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     Mark 1 Weslake
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  Eagle Mark 1 Weslake
 

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Country of origin:United States
Produced from:1966 - 1967
Numbers built:3 (4 Mark 1s in total)
Designed by:Len Terry for All American Racers
Predecessor:Eagle Mark 1 Climax
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:September 10, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFollowing the example set by his colleagues Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren, American racer Dan Gurney set up shop for himself in 1964 under the All American Racers (AAR) banner. Among his partners were Carroll Shelby and the Goodyear tyre company. In its first full season, AAR served as an entrant, fielding a Lotus 38 in the Indy 500 for example. There were much bigger plans for 1966; a Grand Prix and USAC (Indy) campaign with cars of their own design and construction. Gurney decided to call his car 'Eagle' after the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States.

To design the new Eagle, Gurney hired Len Terry, who had been responsible for the 1965 Indy 500 winning Lotus 38. The talented designer had left Lotus shortly before due to a conflict with Colin Chapman. Gurney also obtained the services of British engine-guru Harry Weslake. Next to Weslake's engine shop in Rye, England, a subsidiary was established using the 'Anglo American Racers' name. A rule change, which saw the maximum allowed displacement in Formula 1 double to 3 litre in 1966, made life a lot easier for Gurney and Terry; they could now use one basic design for both the Grand Prix and Indy Eagles.

Terry used the same basic design of the highly successful Lotus for the new Eagle F1 and Indy car, which were known as the Mark 1 and Mark 2 respectively. Since then the F1 machine has been commonly referred to as the T1G but Gurney is adamant that that was never an official type designation. Just like 1965 Indy winner, the Eagle featured a fully enclosed monocoque constructed from sheets of aluminium. The chassis extended all the way to the back, cradling the engine and supporting the suspension. The design's most striking feature was the beak-shaped nose that clearly resembled the eagle the machine was named after.

The first Mark 1 chassis was ready in May of 1966, which was well ahead of the planned V12 engine under development at Weslake. To keep up the momentum, the new car was fitted with a readily available Coventry Climax four cylinder engine, which displaced just under 2.8 litre. While down on power compared to the larger engined rivals, the Mark 1 Eagle performed remarkably well. Gurney placed it fifth at the high-speed French Grand Prix in only its second outing. The tall American repeated that point-scoring feat in Mexico later in the year. Compatriots Phil Hill and Bob Bondurant did not fair that well behind the wheel of the four cylinder engined Eagle.

Meanwhile, cylinder-head specialist turned engine builder, Harry Weslake slaved away at his finest creation yet. The result was a sophisticated V12 with twin overhead camshafts actuating four valves per cylinder. Its twelve headers curved upwards and fed four long exhausts that added further to the visual appeal of the Formula 1 Eagle. Weslake's target figure was a very ambitious 500 bhp at 12,000 rpm but at his first outing Gurney had to make do with an already impressive 364 bhp at 10,000 rpm. By the spring of 1967 the output had increased to around 420 bhp, making it one of the most powerful engines on the grid. This was very welcome as the sturdy Eagle was also one of the field's heavier cars.

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  Article Image gallery (35) Chassis (3) Specifications User Comments (1)