Automobiles of London

31 October 2007

Lot 269

1981 March 81C Indy Car

To be auctioned on Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sold for £27,500

  • Chassis no. 001

Estimate: €29,000 - €44,000
Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000

Engine No. DFX 143

From the Brazilian Collector Mr. Abraham Kogan

Up to 840bhp, 2,650cc, Cosworth DFX engine, Bendix fuel injection, Weismann transmission, inboard coil springs, top rocker arms and lower wishbone front and rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes.
Wheelbase: 106in. (2,692mm).

In 1969 March Engineering was established to provide racing car chassis for customers competing in many different racing categories. The four co-founders were Max Moseley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker, and Robin Herd.

The company grew rapidly, entering Formula 1 in 1970, with Jackie Stewart taking two victories. March cars also appeared in Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula Ford, and Can Am.

By 1980 Robin Herd was the only founder of March still with the company, and he decided to expand into the American market with an IndyCar and an IMSA GTP car. McLaren’s Gordon Coppuck initially headed the IndyCar project before newly recruited Adrian Newey took over.

In their debut season, 1981, March IndyCars won two races, including A. J. Foyt’s victory at Pocono, which came just under a month after their very first race. In 1982 they won five times and seven times in 1983. Five consecutive Indianapolis 500 wins came in 1983–7 and the company won the CART title with Al Unser in 1985 and Bobby Rahal in 1986.

The March 81C presented here is the first of the nine cars built. It was invoiced to Don Whittington of Florida on 8 April 1981 for $80,000 plus $38,200 for the Cosworth DFX engine. Chassis numbers 003 and 004 went to his brothers Bill and Dale.

Bill Whittington finished 21st at Indianapolis in this car in 1981 and Don finished 6th the following year in s/n 001, qualifying at 200.725 mph. Such was the success of March’s debut season that in 1982 some 17 March cars were entered in the Championship.

Don and Bill Whittington had won Le Mans and the World Endurance title in 1979, co-owned the Blue Thunder Racing Team, and owned the Road Atlanta circuit. By 1986 Bill was in a Federal penitentiary for drug smuggling. Don followed him in 1987 on money laundering charges. It emerged that a number of drivers were funding their racing by smuggling marijuana into the US from Columbia.

March 81C-001 was seized by Federal Marshals and sold to Peter Schomer in May 1991. Not long afterwards, Abba Kogan acquired the car from Schomer, adding it to his growing collection – where it has remained ever since.

The car has been up-rated to 1983 specification and comes with Historic Indy Race Group papers; it is also CART and USAC registered. The car has a comprehensive history file from the Whittington brothers including ownership history, specification details, and a copy of customs C&E 388 form.

This important March IndyCar is in need of a re-build, and although it has not been run for several years it is described as being complete, with the engine turning freely and showing good oil pressure.

The March 81C proved to be the foundation of March’s success in IndyCar racing and the financial saviour of the whole company. The example offered here, s/n 001, is the very first of that distinguished line.


Please note that this car is sold on Bill of Sale Only.

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more