eBay daydreaming: Old F1 car or Cold War jet(s)?


We here at Hooniverse are dedicated not only to answering all of the great automotive mysteries of the Internet, but also to positing the greatest automotive questions to our readers. Today, in addition to today’s wonderful opener from Robert Emslie, let’s trudge over to eBay to ask which six-figure toy you’d prefer in your personal garage hangar. All three were technological marvels in their time and will cost a pretty penny to operate still today. So which would you rather have: a 25-year-old Formula One car or one of two Cold War jets? 

[[sc:ebay itemid=”281295612098″ linktext=”Benetton F1 car, ” ][sc:ebay itemid=”301139577431″ linktext=”Canadair T-33 Silver Star, ” ]and [sc:ebay itemid=”181374853192″ linktext=”MiG-15 Trainer” ]]


Benetton was, at one time, a fairly competitive name in Formula One. The seller claims this auction item, featured on Bring a Trailer a couple weeks ago, to be a B189 (the 1989 model) but also says it’s the car that ran the first six races of the 1989 season, which would have been the B188 (1988 model). Regardless, Benetton remained a competitive team for most of its run in Formula One and this was one of the team’s first forays into post-turbocharging F1.


Power came from a 2.65-liter Cosworth V8, branded as a Ford, good for a lot of horsepower. The number of horsepower is basically irrelevant because the car possesses enough power to push your eyeballs into the back of your skull when you flick the right pedal and then roll them around in your cranium while you scoot around a corner at 4 G the same way Alessandro Nannini did in the same car 25 years ago. Well, maybe not quite the same way.


I won’t claim to know the ins and outs of the late-’80s Benettons, but for an enthusiast with a couple hundred thousand laying around, this ahould provide ample entertainment. For someone interested in owning this in lieu of a residence, the price includes a substantial spares package to keep it roadworthy track-ready and it even comes with a hauler, so you’ll have somewhere to sleep when your spouse or family disowns you. You can work out the details on your P.O. Box later.


That’s all well and good, but maybe 200 miles per hour and 4 G is not enough for you. For $25,000 more, you can have your very own Cold War jet trainer. This Canadair CT-133 Silver Star is capable of three times the speed of a Formula One car and, according to the seller, will pull twice the G load while you flog it seven miles in the air, high enough to see the curve of the earth and to appreciate how small you are in the grand scheme of things to feel like you could crush all of the Little People below you with the mere shriek of your two-seater’s turbojet.


The Silver Star is a license-built version of the United States’ Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star trainer, itself derived from the P-80 Shooting Star, the America’s first fighter jet. The Canadian version used a single Rolls Royce engine instead of the American version’s Allison turbojet.


Early P-80 encounters with the Soviet MiG-15 over Korea ended poorly for the American jet, designed during World War 2 and just entering service as the Japanese surrendered. The P-80 was relegated to ground-attack duties while more capable fighters like the F-86 Sabre grappled with the intercepting MiGs, often piloted by Soviet crews. The T-33 entered service just before the Korean Conflict as an advanced trainer for U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine aviators, staying in service for more than 15 years.


This CT-133 in Longview, Texas, is listed at $185,000, although expect to burn some cash in the form of fuel—probably a couple thousand dollars an hour (which would be higher on a more recent military-surplus fighter with reheat capability). The seller claims its paperwork is in order and the good-condition bird is fun and (relatively) easy to fly. What could be better?


This, the very model of airplane that turned the P-80 away from its purpose as a dogfighter, might be better: a MiG-15. This is the two-seat version, built by Mikoyan-Gurevich in the early 1950s. It is a fairly simple machine, basically a barrel-shaped fuselage with an engine behind the pilot (mid-engined!) and swept-back wings.


Weighing around three tons at Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW), the 6,000-pound turbojet gives a 1:1 power-weight ratio, basically, and the spartan design incorporated all the best elements of Russian engineering. Fighter versions of the MiG-15 bore a pair of 23mm cannons and a single 37mm cannons, but this trainer version would not have been equipped with any such armament.


Based on its performance numbers, the MiG was theoretically capable of supersonic flight in a dive, but the high-mounted tail would made control surfaces virutally useless approaching and beyond Mach 1. Diving at speed was, therefore, forbidden in pilot training. Despite its quirks, the MiG-15 was a thoroughbred for its time and still capable of producing enough grins to make its owner feel like the master of the universe at 35,000 feet.


This MiG’s seller in Nevada claims the Cold War fighter has full maintenance logs and an approved FAA maintenance plan. Its refurbishment has included the clever modification of adding English labels to all of the Cyrillic gauges, which a non-Russian speaker might find helpful when trying to operate the MiG. With bidding starting at $50,000 and a Buy It now price of $128,000, it’s also the least-expensive option, though it’s no secret that keeping an Eastern Bloc fighter in the air is an expensive proposition.

So what’ll it be: The pinnacle of four-wheel technology or early Cold War military jets?

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