Lot 231

Monaco

1977 Wolf WR1

Offered from The Jody Scheckter Collection

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€450,000 - €650,000 EUR  | Offered Without Reserve

Monaco | Monaco, Monaco

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Chassis No.
W.R.1/3
Engine No.
TH00 466
Gearbox No.
FGB-305
Documents
Bill of Sale Only
To be offered on Saturday, 11 May 2024
  • Offered from The Jody Scheckter Collection
  • One of Formula 1’s greatest upstarts—the Wolf WR1
  • The model that carried Jody Scheckter to 2nd in the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship
  • Raced by Jody Scheckter at five Formula 1 Grands Prix, and latterly raced by another future World Champion, Keke Rosberg
  • Created by legendary engineer Harvey Postlethwaite with input from Patrick Head
  • Actively raced until the mid-1990s, during which time included two chassis rebuilds
  • Eligible for historic racing events around the world including the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique
Addendum: Please note this lot has entered the EU on a temporary import bond, which must be cancelled either by exporting the lot outside of the EU on an approved Bill of Lading with supporting customs documentation or by paying the applicable VAT and import duties to have the lot remain in the EU.

Veuillez noter que ce lot est entré dans l'UE sous couvert d'une autorisation d'importation temporaire, qui doit être annulée soit en exportant le lot en dehors de l'UE avec une lettre de débarquement approuvé accompagné des documents douaniers nécessaires, soit en payant la TVA et les droits d'importation applicables pour que le lot reste dans l'UE.

Long regarded as the pinnacle of motor racing, Formula 1 has naturally attracted a broad range of characters to the sport—from car dealers to fashion moguls, the list will no doubt continue to expand. One of the most notable personalities to grace the paddock was Walter Wolf, a multi-millionaire Slovenian-Canadian businessman. From very humble origins, Wolf arrived in Canada with no money or grasp of English and worked extremely hard on oil rigs to become a major figure in that industry and make his fortune.

Through Gian Paolo Dallara, Wolf became acquainted with Frank Williams who was struggling from cash flow problems. In fairly short order during the 1976 season, Wolf had become a 60 per cent shareholder in Frank Williams Racing Cars. Using outdated cars, the results during the season were disastrous and the team finished with zero points in the championship. Frank Williams left his eponymous team, with Peter Warr replacing him as team manager.

For the 1977 season, the team was renamed Walter Wolf Racing. An all-new design, the Wolf WR1, was created by legendary designer Harvey Postlethwaite, with input from Patrick Head before he partnered with Frank Williams for the birth of Williams Grand Prix Engineering. By remarkable coincidence, young machinist called Ross Brawn also worked on the cars.

The Wolf WR1 was a wonderfully simple and lightweight design utilising the devastatingly effective combination of a Ford-Cosworth DFV engine and Hewland gearbox. One brilliant piece of the design was the ability to change the wheelbase easily for different circuit configurations.

Wolf knew he had brilliant designers but the team needed a star driver, especially if the plan was to concentrate on just one car. The team settled on Jody Scheckter, who would become instrumental in the teams fabled and fleeting time in the sport. Incredibly, Wolf struggled to find a testing venue so Scheckter stepped in, “I sent a telex to old man Enzo Ferrari, asking him if I could come and test at his circuit, Pista di Fiorano. He said yes, making mine [a Wolf] the only car other than a Ferrari at the circuit.”

Scheckter immediately repaid Wolf’s faith in him at the first round of the 1977 Formula 1 World Championship at the Argentine Grand Prix with a win, a remarkable achievement for the small team. Further wins were clinched at the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix.

This example, chassis WR1/3, also known as WR3, made its debut with Scheckter at the 1977 Race Of Champions at Brands Hatch, where it finished a fine 2nd behind James Hunt in a McLaren. WR3’s next appearance was around the streets of Monte Carlo where it was used by Scheckter in practice. WR3’s debut in the World Championship would be at Zolder for the Belgian Grand Prix on 5 June 1977. After qualifying 4th, Scheckter charged into the lead. Changeable weather conditions and tyre changes dropped him down four places before engine failure resulted in retirement—engine retirements often caused by fuel pick-up problems arguably cost Scheckter the championship.

WR3’s next appearance was at the French Grand Prix held at Dijon-Prenois on 3 July. Frustrating engine problems throughout the weekend made it seem likely that Scheckter would lose his championship lead to eventual winner Niki Lauda, but the final insult was being pushed off into the barriers by Clay Regazzoni. Scheckter’s next Grand Prix appearance was at Österreichring, Austria on 14 August. Despite qualifying 8th, Scheckter made up for it by making his way up to challenging for the podium but a spin late on while trying to pass a backmarker forced a retirement.

The final round at Fuji Speedway, Japan would be WR3’s last outing In 1977. Despite setting the fastest lap and having a superb start to make it into 2nd place, the Wolf would suffer from understeer problems as the race wore on, so Scheckter had to settle for 10th.

WR3 was pressed into service at the beginning of the 1978 season as the latest car was not ready. Used for the United States Grand Prix West at Long Beach, Scheckter struggled against some of the new “ground effect” cars but still competed in the top 10 throughout until a collision with Patrick Tambay ended his race.

WR3 was then sold by Wolf to Teddy Yip’s Theodore Racing, a team best known for its successes at the Macau Grand Prix. Yip entered future World Champion Keke Rosberg driving WR3 into the 1978 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Rosberg made it through pre-qualifying and had an uneventful race to finish 10th, his best finish that season. Rosberg raced WR3 again in the Austrian Grand Prix but was not classified.

WR3 appeared at two further World Championship weekends as a spare before Theodore Racing deployed it in the British F1 Championship. A race-winning debut with David Kennedy at Snetterton on 24 September 1978 was the highlight, with regular competition throughout the 1979 and 1980 seasons in the hands of Geoff Lees, Val Musetti, Kevin Cogan and Desiré Wilson. While in the hands of Musetti at Oulton Park in June 1979, it was involved in an accident which required a full chassis rebuild.

In 1982, Theodore Racing sold WR3 to John Fenning, a collector who would end up running two Wolfs and a building a recreation. A rebuild in preparation for the new HSCC F1 series ensued but the car was only finished in 1987. Following an accident in 1989, it was fully rebuilt, including the monocoque. Fenning ran the car again but after 10 years of ownership he sold it to Robin Mortimer in 1992. Mortimer successfully ran the Wolf for himself and John Wilson in HSCC F1 before selling WR3 to Jody Scheckter in January 1997.

Since joining Scheckter’s collection, this Wolf has been maintained in running demonstration condition, allowing for its use in slow speed demonstrations such as CarFest South where WR3 made several appearances. Just four examples of the WR1 model were created by the immensely talented Wolf team, making the opportunity of potential ownership incredibly rarer—the possibility of purchasing such a car from its period driver, who convincingly challenged for the championship, makes this truly unique. Eligible for some of finest motorsport events around the world, including the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique and Masters Racing Legends, this Wolf would make a fine addition to any collection or grid.