13-14 August 2004
1961 Chaparral 1 Sports Racing Car
To be auctioned on
Sold for $1,111,000
- Chassis no. 003
Chevrolet Corvette derived, based on the 1961 327 cu. in. cast iron V8, approximately 375bhp at 7,000 rpm with induction by six Stromberg “97” carburetors, transmission is an aluminum-cased Borg Warner T-10 manual four-speed with all synchromesh gears, rear end is Ford ring and pinion gears in custom magnesium alloy case by Halibrand to T and B design and Quick-Change final drive capability via spur-gears at rear of case, independent front and rear suspension, front has upper and lower A-arms with coil-over shock units plus adjustable anti-sway bar, rear has single upper links, N-arm lower, with fore and aft location by parallel trailing arms, Coil-over shock units and adjustable anti-sway bar, cast magnesium rear uprights to T&B design, Girling disc brakes front and rear with BR front calipers, AR rear brakes, rears are mounted inboard, custom cast wheels by Halibrand to a T&B design, pin-drive, knock-off location, nominal sizes – 15 inch x 6 inch, 15 inch x 7 inch, steel tubing chassis to a triangulated space-frame design by T&B, main chassis tubes are 1.25 inch diameter, chassis incorporates innovative full width 1/4 inch magnesium engine mounting plate/main bulkhead, overall weight 1,560 lbs. Wheelbase: 90"
THE HISTORY - AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE
The year was 1961. An ambitious young Texan who had already done well in West Texas oil was determined to do even better in pro racing. Jim Hall of Midland, Texas, a 1957 engineering graduate of Cal Tech, had already waded deeply into the waters of going very fast in very powerful cars. He had raced a thumping great 5.7 liter Maserati and a pavement blistering supercharged Lister-Chevrolet. He was not bashful about using massive horsepower and he wanted to get to the front – and in the glare of his later technological accomplishments, it is often overlooked that Jim Hall was one of the most gifted drivers of his time.
Having been partners with Carroll Shelby in a Dallas sports car dealership, Hall had waded into an even deeper pool – the-shake-and-bake world of racing entrepreneurism. It was a world of strong personalities and fierce ambition, and Hall felt right at home. He had watched Lance Reventlow’s beautiful, powerful frontengined Scarabs, built by brilliant Southern California craftsmen Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes, dominate racing. He saw that it was not enough to have talent and drive the wheels off a car, the successful racer/engineer must have technology to give him what Mark Donohue would later call an “unfair” advantage. While not all of Hall’s subsequent brain-boggling innovations were successful, each was aimed at this
In American racing of 1961, the inevitability of rear-engine (more properly, mid-engined) design was not yet confirmed. Following on the heels of World Champion Cooper Formula 1 cars of 1959 and 1960, two important rear-engined sports racers appeared; the Cooper Monaco and Colin Chapman’s Lotus 19. They were desperately fragile, small-bore cars. In America, big-bore, frontengined cars remained dominant.
After a November 19, 1960 meeting at Riverside, the idea for a new sports racing car was discussed by Hall, Troutman and Barnes. A short time later, Hall agreed to underwrite the project. Troutman and Barnes were then commissioned by Hall to design a prototype for the sports car wars – at a price of $ 16,500 Hall hoped for an “unfair” advantage. Troutman and Barnes called the prototype the Riverside Sports Racer but told Hall he could rename it whatever he liked. The Texan later named it the Chaparral… and the legend began.
Two Chaparrals, chassis 001, the prototype and this car, chassis 003 were ordered by the Hall/Sharp Team. The new car, while conventional in layout, was a dramatic improvement upon the Italianate Scarab. Smaller, lighter and lower, it had a shrinkwrapped body bound tightly around its components. It had right-hand drive and in place of the Scarab’s de Dion rear and used four-wheel independent suspension. It had an 88 inch wheelbase (the succeeding four chassis would get a 90 inch
wheelbase) and four-wheel disc brakes were used, mounted inboard at the rear. The front engine was shoved far back, for good weight distribution, an ideal 45 per cent on the front and 55 per cent on the rear.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Just as the P-51 Mustang was “fast” one minute before the revolutionary 100mph faster Messerschmitt 262 jet appeared, the Chaparral was “fast” just as in Europe, the 2.5 liter Coopers and Lotuses were proving rear-engine cars lighter, more agile, faster. In the U.S., it was thought that Hall’s “torquey” small block would prove them wrong. With 318 cubic inches fed by three Stromberg 97’s, the compact 1500 lb. Chaparral (in light of later models, known as Chaparral 1) was a straightaway dragster. If it did not corner as tidily, its greater power would find the checker first.
But, alas, the pro racing scene was exploding in 1961 and the Chaparral 1’s competition was far tougher than that of the Scarab’s. Nevertheless, in its June debut at Laguna Seca, Hall led convincingly but fell to second behind Chuck Sargent’s Maserati Birdcage as a result of running half the race with three broken rocker studs. Later, at the LA Times GP at Riverside in October, the Grand Prix pantheon – Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Dan Gurney and Bruce McLaren – together with the latest English Monacos and 19’s would prove formidable. But Hall, his Chaparral retrofitted with the world’s first chin spoiler and no fewer than six Strombergs, was only a half-second behind Brabham’s pole winning time. He started from the second row and finished third behind Brabham’s winning Cooper. Hall set the highest trap speed – 180 on the long back straight – but clearly, he had not yet found his unfair advantage.
The Chaparral 1 remained reasonably competitive for two seasons, Hall winning twice on the long straightaways of Elkhart Lake, first in the 1962 June Sprints, then in the grueling Road America 500 partnered by Hap Sharp (who would race Chaparrals as Hall’s partner for years to come). By now, chassis 002 had gone to the Meister Brauser team, and in it, Harry Heuer finished second in the June Sprints and behind Dan Gurney’s fast, winning Lotus 19 in the 1962 Daytona Continental, Hall put up a fierce battle with Phil Hill and Ricardo Rodrigues to finish third. Joined by Sharp, the team placed both cars in the top 10 at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Later, at Mosport, Hall would set the fastest lap but fail to match the pace of Maston Gregory in a Lotus 19.
By 1963, front-engined cars were plainly obsolete. And secretly, though the new car was not ready for the Daytona USRRC or Sebring, Hall was building his revolutionary, plastic monocoque, rear-engine Chaparral 2. At Sebring, Hall’s twin Chaparral 1’s made their penultimate appearance, one leading briefly, but neither finishing.
The Chaparral 1 on offer here, with chassis No. 003, is one of the two team cars, that together with 001, was campaigned by Hall and Sharp – and currently owned by Skip Barber… yes, that Skip Barber. No. 003 is one the five Chaparral 1’s produced, 004 was raced by Roger Ward prior to being totally destroyed in a racing incident and 005 went to England in chassis form to be used as a Hillclimber.
In the golden age of front-engined sports racers, the Chaparral 1 stands as the highest achievement, though there have been later dalliances, by Ford in the 1980s and Panoz today. As racing veered toward rear-engine design, the Chaparral fought bravely – and occasionally triumphantly – against the laws of physics.
This car taught Jim Hall a vital lesson: To achieve the true “unfair” advantage you must build your own cars using top-secret technology no one knows is there, and by the time the competition begins to suspect you, you must be well into your next top secret technology. In the following years, notably in the Can-Am series, no one implemented this strategy more insistently or more brilliantly than Jim Hall.
When Jim Hall’s first new in-house designed mid-engined Chaparral 2 was completed and tested in the Fall of 1963, both of the Chaparral 1’s were sold. These early cars, chassis 001 (the 88 inch wheelbase prototype) and this example, chassis 003, were the only Chaparrals ever sold by Jim Hall since each and every one of the subsequent models are retained by Hall to this day. In April of 2004, these remaining six racing cars were installed at The Chaparral Gallery’s Gala Opening in Midland, Texas. This custom built wing of the Petroleum Museum of Midland, is designed to preserve the Chaparral technical legend and to inspire young future engineers to creative excellence.
This Chaparral 1, chassis 003 was sold to Gary Wilson’s Kansas Racing Team and later to Joe Starkey who won the southwest SCCA Region’s C-Modified Championship with it. Sadly neglected but reasonably complete, the rolling chassis and body was purchased by Dr. Gary Lund around 1970. In 1987 he was about to sell it when Arizona racing enthusiast and restorer Steve Schultz became a 50 per cent partner in the project, in return for agreeing to carry out a full restoration of chassis 003.
CHAPARRAL 1 – 003 RESTORATION – 1987-1997
Schultz’s restoration took the better part of a decade and was finally completed in the late 1990s. Much technical and historical research was carried out and the finished product reflects this in every detail, even to the magnesium wheels which have been gold-anodized exactly as the originals. Since the restorer decided not to use the “FIA vandalized” nose and tail sections from the 1963 Sebring race, new pieces were formed on body bucks taken from Chaparral 001 by Adler Metal Works of Ontario, Canada. Selected suspension and other parts were also re-fabricated as required in order to return this Chaparral to its original specifications and condition. It is important to note that all of these replaced suspension and structural components were boxed and retained and all will accompany the sale of this car. Also included in the sale are all of the 1963 Sebring FIA body panels, still in the original paint and identified as No. 9. While somewhat unattractive in appearance, these artifacts are nevertheless very important to this Chaparral because they illustrate the serious aero experimentation that Jim Hall was carrying out by 1963. The Kamm tail, raised nose and front spoiler arrangement of this body is in fact nearly identical to the panels found on the first mid-engined car, the Chaparral 2 that Hall raced later in 1963.
After displaying the completed restoration at various vintage venues for a few years, the partnership of Lund/Schultz sold C1-003 to the famed Skip Barber Collection of Sharon, CT at the beginning of 2001. In 2002 Jim Hall was reunited with the car at the site of its most famous win, Road America, as part of the Chaparral feature, where he drove three of his mid-engined Chaparrals in an on-track demonstration. After the 6’4” tall Hall climbed out of the Barber C-1 with some difficulty, on-lookers wondered how he managed to race this car so successfully. Jim Hall thought for a minute and then said in his quiet and humorous manner, “I guess I was a lot more bendy 40 years ago.”
As nice as it looks and starts as well as it runs, a new owner who intends to enter vintage races with this historic Jim Hall team Chaparral is urged to undertake a thorough check-over and race preparation prior to such usage.
1961 CHAPARRAL 1 - 003 SELECTED PERIOD
MARCH 1962 - 12 HOURS OF SEBRING - Car No. 10
(Engine reduced to four liters) Jim Hall/Hap Sharp/Ron Hissom. Ran 3rd, Finished 6th O/A. 1st in Sports Prototype.
SEPTEMBER 1962 - ROAD AMERICA 500 - Car No. 4
Jim Hall and Hap Sharp finished 1st O/A, defeating the Meister Brauser Scarab and No. 002 Chaparral of Augie Pabst and Harry Heuer plus the entire Cunningham team.
FEBRUARY 1962 - TEXAS RACE - NASSAU, BAHAMAS - Car No. 66
Jim Hall, 1st O/A.
MARCH 1963 – 12 HOURS OF SEBRING – Car No. 9
Displaying various experimental aerodynamic devices, the two Hall team cars had tall FIA windshields and rear fender-fin, constructed the night prior to the race. Despite their strange appearance, one of the Chaparrals managed to lead the race for a time, before overheating.
JUNE 1963 - PLAYERS 200 - MOSPORT PARK, ONTARIO, CANADA
Car No. 11. Jim Hall led a strong international field for half of the race but dropped to 2nd at the checker behind Chuck Daigh’s Lotus 19 but ahead of Roger Penske’s Zerex Special and Dan Gurney’s Lotus.
Naming the titans of postwar American road racing does not take long, for this is a short list, headed by World Champion Phil Hill. The others include Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti, Carroll Shelby and Jim Hall. All excelled in a variety of racing and all scored major wins in international events. But only three, Gurney, Shelby and Hall are credited with backing and producing a series of racing cars under their own name.
Of these, only Jim Hall can be truly described as having designed and engineered his own cars, in addition to winning major races in them. Even the other original creators of this Chaparral reads like a who’s who of American Road Racing of the 1950s – body by Scarab designer, Chuck Pelly, who later headed BMW’s Designworks/USA, panel production by California Metal Shaping and of course, Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes, the foremost racing car designers and constructors of that glorious era.
This is indeed a rare and likely unrepeatable opportunity to purchase one of the original cars which founded the Chaparral racing car dynasty.
General marque history courtesy of a Ted West Feature article in the No.
five, 2001 Issue of Vintage Motorsport Magazine.
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