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1981 March 817 Can Am

1981 March 817 Can Am 1981 March 817 Can Am 1981 March 817 Can Am The CAN-AM Series was around during a very short period in history but during that time it accumulated many fans and heated rivalries between competitors. There were limited rules which meant that horsepower, exotic materials, and aerodynamics ruled the circuit. At the start of each race the ground would rumble as the massive V8 engines grumbled a combined 25,000 horsepower. Superchargers, turbocharged, large wings, and ultra wide wheels raced around the track in uninhibited racing. This spectacle of racing continued from 1968 through 1974 when SCCA put a halt to the series. Plus, manufacturers, teams and drivers were criticized for driving vehicles that got 2.5 miles per gallon during the OPEC oil crisis.

After the cancellation of the Formula A/5000 Series, the Can-Am was reintroduced by SCCA in 1977. Chassis were supplied by March, Loal, Frissbee and VDS and rules stated that a center-seat, closed wheel configuration was mandatory. During the second rebirth of the series which lasted until 1983, drivers such as Danny Sullivan, Alan Jones, Jacky Ickx, Al Unser Jr, and Geoff Brabham were awarded to achieve victories.

The vehicle shown is a March 817 with chassis number 01. It is the 1981 Unser/Rahal car that was re-bodied in 1982 by French aerodynamicist Dr. Max Sarou. It has retained this configuration in modern times.

For the 1982 season Danny Sullivan drove the March 817-01 to seven podium finishes out of nine races. The two races that he did not get a podium finish were due to mechanical difficulties which forced him to retire from the race prematurely. Out of those seven podium finishes, one was a first place finish, three 3rds, and three 2nds. At the conclusion of the season Danny Sullivan was 3rd in the championship.

The car was sold in 1983 to a Swedish collector who occasionally brought the racer out to his private race track. After two decades it was sold to a historic racer in the UK.

This vehicle houses the original five-liter VDS OHV Chevrolet V8 racing engine and five-speed Hewland DG-300 Hewland rear mounted transaxle. The chassis is an alloy and steel monocoque unit which is held in place by an independent suspension with coil-over shocks and adjustable anti-sway bar. The potent 500 horsepower engine that drove Danny Sullivan to many podium finishes in 1982 is still in excellent working condition. The sponsorship decals from that era are still present and have been left unmolested.

At the 2006 RM Auction in Monterey, CA it was estimated to sell between $150,000 - $250,000. There was no reserve on the vehicle which meant the winning bidder got a bargain when the auctioneer announced he was the winner with a bid of $82,500.


By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006

Can-Am Vehicles



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