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Formerly the Property of Scuderia Filipinetti and Miles Collier
The Eagle Mk I
Dan Gurney’s distinguished Formula 1 career began in 1959. Driving for Scuderia Ferrari, he achieved two podium finishes in his first four races – an auspicious start for the young Southern California driver.
Following a miserable 1960 season, driving a BRM P48 for Owen Racing Organization, Gurney joined Porsche’s Grand Prix effort. At the 1962 French Grand Prix at Rouen, Gurney drove the newly developed 804 to his first World Championship victory and captured the first Formula 1 win for Porsche.
When Porsche withdrew from Grand Prix racing at the end of the 1962 season, Gurney was the first driver hired by Jack Brabham to join the Brabham Racing Organization. Between 1963 and 1965, Gurney captured two wins and 10 podium finishes for Brabham including the manufacturer’s first World Championship win.
As Gurney rose to prominence in Formula 1 and sports car racing, he developed a close relationship with Carroll Shelby. As early as 1962, the two discussed plans to build an American Formula 1 car – one that could successfully compete on the international stage. Ever since Gurney began racing Grand Prix cars, it had been his goal to win the Formula 1 World Championship driving a car of his own design.
In 1965, Shelby convinced Goodyear, which was intent on challenging Firestone’s domination of American racing, to sponsor a new USAC team led by Dan Gurney. Later that year, Gurney established his team – All American Racers – based out of a one-story industrial building in Santa Ana, California.
Though AAR’s initial focus was building an Indy 500 winner, Gurney and Shelby convinced Goodyear to sponsor the construction of a Formula 1 car. Considering that Formula 1 was dominated by the likes of Ferrari, Brabham, and Lotus – and the fact that no US car and driver combination had won a major European Grand Prix since Jimmy Murphy’s Duesenberg took the French Grand Prix in 1921 – the AAR Formula 1 project was certainly ambitious.
In 1965, Gurney set to work developing his first single-seat racing cars, which he dubbed the Eagles. Developed in parallel, the Eagle Mk I was designed to compete in Formula 1 and the Eagle Mk II was intended to compete in the USAC circuit.
To design their dual-purpose Indy-Grand Prix car, AAR enlisted the services of British designer Len Terry, who had worked on the Indy 500-winning Lotus 38. In a short period, Terry created a state-of-the-art full-length riveted aluminum monocoque chassis. Fitted with a gorgeous beak nose – inspired by the Eagle name – and finished in a patriotic blue and white livery, the Eagle Mk I was an inspired design.
For AAR to have any chance against the established Formula 1 teams, they would need a special engine.
During summer 1965, Dan Gurney turned to Aubrey Woods, a talented engine designer with whom he had worked during his 1960 season driving a BRM. Woods informed Gurney of a special three-liter V-12 that he had been developing with the Weslake Company in Rye, Sussex, England. Gurney signed on immediately and, in less than a year, Harry Weslake and Aubrey Woods progressed from the drawing board to the race circuit.
The Gurney-Weslake V-12, with its efficient four-valve head, developed a genuine 410 bhp at 10,200 rpm and weighed just 365 lbs. Even more impressive, the engine was extremely compact, fitting into the same space provided for the Indy Ford V-8, and it was remarkably flexible, with a full-throttle power curve that began as low as 6,000 rpm.
In June 1966, the first AAR Eagle Mk I, AAR-101, was unveiled at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. It was a tremendous achievement for Dan Gurney and a shining moment in the history of American motor racing.
The Eagle Mk I presented here, AAR-102, was the second chassis built by AAR and the first example to race with the Aubrey Woods-developed Gurney-Weslake V-12.
In September 1966, AAR-102 made its competition debut in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the seventh round of the World Championship. Driven by Gurney, the new Eagle suffered from fuel feed problems in practice and started the race from the back of the grid. Wearing race number 30, AAR-102 completed just seven laps before high oil temperatures ended the Eagle’s first Grand Prix.
The next race for AAR-102 was the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in October. Eager to demonstrate the Eagle in front of an American audience, Gurney gave a fine display during practice but was eventually sidelined with low oil pressure and a cracked fuel cell. For the race, Gurney wore number 15 and ran as high as 8th before oil leaked onto the clutch, causing it to slip and forcing an early retirement.
At the last event of the 1966 season, the Grand Prix of Mexico, Gurney put Bob Bondurant behind the wheel of AAR-102 while he went for reliability in the Coventry Climax-powered AAR-101. As predicted, Bondurant encountered trouble with the fuel delivery and Gurney went on to a 5th place finish.
After the 1966 season, AAR continued to develop the Gurney-Weslake Eagle, paying particular attention to the various fuel and oil problems that had plagued the new car in its first few outings.
The 1967 racing season began on March 12th with the Brands Hatch International Race of Champions, a non-championship race that attracted all of the major Formula 1 teams.
During qualifying, Gurney’s improved Eagle- Weslake Mk I annihilated the opposition, coming out a full second quicker than anyone else. In fact, during the first practice session, AAR-102 lowered the existing lap record by three seconds. In the Friday practice session, Gurney again set the fastest time and was rewarded with 100 bottles of champagne.
The race itself consisted of two 10-lap heats and the 40-lap main event. In heat 1, Gurney drove AAR-102 to 1st place, followed by John Surtees in the new Honda V-12 and Richie Ginther in AAR-103. In heat 2, Ginther took the lead, though Gurney passed him at Druids Corner and the two Eagles crossed the line in 1st and 2nd place. In the main event, Gurney got out to an early lead and managed to hold off Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari and Jo Siffert’s Cooper-Maserati for the win, despite suffering from low oil pressure and a smoking engine. For AAR, Brands Hatch was a brilliant outing in all respects and proved that the beautiful Eagles could successfully compete with the top teams in Formula 1.
After its victory at Brands Hatch, AAR-102 next appeared at Monaco, the second round of the 1967 World Championship. Despite AAR’s best efforts, Gurney failed to finish with AAR-103, due to fuel pump issues, and Richie Ginther was unable to qualify with AAR-102.
In June, Dan Gurney achieved a historic feat for an American driver – winning both the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Ford’s Mk IV GT40 and the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa with AAR-104, making him only the second driver in history to win a Grand Prix in a car of his own design.
At the end of the 1967 season Bruce McLaren joined AAR for three races as his own cars were still being completed. At the French Grand Prix he qualified well, but the drive to the ignition sheared and it began to retard the timing, causing retirement. At the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, McLaren had AAR-102 in 7th place when a connecting rod broke. In its final Formula 1 outing at the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring, AAR-102 was in 5th place when it went airborne, bottomed out, and broke the oil-scavenge pipe.
Following the 1967 season, Gurney decided to split with Weslake and AAR began to turn their attention to building Indy cars for USAC events.
In March 1968, AAR-102 was sold to famed Swiss racing team Scuderia Filipinetti through famed photojournalist Bernard Cahier and Goodyear racing director Leo Mehl. At this time, Scuderia Filipinetti wanted to return to Formula 1 and establish a Grand Prix program for the team’s star driver, Herbert Müller.
The Eagle was delivered with an old and underpowered four-cylinder Coventry Climax engine and, try as he might, Filipinetti was unable to convince AAR to sell him one of the 12-cylinder Weslake engines. Eager to get the project off the ground, Müller suggested installing a 12-cylinder BRM engine, which was widely available and far more competitive than the Climax four-cylinder.
In the end, Filipinetti became disillusioned with the project and lost the motivation to commit any additional time or energy to a Formula 1 program. Müller only used the Eagle – now painted in bright red with a single white stripe – in local events, such as the Ollon-Villars Hillclimb in Switzerland, where it faced little opposition.
After a few outings in 1968, the Eagle was retired from racing and subsequently retained in the Filipinetti museum for 15 years.
In 1983, AAR-102 was sold to Martin Johnson of Lower Braithwaite Hall, Newby Bridge, England. Soon after its arrival in the UK, Roland Duce Car Sales Ltd. advertised the Eagle for sale in Motor Sport. At this time, the car was still finished in its Scuderia Filipinetti livery and was complete with a Coventry Climax engine and the original Monaco nose from 1967.
The advertisement immediately caught the eye of Canadian collector Girvan Patterson. In a letter to the current owner, Mr. Patterson explained his reasons for acquiring the Eagle:
“I purchased the car as it represented an absolutely perfectly preserved example of the 66-67 era of Formula One cars, prior to the introduction of advertising and wings, and it had escaped the fate of many of its peers that were adapted to F5000 cars. Furthermore, I had supplied parts to Gurney’s AAR organization in the late 60s and was well aware of the history and background of the car.”
In April 1984, AAR-102 was airfreighted across the Atlantic and stored at Mr. Patterson’s property in Ontario. Although he intended to restore the car to its original specifications, he was unable to source a proper Gurney-Weslake engine and the project was subsequently put on hold.
On October 12, 1989, AAR-102 was sold to renowned collector Miles C. Collier and joined the CH Motor Cars collection in Naples, Florida. When the Eagle arrived, it was remarkably complete and essentially untouched since the end of the 1968 racing season.
Fortunately, Mr. Collier already owned another Eagle Mk I (AAR-104, the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix winner) and had acquired an impressive collection of spare components from AAR’s remaining supply. Between 1989 and 1992, AAR-102 was meticulously restored to its 1967 Brands Hatch configuration, complete with a proper Gurney-Weslake V-12, number AAR 12-1-04. The engine, rebui lt by Van Dyne Engineering in Huntington Beach, California, was tested on a dyno and produced 385 bhp at a conservative 9,120 rpm.
Beautifully restored to its original glory, AAR-102 participated in the 1995 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Dan Gurney drove it up the hill. It was the first time in 28 years that Gurney was reunited with his original Weslake-powered Eagle.
In 1997, Mr. Collier made the decision to sell AAR-102. At that time, the Brands Hatch winner was sold to Mark Leonard of Grand Prix Classics who, in turn, sold it to William Zeiring of Talent, Oregon.
Since 2003, AAR-102 has been enjoyed, raced, and maintained by a Nevada collector with a passion for the finest, most historic competition cars. In preparing the Eagle for vintage racing, the owner obtained an FIA Historic Vehicle Identity Passport and entrusted AAR-102 to Intrepid Motorcar Co. for mechanical attention.
Over the past decade the Eagle has successfully participated in leading vintage races, from Monaco to Phillip Island, Australia, where it has proven to be remarkably fast, reliable, and enjoyable. In 2006, AAR-102 graced the cover of Vintage Racecar and was the subject of a feature article, “Ultimate Eagle” by Ed McDonough. In 2010, the Eagle Mk I took part in the Monterey Historic Races, where the race cars of Dan Gurney were honored. Most recently, Intrepid Motorcar Co. has performed a comprehensive mechanical restoration and the consignor reports that there is no race time on the freshly rebuilt Eagle-Weslake V-12.
Not only does AAR-102 present an exciting opportunity to acquire an authentic, historically significant, and beautifully prepared 1960s Grand Prix car, it is offered with a rich file of documentation, including its FIA Historic Vehicle Identity Passport, original AAR blueprints for the Formula 1 Eagles, archival photos, various restoration records, correspondences, and a Letter of Certification written and signed by Dan Gurney.
In his long and storied career in motor sports, Dan Gurney made 312 starts, took 51 wins, 42 pole positions, and 47 podiums with more than 50 makes and 100 different models. He was the first driver to win races in all four major motor racing categories (Formula 1, Indy Car, NASCAR, and Le Mans) and is credited with many innovations, from spraying champagne in the winner’s circle to the Gurney flap, an aerodynamic aid that remains in use to this day.
Despite his success in almost every category of international motor racing, many consider Gurney’s incomparable Eagle race cars to be his most significant contribution to American motor sports.
Designed and built in Southern California, the original Gurney-Weslake Eagles raced with success on the world’s stage and were among the most memorable machines built during the golden age of Formula 1, before the purity of Grand Prix cars was forever tarnished with aerodynamic aids and corporate sponsorship.
Driven by some of the best drivers of the era – including Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Bob Bondurant, and Bruce McLaren – the Mk I Eagles were everything that an American-made Grand Prix car should be: incredibly fast, impeccably finished, and uncompromisingly individual. Widely regarded as the most beautiful Formula 1 car ever built, the Eagle Mk I is a prime example of automotive artistry, from its magnificent beak nose to its gleaming coils of polished exhaust pipes.
The Eagle Mk I presented here competed in two World Championship seasons, raced at seven major events, and helped Dan Gurney capture one of his six Grand Prix wins. Preserved for years in the Scuderia Filipinetti collection, restored under the ownership of renowned collector Miles Collier, and successfully campaigned in the most exclusive historic events worldwide, AAR-102 begs no excuse whatsoever regarding beauty, condition, authenticity, or provenance.
Gooding & Company is proud to offer this irreplaceable piece of American motor sport history for public sale – it is truly a Grand Prix car fit for the connoisseur.