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  Widi Mk II Climax
 

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Country of origin:Belgium
Produced in:1960
Designed by:Willi Widar
Author:Cedriv Vyvey
Last updated:November 05, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe Widi, a 1960's sports racer, was conceived by Belgian Willy Widar, an enthusiast who trained as a physiotherapist, but ended up as a specialist sports car manufacturer. He dearly longed for a Lola Mk I, but as he could not afford to buy one, he resorted to constructing a comparable car himself. He did not recoil from a complicated task such as building a car, for self-taught men are often capable of great achievements.

The name of the car he got from his father's sportswear shop, an obvious abbreviation of their family name. In total, he churned out 11 cars in a decade. British car manufacturers often used to offer kits for sale, but Willy Widar only delivered fully built cars. But as was often the case with his British counterparts, clients were able to choose their own engines, and various proprietary engines found their way under the bonnet.

The front-engined series comprises 7 cars, being the solid rear axle cars from 1959-1960 (referred to as Mk I) and the cars built from 1960 to 1963 with independent rear suspension (Mk II). Widi's 1964 front-engined Formula Junior, housing an 1100 cc Ford engine, was bought by a German driver. The Mk III turned round the classic chassis lay-out, thus becoming Widar's first mid-engined car. This car, owned by Belgian BMW dealer Francis Petit, used a two-stroke 850 cc DKW engine. Its successor, the mid-engined Mk IV, was powered by an Alfa Romeo Giulietta engine. Willy Widar's last car, the Mk V, was inspired by the Mallock U2.

The Mk I's tubular chassis was made up of round tubing as well as square tubing, tightly wrapped by a curvaceous glassfibre body with a forward-flipping bonnet to improve engine access. Front unequal length wishbones and coil-over dampers saw to the wheels staying on the road. Roll was limited by a front anti-roll bar. The rear suspension was not as modern though, using a solid rear axle located by a Panhard rod and two pairs of radius rods. This changed when the later Mk II cars were provided with independent rear suspension, also using unequal length wishbones. The wheel hubs were taken from a Triumph Herald, as well as the rack and pinion steering. The solid rear axle Mk I had drum brakes all-round, whereas the IRS Widi Mk II benefited from front discs. Gearboxes were provided by Ford or ZF and the differential was a standard BMC one. In typical 1960's sports racing car fashion, engines were BMC, Ford or Coventry Climax, fed by either SU or Weber Carburetors.

The second Mk II built is probably the most famous one, since it was acquired by racing legend Stirling Moss, who bought it from Dutchman Leo Schildkamp in the late 1980's. Moss competed with the car in historic racing, until he sold it again. Thanks to him the Widi finally got the international attention it deserved.

Unfortunately, only 2 Widies are believed to have survived. Moss' red one is painted yellow now and the other one, which used to be red, was resprayed in black. The rest of the cars have allegedly been destroyed. Nevertheless, the name Widi lives on in Marc Widar's (Willy's son) race preparation business.

Featured is the ex-Moss Widi in its current yellow livery. Fortunately this rare piece of Belgian racing history is still being campaigned on a regular basis. It is seen here in action during the 2007 Goodwood Revival and the 2006 and 2005 Silverstone Classics.

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  Article Image gallery (14) Specifications