Model history: More than a decade after customer engines were first introduced to Formula 1, March further revolutionized the sport in 1970 with the first customer chassis. Of course the likes of Bugatti and Maserati had sold complete Grand Prix cars, but these were then competitive for a number of seasons. By the end of the 1960s, there were so many developments in quick succession that racing car manufacturers had problems enough to construct sufficient chassis for their own team. Although quite successful, the new March F1 car did struggle to remain competitive as the other manufacturers continued developing their racers.
The driving force behind the new manufacturer was lawyer and amateur racing driver Max Mosley. Together with Graham Coaker and Alan Rees he convinced up-and-coming designer Robin Herd of his bold new ideas. All four of them put in an equal amount of capital and the first letters of their last name were shuffled about to form the word March. Mosley ran the financial side of the company and he talked many suppliers into helping the small team get up and running. This enabled the technicians Herd and Rees to get the production going. There was plenty of ambition as for their first season F1, F2, F3 and Can-Am cars were developed.
Herd's first Formula 1 design for March was very conventional, but Peter Wright's aerodynamics certainly were not. It goes without saying that the aluminium monocoque was intended to take the then readily available Cosworth DFV. A sign of things to come much later in the decade were the fuel tanks fitted on both sides of the cockpit. They had the shape of upside down wings and could be considered the first ground effects devices. Wright would later move to Lotus, where he helped to kick-start the ground effects revolution. The completed package was simply dubbed 701 after its year of construction and class; the F2 car was know as the 702, etc.
One of March's first clients was Ken Tyrrell, who had just severed his ties with Matra and was looking for a new F1 racer. With him came World Champion Jackie Stewart. In total 11 cars were constructed for that season including several Works cars. The March 701 had a dream debut as in the first four races, three victories were scored, with Stewart's Spanish Grand Prix win the only one counting for the Championship. Sadly the March gradually lost touch as the competition continued to develop their machines. Halfway through the season, the March was seriously off pace. It also did not help that Stewart replaced his March for the first Tyrrell. After Mosley's hype and stellar debut, a third in the manufacturer's championship was quite disappointing in the end.
Although Rees and Coaker left the company, March continued to produce some very quick and quirky racing cars, but they were never able to compete on the highest level for an entire season.
This is the first March Formula 1 car constructed and was raced exclusively in 1970 by works driver Chris Amon. The 'Kiwi' drove chassis 701/01 to victory in the International Trophy at Silverstone. Early in 1971, Derek Bell had a single outing in the car before it was retired from service. It was subsequently sold to Tom Wheatcroft and it spent several decades on the wall at his Donnington Grand Prix Collection. In 2010, the car was sold to the current owner, who appropriately hails from New Zeeland. Chassis 701/01 was restored to full running order for the 2012 Monaco Historic Grand Prix. The owner set the fastest lap in qualifying but a crash in his final flying lap prevented him from taking part of the race.
The first of three 701s supplied to the Ken Tyrrell team, chassis 701/2 was placed on pole by Jackie Stewart in March's first Grand Prix, in South Africa. He followed with a win in the Race of the Champions at Brands Hatch to score the first Formula 1 for the fledgling manufacturer. It got even better at Jarama where Stewart drove 701/2 to the first ever Grand Prix win for March. The reigning World Champion would go on to add to more poles to this chassis' tally before he switched to 701/4. This highly significant car has survived in highly original condition and was displayed for many years in the fabulous York Motor Museum in Australia.
In August of 2009, it was offered in Bonhams' Quail auction where it changed hands for a very modest $152,200. In the following years, the Spanish Grand Prix winning March was carefully restored to full running order. Upon completion, it was entered by its Scottish owner in the 2012 Monaco Historic Grand Prix, where it was joined by three other March 701s. The owner grabbed an early lead but dropped down the order after two punctures.
Chassis 6 served as a spare chassis throughout the 1970 season for the March Works team. At the end of the year, it was sold to Frank Williams. He entered the car for Henri Pescarolo in the non-championship Argentine Grand Prix where the French Le Mans legend finished 2nd. In April of that year the car crashed heavily at Oulton Park and the tub was replaced by a spare supplied by the Tyrrell team. It was used three more times by the likes of Ray Allen and Tony Trimmer but with little success. Fully restored, it was entered in the 2006 Monaco Historic Grand Prix where it is seen here.
This March 701 was acquired new by Colin Crabbe for his Antique Automobiles ltd. racing team. The car was entered for a selection of Grands Prix for Ronnie Peterson, debuting during the 1970 Monaco Grand Prix. The young Swede finished seventh, which would also be his best result of the season with the car. It would be the team's final season, while Peterson would join the March works team in 1971. Still boasting the Antique Automobiles colours, it is seen here during the 2012 Monaco Historic Grand Prix.
German racer Hubert Hahne entered chassis 701/9 in his home Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in August of 1970. Unfortunately he failed to qualify and did not campaign the car again. In 1971 the car reappeared at the Oulton Gold Cup where it was entered for Jean-Pierre Jarier by Goodwin Racing Services. The Frenchman qualified the car in 22nd, finished 10th but was not classified. He suffered a similar fate at Monza where he finished 12th in the Italian Grand Prix. Today the little raced March 701 is owned by an Austrian historic racer, who fielded it in the 2008 Monaco Historic Grand Prix.
Chassis 701/10 was sold to South African John Love, who raced the car extensively in local events. He won the Bulawayo 100 in June of 1970 at his debut with the car. In 1971 he won three more events with his March. Love also entered the car in the South African Grand Prix that year but failed to finish with differential problems after qualifying 21st. After being campaigned for many years by an American historic racer in Tyrrell colours, it was recently restored to its original livery. In this guise, chassis 701/10 is seen here during the 2012 Monaco Historic Grand Prix.