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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1973
Numbers built:2
Designed by:Tony Southgate for Shadow
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 13, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFor years the Canadian-American Challenge (Can-Am) had been the exclusive hunting ground of the General Motors big-block V8. All that changed in 1972 when Porsche set its sights on the lucrative sports car championship. Loosely based on the company's Le Mans winning 917, they fielded a Can-Am racer that eclipsed all other comers. The trick up the Porsche's sleeve was a twin-Turbocharged flat 12 engine. With in excess of 1000 bhp the 'Turbo Panzer' made the American muscle look docile. Former top runners McLaren and Lola withdrew at the end of the year but American Don Nichols decided to take up the challenge. His Shadow team would be the only challenger for Team Penske and their Porsches in 1973.

During the previous three seasons the American built Shadows only made headlines because of their unusual designs. Nichols decided to get a clean start by moving his whole operation to England where it would be much closer to the specialized suppliers. To replace his American designer Peter Bryant, he hired Englishman Tony Southgate. With his wealth of experience designing both sports cars and single seaters, he was the ideal candidate; Nichols wanted to branch out into Formula 1 racing as well. Although now based in Europe, Shadow still proudly sported the American flag.

To have a fighting chance against the dominant Porsches, Shadow was in the process of developing a Turbocharged engine of their own. Based on the massive big-block V8, it had already been tried in the team's 1972 challenger. Although it had not proven to be very reliable, the team was confident that they could sort it in time for the new season. So Southgate penned the new Can-Am around the bulkier and more powerful engine. The result was a very sturdy and relatively heavy aluminium monocoque. Suspension was very conventional as were the outboard mounted disc brakes. The rolling chassis was covered in a low and wide body with a 'shovel nose.' In many ways the design was a development of theme first seen on the Lola T310 raced late in 1972.

Building a brand new Formula 1 and Can-Am car proved to be a little too much for the small team. They did manage to make it out for the first race but the new 'DN2' was far from ready. Most importantly the twin-Turbo V8 was nowhere to be found. Driver Jackie Oliver had to make do with the familiar 8.1 litre Naturally Aspirated big block. With 735 bhp available it was no match for the Porsches on pace and the new car's poor reliability also did not help. During qualifying in the season opener at Mosport Oliver was over seven seconds slower than poleman Mark Donohue in the Penske Porsche. He moved up to fourth and fastest non-Porsche at the next race but again was forced to retire due to a mechanical failure. In addition to the technical problems, Oliver also had big problems with the handling (massive understeer) of the DN2.

For the fifth race of the season at Road America, Shadow entered two cars. Oliver was handed the new car, which came complete with the twin-Turbo V8 that reportedly produced 1200 bhp. The two Turbos were mounted on top of the gearbox. Later in the season they were moved to the 'sidepods' to simplify the plumbing. Signed to drive the old car was rising Formula 1 star James Hunt. The twin-Turbo engine proved to be far from sorted and it did not last long enough to even record a lap time in qualifying. Hunt faired little better and was forced to withdraw from the race with a fuel metering problem. For the following races Oliver switched back to the first DN2 and recorded a second and third place finish. Vic Elford tried his luck with the twin-Turbo V8 in the final two races but was also let down by the engine's self-destructing nature.

Subtle rule changes left Turbocharged engines virtually useless for the 1974 season. This enabled Southgate to develop a far more efficient machine. Sadly this 'DN4' was hardly challenged as the Porsche team followed McLaren and Lola's example and withdrew.

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