Niki Lauda is one of Formula 1’s great heroes. Rather than the typical rags to riches tale, Niki’s was a story of riches to rags, he left behind his family’s staggering wealth and took out bank loans to fund his racing – loans that were guaranteed by his own life insurance policy. Fortunately, Lauda was one of the most naturally talented drivers of his generation and he quickly moved up the ranks from Formula 2 into Formula 1.
His first ever F1 race outing was with the influential March Engineering team in 1971. March was an ambitious new outfit that intended to build cars for teams in F1, F2, F3, Formula Ford, Can-Am, and the American Formula B series. They had been roundly mocked but he racing establishment and even nicknamed the “Much Advertised Racing Car Hoax” before they entered competition in 1970 – they won 3 of their first 4 Formula 1 races, and took a second place in that years Driver’s Championship.
Sadly, March didn’t enjoy a sustained success in their first few years of motorsport. But they did introduce some new aerodynamic concepts, including the front wing on the 711. Some called it the “Spitfire” and detractors called it the ‘teatray”, the former name referenced the similarity of the wing to the wings used on the World War II Spitfire fighter plane – and the latter was a remark on the resemblance that the wing had to a waiter’s arm holding a tea tray.
The March 711-2 you see here was fitted with the dual overhead camshaft and Lucas mechanical fuel injected Ford-Cosworth DFV V8, capable of 450hp from its 2993cc capacity. Today the 711-2 is most famous as being the first car F1 car driven by Lauda, and it’s also recognised as the car that Ronnie “Super Swede” Peterson took to a popular 2nd place in the 1971 season.
Due to this heritage, it’s likely that 711-2 will sell for a pretty penny when it’s auctioned by RM Sotheby’s on the 14th of May in Monaco. There’s no estimated value listed for the car but if you’re the kind of person who’ll be bidding on it that’s unlikely to phase you, just keep an eye on the auction room though as I suspect you might be bidding directly against Lauda.
Photo Credits: Jon Green ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s