Legend Cars: Pocket Fun on 4 Wheels
If you’re looking for the best and funniest experience for the lowest price, Legend Cars are the way to go!
A couple of days ago I went to Castelletto Circuit, a little race track in the North of Italy, in order to rent a Legend Car for a couple of free practice sessions. Castelletto is the Italian headquarters of these little but angry race cars, which were born in 1992 in the USA as low budget cars taking a cue from the motorcycle-engined dwarf cars, being manufactured in those years. The bodyshells are 5/8-scale replicas of American automobiles from the 1930s and 1940s and you can find both sedan and coupé versions of the ’34 and ’37 Fords, the ’37 Chevrolet Sedan and the ’37 Dodge.
Until a few years ago all the Legend Cars were powered by a Yamaha FJ1250 4-cylinder engine able to produce around 140hp at 10,500 rpm. In 2018 US Legends Cars International, the company which builds all the Legends, announce a new water cooled, fuel injected engine for their cars, taken from the Yamaha MT-09 (or Yamaha FZ09 in North America) naked. This is a 850 cc 4-stroke 12-valve DOHC inline-3 with crossplane crankshaft which weighs 30 kgs less than the previous inline-4 and it’s still able to produce the same amount of power with a few of mods. The total weight of the car is around 550 kgs with the driver.
Here in Italy, all the Legends have Maxxis Mecotra 3 tyres which you can buy for your daily car, since they are street tyres. Their measures are
The cockpit is very basic, with just the essential elements: water and oil temp gauges, ignition and start button. For a better feeling while driving, I asked for a wheel with a smaller diameter compared to the standard ‘big’ drifting one mounted on most of their Legends. I think it should be a Sparco 300mm.
Being almost 2 meters tall (6.5 feet), I couldn’t expect to be comfortable inside the small cockpit but once fitted in the ButlerBuilt Quarter Midget seat, I surprisely forgot how tall I was.
The pedals are quite improvised. Of course you have a three-pedals layout like in any manual car, but as you can see in this picture the brake pedal is split between the steering column so you could brake both with your right foot or with your left, when the track allows it.
The gearbox is the 6-speed sequential of the Yamaha MT-09. You could upshift without using the clutch just releasing the throttle in the moment of the upshift like it happens on shifter karts.
Apart from a very brief, 5-laps experience of a depowered 4-cylinder Legends two years ago, this was my very first time behind the wheel of the new 3-cylinder one at full power. Having zero electronic controls and a locked rear differential, these things are basically bigger go karts that must be driven in the cleanest way possible in order to make good times. Otherwise, they can be driven in the dirtiest way possible, powersliding all around the track using the immense amount of torque this new inline-3 has at every rpm.
Rental prices for a 10 laps session here in Castelletto are:
– 100€ if you choose the de-powered version (called ‘Stock’)
– 150€ if you go for the full powered one (called ‘Race’)
Otherwise you can both buy the car and race in the dedicated Italian championship (22,000€ cost of the car + championship entry fee) or rent the car for the whole season at 19,000€.
I’m pretty satisfied about my session. The guys at Castelletto Circuit gave me a lot of precise and clean suggestions on how to drive in order to set a good time but as usual I preferred to take advantage of these rare opportunities to have fun. As you can see from the video below this means I still have a lot to learn, starting from taking the right apex of each corner everytime and use the correct gear. Another aspect I have to focus my attention on is the braking point: I was braking too in advance compared to the correct braking point. Talking about the gears, I could have changed gear without using the clutch (releasing the throttle for upshifts and giving a little throttle blip while downshifting) but I was asked to use the clutch everytime resulting in those horrible upshifts. Next time!