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1987 Spice SE87

Posted by WindingRoad about 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It is hard to imagine that a fledgling company could launch such a winning endeavor within only a few years of construction. Such is the phenomenal success of Spice Engineering, which would go from young upstart to multiple Team and Constructor championships at 24 Hours of Le Mans (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991), 24 Hours of Daytona (1991-1995), and as IMSA GT Constructor Champions (1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994). Founded in 1984, Gordon Spice and brother Derek formed Spice Engineering, constructing their own chassis by 1986 for both WSC C2 and IMSA. General Motors agreed to bring their technical and financial support to the project, with the provision that the body loosely resemble the Pontiac Fiero. The car was nicknamed the “Spice Pontiac Fiero GTP” but was officially named the SE86CL. That same year, with primary driving duties given to Bob Earl, formerly driving a Pontiac Fiero for Huffaker Racing in the 1985 IMSA GTU class, the Spice Fiero scored a class victory in their second race at Laguna Seca, with additional wins following that year at Charlotte.

The success of the Spice Fiero attracted interest from other Camel Lights teams to purchase their own car for 1987. With lively customer interest, the Spice Engineering team began development on the new SE87L chassis, which were sold to Whitehall Motorsports and Racecraft International. Charles Morgan took two wins and fifth place in the championship for the Spice factory team. In the GTP class, Bob Earl and Jeff Kline drove to a podium finish at San Antonio - the team’s best result in two years of GTP competition.

By 1989, the Spice Engineering Factory team committed exclusively to the top GTP class. Spice cars were quickly becoming predominantly successful in the Lights category with several new Spice customer teams competing to great success. During the 1989 season, Whitehall and others had proven that the Buick INDY Lights V6 normally aspirated engine was a favored powerplant, far superior to the 4 cylinder Pontiac engine, as continued victories subsequently proved to motorsports enthusiasts around the world. Spice with Buick V6 power won the Lights class Championship in 1989 with S&L Racing’s Scott Schubot and Linda Ludeman winning 8 races and 10 poles. In 1990 the Spice Engineering Factory team won the Championship with Buick power and driver Tomas Lopez. Spice Engineering then partnered with Acura and Comptech Engineering winning 3 more championships from 1991-1993. 

This particular Spice-Buick (SE87L-003) represents an ideal opportunity for a race-minded enthusiast seeking a very well prepared and capable car for a wide range of SVRA and HSR events. The car is eligible for the Daytona Classic, LeMans Classic, Sebring Classic, Spring Classic at Laguna Seca (which features a one hour endurance race at dusk - perfect for this car), and many other prestigious race events around the globe.

Originally built and delivered to Whitehall (an AT&T sponsored car) SE87L-003 was first fitted with the Pontiac engine, and later converted in 1992 to Buick power by Essex racing. The car was raced in IMSA from 1986 through 1992 winning numerous races driven by top drivers including John Paul Jr., Jeff Klein, Bill Koll, Skeeter McKitterick, Tom Hessert, Bob Schader and others at Lime Rock, Watkins Glen , 24 Hours of Daytona, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Laguna Seca, and Sears Point to name a few. Five 1st place finishes, five 2nd place finishes, and a fastest lap record, are just a few of the many notable statistics associated with this car. SE87L-003 continually raced in HSR for several years by drivers such as Shane Lewis and Dorsey Schroeder with Mark Pritch. The car was comprehensively rebuilt to race-ready standards in 2015 in Florida by Sean Creech, rebuilding all four suspension corners using Penske triple adjustable shocks, with the suspension being magged and tested. Roughly 50-100 shakedown miles were put of the car in July 2015 (records and data logs included). The car was last run in October 2015. 

The car is currently powered by a 4.5 liter Buick V6 engine rebuilt by Comptech. The 500 hp motor features aluminum heads, Lockheed clutch and pressure plate, and Tilton flywheel. We believe the engine was rebuilt in 2011 and run for dyno tests and then subsequent shakedown miles in 2015 after the suspension was rebuilt. The engine has been recently started and run at idle at our showroom (video available). The normally aspirated Buick engine is by far the superior power plant for these cars. The wider torque band of the V6 engine not only makes these cars easier to drive, they are far more reliable, easier to work on, and much easier to drive than the turbocharged variants. A Hewland VGC gearbox is currently being used with a Spice shifter and transmission cooler. The car has been set up with a large STACK data package including brake sensors and shock potentiometers as part of the onboard data gathering system. A STACK data laptop with Windows 98 is included with the car. This package contains extensive and useful data recorded from multiple previous HSR races. 

Today the car remains in very nice condition with a tremendous amount of work already done both to the mechanical systems and to the interior and safety components. The Spice chassis design utilizes aluminum and carbon monocoque construction for both lightweight and durable stress cycling under racing demands. The exterior of the car is solid with clean and well-maintained bodywork nicely featured in red, white, and blue livery, in keeping with the AT&T sponsorship of earlier years. The interior is very well laid out, complete with up to date five-point roll cage, wide band Schroth belts, and on-board fire suppression system. An array of Autometer instruments with a STACK tach/data recorder, Momo steering wheel, and suspension adjustment levers finish off the interior. The car is shod with Hoosier racing tires and 3 piece RAYS wheels. With the rear deck removed, a carefully serviced and recently prepared engine is revealed. There is virtually no bluing to the headers, and no signs of excessive heat on any of the components. Insulation, fittings, and suspension construction members are all in very nice condition showing virtually no wear to the surfaces or stresses to the hardware. 

Included with the car are extensive records, HSR Vehicle Log Book, Buick Power Source Electronic Engine Management System book, Pontiac Fiero GTP performance handbook (complete with construction details, repair procedures, service and maintenance, and chassis set up), hand written log books from dated races (including recent shake down in 2015), Parts reference book, detailed start up procedure, detailed notes on suspension set ups, tire pressure, body height settings, and detailed parts lists and diagrams for the Spice body and chassis components. 

Important spares accompanying the car include a fresh Lozano Brothers rebuilt Buick V6 engine (with dyno time only), a spare 4.5 Litre Comptech Buick V6, front suspension spares, spare nose, tail, and windscreen, a spare Buick ECU and various electrical bits, a complete spare rear section with Hewland transaxle and rear suspension, a set of half shafts, rotors, and uprights, numerous gear sets, a second bell housing (with repairs), A set of (4) RAYS 3 piece wheels, a set of (4 ) 3 piece BBS period wheels (likely best used for display purposes), three spare radiators, a rear wing, a laptop computer with software, and a host of other numerous good used and helpful spares for track support. 

With contemporary historic racing now eagerly including these marvels of technology at numerous racetracks, this Spice GTP represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a very well prepared and sorted GTP car with documented period history and future capability. Professionally prepared to a high standard and powered by the preferred normally aspirated V6 Comptech engine, this highly refined and technically sophisticated package is ready to deliver exceptional track performance and competitive satisfaction at several historic venues.

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