Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Long Lost - Wolf 1979 Series

Wolf Racing was founded by Canadian Oil Magnet Walter Wolf in 1977 after an ill feted start made in partnership with Frank Williams in 1976.

Wolf / Fittipaldi, Cotwold MM

The Wolf team with Dr Harvey Postlethwaite designing the cars came flying right out of the box in Argentina 1977 scoring a debut win with Jody Scheckter at the wheel of the Wolf WR1. Scheckter impressed further by driving to two more wins in 1977. The 1977 series Wolf design ran WR1 - WR3 same as the chassis numbers.

During the following season the second series Wolf WR4 - WR6, with ground effects side pods that were all the rage in 1978, was less impressive and Jody, who had been courted by Ferrari well before his Wolf contract was up, left to join the red team from Maranello.

Wolf/Fittipaldi, Cotswold MM

The third series Wolf, which ran WR7 to WR9, apparently seen here at The Cotswold Motoring Museum, was designed by Dr Harvey Postlethwaite who had been reunited with former Hesketh driver James Hunt for the 1979 season.

As ironic luck would have it former Wolf driver Jody Scheckter would go on to win the 1979 World Drivers Championship in his first season with Ferrari while ex World Champion James Hunt quit the Wolf Team after the Monaco Grand Prix having struggled to qualify better than 10th in seven races and scored one 8th place finish and six retirements.

Wolf / Fittipaldi, Cotwold MM

Keke Rosberg took over the driving duties for the rest of the year but with no improvement in the teams performance Walter Wolf sold his team onto the equally struggling Fittipaldi brothers at the end of 1979.

Walter Wolf kept one of the third series cars while Fittipaldi upgraded the remaining two cars into Fittipaldi F7 spec with a centre post rear wing and heavily revised side pods with out the rear flick ups and built a third F7 from scratch.

Wolf / Fittipaldi, Cotwold MM

The Fittipaldi F7 cars all but disappeared from public view in the early 80's. According to the museum description provided by the cars owner Andrew Smith by 1982 the Fittipaldi Team was in administration and all of the teams assets were acquired by ADA Engineering.

Andrew a James Hunt fan, and former Mini racer, saw WR7 race, with Keke Rosberg driving, at Silverstone in 1979 and bought the car from ADA Engineering with a Cosworth DFV engine. Some of the third series Wolf style body work, and unique '79 Monaco spec twin element front wings have been refitted to this chassis which still has F7 running gear, a Fittipaldi in Wolf clothing.

At this moment there are inconsistencies in the accounts as to which third series Wolf chassis became which Fittipaldi F7 chassis. Not having seen which, if any, chassis plate this particular vehicle, seen at the Cotswold Motoring Museum, is carrying I cannot be sure exactly which, of the two Wolf chassis or three Fittipaldi chassis this is.

If you have evidence as to which of the Wolf third series chassis were transformed into the Fittipaldi F7 series chassis please chime in below or send me an e-mail to the address which appears at the very bottom of the blog page.

My thanks to Steve Holter, and Norman Jones from The Nostalgia Forum for their contributions to today's blog.

Hope you have enjoyed todays Wolf edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a world champions daily driver that is coming up for auction on Saturday. Don't forget to come back now !

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