Unraced projects of the 1978 season

Projects 1970 - 1999

Since the early days of Grand Prix racing many attempts were made to enter the Formula One and pre-war Grand Prix era. The period 1885 – 2020 contains over 650 Unraced projects. Every now and then new projects appear on the surface. To share with you all the stories i decided to summarize the stories per year. Don’t you worry, all the stories will be researched and eventually published. This is the summarized overview of the 1978 season.

Brabham BT46C
1978 was an interesting year for Brabham, the team appeared in Sweden with the Brabham BT46B Fan car. The car won the race at its introduction, and eventually was banned by the FIA. However, Brabham came up with a new concept the Brabham BT46C which made it’s debut at the Austrian Grand Prix. The radiators were removed from the front wing. The idea, as with the BT46B, was a clean aerodynamic wing and moving the centre of gravity further back. Radiators were mounted behind the front wheels out of the airstream. The car was only seen at the practice of the Austrian Grand Prix. After the practice The drivers complained about the car, the team decided to go back to the BT46. The BT46C did not reappear on the grid.  

Brabham BT47
Did you ever asked yourself why Brabham raced in 1979 with the Brabham BT48 and not the BT47? In 1978, Gordon Murray started working on the Brabham BT47. It was the second-generation fan car. The concept was similar to the Chaparral 2J which had two smaller fans. The BT47 was to be powered by the Alfa-Romeo. However, due to the controversy of the Fan Car the FIA banned the Fan concept. Eventually the design was thrown in the bin. Why it was branded already the BT47? Because the design was near complete. Eventually Murray started working on the Brabham BT48. It has been said that the fuel tanks were already ordered.

March 781S
For the Belgium Grand Prix the Belgium race driver Patrick Neve appeared on the entrance list with his March 781S. Two chassis were build according to oldracingcars.com intended to be used in the Aurora AFX British F1 Championship of 1978. However, the second chassis was intended for Geoff Lees to race at least two Grand Prix. Patrick Neve however tested with the March 781S at Goodwood before he went to Zolder hoping to race his home Grand Prix. While historical date says that the car wasn’t available for Neve. It is said that Bernie Ecclestone did not agree with an entry for Neve nor Bernard de Dryver.

McLaren-Cosworth M26E
The McLaren-Cosworth M26E was a first attempt by McLaren to develop a ground effect car. The M26E was fitted with large side pods to enable ground effect. As well a lower rear wing was put on the car. James Hunt tested with the car during the free practice of the British Grand Prix in 1978.

McLaren – Cosworth M26.5 (chassis 7) / McLaren – Cosworth M27
To start with, I am not sure what the correct spelling for the car is. As there are two different stories going viral about this McLaren. A magazine I have from early 1978 is mentioning a test with a bizarre looking McLaren with the number M27. However, in Autosport dated the 5th of January James Hunt is quoted that he tested the Mclaren M26.5 at Paul Richard. For Hunt and Tambay they team brought two cars. Mostly the Goodyear tyres where tested with the regular McLaren M26. While the M26.5 or M27 was there as well to test several never Aerodynamic solutions to the car. As well a new (?) suspension.

Tiga – Cosworth
Former Formula 1 drivers Tim Schenken and Howden Ganley founded Tiga Racing in the mid-1970s the idea came to build a Formula One car. For the base of the car, Schenken and Ganley used the Ganley-Cosworth 001 from 1975. An earlier attempt from Howden to build his own F1 car. The deal was made with Cosworth to deliver them the needed power. As well, Maki seemed to be involved with the project.

It seems that Trivelleto was dreaming about Formula One and came pretty close to debut in 1978 with a Brabham BT41 powered by a Chevron engine, where did we hear a similar story before? It has been said that Patrick Patrese was one of the drivers.

Tyrrell – Ford 008 Fan Car
We all know the Brabham BT46B Fan Car that won the Swedish Grand Prix in 1978, and eventually got banned. However, it was not the first Fan Car. Tyrrell came up with the concept of a Fan Car in 1977 and intended to race with it in 1978. Read the story here.