The Ex – David Good 1968 Chevron B8 BMW

The Ex – David Good

1968 Chevron B8 BMW

Chevron is the true British motor racing story, the talented engineer who started in a lock up garage and went on to be one of the worlds leading names in both sports car and single seater formula racing. No fewer that six former Chevron drivers went on to achieve World Champion status. An extraordinary talent, Derek Bennett was a brilliant and mainly self taught engineer with an impressive aptitude for repairing, modifying and sculpting race cars.  Like so many of the great race car producers of his era, when he was not working at the track he could be found behind the wheel racing mostly custom built racing cars.

From Derek Bennett’s first win in a car carrying the Chevron name at Kirkistown in 1965, the success of the Chevron marque became closely intertwined with its customers worldwide, buying and racing their Chevron cars most notably in 2-litre sports car competition but also single seater Formula 5000, Formula 2 and Formula 3. 

The Chevron B8 is widely regarded to be one of the most beautiful sports racing cars ever produced, with their looks only to be matched by their handling. To all intensive purpose the B8 was an ‘improved’ version of the B6. The basic design remains the same, but on the B8 the under tray is bonded onto the chassis frame and it carries larger radiators, oil pipes and fuel tanks. In answer to customer demands a front anti-roll bar was fitted, although this was deemed unnecessary by Derek Bennett who already felt the car was perfectly balanced as it was. By the time the B8 appeared Chevron production had become a well-honed operation. Arch Motors supplied the chassis direct to Chevron and Specialised Mouldings manufactured the smooth and sleek bodywork. 

The B8 was homologated as a Group 4 Sports Car in 1968. Only 44 examples were built between 1968 and 1970 and were fitted with a number of different engines with the most popular being a 2 litre BMW unit. In order the get the B8 homologated as a Group 4 car it was necessary to produce 50 cars but by some clever interpretation of the rules including adding the 1967 B6 cars in the calculations the FIA accepted the B8. The 1968 B8 was perhaps the car that really established Chevron as a serious production car manufacturer capable of taking on all-comers and beating them.

It was success from the start for the B8 with Digby Martland and Brian Classick finishing 9th overall at the BOAC 500 Miles at Brands Hatch. Other results included an amazing 2-3-4-5 at Croft, 5th and 6th overall at the Speedworld International Trophy at Oulton Park for Chris Craft and Tim Schenken and finally Peter Gethin was third at the Guards International Trophy at Brands Hatch. Adding to this several wins in UK club racing as well as some success on the continent and for Brian Redman in the South Africa’s Springbok series, meant that Chevron could look back on 1968 as an important step in their increasing stature. 

In 1969 the B8 took a big step further towards its now legendary status, with the Kleinpeter/Gun/Beaty B8 taking sixth overall and a class win in the Daytona 24 Hour race. The Wisell/Hine B8 finished seventh in the 1969 BOAC 500 Mile race at Brands Hatch also winning their class. The Red Rose Racing B8 in the hands of John Lepp was dominant in the RAC British Spots Car Championship taking the 1969 and 1970 titles. The B8’s place was well and truly stamped in motorsport history. With the ever growing array of distance and endurance races and events in historic racing the B8’s speed, handling and versatility has very much made to the car of choice for drivers both in Europe and the USA. As such the B8 has continued to shine and be the car to beat. 

This car: CH DBE 38

Supplied new in yellow to former British Hill Climb Champion David Good part way through the 1968 season, CH DBE 38 was purchased to take on the competitive hill climb screen of the late 1960s. A highly accomplished competitor, David’s remarkable success is made even more impressive by the fact he was born without a right forearm and hand. Changing gear with his left hand while steering with the stump of his right arm, he won the British Hill Climb Championship in 1961 and continued to compete until 1974. During this time he campaigned a number of cars from a Lola T70, through the four wheel drive F1 BRM P67, F5000 McLaren M10B, DFV powered Lyncar and of course CH DBE 38.

Purchased to replace his existing B8 from the year before, David made his debut in CH DBE 38 at Auclum in August 1968. Starting as he meant to go on, he broke the GT class record first time out. By removing the road going equipment that defined the B8 as a GT, he was also able to enter CH DBE 38 as a sports racer making it eligible for championship points. His class time easily qualified him for the top 10 run-offs where he bettered his time again and finished an impressive 3rd overall. 

Three weeks later on the 18th of August, CH DBE 38 and Good were at Shelsley Walsh where he took his class record down to 33.38 seconds. However his trick of running the B8 as a sports racer was not popular with the other competitors and he was excluded from running in the Championship Runoffs, despite his time being sixth best of the day. 

Two weeks later the RAC series was at the then new Loton Park where Good comfortably won his class with a time of 61.35 seconds before setting a “truly astonishing” time of 61.04 seconds in the run-offs. The only car capable of beating that time all weekend was Peter Lawson in Good’s old BRM P67. 

At Prescott on the 8th of September he ignored the 2-Litre GT class, instead deciding to take on Phil Scragg’s lightweight 4.7-litre Lola T70 in the Unlimited Sports Racing class. Again qualifying for the run-offs, finishing 10th. Next was Harewood on the 15th of September again in the large sports racing class. This time missing out on the run-offs. 

In October 1968, the newly crowned British Hill Climb Champion Peter Lawson sold his 4WD BRM P67 to John Cussins and bought CH DBE 38 from Good with the intention of trying his hand at circuit racing in 1969. A novice to circuit racing he needed to get the necessary signatures for his full competition license, so set off on a tour of Special GT races on the northern circuits. First up was Cadwell Park on the 4th of April where he finished an impressive 2nd. 

His first win came in a Special GT race at Rutherford on Easter Saturday. From there came a string of wins and second places. However when he took on the International drivers at the Croft International in July he as only 5th of the 2-litre Chevrons in heat 1 before losing a number of laps in heat 2 in the pits. His experience at the Kodak Trophy at Thruxton was not dissimilar. A 14th overall in the Lombank Trophy International 2-litre Group 4/6 race at Brands Hatch on the 1st of September did not do much to bolster his confidence. Two weeks later he took CH DBE 38 to Harewood for the British Hill Climb Championship round where he broke the Sports Racing Class record on his way to an impressive 4th overall. 

Realising that his talents clearly lay in hill climbing rather than circuit racing, his racing career drew to an end. CH DBE 38 was then sold to Reg Philips for the 1970 season. The 55 year old chairman of James Fairley Steels, he had become known for building a number of Fairley Specials for trialing and hill climbing. Having concentrated on his business, he returned to hill climbing in the late 1960s with an E Type Jaguar and then CH DBE 38. Run by Phillips through 1970 and although apparently not taking his hill climbing too seriously he still finished 3rd in the 1970 Leaders Championship. 

For 1971, with the GT class disappearing, CH DBE 38 was converted to a sports racer with an open body built by Metalcraft. Running in sports racing class he was up against much more powerful cars such as Tony Harrison’s 7.2-litre McLaren M12C. Regardless, he started the season with a class win at Harewood on the 25th of April and then a 2nd in class at the RAC Prescott on the 2nd of May and at Wiscombe Park, two weeks later. He did well to beat Scragg to secure 2nd at Prescott on the 6th of June, behind Harrison’s McLaren and even led Harrison into he first run at the RAC Shelsely Walsh on the 13th of June. Success continued with a class win at RAC Doune on the 20th of June in what Autosport called his “decapitated Chevron”. This was followed by a win in the Shelsley members’ event on the 10th of July and a win the following day in the large sports racing class. His last outing in DBE38 was a win at great Auclum on the 1st of August before his new B19 arrived. 

A couple of races later Motoring News noted that Reg Philips had sold the car back to David Good ‘of all people’, who had planned to compete it in the famous Swiss hill climb at Ollon-Villars. However; neither Good nor the car are listed in the results. In October 1971 CH DBE 38 was advertised by Michael MacDowel, of Guildford, as “Chevron B8-Special ‘Spyder’ bodywork, Ex-Reg Philips car with Alan Smith engine”. 

The next time the car was seen was at the National Benzole Challenge Trophy for GT cars at Silverstone the following April. Now owned by Barry Greenaway and driven on this occasion by Dave Wellings, the car was described in Autosport as “the ex-Reg Philips Chevron B8 Spyder”. New to the car he only finished 9th. Having raced together in Rhodesia, Wellings and Greenaway succeeded in getting an entry with the car into the Nürburgring 1000KM at the end of May. In preparation for the event they took the car to Snetterton for a test out the new long range file tanks. Sadly with Willings behind the wheel the oil tank burst and caused him to crash into the barrier somersaulting more than once and landing upside down. Wellings thankfully walked away from the accident unhurt, but it had not done much for the cosmetics of the car. 

According to respected historian Allen Brown, Greenaway sold the engine and gearbox and evidently the chassis was sold to Roger Andreasson, who went on to be the M.D. of Chevron Cars in the mid 1980s. He sold it to Peter Heming, another notable name in the cars ownership history as he later emigrated to the USA and became Paul Newman’s Can-Am team boss. He acquired the car in a “huge pile with crumpled aluminium body”. Adding a BMW engine from northern hill climber Chippy Stross, he rebuilt CH DBE 38 fitting a dark green Gropa body. When Gropa converted a B8 to their Gropa format they reinforced the chassis to account for the lack or rigidity provided by the roof frame. As a privateer Hemings sadly missed this trick and complained of the car flexing too much and eventually traded it for a 1972 Lancia Flavia Coupe and cash.  

Still in dark green, the next known owner of the car was Italian collector Flavio Tullio. In Allen Brown’s extensive dossier that accompanies the car, he quoted Matteo Tullio, Flavio’s son, as saying the Gropa’s chassis, i.e. Chevron B8, was sold to England many years ago but he can not recall the buyer’s name. The dark green Gropa bodywork still hangs on Matteo’s wall. 

In 1984, CH DBE 38 was sold by David Parkinson of Otley in West Yorkshire to Gary Dunkerly in Johannesburg, South Africa. The car was described on the invoice as: CH DBE 38 with BMW engine number 1694748, with Hewland FT200 gearbox number 779.

CH DBE 38 was shipped to South Africa on the cargo vessel Maretainer in April 1984. Upon taking delivery in Durban, Gary wrote “the car was in pieces with engine and gearbox in place and with wheels but no plumbing or electrical. This was done by us as was fitting all of the body panels, doors and windscreen”. He first raced the car in the second half of 1984, won the HRCR Club championship in 1986 and continued to race it at all of the major circuits in South Africa until 1992. From 1992 the cars was stored until March 2004 when Dunkerly sold it to Simon Leighton back in England. 

Leighton took CH DBE 38 to Ian Jones’ Racing Fabrications where it was fully restored to David Good’s original yellow livery. He raced it from 2006-2009 when it was sold to Nick Flemming. Running in yellow with a white nose and strip he went on to win the HSCC Autosport 3 Hour race three times as well HSCC Guards Trophy and several individual outright race wins, including the Spa Summer Classic in July 2013. 

CH DBE 38 was offered for sale with H&H Auctions in 2015 and sold to its last owner, well-known historic racing collector John Ruston, who in turn sold to the current owner in January of the following year. The current owner then had his own race team comprehensively go through the car before racing it in the HSCC Guards Trophy.  At the end of 2018 the engine and gearbox were refreshed ready for the following season and with the ensuing pandemic they have only still have three to four hours use on them since. The gearbox was sent off to Hewland Classic and all new gears and clutch were fitted. 

CH DBE 38 also comes with spare gear ratios in a carrying case, the old magnesium rear uprights, old drive shafts, springs and brake callipers. Accompanied by an Allen Brown historical dossier, the FIA HTP are being renewed as we speak and the car will be sold with up to date FIA papers. 

In the last two years we have seen the HSCC Guards Trophy go from strength to strength and as time has proven there are few cars more competitive in this grid than the Chevron B8. With B8s running at this year Goodwood Members’ Meeting and Le Mans Classic on the horizon for next year surely there is no better time to experience for yourself why the B8 has built up such a strong following over the years.