When technical director Adrian Newey arrived at the March Formula 1 team in the summer of 1987 it heralded a revolution that changed grand prix car design right through to the present day and his designs have had a significant bearing in the successes of the Williams, McLaren and Red Bull Formula One teams. The March-Judd 881 became Newey’s focus with aerodynamics paramount to the cars performance as normally aspirated cars battled with turbocharged cars. Up until that point, aerodynamicists had to work to package around the mechanical designs of the car – that was now about to change and set the tone to this day. The March-Judd 881 was small, aggressive and introduced features that had not been seen in earlier designs including the raised nose, effective diffusers and sculptured wing endplates.
The March 881 was a Formula One racing car raced by March Racing Team in the 1988 season by Italian Ivan Capelli and the debuting Maurício Gugelmin from Brazil. The car’s best result was a second place driven by Capelli at the 1988 Portuguese Grand Prix.
The March 881 used the then new to Formula One Judd V8 engine, and was consistently the fastest speed trapped ‘atmo’ car of the 1988 season, with Capelli clocked at a class fastest 312 km/h (194 mph) on the first straight at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix. Capelli and his March 881 was the only non-turbo car/driver combination in 1988 to actually lead a Grand Prix when he briefly took the lead from Alain Prost in his McLaren-Honda as they crossed the start-finish line on lap 16 of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. This was also the first time since the 1983 season that a naturally aspirated car had led a Formula One Grand Prix.
Capelli finished the season in 7th place with 17 points, while Gugelmin generally impressed most by finished his debut season in 13th place with 5 points. March finished the year 6th in the Constructors’ Championship with 22 points.
With the 1989 car, the CG891, only being completed in time for the Monaco Grand Prix, the team were forced to use the 881 for the first three races of the year, in Brazil, San Marino and one car in Monaco. Gugelmin drove the 881 to third place at his home race in Brazil, close behind the Ferrari of Nigel Mansell and the McLaren-Honda of Prost. However, these would turn out to be the team’s only points of 1989, as the CG891 was off the pace and unreliable.
We are told that the car was used as a 1/1 wind tunnel model during the development of this type (881) of Formula car, this chassis never drove a GP race and was used by the Leyton House March Formula 1 team afterwards for promotion and display purposes. The chassis doesn’t have a PU.
BUT: It’s more than a show car as it has many original parts which is believed to be the GRP test moulding for the subsequent carbon tubs, the wheels, suspension, brake discs, the bodywork and the wings. The rear suspension is hung from an original gearbox casing and it has a correct steering wheel and original instrumentation. This is not a replica but an amalgamation of factory March-Judd 881 parts that has been put together to celebrate a great designer, the spirit of the underdog and one of the prettiest Formula 1 cars ever designed.
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