by David Cook
Images provided by David Cook and Doug Breithaupt

Chaparral 1 in action

Chaparral 2D by Champion

2G by Hot Wheels

No one crammed more innovations into a sports-car design career than Chaparral Godfather Jim Hall- fiberglass and aluminum monocoque chassis, aluminum block engines, giant wings, movable aerodynamic devices and automatic transmissions were all tricks in this tall Texan's deck of cards.

With a family background in the oil business, Hall was a student at CalTech in California when he began racing sports cars alongside greats like Cobra's Caroll Shelby in the early 1960's. His skill and financial ability enabled him to run a season of Formula One in 1964, but his real desire was to design and build his own racecars.

He originally commissioned another engineering firm to build the Chaparral 1, a very conventional front-engined sports car. Hall achieved modest success with this model but seemed to have saved his best ideas for the car he produced himself at his facility in Midland, TX- the rear-engined Chaparral 2A.

Powered by an aluminum block V8 secretly supplied by Chevrolet (the same engine that went into the Corvette Grand Sport), this car tore up North American racetracks during 1964 & 1965. The most important win was 1965 Sebring, Hall's first big success at an internationally rated event. Several small-scale 2A models are pictured here, including Guisval's first 1:64 toy car and a Zylmex version It's hard to beat the recently issued Hot Wheels version with very correct white color and #66!

From here on, Hall's imagination really took off with some of the most advanced vehicles ever seen. A decision was made to attack the FIA sports car championship in Europe, first with the 2D model pictured here by Champion that won the 1966 1000KM of Nurburgring in Germany. The 1967 2F model sported a large wing and was fast and competitive, but again unreliable. Hall abandoned the European effort to concentrate on North American events.

The next Can-Am contender was the 1967-68 2E/2G model, an open sports-racer with a large movable wing over the real wheels. While causing a sensation (especially among his competitors!) the 2G actually won only one Can-Am race following a string of DNFs due to various mechanical problems. Hall ended his driving career in this car after a huge crash at the final event of 1967. Hot Wheels released a Redlines version of the 2G and many are available today in a variety of colors besides the correct white. Many "played-with" examples have lost or broken wings. Tyco also did a slot-car.

Hall continued to field cars in the Can-Am and other major racing series for many years. His team won the Indy 500 in 1978 and 1980 with a Chaparral 2K, one of the first "ground effects" Indy cars.

Chaparral logo

2A by Guisval

2A by Zylmex
2A by Hot Wheels
2G slot car by Tyco