This weekend sees the running of the 165th running of the Grand National at Aintree. Often considered ‘The People’s Race’, the National is the one date in the racing calendar in which complete strangers to racing will walk into their local bookmakers, pick the name that they like most, and put on a £1.
But can cars help to pick your Grand National selection? After all, horse racing and used cars could be closer than you first think. Here are just five previous National winners who we think could have something in common with the ‘horseless carriage’!
The Duke, 1836 & 1837: The General Lee W
We’ll start by looking at the first ever winner of the Grand National – The Duke (he actually won the first and second ‘unofficial’ Grand Nationals). We had a few choices here. The Nissan ‘Juke’ was mentioned as a modern equivalent whilst we even considered virtual cars – the Imponte Duke being a vehicle from Grand Theft Auto IV – but in the end, we went with The General Lee.
Why? Well, this Dodge Charger was the undoubted icon of the US TV series The Dukes of Hazzard and was all about out-running the competition – that competition being the cops as Bo and Luke ran moonshine. It was also pretty good at jumping hurdles!
Vanguard, 1843: The Standard Vanguard
The Standard Vanguard never looked like much of a racer but it was solid, dependable and built to go the distance – just the sort of qualities that you want from a 12/1 shot!
Build in Coventry between 1947 and 1963, a “sportsman” version of the Vanguard did emerge from the factory in the 1950s, so that’s good enough for us.
Salamander, 1866: Austin Seven Salamander
Salamander won the 1866 Grand National and we’ve gone for a car here that not only shares his name, but also his racing pedigree. Also known as ‘A Fane de Salis’, this was a car that was built for speed and cornering – perfect for tacking the long home straight and the famous ‘turn’ at Aintree.
Regal, 1876: The Reliant Regal
We’re staying in the 1800s for our fourth car, honouring Regal’s victory in 1876. We could have gone for a few cars here as well – many cars used by the Royal family were considered – but instead, we went for a namesake and picked the Reliant Regal. That’s right, we’ve gone for a three-wheeler!
At 25/1, Regal was something of an outsider in racing terms (although that certainly doesn’t make him the most unlikely winner) and we think that’s definitely mirrored by the plucky three-wheeler Regal!
Red Rum, 1973, 1974 & 1977: Ferrari F40
Finally, how can we forget about the undisputed king of Aintree? Red Rum won three Grand Nationals and when we thought of his name, only one brand of car came to mind – Ferrari.
Fast, elegant and with beautiful handing, they are everything that Red Rum was. Throw in the fact that red is the only colour for a Ferrari and you can see why we’ve gone for the Italian supercars. The only question was which one?
After some debate, we settled on the F40 – that distinctive spoiler stopped the F40 from leaping off the ground in the way that Red Rum did so gracefully.