Tue, 21st Feb 2006 0:00

The Centaur

  Lot 25
Lot 25 - 1981 March 811 Racing Single Seater

1981 March 811 Racing Single Seater

Estimated at £90,000 - £110,000

Lot details
Registration No: N/A
Chassis No: 811/5
Mot Expiry: N/A

During 1968-1969 two things were on everyone's mind - how they could use the best engine in the world, the Cosworth DFV, and the fact that now anyone could enter Formula One provided you had a designer and sponsor because of the FIA's decision to allow American style sponsorship. One of the first people to recognise this was Max Moseley, the current president, and a barrister who raced in Formula Two at the weekends. He not only understood this potentially explosive situation but was also a friend of Robin Herd who was establishing a reputation of being the best designer in the world. Max knew he would never be world champion but he thought that he could put together a world championship package providing he could get the support of Robin.
Alan Reece, a very good driver, was a friend of Robin's and they got together with Graham Coaker to enter F1, on a shoestring £2500 each, and would make production cars to give some financial stability to the company. The March Company was born - an acronym of their names and on the face of it they had the talent to make it. Under funded as it was, the company produced its first F3 car in 1969 which showed some promise and this formed the basis for the first customer cars which were made for F2, F3, Formula Atlantic and Formula Ford 1600 but Robin was also designing an F1 car and once that was out of the way they were going to move onto a Can-Am car. They supplied F1 cars to Team Tyrrell, led by Jackie Stewart, and to others and much promise was shown as they finished third in the constructors championships but realistically as they had some of the best driver's they should probably have won it.
The 811 was developed in 1980 and although it is called a March, this F1 car was made for March Grand Prix as a joint venture between John McDonald's RAM Racing and Robin Herd and had no connection to March Engineering of Bicester. To circumvent the usual problems of design and development it was decided to copy the Williams FW07 RAM had been running and the cars were built by March Engines at Cowley, a special project's outfit owned by Herd.
The car is a straightforward Cosworth DFV/Hewland FGA machine but made without the exotic materials used by Williams, which made them very heavy. In order to lighten them they used thinner gauge sheeting but the result was that the tub flexed making the cars almost undriveable with the result that very soon McDonald and Herd had fallen out. Gordon Coppuck came on board for a limited spell and then handed the reigns over to Adrian Reynard and between them they managed to make the car into a reasonable proposition which Derek Daly usually qualified around row ten of the grid. However this was the last car produced, chassis number 5, and the one that Adrian worked on and used to develop the car and it shows how good he was because this car was up to 5th in the 1981 British GP when unfortunately it retired.
The car is fitted with the short stroke Nicholson DFV 3-litre engine that has completed around 906 miles. As stated this is the exact copy, without litigation, of the Williams FW07 but rather heavier, however considerable lightening has taken place in the last few years with greater advances in technology and now weighs about the same. The new lightweight fuel tanks were manufactured in 2003 and the complete car was crack tested and comes with a certificate dating from February 2004.
It was raced by Derek Daly in the 1981 season in four events with the best finish being 11th and was passed to Val Musetti for use in British Formula One. It was converted by Cobra Motorsport to Interseries specification for Walter Lechner and converted back to Formula One specification by Source Racing for Don Wood. It was purchased by the current owner for the last race of the 2001 TGP Season and since then it has done seven races; five in 2002, none in 2003 and two in 2004.
It is looked after, comprehensively, by the James Watt racing organisation, synonymous with TGP and historic Formula One race preparation, and is, in their words, in 'race ready condition'. The bodywork is finished in black with sponsorship decals by Guinness and Rizla exactly as it was in period.
This is an excellent opportunity to enter the Thoroughbred Grand Prix arena of single seater racing at a very sensible entry cost level and of course it comes with a full set of FIA papers. The history file will also contain the complete mechanical history and 'life' of the car which is meticulously kept by the Watt Organisation and is a total record of what has happened to the car. An invaluable record which is only bettered in the aircraft industry - if then!


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