Chevron Cars Ltd. was founded in England by Derek Bennett in 1965. He was a mostly self-taught engineer who had a talent and passion for racing. Following an apprenticeship in electrical and mechanical engineering, he became a mechanic that quickly led to motor racing, initially in local racing events, and then in more competitive leagues. He became a builder, tuner, and maintainer of racing cars as well as a driver. His success with his home-grown racing specials led to requests for similar cars, convincing Bennett to establish himself as a constructor.
The Chevron marque would build cars for many racing series over the years, but they are most often remembered for its small-capacity sports cars, Formula Two, Formula Three, and Formula 5000 single-seaters. Bennett was working on a Formula One Chevron when he was killed in 1978 in a hang-gliding accident. Despite the tragedy, the firm survived and remained active in various forms, including replacement parts and auto manufacturers.
The early Chevron racecars were developments of Derek Bennett's Clubman specials - his front-engined open-top sports car powered with Ford engines - and intended for Clubman formulas. These early Chevron models were followed by the B3, B6, B8, and B12 of the mid-1960s which all shared similar mechanical components and designs, intended for various GT competition. The Chevron cars were uncomplicated and tended to use tried-and-true technology and components. Many of the cars were developments of prior models. This was not always the case, however, as evident by the Chevron B16 - the first car to be equipped with a diffuser and the first car with a crash box (a.k.a. a 'nose frame.').
The design of the Chevron B23 of 1973 was an evolution of the B6 of 1967. The reinforced steel spaceframe of the B6 was replaced by aluminum in the B19. The front of the chassis was a separate steel spaceframe for quick repairs and the suspension was comprised of front double wishbones with rear lower wishbones and top links. The engine bay could house a variety of engines depending on customers' needs and intended uses, however, most selected the Cosworth FVC powerplant.
The B19 was essentially a customer version of the single B16 spyder built to Chevron's Works driver Brian Redman's request to help keep pace with the Lola T210. The Spyder used design inspiration from the Porsche 908/3 that Redman had driven during the 1970 season. The Chevron Spyder proved very successful, including a victory at Spa. The B19 was also successful, both in the salesroom and on the track, with approximately 35 examples built. Despite competition from other marques, including Lolas and Osella-Abarth, the B19 scored numerous overall and class victories. Lola driver Helmut Marko would end the season as the European two-Liter Championship followed closely by the Chevron B19. The B19 may have won the Championship had the team not experimented with new Cosworth engines which - although fast - were not reliable which cost them valuable points.
The B19 was followed by the B21 for the 1972 season. It was not as successful as its predecessors and struggled to keep pace with Lola's T290. It did manage to score several notable overall and class finishes throughout the season including a victory by Dieter Quester in a BMW powered example at Salzburgring.
Further development of the B21 near the end of the 1972 season resulted in a redesign of the front suspension that allowed for lower-profile tires. Several of the B21's were upgraded to this configuration and are commonly known as the B19/23. The B19 driven by Gerry Birrell received a Hart prepared Cosworth BDA 2-liter engine which proved incredibly quick, helping him win four races and the championship.
For 1973, Chevron offered the B23 which used the latest modifications and suspension developments of the B19. The cars were competitive throughout the season with several notable class victories including at the Targa Florio, the Nurburgring 1000 km, and the Osterreichring 1000 km. Although competitive, the newer monocoque designs of the Lolas were proving more effective than the aging spaceframe setup employed by the Chevrons. To remain competitive for the following season, it was time for Chevron to design and build a new car.
The success of the refined Chevron B23 is further reinforced by its popularity among the racing community with 26 examples built. Many examples raced for several seasons and are still used in historic competition.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2020