March 711 Formula 1 Car

With its revolutionary aerodynamic body and highly developed chassis, the March 711 was one of the more influential Formula 1 cars of its era. Named for founders Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker, and Robin Herd, March first appeared in 1969 with an ambitious plan to compete in as many as five different racing series. By the 1971 season, however, the company came to place greater emphasis on its F1 endeavours.

Engineer Robin Herd learned from the experiences of the March 701 during 1970, ever more convinced that aerodynamic considerations would be the key to success. With an improved chassis design by Lotus veteran Geoff Ferris, the succeeding 711 was wrapped in an unusual shell designed by the brilliant aerodynamicist Frank Costin. The most eccentric feature of the bodywork was a front airfoil mounted atop the nose that resembled the wing of a Spitfire fighter plane, a downforce-inducing component that was soon nicknamed the Spitfire (or the Tea Tray).

Chassis number 711-2 was just the second Works car produced for March-STP’s 1971 campaign, and it began the season as the primary car for driver Ronnie Peterson. Peterson followed an inauspicious 10th-place debut in the month of March at the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami with several competitive outings, finishing 2nd at both the Monaco Grand Prix in May and at the Rhein-Pokalrennen in June, and 4th a week later at the Netherlands Grand Prix. In August, Peterson assumed driving a newly built car (chassis number 711-6), and this example was relegated to spare duties, but its performance during the season’s first half was a major factor in Peterson’s runner-up finish that year.

This important March enjoyed one more notable superlative during 1971 at the Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg on 15 August. A promising young driver who was fairly new to the March-STP team was given his first chance at a Formula 1 event, but unfortunately, the car was unable to finish due to a steering issue. That driver, the legendary Niki Lauda, would go on to forge an impeccable racing career, winning the Drivers’ Championship three times. Notably, chassis 711-2 is the first car that he ever drove in a Formula 1 race.

With the advent of the 1972 season, March engineered a successor to the 711, and 711-2 was temporarily retired. In 1973, it was acquired by the consignor, a racing enthusiast who commissioned a proper restoration in 1996 by Martin Stresser of England. The March was then put to work, contributing to the owner’s 1999 victory in the COPE Classic GP (the European F1 classic series), including strong finishes at Silverstone, Monza, Nürburgring, Dijon, Zolder, Zandvoort, and Salzburgring. More recently, the Cosworth DFV engine was tuned by Heini Mader in Switzerland, leaving it freshly prepared for renewed racing campaigns.

Accompanied by a valid FIA Historic Technical Passport and fresh from a thorough crack inspection, this car is assured to be in complete original condition, even featuring the original magnesium March wheels (recommended only for exhibition use). The car is also equipped with two extra sets of competition wheels, one shod with slick tyres, and the other with rain tyres.

Claiming 43 years of single ownership by a dedicated and knowledgeable custodian, this important March could easily be a frontrunner in the Series F of the Monaco Historic GP. It claims an important competition pedigree, including heavy use by 1971 F1 runner-up Ronnie Peterson, as well as the inaugural Formula 1 appearance of three-time champion and legend Niki Lauda. Also documented with correspondence from Robin Herd that confirms its historical details, chassis number 711-2 promises its next caretaker a strong run at vintage competition events and would make a prominent display at any major concours d’elegance or race car exhibition. It offers an ideal acquisition for the serious collector of Formula 1 cars and dedicated March connoisseur.

Photo Credit: Jon Green
Source: RM Sotheby's press

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