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Chaparral 2F, amazing and innovative

by

Antonio Eiras

The 2F has been undoubtedly, the most famous Chaparral model and the largest contributor to the innovative image of the brand created by Jim Hall.

 

Indeed, this vehicle, which in 1967 competed in the World Championship of Sport-Prototypes, had a body of angular forms, with truncated rear, the wedge-shaped front and its huge rear wing, the automatic transmission and chassis in composite materials, contrasted sharply with a certain conservatism of its competitors, the Ferrari 330 P4, Ford Mk IV, Porsche 906/7 and Lola T70-Aston Martin.

 

The Chevrolet engine, a V8 at 900, with 7 liters of capacity, developed about 575 hp at 7500 rpm and the 3-speed gearbox was automatic and with hydraulic control. For the suspensions, Jim Hall appealed to the already classic and effective double wishbone at the front and at a lower inverted triangle with top wishbone ago that activated concentric spring-hydraulic damper.

 

What most impressed to see in the Chaparral 2F, either running on track or stopped in the pits, it was its huge wing, supported on moving parts of the rear suspension and commanded by the driver. This device, balanced with the front wedge-shaped, gave the 2F a traction and stability superior to those of their opponents, which enabled him to overcome them at speeds of passage cornering and overall effectiveness. In the front and below the air inlet for the brakes and for the small heat exchanger, was used, in some races, a small spoiler that allowed a better aerodynamic balance between the front and the rear of the car.

 

The option to use the 3-speed gearbox derived from its predecessor, the 2D, reportedly made under pressure from General Motors, proved fatal to the justified ambitions of Jim Hall. Indeed, the high torque and power transmitted by the engine had highlighted the inadequacy of the gearbox, which in 2D endured the 5.4-liter engine and 415 PS at 7,000 rpm requests. And it was precisely by failing of the joints of the gearbox, charred by the high temperatures and mechanical stress to which they were subject, which found most of 2F dropouts.

 

Debuted at the 24 Hours of Daytona and driven by Phil Hill and Mike Spence, the new Chaparral proved to be at once extremely fast and efficient, making the 2nd best time in practice and leading the race until retirement, by accident. In the next race, in Sebring, Jim Hall joint Mike Spence, and after a new 2nd position on the grid and performing the best lap in the race, the 2F dropped for breaking the gearbox. In the 1000 km of Monza, the 2F, driven by Hill and Spence, after obtaining the best time in practice, abandoned when fighting for the lead of the race, again for failure of the gearbox.

 

Then came the 1000 km of Spa, with the 2F to obtain a new pole position and the fastest lap, before, again, the retirement due to electrical and gearbox problems. After a short participation in the Targa Florio, where they were forced to retire because of a puncture, Hill and Spence did the best time in practice for the 1000 km of Nürburgring. They did a bad start and after an exceptional recovery to the lead of the race they were forced to retire, again by the gearbox failure.

 

For the "Race of the Century", the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jim Hall entered two cars, with the duo Hill-Spence to perform the 2nd best time in practice and to fight for the top places until the abandonment, in the 17th hour of the race, by breaking the transmission and the second car, driven by Bob Johnson-Bruce Jennings, to retire with electrical problems.

 

The consecration of the 2F arrived in the last race of the season, the 500 Miles of BOAC, disputed in the British circuit of Brands Hatch, with Phil Hill and Mike Spence to finish the race and, although slowed by a puncture, to impose their Chaparral to the Lola T70 of Dennis Hulme.

 

It was a slim consolation for Jim Hall and his team, who finished then its participation in the World Championship, as from the next year, they would be limited to engines with a maximum capacity of 5 liters.

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