1975 Penske PC3

Chassis 1

  • One of just two PC3s raced in Formula 1 by the legendary Team Penske

  • Penske was one of just two American teams to achieve a victory in Formula 1

  • Raced by British star John Watson during 1975-76 to three top 10 finishes, with a best of 5th in the South African GP

  • Highly desirable entry for FIA Masters Historic F1 Championship and Grand Prix de Monaco Historique


Here we present for sale an absolutely stunning example of a 1970s Formula 1 car from the massively popular 'high airbox' era. This Penske PC3 not only has strong provenance but is a highly competitive and rewarding car to drive. Wearing the iconic First National City Travellers Checks livery it offers a fabulous opportunity to acquire a stunning, rare and competitive 1970s F1 car, that will be welcomed at any historic F1 event for years to come.


In 1974, Penske Racing established a new factory in Poole, England, its purpose being to construct the first Penske Formula 1-car, a project sponsored by the American First National City-bank. Briton Geoff Ferris, who had previously worked as a draughtsman for the Brabham F1-team, was hired to design the car. Named PC1, Ferris opted for a conventional concept with the exception of a rising rate front suspension system. The car was powered by a Cosworth DFV V8, the engine used by all F1-teams at the time, bar Ferrari and BRM. Penske Racing, famous for its meticulous preparation, spent most of the year building and preparing the PC1 and the car made its debut in the penultimate round of the World Championship, the Canadian Grand Prix. It was driven by Mark Donohue, who had decided to stop racing and become the team’s manager at the end of 1973. By offering him a full F1-racing program, however, Roger Penske had lured him back into the cockpit. Donohue finished 12th in Canada and did not finish the American Grand Prix held two weeks later at Watkins Glen. For 1975, the PC1 was modified, and two more chassis were built, but the car performed poorly, its best result being a 5th place finish in Sweden.


After round nine of the 1975 F1-season, Penske Racing switched to a March 751 with which Donohue finished 5th in the British GP. Two months later, tragedy struck: on August 17, during the warm-up session for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring, Donohue crashed when one the March’s tires failed. A track marshal was killed in the accident, but Donohue was conscious and talking before he lapsed into a coma and despite an operation to relieve the pressure in his brain, he died on the Tuesday after the race. Its March 751 destroyed, Penske skipped the Italian Grand Prix, but entered its new car in the US GP at Watkins Glen. While the team had run the March, Ferris had designed a successor to the PC1, and with this car, PC3/1, the team’s new driver John Watson qualified a promising 12th position. However during the Sunday morning warm-up session, PC3/1 suffered electrical problems and Penske decided to put Watson in a PC1 (which was on display in the paddock) for the race. With this hardly race worthy car, Watson finished 9th, a result that earned the Ulsterman an F1-contract with Penske Racing for 1976. The new PC3 was visibly inspired by the March 751 that Penske had run in three GPs during the 1975 season. Geoff Ferris had obviously decided to improve the basics of the PC1 with the aerodynamics of the March, and the combination clearly had merit.

PC3/1, which had run in practice for the 1975 US Grand Prix, was further developed during the winter that followed and a second chassis, PC3/2, was built in time for the first round of the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship, the Brazilian Grand Prix held on 25th January at Interlagos in Sao Paolo, to which both PC3’s were shipped. PC3/1 however was not used during the race, instead making its racing debut on 6th March , finishing 5th in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami, thus equaling Penske Racing’s best result in Formula 1 so far. The car subsequently competed in three more races: the US West Grand Prix at Long Beach (DNF), the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder (finishing 7th) and the Monaco Grand Prix (finishing 10th), the latter being the final World Championship outing for the PC3 as Penske Racing rolled out a new F1-car yet again, its second in less than eight months, for the Swedish Grand Prix. The PC4 was dramatically different and would finally take the team to the front of Grand Prix racing: Watson finished third in the French and British Grands Prix before winning the Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring, where Donohue had been fatally injured a year earlier. Ironically, Roger Penske had by then already decided to end his team’s involvement in Formula 1 at the end of 1976, despite his sponsor First National City pressuring him to continue.


Penske, however, could no longer combine his continuously expanding business empire and racing programs in the United States with a UK based F1- team. He folded the F1-operation in Poole and sold two of the three PC4’s built (a third PC4 had been used by the American Interscope-team) to German entrepreneur Gunter Schmid, who’s newly formed ATS- team would enter the cars in 1977. After many years PC3/1 was restored and raced by Alan Baillie, who secured the 1991 HSCC Historic Formula One Championship with it. Therafter it passed to American Doug Mockett who extensively raced the car until 2011, including winning the Vintage Auto Racing Assoc. F1 Championship. During this time Mockett had Phil Reilly & Company restore and maintain the car. PC3/1 has raced in 8 of the last 11 Monaco Historique Gps, winning with Paul Edwards in 2008. The engine was last rebuilt by Geoff Richardson  in 2015, using a new block, and has approximately 500 miles life left before its next rebuild is due. A new crown wheel and pinion were also fitted in 2015, along with new hubs. Spares include front wishbones, steering rack, CV joints, gear ratios, a spare rear wing, chisel nose and shovel nose, plus two sets of spare wheels.


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