Presented here in immaculate, restored, race ready condition is the Buick Hawk that was campaigned in IMSA GTP races in 1987 and 1988. Very fast, with lap times comparable to a Porsche 962, it is also immeasurably cheaper, both to buy and to maintain!
The March Company had previously built mainly single seater and sports-racing cars but started building production cars for customers, for the IMSA GTP championship in 1982, with their 82G GTP car and then built developed versions for 1983, 84 and 1985.
March began the series with an ’81P’ (later called the 81 ‘C’) prototype chassis, which March (based in Cowley, England) built for BMW North America, who wanted to race in the IMSA championship in 1981. It had a sheet aluminum and honeycomb steel monocoque, with inboard rocker-arm suspension and the engine was BMW’s 6-cylinder 3.5-liter unit, driving the rear wheels via a Hewland DG300 transmission. Max Sardou, based at the SERA wind tunnel in France, designed the bodywork. BBS wheels were 16-inch diameter. Dunlop tires were used. Braking was by ATE single floating calipers, gripping 12.5-inch discs, all four being mounted outboard.
David Hobbs raced the car in America, using 3.5-liter six-cylinder normally aspirated and 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engines. Results were disappointing and the project stopped at the end of 1981.
Adrian Newey, later on renowned for his McLaren and Red Bull F1 designs, working in conjunction with Robin Herd, worked on March’s next GTP design, the 82G and Sardou’s lobster-claw bodywork, now re-designed and lower, was employed on the new chassis. This was intended solely as a customer car, for limited production. Only four 82Gs were built, March intending the car to be able to accept a number of different engine installations. The suspension was “standard”, with outboard coil spring/damper units and upper and lower wishbone at front and rear, with a well designed under tray, to allow for good ground effects.
The car took pole position at the 1982 Daytona 24 Hours, driven by Bobby Rahal, although it didn’t finish. At the Sebring 12 Hours, Bob Garretson’s Chevrolet-engined 82G finished second, with Jim Truman, Bobby Rahal and Mauricio de Narvaez driving. This car then went to Le Mans where, as a Group C car, it retired after just two hours when the fuel tank started leaking. Another 82G lasted six hours until the electric supply failed.
For 1983, Al Holbert bought several 83G chassis, and won the IMSA GTP d\Driver’s Championship outright. Using, first of all, Chevrolet engines he switched to turbocharged Porsche engines halfway through the season. He and his co-driver Jim Truman won six races and gave Porsche the Manufacturers Championship.
For 1984, March introduced the 84G. This was a cleaned version of the 83G and took seven victories in the IMSA Championship, giving Randy Lanier the Driver’s Championship, ably assisted by Bill Whittington.
With the advent of the Porsche 962 in 1984, March had to up their game but the 85G was not up to the job at first, although revisions to the suspension did make the car easier to drive in the second half of the season.
For 1986, BMW commissioned March to design and build an all-new GTP car for use in America and Nissan also ordered several cars. The 86G was an entirely new Group C design by Gordon Coppuck for Nissan (BMW’s version was slightly different to meet GTP rules) and was the first car to be designed by March using CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture). It had more honeycomb chassis panels than the 82-85G series, inboard rocker-arm rear suspension and was narrower across the beam to allow the installation of side-mounted radiators. The new tub was originally designated ’86S’ (for sport) but all examples were actually given ‘G’ chassis plates.
The car we have for sale is chassis number 86G/10 and was used for testing by BMW in 1986. When the BMW GTP program was ended in 1986, this car was sold to Gianpiero Moretti, whose company “MOMO” manufactured and sold a range of steering wheels. Moretti was a very keen racer, who had raced (amongst others) Porsche 935s and would later on win the Daytona 24 Hours in a Ferrari 333SP, in 1996.
Together with Whitney Ganz, Moretti took part in several IMSA GTP races in the second half of the 1987 season, scoring a 6th place at Sears Point as that year’s best result.
In 1988, the Moretti/Ganz duo raced in the first half of the IMSA season and scored a best result of 12th overall at Watkins Glen in July. Sadly, the turbocharged Buick V6 proved to be an unreliable, though very powerful engine. Today, better engine fuel management has ironed out those problems.
So here is a GTP car that is race ready and can run in Vintage/Historic Group C racing in Europe, where there is a burgeoning series, as well as the Classic Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring series. Spares include wheels and original bodywork. Price: POA, subject to exchange rate of the owner’s European currency.
1986: Sold to BMW North America. 2-liter turbo. McLaren bodywork.
1987: Sold to G. Moretti. Buick V8 Turbocharged engine.
Became Momo-March “Buick Hawk”, IMSA GTP car.
26/07: Portland: Moretti/Ganz; 9th.
02/08: Sears Point: Moretti/Ganz; #30; 6th.
16/08: Road America: Moretti/Ganz, #0; 37th NR.
06/09: San Antonio: Moretti/Ganz; DNF.
31/01: Daytona 24 Hours: G. Moretti/M. Roe, #30; DNF.
28/02: Miami GP: G. Moretti/M. Roe, #30; 12thOA.
20/03: Sebring 12 Hours: G. Moretti/M. Roe, #30; DNF.
10/04: Road Atlanta: M. Roe; #30; DNF.
24/04: Palm Beach: G. Moretti/M. Roe, #30; 21stNR.
30/05: Lime Rock: G. Moretti/M. Roe, #30; 20thNR.
05/06:Mid-Ohio: G. Moretti/M. Roe, #30; 10thOA.
03/07: Watkins Glen: G. Moretti/M. Roe, #30; 9thOA.
17/07: Road America: M. Roe, #30; DNF.
31/07: Portland: G. Moretti, #30; 24thNR.
1988: Sold to Bob Akin Racing. 4.5-liter Turbo Buick V8 engine.
2002: Sold to Stan Wattles.
2016: In UK.