SMALL SCALE F1 WORLD CHAMPIONS
By David Cook
Images by Doug Breithaupt
The Formula One World Championship began from the ashes of postwar European reconstruction in 1950. Under world motorsport authority, (the FIA), it has continued without pause since then, and appears stronger than ever today. Now heavily commercialized, the series has evolved from five or six selected European races to the globetrotting circus of sixteen events currently.
Of course, many small-scale models of world champions exist but surprisingly the list is far from complete. Our collection begins with the first championship-winning car with the engine behind the driver, the Cooper-Climax T51 & T53 cars that Jack Brabham used to win in 1959 & 1960. The model pictured here undergoing an engine change is by Best Box. Green paint to complement the racing stripes would be more correct. These important cars won the last two years of the 2.5 liter formula with engines by Coventry Climax, a fire pump manufacturer who adapted itís designs for British racers.
Our next car is the first of the 1.5 liter champions. The FIA reduced engine size in the interests of safety. The Ferrari 156 pictured here won the championship in 1961 for American Phil Hill. This very nice model is by Matchbox; the distinctive shark-nose style proved very popular and was produced in large quantities.
The 60's were the era of British dominance in F1 racing however, so the Ferrari advantage at the beginning of the formula was short-lived. The BRM P57 shown here won the championship in 1962 for Graham Hill. It is another Matchbox and still fairly easy to find today. A truer color for this model would be a very dark blue, almost black.
Matchbox continued their line of championship models with our next image, a Lotus-Climax 25. This correct looking model was very popular and manufactured in large amounts. The 25's radical monocoque chassis dominated in 1963. It's evolution, the 33, won in 1965, both seasons with the great Jim Clark at the wheel fronting Coventry Climax power. A similar appearing model 29 raced at Indianapolis with Ford power.
For 1966, a new 3-liter engine formula had been ordered by the FIA. The tiny-engined cars of the old formula had not gone over well with the fans to the point where LeMans style sports cars were more popular. The authorities and entrants both hoped to bring back some of the power and glory of earlier times.
The man most prepared for this change proved to be Jack Brabham. "Black Jack" had been building and entering his own designs for several years since leaving Cooper. In 1966 he convinced Australian auto parts manufacturer Repco to help out with engines. Their design was very reliable and just powerful enough to win in '66 with Brabham driving, and 1967 for teammate Denny Hulme.
The two cars pictured are very different interpretations of these famous cars. The first is by Hot Wheels and is fairly correct looking except for the color which should be dark green. Zymex, a Hong Kong comapny, manufacured the second. The Brabham-Repco BT-19 won the first of many championships for Goodyear tires in 1966.
Brabham-Repco's success in the early years of this classic formula became completely overshadowed however, by the next great engine package. A combination of push from Colin Chapman of Lotus, engineering talent from Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, and seed money from Ford gave racing its all time powerplant- the Cosworth Ford. Born in 1967, it won its first race out and continued winning with upgrades and improvements through the early 80's. It was adapted for long distance events like LeMans and for Indianapolis. Entrants in all series could concentrate on building the most efficient chassis knowing they could buy their engines "off the shelf". The only real competition in F1 came from Ferrari.
Our next two images highlight important examples of these English engine-chassis packages. The first Lotus 72-Ford Cosworth pictured is a Polistil. It won the championship for Jochen Rindt in 1970. The second car shown is by Yatming and depicts the upgraded model 72 that won in 1973 piloted by Emerson Fittipaldi.
This Tyrell-Ford is another good example of the British chassis/Cosworth engine package. It allowed Jackie Stewart to show his talents to best advantage with championships in 1971 and 1973. The color and shape are about right on this model by Champion.