensure you are putting the right quality on everything. The engine oil, braking fluids, coolants, everything must be pure, quality stuff. It’s important for performance, but also endurance and longevity. It’s a good thing to have a quick car, but it must also last until the end of the race. The lubricants must look after the engine, the differentials and the gearbox during a whole season. It’s great working with a brand like Motul. We like to think we are the best in what we do, and Motul is the best in what they do, so it works very well. Now but also in the future.
What maintenance advice can you give classic car owners?
Just keep on top of everything. It’s pointless waiting for an issue to occur. A lot of what we do is preventive maintenance. We have a lifespan schedule on most of the car parts. We always replace things before there is a problem. That’s the best advice I can give.