Formula One trend of design

Manufacturer’s Identity

Recently the FISA made a new ruling that racing cars should retain the identity of the manufacturer or constructor, and that in all written entries or documents the name of the manufacturer or constructor must be mentioned though the sponsors name may be associated with it. This may seem strange to those of us brought up on famous names like Delage, Bugatti, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, BRM or Talbot-Lago for those concerns made the whole car and were proud of it, with distinctive badges to proclaim the fact. When Cooper and Lotus became powerful in Grand Prix racing they did so with engines supplied by the Coventry-Climax firm and they started a new trend of design where the parent firm were no longer manufacturers,  in the sense that they didn’t manufacture anything, and the term constructor was brought in. Because Coventry-Climax were instrumental in winning more races than either Cooper or Lotus, it was considered only fair to include their name in car titles, so we had Cooper-Climax and Lotus-Climax, and a rule was passed that if the engine was made by a different firm to the constructor of the chassis, then the engine manufacturer’s name should be incorporated in the official title. Leonard Lee, the chairman of Coventry-Climax was all for using his firm’s full name in Cooper-Coventry-Climax or Lotus-Coventry-Climax but this was too cumbersome, especially for media commentators and the press world, so the illustrious name of Coventry was dropped.

When Cosworth Engineering, with backing from Ford, took over the Coventry-Climax mantle of supplying ready-to-race engines to the British constructors, and some foreign ones as well, cars were called Lotus-Cosworth, McLaren-Cosworth and so on, or Lotus-Ford or Lotus-Ford-Cosworth or Lotus-Cosworth-Ford, depending on your personal outlook. The advent of open advertising on racing cars, unconnected with cars or racing, started another vogue, that of coupling a brand-name with the constructor at the expense of the engine manufacturer. Thus we had things like Yardley-McLaren while Lotus confused everyone by making their sponsors hold their entrants’ licence and Lotus disappeared from official documents to be replaced by John Player Special. Although Yardley and John Player have left the racing scene McLaren and Lotus are still with us. Through all this Cosworth Engineering never failed to supply better and better engines, but today there is hardly room for their name to get a mention, while in some cases the constructors name has been dropped to make way for bigger and better sponsors with more and more money. The sponsors names have been getting bigger and bigger on the cars and the constructors names have been getting smaller and smaller, until some have actually dissappeared. Through it all a Ferran has remained a Ferrari there has never been any doubt about it.

Putting the sponsor’s name before the constructor’s name has been gradually increasing, with things like Candy-Tyrrell, Unipart-Ensign, Marlboro-McLaren, Parmalat-Brabham, Essex-Lotus, Saudia-Williams and so on, but now there is a trend to drop the constructor’s name, especially when another sponsor comes to name the team, as with the Williams team. Leyland Vehicles joined Saudia Airlines as minor sponsors of Frank Williams’ team so the cars were called Saudia-Leyland-Williarns, but the media soon shorted this to Saudia-Leyland. What ever happened to poor old Cosworth? And now Williams is being lost. It is to stop this insideous trend that the new FISA rule has been made, for everyone has forgotten the rule about engine manufacturers’ names being coupled with the chassis constructor.

As an exercise to investigate the trend I looked through the entry at Monaco with an unusually blank mind to see if I could ascertain what the various cars were. In the old days of architectural radiators the manufacturer adorned the radiator with his own distinctive badge, usually beautifully made and enamelled. When the traditional radiator disappeared to be replaced by a functional cooling element covered by a cowl the badge was transferred to that. The total disappearance of radiator cowlings meant the badge was put on any convenient part of the nose or left off altogether to be replaced by the painted name. Running down the Monaco entry I could not find the name Ferrari on the bodywork of the first two cars, but they did have large shields painted on each side carrying the Ferrari prancing horse in black on a yellow background with the letters SF underneath. From the very beginning the Ferrari racing team was known as the Scuderia Ferrari, even when they were racing Alfa Romeos. It is nice to know that the real title has never been lost. Next were Candy cars, with the name Tyrrell painted across the nose in small letters, and then these were Parmalats with Brabham in small letters on the nose. Red and White Marlboro cars were next, with no other identification outwardly visible, but when the upper part of the body was removed a small plate on the bulkhead could be seen inscribed McLaren Cars, and painted on the fuel tank the words Team Marlboro McLaren. The next car, which was yellow, made no secret of what it was, the letters ATS were twice on the nose cowling, together with a small and neat ATS badge, it was on each side of the car and on the rear aerofoil. The blue cars with red and silver stripes had small round badges on the nose saying Lotus, with the initials ACBC interwoven, these being the initials of the founder of Lotus Cars. On the red, white and blue Unipart, which must have been British like a Union Jack, was the very small name Ensign which Morris Nimn dreamed up for his first racing car many years ago. A passing Frenchman queried whether the red, white and blue car was French as it looked like the French National Flag, but he was doubtful as he knew that all French racing cars were blue. He was wrong for the next along the line were the two cars painted yellow, white and black. There was no doubt what they were for rand Renault loud and clear on the front nose fins, along each side of the car and on the rear aerofoil and on the engine it said Renault-Gordini. Across the nose of the two white cars which came next it said Shadow and on the sides of the cockpit was painted Theodore Shadow, though a newcomer to the sport might be forgiven for wondering who Theodore Shadow was.

More yellow cars proclaimed SKOL LAGER which was self-explanatory and across their nose was painted in small neat letters the name Fittipaldi, which was incorporated into an outline of a long sleek racing car. Red and white cars proudly proclaimed Alfa Romeo along the side of the cockpit accompanied by a green four-leaf clover, the emblem of the Alfa Romeo racing department from way back. It also said Alfa Romeo on the rear aerofoil and there were Alfa Romeo badges on the nose and in the centre of the steering wheel, while the engine had Alfa Romeo Autodelta cast on the cambox covers. The blue and white cars next in line said GITANES along each side, but in front of the cockpit it said LIGIER-GITANES and as the burly Guy Ligier was in attendance there was no doubt as to whose cars they were. The Saudia-Leyland cars had the name Williams painted in small letters on the nose with the firm’s WW above it and the gold cars next in line said ARROWS across the nose, but WARSTEINER in big letters on the sides. The last car had DENIM After Shave written on it but no sign of a constructors name anywhere, but by a process of elimination it must have been an Osella.

When you survey this scene you can’t help thinking that perhaps FISA are right in trying to maintain the prominence of the manufacturer and the constructor in Grand Prix racing. Motor car manufacturers are proud of their names, but some constructors seem to be embarrassed by theirs.—DSJ

Motor Racing and Philately

The latest in the money raising schemes for the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer treatment Campaign is a series of philatelic style covers, each personally signed by a famous racing driver and containing insert cards bearing the individual’s racing record, plus a couple of portraits and action photographs.

As well as the genuine autograph and an appropriately interesting, franked stamp, each cover bears an attractive illustration of the driver in action. The first three in the series relate to Chris Amor, SCH “Sammy” Davis and Tony Brooks. They cost £2.25 each plus 10p postage from Gordon E Haddock, Copyhold, Checkendon, near Readng, Berks. RG8 ON1. Currently in various stages of production are similar autographed covers depictnig the careers of Kay Petre, Howden Ganley, Jackie Stewart and Sir Jack Brabham. When these are completed, Gordon Haddock plans to follow up with covers on Taruffi, de Graffenried, Fangio, Lurani, Salvadori, Hailwood, Titterington, TASO Mathieson and Schenken. Only 500 of each will be available. — C.R.