Formula Ford 1600 Cars

From the earliest Cortina powered Lotus 51 Formula Fords that Geoffrey Clarke rolled out at his Drivers School at Brands Hatch in 1967 to the latest Piper or Citation, the evolution of FF1600 cars has been a steady march toward sophistication - and with a few giant leaps thrown in! The Lola 340 (1973), the Crossle 32/35 (1977) the Zink Z10 (1973) and especially, the Swift DB1 of 1983 each set a new standard of performance when they were introduced. The Swift was the ultimate expression of the FF chassis rules in steel and fiberglass and overnight it virtually obsoleted every other car on the grid. Driven by R.K. Smith, the David Bruns designed car won first time out at the 1983 RunOffs at Road Atlanta only a few short months after it turned a wheel for the first time at Willow Springs. Interestingly, the entire development and construction of the car was chronicled in successive issues of SportsCar for all to see! Even now in 2011 the Swift chassis can win any National race or the RunOffs in the right hands. Its chief competition is the super-slim, hi-tech Piper.


Eric Broadley's Lola 340 series cars were some of the prettiest and most elegant Formula Ford designs ever made. The 342 was known as the "flexi-flyer" because of its very lightweight chassis - weighing about 80 lbs. total - which flexed while stiff springs attempted to keep the tires on the road! Updated or "strengthened" versions were torsionally stronger - not to mention safer and with softer springs and stout anti-roll bars, they handled extremely well. The late Bill Slowik campaigned his immaculate, brilliant yellow Lola 342 in EMRA and RCCA events in the 1980's and took home plenty of silverware with it! He's shown here at speed on the long straightaway at Summit Point in 1983.



Van Diemen

The VanDiemen RF06, was one of a long line of cars produced in England by Ralph Firman's company, once the largest maker of racing cars in the world. It is now owned by the Panoz / ELAN group. The extremely narrow bodywork and low, wide sidepods - crushable structures required by British rules - give the car a distinctive look. VanDiemens have been front runners in National SCCA competition for many years.




John Crossle's earliest single seaters were built in 1960 for Formula Junior, F3, Libre, FB and FA. His first FF1600 was the 16F built in 1968 followed by the 20F, 25F. Large numbers of the 32F and 35F models were imported into the US and were the cars that Skip Barber - who was the importer - used in his racing school starting in 1975.

The Crossle 32/35 series chassis were the ones to have in the late 1970's and in them, many drivers collected victories across the United States. They continue to compete for wins in the Club Ford class. The number 36 example, photographed in the paddock at Bryar Motorsports Park in 1986 was driven by New England Region standout Peter Cozzolino who later went on to finish second at the RunOffs in a Swift DB-1.




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One of the best American built cars in recent years is the Piper, a marque which has won the RunOffs twice. The cars are known for their innovative design and exquisite engineering. Only a handful have been made. The immaculate brilliant blue example shown is driven by owner Dave Hopple, a frequent, enthusiastic competitor at mid-west tracks over the past several years.




CaldwellD9_256.jpgThe Caldwell D9 was a great American Formula Ford chassis built between 1969 and 1971 by Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics company in Marblehead, Massachusetts. One hundred and three of these sturdy, reliable and speedy cars were built alongside over 900 Formula Vee chassis and the total of both designs made Caldwell the largest ever producer of race cars in the US. Skip Barber won the SCCA RunOffs first time out in a D9 in 1969 but the marque's success was short lived as the company folded in 1971. This sweet looking D9 is owned by Stan Vann and he's shown here competing in a hillclimb in Pennsylvania.


Citation 94F - Steve Lathrop's Formula Ford chassis evolved from his successful earlier cars, the Citation-Zink Z10 and Z16 into the stunning 94F seen here driven by Scott Rubenzer at the Road America 40th Anniversary celebration.


Zink Z10 The Z10 was a rugged chassis designed by Ed Zink and first produced by Zink Manufacturing in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1973. In its day, this chassis won many races and Championships in the hands of Bruce MacInnes, Tim Evans and Dave Weitzenhof who won the National Championship with one in 1977 and 1979.




SwiftAbove_256.jpgThe Swift DB-1, built in California in 1983 starting in 1983, was a very innovative design which made the most of every single rulebook limitation. Its supreme aerodynamic shape and stunningly narrow bodywork yielded the lowest drag figures ever seen in Formula Ford. Its forward driving position allowed the radiator to be positioned behind the rollbar and the engine was pushed into a more central position by the introduction of an beautiful cast aluminum bell housing which also contained the oil sump tank. The Swift was a remarkable design and one in which a capable driver could still win the RunOffs, twenty-four years after the design first hit the track. See the Swift Registry at

SwiftDrawing_512.jpgThis side view-cross section of a Swift DB-1 clearly shows the unique packaging that designer Bruns achieved, resulting in exceptional aero penetration, low drag, and good fore and aft weight balance. By optimizing every aspect of the design and taking every rule limitation to its logical end, Bruns managed to design the car that dominated FF1600 for twenty years, amassing a total number of wins that will likely never be matched. The continued refinement of the Van Diemen chassis allowed it to eclipse the Swift at the National level and at the RunOffs. Likewise, the American Citation and Piper chassis were able to challenge the Swift supremacy with ingenious designs of their own. Yet, even in 2010, the DB-1 or the related DB-6 can win the RunOffs against all comers.

This stunning view of the Swift under test by Road & Track shows the narrow body profile, minimal frontal area and the long, slender suspension members which sliced through the air so efficiently. Only tracks with long straights the Swift sent a strong message to those following behind in bulkier racing cars - "try and catch me!" SwiftFront_256.jpg



Reynard produced a fine series of Formula Fords, the 82F, 83F and 84F. Designed by Adrian Reynard, the cars followed the same basic design concept and were developed into winners. In the mid-80's, they chalked up a long string of victories in both Regional and National competition. Reynard moved on from smaller formula classes to design F1 cars.
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For his 1982 FF design, Adrian Reynard decided on these design principles:
ReynardCandid_256.jpgReynard chatting with Maurizio Sandro Sala, 1983 Esso Champion in a Reynard chassis. In 1984, Reynard attended a National at Bryar Motorsports Park and watched a number of his current cars run up front in the race.



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An early Titan at Silverstone - 1981 Titan Mk6a



Steve Roux's handsome, shapely and fast Royale RP31 at a Pocono Regional - 2007.




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PRS_256.jpgPRS started building cars in 1977. The RH01 and RH02 were compact, simple and quick. In this photo, the inimitable Frank Delvecchio is shown hoofing it around Big bend at LRP. Frank always showed up with his car impeccably prepared, aligned within .001", the paint beautifully polished, brand new Goodyears at the corners, etc. (just kidding!)....and he ran up front too, often wheel-to-wheel with the LRP maven, Mike Rand. In fact, even as a geriatric Frank continues to run remarkably well in the ALMS Series! (or is it the Rolex Series?!)


Pallisers were Winkelmanns when sold by Bob Winkelmann in California!Winkelmann_256.jpg


A few FF1600 cars were produced in 1970 by JW Automotive Engineering which was run by the great FAV Director, John Wyer alongside John Willment.

As Nickless points out in his book, ..."It was an attractive car but nothing really special..."




Check out the cars in action over three decades of racing.