Page 1 of 3 Next >> While still campaigning their front engined Chaparral racers, Jim Hall and Hap Sharp were already designing a replacement. Unlike their first racing car the new project would be an in-house design, constructed in their own workshop at the Rattlesnake race track in Texas. Early on in the project it became clear that a mid-engined layout was a necessity to keep up with the European competition. Hall's vast experience of racing a wide variety of racers gave him a very useful insight into chassis construction. He combined this knowledge to design a cutting edge racer.
Much of the development work on the first Chaparral consisted of further strengthening the spaceframe chassis with cross braces to cope with the additional power. It was quite possible to design a strong frame from the ground up, but it would be overly complex making quick repairs the chassis or engine nearly impossible. A monocoque chassis would be more suitable, but no one had tried to construct a mid-engined car with this layout before. Successfully applied in front-engined racers like the Jaguar D-Type, the monocoque usually consisted of sheet metal boxes riveted together.
For the construction of the chassis Hall and Sharp called in the help of former airplane engineer Andy Green. In exchange for his help, Hall would finance Green's racing sailboat business. His vast experience with composite materials was vital as Hall had picked fibreglass for the construction of his chassis. Except for Colin Chapman and his lightweight Lotus Elite, no one had been brave enough to use 'plastic' as the main chassis material. Hall believed that a fibreglass structure would be easier to construct, repair and adapt than a similar aluminium monocoque and would also be strong enough to cope with powerful engines.
While Hall and Green were busy designing and building the first mid-engined monocoque sports car, Chapman debuted the monocoque Lotus 25 Formula 1 racer, which used aluminium for the chassis and fibreglass for the body. Development at the Rattlesnake workshop went slowly because of Hall's busy Formula 1 schedule, but the first car was ready for the final races of the 1963 season. Inspired by Chevrolet's Monza GT concept car of 1962, Hall first designed a closed body for the '2', as the car was known. For various reasons that design was discarded and replaced by a simpler Roadster body. Page 1 of 3 Next >>