1966 Chaparral #66 Chaparral Cars 2E - Photo by The Snooty One
The Chaparral 2E’s influence on race car design is profound, perhaps more so than any other car of its era. The 2E was the first car to be designed from the ground up to take full advantage of downforce. In addition to its ducted nose, which channeled air to maximize grip, it had a massive wing that measured four feet, six inches from the body and was mounted directly to the rear suspension uprights. This concept took the load off the chassis and put it directly on the hubs. The wing could be flattened out as speed increased, via a pedal that lived where most cars had a clutch. This leads us to another innovation of the 2E. Thanks to a backdoor relationship with GM, Chaparral’s owner Jim Hall had access to a number of cutting-edge semi-automatic transaxles, leaving the driver’s left foot available to operate the wing. Chaparrals won many races in their time, including at Sebring, the Nürburgring 1000, and, later, the Indianapolis 500. The 2E was competitive and won at Laguna Seca in 1966 with legendary driver Phil Hill at the wheel. Trading weight for power, the 2E utilized an all-aluminum 5.3-liter Chevrolet V8, compared to the six- and seven-liter iron block engines run by other teams. These innovations in aerodynamics and engineering propelled the competition to experiment with adjustable wings until several accidents forced adjustable wings to be banned from racing at the time. All six original Chaparral 2Es are still owned by Jim Hall, although replicas are now being produced.