Video of the Day: ‘Utterly joyful’ driving in a 106-year-old GN race car

The British owner/caretaker revels in putting this ancient piece of machinery on the road

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GN
The air-cooled GN J.A.P. nestled in between parked cars

Driving around in a 106-year-old race car might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but for Richard Scaldwell, his crusty by trusty 1914 GN J.A.P. is the closest thing to road-going nirvana.

The Video of the Day, part of the Goodwood Overdrive Classics video series called The Edwardians, shows this cheery bloke piloting his archaic and heavily patinaed machine around the British countryside.  The GN is certainly distinctive-looking, with its single headline nestled in the top of the slim front cowling. 

The chassis is made of wood, Scaldwell points out, which was standard practice in the day, the company later switching to steel frames only when it “became fashionable.”

The GN racer runs with an 8-cylinder, air-cooled 1908 J.A.P. airplane engine, which looks like a steam-punk assemblage of exposed overhead valvetrains and large-diameter pipes, but which Scaldwell says is reliable and tractable. The ancient racer drives quite well on the British back roads, he adds. 

“It’s completely responsive, completely forgiving and utterly joyful,” he says with a grin.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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