The late 1950s and early 1960s was a revolutionary time for many Formula racing series, as the benefits of mid-engine placement were utilized and cars made the drastic switch. This simple change of moving the engine from in front of the driver to behind, had a profound effect on performance and drastically changed the way the mechanical components operated.
In the early 1960s, Formula 1 regulations limited engine displacement to just 1.5-liters. By the mid-1960s, the regulations were changed, capping displacement at 3-liters.
For the 1967 season, Colin Chapman approached his friends Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth - the founders of the Cosworth engine company - to produce a suitable engine to comply with F1 specifications. They were interested but lacked the necessary resources to produce the engine. Lotus, who had just won the Indy 500 with Ford, persuaded Ford to help fund the project. Thus, the birth of the Ford and Cosworth relationship.
Cosworth modified a four-cylinder Ford engine into a 16-valve, FVA engine that displaced 1600cc and complied with Formula 2 regulations. This engine would become the basis for the 3-liter V8 DFV engines. The DFV, short for Double Four Valve, had dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It was cast from aluminum by Cosworth and fitted with a fuel injection system. In this guise, the engine was capable of producing 400 horsepower. By the late 1960s, nearly ever team was using the Cosworth engine and it accounted for every victory in 1968, except one.
Obviously, the sport was rapidly changing and even aerodynamic aids such as wings had become popular and effective. March added their own unique feature to the sport of F1 by being the first to offer customer chassis.
British manufacturer and Formula One constructor, March Engineering began operation in 1969 by its four founders, Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd. The name 'March' was chosen by using initials from their first or last names. Each of these individuals brought unique qualities and talents to the team. Herd was the designer, Rees was the team's manager, Coaker oversaw production, and Mosley handled the commercial side of the operation.
The purpose of the company was to provide chassis for customers competing in all racing categories. In 1969 the company built a Formula 3 car. A year later they produced an F1 racer, the 701, which they used for team competition and to supply to privateers. In the non-championship Race of Champions, Jackie Stewart gave March its first F1 victory. He won the Spanish Grand Prix a month later. In its first four races, it earned three victories, though the Spanish GP race was the only one that earned points toward the Championship.
The March 701 was off to a great start, but this was short lived as manufacturers continued to develop and fine-tune their F1 cars. As the season wore on, the competition only got stronger. To make things worse, Stewart had switched to a Tyrrell.
The March 701 had an aluminum monocoque and a Ford/Cosworth V8 engine with aluminum block and head. Power from the 3-liter unit was around 430 bhp which was managed through a Hewland DG300 5-speed gearbox. Ventilated disc brakes could be found on all four corners. In total, 11 examples were produced.
In the years to come, the company would become more successful in more classes, except for the F1 program, than any other manufacturer. Their products appeared in Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula Ford 1600, and CanAm. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009