1968 Chevron B8
Year of manufacture1968
Chassis numberDBE 52
Number of seats2
The ex-John Bridges/John Lepp
1968 Chevron B8 Coupé
Chassis no. DBE 52
Unlike the greater majority of Britain's racing car industry, which is located between London and the south midlands, Chevron hailed from Bolton in Lancashire. The company was founded by Manchester-born Derek Bennett, a talented engineer and successful racing driver in the Clubman's Formula category. Built for the latter, his first car was the 1,172cc Ford-powered Bennett Special, which was followed by a one-off Formula Junior, though that failed to match the success of the Clubman's car. Nevertheless, there was sufficient demand for the latter for Bennett to set up as a constructor in the mid-1960s.
Nowadays Chevron is best remembered for its highly successful small-capacity sports and GT cars and its Formula 2, Formula 3, and Formula 500 single-seaters. A Formula 1 car was on the stocks at the time of Bennett's tragic death in a hang-gliding accident in 1978, and although it was later completed, the company never progressed any further in motor racing's premier category. Following Bennett's death, the company was run by his sisters for a short while before passing into other hands.
Chevron's highly successful family of Gran Turismo cars had commenced in 1966 with the Chevron GT or B3, forerunner of the B8. Built around a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis and powered, usually, by either BMW or Ford-Cosworth four-cylinder engines, these early cars established the fledgling company as a force to be reckoned with in international sports car racing's 2-Litre class. Bennett's cars soon gained a reputation for winning 'straight out of the box' (the first Chevron GT had done just that) and this was reflected in the immense success of the ubiquitous B8, with 44 finding customers between 1968 and 1970. Originally built for Group 4 competition, it remains a popular 'continuation' car today.
The Chevron B8 is widely regarded as not only among the most beautiful sports-racing cars ever produced, but also one of the best handling. The example offered here, chassis number 'DBE 52', was originally constructed for racing in Group 6 and fitted with a 1,600cc Ford-Cosworth FVA engine. One of the most successful in existence, it was delivered new to John Bridges and campaigned extensively throughout 1968 and 1969 by him and co-driver John Lepp, another noted Chevron exponent who had won the Motoring News GT Championship in 1967 at the wheel of a B3. They raced 'DBE 52' at numerous events and venues including the Spa 1000 Kilometres, Cadwell Park, Brands Hatch 6 Hours, and Paris 1000 Kilometres, and secured a famous overall victory at Oulton Park. Later in 1969, the B8 was sold to Peter Smith, who continued adding to its already illustrious race history, securing a podium finish in the Martini Trophy at Silverstone in 1970. In a competition career spanning four seasons of international and British club racing, 'DBE 52' took part in 88 races, won 16 of them, and managed to finish on the podium 45 times. At some time, the Cosworth engine was removed, and for many years 'DBE 52' has had a 2.0-litre BMW engine installed.
For some nine years during the 2000s, 'DBE 52' formed part of Lord Drayson's famous collection, and while there was looked after by Martin Stretton. While in Lord Drayson's ownership, it has proved to be one of the most competitive Chevron B8s, racing successfully around the world in the hands of its owner and Stretton.
Since its acquisition by the current vendor, 'DBE 52' has competed at the Donington Festival (2015 and 2016), Silverstone Classic (2016), and VSCC Pomeroy Trophy (2017). The car has been fully race prepared by Blakeney Motorsport Ltd with no expense spared (bills on file). Recently repainted, it is fitted with a newly rebuilt Lester Owen engine (228bhp at 7,750rpm) and has a new gearbox, including internals. Other noteworthy features include a six-point roll cage; new Bilstein shock absorbers; new fire extinguishing system; rebuilt and crack tested suspension; fully silenced exhaust system (105db); and two sets of wheels. Fully race ready and a podium contender in the right hands, this historic Chevron B8 is offered with current FIA HTP papers (valid until 2026).