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  Article Image gallery (19) C04.001 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Switzerland
Produced in:1975
Numbers built:1
Designed by:Guy Boisson and Edi Wyss
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 04, 2013
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Click here to download printer friendly versionTrained as an electrician with an eye on joining the family traffic light business, Peter Sauber instead became a car sales man in Hinwil, Switzerland in the second half of the 1960s. During the off hours, he designed and constructed a rudimentary racing car in his parents' based. Completed in 1970, this C1 proved remarkably successful and was followed by the very similar C2 and C3. Created with the help of Guy Boissin, the C3 was the first Sauber also available to customers.

Ahead of the 1975 season, Sauber stepped up his efforts and hired compatriot Edi Wyss to design a brand-new aluminium monocoque chassis to keep up with the rivals and replace the ageing steel space-frame chassis used for the first Saubers. Dubbed the C4, the new car followed the lines of the other 1970s sports racers with independent suspension on all four corners. It was powered by an off-the-shelf Ford-Cosworth BDG engine. The compact machine was clothed in an angular body, which was clearly a development of the earlier designs.

Liveried in the striking green colours of the Artos liquor brand and also receiving some backing from Gulf oil, the single Sauber C4 produced was fielded by the works team in national and European sports car races. Among its drivers were Manfred Schurti and Harry Blumer. The car ended the year third in the Swiss sports car championship. Although the new C5 was readied for 1976, the C4 continued to be used by the factory team for some more races. It was sold in 1977 and eventually even competed in hill-climb events in Greece.

Mechanically the new-for-1976 C5 was an evolution of the C4. It featured the same monocoque chassis but from the rear bulkhead back there were some changes. The most important was the adoption of the more powerful BMW M12 engine. The suspension was also modified and now featured vertically mounted springs. Most obvious of all changes was the completely redesigned body. Much smoother and longer than its angular and stubby predecessors, the C5 was clearly developed with high speed circuits in mind.

Between 1976 and 1978, Sauber built five examples, which were raced by both the works team and customers. In its first year, Herbert Müller piloted the C5 to the Interserie Championship and in 1979 the car won the Swiss Championship. In 1977 and 1978, Sauber also fielded the BMW-engined machine at Le Mans. On both occasions, the car had to retire from the class lead with a mechanical failure. In private hands, the Sauber C5 was raced well into the 1980s with one chassis competing in the Interserie until 1990.

By 1978, the focus had in international racing shifted from prototypes to production-based GTs, and Sauber briefly fielded Lola single seaters. The Swiss team soon bounced back with a run of two BMW M1-based silhouette racers before returning to prototypes. In the second half of the 1980s, the team partnered with Mercedes-Benz with a Le Mans win and a World Championship as the result. Next up is Formula 1, where the team remains a force to this day. Of the early Saubers, the C5 remains as the most successful.

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  Article Image gallery (19) C04.001 Specifications