Chevron B16: race car buying guide

When Bolton decided to take on the world, the B16 was born. Robert Ladbrook looks at the car that made Chevron a player

Chevron B16 in 1970 Daytona 24

Move aside Chevrolet, here’s Chevron: two B16s raced in the 1970 Daytona 24 Hours, including No37 driven by Brian Robinson, Hugh Kleinpeter and Fred Opert

The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images

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It’s amazing to think how far Chevron came in just a few short years during the 1960s. Putting the vacuous legal bickering over trademarks, rights and ownership of the last few decades aside, Chevron still stands as one of the most successful racing car manufacturers, and the B16 was a great example of both its innovation and ambition.

Mancunian engineer Derek Bennett founded Chevron Cars Ltd in 1965 and, like so many other fledgling marques at the time, started out building Clubmans racers before diversifying into both Formula 3 and smaller GT offerings, such as the one-off closed-top B4.

Demand for larger sports cars began to swell and, with the new 2-Litre European Sports Car Championship on the horizon for 1970, Bennett set to taking Chevron to the next level.

He made a steel spaceframe chassis strengthened by the addition of aluminium panels to create a semi-monocoque with a 1800cc Ford Cosworth FVA engine sitting midships. On top of that he designed the sleek body, which was then sculpted in glassfibre by designer Jim Clark (not that one) of Specialised Mouldings.

The B16 made its debut at the Nürburgring 500Kms in 1969 where, with Brian Redman driving, it beat an armada of Abarth 2000s. It proved the potential of Chevron’s pretty package ahead of its first full campaign in the 1970 2-Litre Championship.

Trouble was brewing as open-topped prototypes noticeably outperformed the coupé B16

Two FVC-engined B16s were prepared for the first round at Paul Ricard for Redman and Ian Skailes. Redman made a flying start, beating Jo Bonnier’s Lola. John Burton added a second win in the Finnish round at Ahvenisto in Hämeenlinna.

There were podium finishes for Redman in Anderstorp, Hockenheim and Enna before Vic Elford continued Chevron’s incredible winning streak in the Nürburgring 500Kms.

Things appeared to be going well, but trouble was brewing. Open-topped prototypes like the Lola T210 were lighter and more efficient, and by late 1970 were noticeably outperforming the coupé B16 at some tracks. Redman implored Bennett to build an open-topped variant, suggesting mimicking the body shape of the Porsche 908 he’d also raced. Bennett obliged and Redman duly won the season-closing Spa 500Kms aboard the fresh-air Spyder version, sealing Chevron the inaugural European title in the process.

History will recount that as a somewhat sad victory, as it also marked the beginning of the end for the B16 coupé, with the Spyder going on to form the template for the 1971 B19, although no later Chevron would match the achievements posted by the original B16. And who knows how far the company could have gone had it not been for Bennett’s death in a hang-gliding accident in 1978.

Overall, 23 B16s were produced (even if the rules stated there had to be 25 for homologation) and many are still active. Be careful – there are also plenty of continuation versions around.

One for sale1970 Chevron B16 Coupe

1970 Chevron B16 Coupé

Chassis DBE15 with comprehensive period history and in a ready-to-race condition
Price £POA
rmd.be


Chevron B16 statistics

Price new N/A
Price now £220,000-£400,000
Engine 1800cc Ford Cosworth FVC,1997cc BMW Four
Rivals Lola T201, Porsche 907
Verdict While it may have been short-lived in period, the B16 still stands as a success for both Chevron and the UK