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#1 Roger Clark

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 19:03

How highly shoud we rate Robin Herd as a designer? It seems to me that the McLaren M7 was a very elegant design but likely to have received a lot of input from Bruce, the Cosworth was a clever design, but ditto from Keith Duckworth. The March 701 is accepted as the result of trying to do too much at one time. The 711 seems to be highly related by many, but take away the Cosrtin bodywork (which they did before its first race) and your're left with a fairly standard F1 kit car. After that there is a long line of well executed but largely conventional cars, the only attempt at innovation being the disasterous 721X.

None of this takes anything away from his consierable achievements in building March Engineering and keeping it going for so long, but I won't mention Oxford United.

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#2 David Beard

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 19:30

Originally posted by Roger Clark
How highly shoud we rate Robin Herd as a designer? It seems to me that the McLaren M7 was a very elegant design but likely to have received a lot of input from Bruce, the Cosworth was a clever design, but ditto from Keith Duckworth. The March 701 is accepted as the result of trying to do too much at one time. The 711 seems to be highly related by many, but take away the Cosrtin bodywork (which they did before its first race) and your're left with a fairly standard F1 kit car. After that there is a long line of well executed but largely conventional cars, the only attempt at innovation being the disasterous 721X.

None of this takes anything away from his consierable achievements in building March Engineering and keeping it going for so long, but I won't mention Oxford United.



McLaren M7...elegant but conventional at the time.
Cosworth 4wd ...clever, but baffling to me in terms of its structural and aerodynamic design.
701...why didn't he just produce another M7, instead of a cattle trough on wheels?
711..no. not a standard kit car, even when the Costin and Chapman ideas were ditched.
721X...perhaps some logic but why did it have the ground clearance of an off road vehicle?
721G...why didn't he bother to cover in the rads and make it look less of a bodge?
Derivations of the latter...were the various nose shapes nothing but promotional items for the concurrent lesser formulae cars?
His exploits as a rally driver?
Oxford United...well, I think that might be a football team...if Herd has any connection with that it's no wonder he lost his way ;) Please lets not talk about it.

#3 fines

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 20:51

McLaren M7!!!! :love: :love: :love: :love: :love: :love: :love: :love:

#4 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 21:28

The McLaren M2B built of an aluminium/balsa wood sandwich called Mallite, was at least a step away from the proven track.

#5 petefenelon

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 16:40

Originally posted by Roger Clark
How highly shoud we rate Robin Herd as a designer? It seems to me that the McLaren M7 was a very elegant design but likely to have received a lot of input from Bruce, the Cosworth was a clever design, but ditto from Keith Duckworth. The March 701 is accepted as the result of trying to do too much at one time. The 711 seems to be highly related by many, but take away the Cosrtin bodywork (which they did before its first race) and your're left with a fairly standard F1 kit car. After that there is a long line of well executed but largely conventional cars, the only attempt at innovation being the disasterous 721X.

None of this takes anything away from his consierable achievements in building March Engineering and keeping it going for so long, but I won't mention Oxford United.


I missed this thread while I was away.

Herd himself (as quoted in Four Guys and a Telephone) reckons he never fulfilled his potential as a designer because he spent most of the 1970s engineering and developing cars than actually designing them - although he reckons that if he'd gone with Rindt and Ecclestone for 1970 he might've done something more like the 711 than the 701 and history might've been different.

Also, he was constrained by having to design customer cars - the 701 had to be done quickly and had to be easy to manufacture - and Robin also had to oversee F2, 3, Ford and Can-Am cars in the same few months.

Some of his basic ideas were clearly sound - the junior formulae monocoque remained basically unchanged for years, and the basic shape of Marches remained pretty much the same from '73 to '77, during which time a lot of manufacturers came and went. So he clearly got more right than he did wrong, across a wider range of formulae than most people.

A good development guy and a solid designer? Yes.
A superstar designer in the Murray/Barnard/Newey/Chapman league? Probably not.

#6 Roger Clark

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 20:50

I think that the reason the junior formula cars remained basically unchenged for so long was the lack of competition, and March's customer service which is so important when building racing cars for sale.

The 711 was a superb looking car but I've never understood what lifted it above the general run of kit cars. Perhaps David Beard or Pete Fenelon will enlighten me. If Rindt had driven such a car in 1970 he would surely have been very successful; but he would in a BT33 too.

#7 petefenelon

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 23:55

Originally posted by Roger Clark
I think that the reason the junior formula cars remained basically unchenged for so long was the lack of competition, and March's customer service which is so important when building racing cars for sale.

The 711 was a superb looking car but I've never understood what lifted it above the general run of kit cars. Perhaps David Beard or Pete Fenelon will enlighten me. If Rindt had driven such a car in 1970 he would surely have been very successful; but he would in a BT33 too.


Frank Costin fans reckon it was the aero package.
Geoff Ferris/Robin Herd fans reckon it was the packaging that the aero forced on the car.
Colin Chapman fans reckon it's cos the 711 cloned most of the internals of the 72.
Ronnie Peterson fans reckon it was the big Swedish guy in the cockpit.

I suspect the real answer is a combination of all of the above...

#8 David Beard

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 18:10

Originally posted by Roger Clark

The 711 was a superb looking car but I've never understood what lifted it above the general run of kit cars. Perhaps David Beard or Pete Fenelon will enlighten me. If Rindt had driven such a car in 1970 he would surely have been very successful; but he would in a BT33 too.


I must admit I have always been of the opinion that the real reason that the 711 performed so well in 1971 was Ronnie Peterson.

If we are debating whether or not the 711 was different from the "standard kit car", I think that this begs the question whwther there really ever was such a thing. I know it's a term often used to describe any car of the period using the DFV / Hewland package, but to me the wonderful thing about this era was that the designs weren't standardised at all but were wonderfully varied.

A view of the front end of the 711 with the nose removed...almost as distinctive as it was with the bodywork in place.

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#9 David M. Kane

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 21:39

Did he not come up with the "snowplow nose" which a lot of the others copied in various forms, i.e. Tyrrell and Surtees?

I think he had two disadvantages, he never had a proper budget to work with
and as a result he had to compromise for the customer side. My goodness, how many 731s were there out there at one time?

But then again, a lot of the other designers probably had a lot of issues to deal with too.

I own two Marches currently, a 76B and a 741 and all I know is that they
are easy to drive and easy to maintain...and they are both fast.

Would I want to do business with him or Max? Not even in a phone booth.

#10 petefenelon

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 22:20

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Did he not come up with the "snowplow nose" which a lot of the others copied in various forms, i.e. Tyrrell and Surtees?

I think he had two disadvantages, he never had a proper budget to work with
and as a result he had to compromise for the customer side. My goodness, how many 731s were there out there at one time?

But then again, a lot of the other designers probably had a lot of issues to deal with too.

I own two Marches currently, a 76B and a 741 and all I know is that they
are easy to drive and easy to maintain...and they are both fast.

Would I want to do business with him or Max? Not even in a phone booth.


I think the first F1 car with the snowplough nose was the Tyrrell in '71 - March put it on the 721 the year after. Fairly obvious thinking really - get the low-drag benefits of a sports car nose!

As for 731s - trick question? - one answer says there never were any 'cos they were really uprated 721Gs, another says there were probably four of them redesignated as 731s. The history of 741/751/761/761Bs gets truly scary, I tried to help someone with his 761 a while back and there's evidence that his tub had been under two chassis plates each of which had had multiple tubs under it. Eek!


pete

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 22:34

Was that in the days of Andrea de Adamich?

#12 petefenelon

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 22:45

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Was that in the days of Andrea de Adamich?


And those Alfa engines that only went well at Monza? :)
(He had them in a McLaren too).

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#13 Mohican

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 12:06

The reason that the March 711 was successful was clearly Ronnie Peterson.

Look at the record; who else but Ronnie (who, remember, was only in his second F1 season) was anywhere near successful in a 711 ?

Chris Amon really should have stuck with the works March team for 1971.; just as he should have done with Ferrari in 1970.

#14 ian senior

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 12:50

[QUOTE]Originally posted by David M. Kane
[B]Did he not come up with the "snowplow nose" which a lot of the others copied in various forms, i.e. Tyrrell and Surtees?

I think Matra did it slightly earlier in the same year. Not quite as abrupt in design as later interpretations, but certainly a full width job. And wasn't there something similar on F2 Tecnos in 1970, or did that appear later too?

#15 David M. Kane

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 15:01

When Frank Williams split from Walter Wolf, he bought a 761 to race. Apparently, it had a shunt which explosed under the "new" paint Orange paint reflecting its BETA Team use and background! I see a Max pattern here...

#16 Gary Davies

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 15:18

All this talk of snowplough noses reminded me of dear old Brockbank.
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#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 20:46

Did Brockbank invent end-plates then?

I know they were a 'development' on the similar noses on the F5000 Elfins.

#18 Gary Davies

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Posted 13 March 2003 - 12:41

You'll find that Brockbank's drawing is based on Colombo's unraced short wheelbase 312B3 of 1973. See Motor Sport December 2002. The article therein goes so far as to say: "... its strange aspect made it an easy target for cartoonists."