Model history: Following a batch of three Can-Am chassis produced in 1970 and 1971, March took up building sports cars again ahead of the 1973 season. The main reason for the new 73S to be developed was to spread around some of the 50 Formula 2 engines, March had ordered from BMW as part of an exclusive deal. Never a priority, the manufacturer's 2-Litre sports racer was quickly put together using the existing F2 suspension and drivetrain.
First seen early in 1973 during the Springbok Series in South Africa, in the hands of Jody Scheckter, the BMW engined 73S nevertheless was relatively competitive. On the back of these promising results, March managed to sell no fewer than 19 examples. Unfortunately, success was short-lived and due to poor aerodynamics and a lack of development, the March 73S drivers were relegated to the also run category. March managed to sell a further 11 chassis of the 1974 74S, despite relatively few updates, which was reflected in the lack of results.
For 1975, March finally put a real effort into their sports car, no doubt impressed by the sales figures of the earlier iterations. The work focused on the car's poor aerodynamics and an all-new body was developed in the MIRA wind tunnel. Gone were the attractive but ineffective curvaceous lines of the early 73S and 74S. The new 75S instead featured a sharp and very low nose. No doubt inspired by the contemporary F1 cars, a huge air-box was part of the new package, as was a full width, strut-mounted rear wing.
Underneath the all-new body, the 75S was an evolution of the existing design line of sports cars. A full-width sheet aluminium monocoque along with steel rear subframe formed the car's chassis. At the front the conventional suspension consisted of double wishbones, while the rear boasted one upper and two lower links, and twin trailing arms. Although the 75S could accommodate a choice of engines, the 300 bhp BMW M12 remained the most popular. It was mated to a Hewland 5-speed gearbox.
The 75S was certainly a major step forward but it arrived a season too late; the Alpine dominance in 1974 had brought an end to the popular European 2-Litre Sports Car Championship. On the international level, these once leading machines were now relegated to star in support events. As a result the demand waned, and as a result only five new cars were built. One of the March 75S' competition highlights was an outright win by John Lepp in the Daily Express Trophy at Silverstone with a Hart-engined example.
Despite the low demand, a further three cars were built for the 1976 season. The final 76S produced went to John Lepp and he had it fitted with a three-litre Ford Cosworth DFV engine, so it would be eligible for international events. BMW engines were used for the other examples. In neither guise, the March 76S proved particularly successful in contemporary events. It would be the last of this line but March did return to building sports cars with the introduction of the GTP and Group C classes a few years later.
While the 75S and 76S were rarely race winners in period, they were raced for many more years and in varying guises had considerable success both in Europe and Japan. In more recent years, a March 76S has been a front runner in the spectacular Supersports championship, beating big-block engined Can-Am Lolas and McLarens on a regular basis. In retrospect, it is a real shame that March only made a serious effort to develop their 2-Litre sports racer when it really was too late.
This was the final 75S/76S chassis constructed, and the only one fitted with a Cosworth DFV engine. It was raced by John Lepp in his familiar Ultramar colours but with limited success. After only a few outings, the car was retired and within a few years ended up in the Rosso Bianco Museum, where it remained until the collection was disbanded in 2006. The car was eventually acquired by the current owner, who had it restored. With the exception of the trademark air-box, the unique 76S Cosworth was just about ready in time for the 2012 CER race at Paul Ricard. Chassis 76S/3 was among the front runners in qualifying but was sadly taken out in a first-lap incident.
Owned the original 73S driven by Schecter and it also came with a developement bodywork having a longer low-sharp nose. It showed large amount of scrape marks on the underside showing it had been tried and found wanting. Under use- the front of the chassis seemed to be oil-canning and a cross brace was installed above the front wishbone mount to stiffen this area up. As I remember it was a 1" steel tube. Neat car but I traded it off for a chevron B21/23.
Total Factory Production was only 5 cars
"Despite the low demand, a further three cars were built for the 1976 season."
Per "MARCH - THE RISE AND FALL OF A MOTOR RACING LEGEND" .. Mike Lawrence, the 3 cars from MARCH in 1976 were reworked / up-rated 1975 cars. One of which was uprated again in 1977 and shipped to the U.S.A. for Can-Am - under two liter -- Bobby Brown now at my shop being restored. JBYRON22
Additional INFO ...
Great article as well as summary: John Lepp however also raced the sister car to this using the BRIAN HART 420 "R" in I believe three other races in 76.
Little known fact but that car was uprated and shipped to the USA for the 1977 Can Am - driven by Bobby Brown.
MARCH 77 ST # 001 is being restored in my shop and has the orginal BRIAN HART and body work like the rear wing which presents the original UltraMar colors.