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Chris Amon


Politoys-Cosworth FX3


Brands Hatch


1972 World Championship Victory Race


Surprised to see Chris Amon at the wheel of the Politoys which only appeared once in a World Championship Grand Prix? And surely that was at the hands of Henri Pescarolo, narrowly making the grid at Brands Hatch. But beware, the FX3 race twice, the 1972 Victory Race or Challenge Trophy being the only other occasion on which the FX3 chassis was entered as a Politoys. And you guessed it: this time at the hands of Chris Amon, and again at Brands. To further complicate the matter: Amon wasn't listed as No.16 on the official entry list...

But that's hardly all there is to know about this particular car. So let's try to give a full run-down of the history of the FX3/FX3B. And while we're on it, let's disclose the discomforting madness of early-Williams type and chassis denominations as well! So here we go.

It all starts in 1971, when the Politoys firm decides to become a sponsor of Frank Williams Racing Cars, incidentally also backing the single GP appearance of Jean Max in the year-old March team leader Henri Pescarolo abandoned after Kyalami.

While Williams carries on with March cars into the next season and drafts in the talented Carlos Pace to take Pescarolo's 711, Len Bailey is commissioned to design the first in-house Williams chassis, which is to be called Politoys FX3. It finally debutes at the hands of Williams regular Pescarolo at the 1972 British GP. Pesca's race accident by a worrying steering failure however annihilates the car, leaving the Frenchman to fall back on his trusty 721 for the remainder of the season. The plan is to rebuild the car for a return at the hands of Chris Amon at the late-season Rothmans World Championship Victory Race at the very same Brands track it raced on earlier at the GP. Williams do enter the race but in the end the New Zealander doesn't start. So far so good.

Things get complicated in 1973 when Politoys pull out of their sponsorship deal. The two FX3s to be raced for that season are to be renamed Iso-Marlboro FX3B. One of it is the old car Pesca destroyed and that is built up again for Amon, the other is built up from scratch. The cars are shared between Howden Ganley (FX3B-2) and Nanni Galli (FX3B-1) for the two season openers in South America, while Pretorius replaces Galli at the third race at Kyalami. The rebuilt FX3B also finds its way into the Race of Champions at the hands of a young Tony Trimmer, while FX3B-2 is raced at the RoC and International Trophy by Ganley.

In Spain a completely new car is introduced: the Iso-Marlboro IR (sometimes mistakenly referred to as 1R), which stands for Iso-Rivolta. This car was penned by John Clarke, later to be fired and replaced by none other than Gianpaolo Dallara, the man who designed the disastrous De Tomaso which Williams raced in 1970 but has gone on to build the single largest customer chassis empire in the world, today outdoing Reynard and Lola by sheer numbers (and probably sales figures as well).

Of these IRs again two cars are manufactured: 01 and 02. 02 is destroyed during the season but a replacement chassis is up and running in Austria. In 1974 these chassis are renamed ISO-Marlboro FW (FW01 and FW02), the team moving on another year with the same cars. FW01 is then replaced by FW03 at the Spanish GP, but returns for two more races in summer. So, the type names FW01, FW02, and FW03 are in fact chassis numbers, not different designs. (You can compare this with the early Tyrrell chassis history in which type designations such as 001, 002, etcetera, were individual cars instead of designs.)

In 1975 things get even more complicated by the introduction of an altogether new design, again at the Spanish GP, the Williams FW04. Williams sees the year out with two Williams FW04 chassis and the FW03, now a Williams, but having started out as an ISO-Marlboro. Finally, the IR-02 ('FW02') is sold on to Maurizio Flammini after the South African GP.

This jungle of confusion only gets hotted up by the curious introduction of a Hesketh chassis posing as a Williams the following year. This car, later referred to as FW05-1, is in fact the Hesketh 308C-1 the Williams boys bought together with its design rights and designer Harvey Postlethwaite. The Hesketh team carries on in 1976 with the new 308D and old 308B designs but has to forego on the C type. FW05-2 is built up from scratch on the tub that would have been 308C-2. FW05-3 was a new car that was introduced at the French GP for Jacky Ickx, before being sold to Derek Cook for his 1977 Shellsport campaign. Interestingly, the car was renamed Hesketh 308C-3 on its debut in the 1978 Aurora championship.

The FW03 and FW04 chassis even live on further, taking on yet another guise. The FW03 is bought by Loris Kessel and turned into the Apollon (in some books rightly referred to as Apollon-Williams) which miserably but unsurprisingly fails to qualify at the 1977 Italian GP after crashing badly in practice. Its life is ended there and then.

The FW04s are both sold to the tragic Brian McGuire who turned it FW04-02 into the McGuire BM1 and tried to qualify it for the 1977 British GP. The Australian had in fact entered FW04-01 - still as a Williams FW04 - as a reserve entry at the previous British GP. After being rebuffed McGuire acquired the spare FW04-02, that had only raced in one GP during 1975, with Lella Lombardi at the wheel. With this car he again enters the British GP alongside his usual Shellsport activities. This time, he is allowed in but predictably ends up at the back.

Soon afterwards things went terribly wrong when in practice for the August Shellsport round at Brands Brian lost control of his car and was killed after the McGuire-née-FW04 hit the barriers unduly hard.

McGuire's ill fate didn't rub off on his compatriot Alan Jones, however, who went on to do rather well with the same team Brian bought his cars from. With Patrick Head on-board, the team had to endure just a single year as a backmarker privateer fielding Marches for untalented Belgian Patrick Neve before finally bursting onto the scene with the FW06, a fine design preceeding the all-conquering FW07. The rest is, as they say, history.

Pre-WGPE Williams chassis history at 6th Gear