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  Attila Mk3 Chevrolet
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1964
Numbers built:7
Designed by:Val Dare-Bryan
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 03, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe introduction of the small block V8s in the 1950s greatly influenced racing both in North America and Europe. Initially the Chevrolet and later also the Ford eight cylinders engines were a popular choice both with racing car manufacturers and the small-scale 'backyard' builders. Compared to the conventional racing engines of the day, the V8s were relatively easy to use and pretty compact. One of the backyard builders to fall for the charm of the American V8 was freelance racing car designer Val Dare-Bryan. He had previously worked at Lotus alongside Colin Chapman before he decided to design and build a car himself.

The year was 1964 and sports car racing was dominated by mid-engined open machines, powered by a choice of Ford or Chevrolet V8s. Many of these were built by very small companies, or even thrown together by the drivers themselves. So Dare-Bryan's choice to go at it himself would not have raised many eyebrows. In order to make sure his creation was competitive, Dare-Bryan decided not to follow convention and come up with both an unusual chassis and body.

The chassis itself, a multi-tubular spaceframe, was not ground-breaking. It only stood out for its relatively short wheelbase. What was very interesting was the front suspension, which featured in-board springs and dampers, actuated by rocker arms. This is common practice today, but was completely unheard of in the 1960s. Dare-Bryan also envisaged using in-board mounted discs, but these never materialized. The rear end was a more conventional affair with twin trailing arms keeping the driven wheels in check.

Having learned a lesson or two from Chapman and his body designer Frank Costin, the young engineer understood how important aerodynamics were. In order to get the ideal shape for his bodypanels, he extensively used the windtunnel. He was one of the first racing car designers to do so. This resulted in a rather unusual blunt shape of the nose, which certainly did not help with the aesthetics of the car. The round tail sported a small wing to provide some downforce on the rear wheels.

Quite optimistically perhaps, Dare-Bryan named his creation the 'Attila' after the great warrior Attila the Hun, who was also referred to as the 'Scourge of God.' It is believed that around seven examples were built, a vast majority powered by the Chevrolet V8 engine. There is little known about the racing records of each individual example, but it is believed that they faired quite well. The unusual chassis and suspension configuration meant that the cars were quite hard to sort out. With the arrival of the Lola T70 and McLaren M1 in 1965, the days of the backyard 'specials' were pretty much numbered.

Featured is one of Dare-Bryan's Attilas, which was raced in period by works driver Tony Lanfranchi. In the 1965 and 1966 seasons it was driven by Pat Hovenden. Amazingly this chassis remained in competition for many more seasons up to the mid 1970s. In recent years the car has been completely restored and carefully setup for historic racing. From 2004 onwards it has been regularly raced in many of the great events, even winning at some occasions. It has been listed for sale for quite some time; perhaps the unusual appearance attracts too much from the performance potentional.

The Attila Mk3 Chevrolet is pictured above during the 2006, 2007 and 2008 editions of the Goodwood Revival Meeting and during the 2006 Silverstone Classic. It was repainted green in 2007 from the white / blue-stripe livery used in the years before.

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  Article Image gallery (13) Specifications