/F1’s Little Shop Of Horrors

F1’s Little Shop Of Horrors

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The F1 universe is an infinite mass of glitz and glamour, and within this starry existence, worlds orbit and perpetuate the evolution of ultra high technology; galaxies and constellations thrive with generation after generation of beautiful beings. But… F1 sometimes reveals its black holes, from which mechanical monstrosities and freak Frankensteins lurk, rejects that shouldn’t have seen the light of day.

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Take this 1978 McLaren M26 mid-wing experiment for instance. How on earth did James Hunt see where he was going whilst testing? Even without the add-on, the M26 wasn’t a particularly good car that season, especially with the far superior and dominant Lotus 79. Desperate times, desperate measures…

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In 1982 Arrows had a stab at the mid-wing concept with their A5, and predictably, it didn’t perform very well, with no wins, no podiums and just 5 constructor points. Perhaps the driver didn’t know if he was coming or going?

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This 1976 Ligier JS5 looks like it could actually create a black hole in the universe. Although it looks hideous, it did gain 20 points and claim 5th place in the Constructor’s Championship. After sucking in its competitors and spitting them out, it even managed pole at Monza.

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In 1979 you wouldn’t have been deemed mad to think Ensign had employed dwarfs to drive their cars. After all, there’s a stepladder to gain access to the N179’s cockpit. It clearly doesn’t appear very aerodynamic, and the fact it failed to qualify on many occasions proved it was as bad as it looked.

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Designer, Frank Constin must’ve been walking around in circles, pondering over aerodynamics, when out of nowhere he took inspiration from a granny’s boot slipper. Taking it further, he would then slap a giant breakfast tray to the front, making it a fast granny’s boot slipper. Joking aside, this March 711 took Ronnie Peterson to 2nd overall behind Jackie Stewart in the 1971 Driver’s Championship and also managed to tie with Ferrari for 3rd in the Constructor’s Championship.

Extra Limbs

At least Dr. Frankenstein botched a monster resembling what the final creation should’ve looked like. F1 designers haven’t always stuck to these basic guidelines, and as a result some beasts rolled out of the pit lane with the addition of extra parts.

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In 1976 Tyrell unveiled what was considered one of the most radical designs in F1. Some love its looks whilst some think it’s ugly as sin. Aesthetics aside, Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler produced great results with this six-wheeled wonder, especially in Spain when they managed a 1 – 2 finish. However, due to Goodyear not developing the special tyres enough by the end of the season, and the added weight from the front suspension the following season, they eventually ended the six-wheeled project.

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Considering Italy is famed for beautiful design, this Ferrari 312 T6 is simply ridiculous. Thankfully it didn’t conform to the permitted Grand Prix dimensions.

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Williams and March also tried their hand with six wheels during the early eighties, but shortly after Williams looked to be making progress with their FW08 6 wheeler (pic above), the FIA banned the concept.

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This looks like a something a schoolboy would doodle during a boring geography lesson. I happen to think it’s the coolest looking F1 car ever designed, and I wish that rear fan were a giant jet afterburner.

The Brabham BT46B “fan car” entered the 1978 F1 season at the Swedish GP, thirsty for Lotus 79 blood. The Lotus car was dominant due to its superior ground effect, but thanks to the BT46B’s fan, the Brabham car generated immense downforce by extracting air from beneath the car. Brabham claimed the fan was for extra cooling, but after Niki Lauda won the Swedish GP, it was declared illegal. This means is has a 100% winning record – excellent!

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A Shift In Time

You’d have thought after all the ugly cars of previous decades, designers would’ve learnt a few lessons, like sticking a giant tray or step ladder onto the front of a car won’t make it any faster.

Throughout F1’s history, the majority of cars have been fantastic and beautiful creations, however, in 2012 several cars (including the pictured Ferrari) lined up on the grid sporting what looked like a “before” picture in a nose job advert.

I can only conclude that decades of ugly F1 cars prove this glitzy universe is infinite, and if the universe is infinite, it means more black holes…

(Journalist) – James is a published fiction and article writer from London (UK) with a serious penchant for Ferrari F1, anything with an engine, and English Pointers.