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They might be the oldest cars in the field, but the Early Classic competition at this month’s annual Targa Wrest Point will be hotly contested, each entrant looking to take their much-loved vehicle to class honours.

The competition, for cars built before the end of 1965, is a handicap event that pits a FIAT against a Mustang, Cortina, a Hillman and a Mini Cooper. It’s an eclectic mix of cars and competitors.

The third Targa Wrest Point, being held in Hobart on January 29 and 30, is now one of the jewels in the Targa crown, and with a total field of over 150 cars for the 2011 event, spectators are in for a treat as the cars wind their way through the Huon Valley and back to Hobart.

Despite, or even because of their age, the Early Classic cars are some of the biggest crowd-pleasers in the field.

Targa stalwarts Jack Waldron and Vin Gregory head the competition in their 1955 FIAT Abarth 750, and while their nimble little Italian car will be well suited to the Tasmanian roads, it may not be fast enough for victory.

Waldron’s rear-engined FIAT is well known to Targa fans as it runs with the engine cover raised to allow air to cool the motor, but he and Gregory have proved that it is no gimmick, and their tarmac rally results speak for themselves.

On outright speed and performance, Scott Kent’s 1965 Ford Mustang must surely be the car to catch, with a raucous V8 engine that lights up the stages and draws motorsport fans like a moth to a flame.

Kent’s Mustang will be closely followed by the Ford Cortinas of Peter Killick and Russell Clark. The pretty Mk 1 Cortinas where the forerunners to the Escorts which later dominated world rallying, and they still have a strong following from enthusiasts the world over.

The wide variety of cars in the Early Classic competition will also include Andrew Bryson’s 1964 Hillman and David White’s 1963 Mini Cooper, in what should be a close battle for victory.

More than outright speed and state-of-the-art technology, the classics are all about driving unique vehicles in the manner in which they were designed for, and the Early Classics perfectly illustrate this.

Targa Wrest Point includes 14 closed road special stages to the south west of Hobart, with a total competitive distance of 208 kilometres.

Organised by Octagon, Targa Wrest Point is round two of the three round Australian Targa Championship that also includes Targa Tasmania, and Targa High Country in Victoria.

For further information on Targa Wrest Point, go to www.targawrestpoint.com.au

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