After a less than stellar 1983 Formula 1 racing season hampered by low grip and power, RAM / March 01-03 was sold off and forgotten. Then a later owner equipped it with a properly developed engine and sticky tires, and the vintage-racing world was left wondering what could have been.
RAM 01-03 is now offered for sale for £139,995, and interested parties should contact: [email protected]
Like any good Cinderella story, RAM 01-03’s first chapter is sad. Business partners and RAM racing team co-founders John Macdonald and Mick Ralph entered F1 in 1976 with cars leased from Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham squad. But immediate legal troubles with their drivers quickly led to the cars being returned to the soon-to-be F1 boss. Despite these troubles, RAM stayed in business and began a relationship with race car manufacturer March that would last through 1983 and would produce F1 chassis designed by Dave Kelly, to accept the stalwart Ford-Cosworth DFV shortstroke engine. Storied and sonorous engines these, but by the early 80s they appeared to be no match for the strong turbocharged powerplants taking hold across the F1 grid and they weren’t able to soften the rock hard tires Pirelli was designing for the turbocharged cars and selling to “lesser,” non turbocharged customers like RAM.
The 1983 season, in particular, did not go well. Macdonald and Ralph struggled to find power and grip on track, and sponsorship deals off. Their 1983 drivers Eliseo Salazar, Jacques Villeneuve and Kenny Acheson worked hard to qualify the new car built entirely in RAM’s race shop, but only qualified for the first and last races of the season. So frustrated was the team with their performance they tapped Nelson Piquet to test the car at Monaco and to offer his assessment. He found nothing wrong. Then, a greater clue to the RAM 01-03’s poor performance was found later in the season when Ron Dennis lent RAM one of McLaren’s DFVs. The car immediately lapped two seconds quicker. Now aware that they were down on power, RAM’s season was nevertheless too far gone. The team would struggle on for two more seasons before closing their doors for good in 1985.
But this car’s story doesn’t end here. In 1994, vintage racer Bob Berridge saw something in an old RAM F1 car competing in historic Formula 1 racing. The car was not nearly as complex as its contemporaries. It had an aluminum monocoque chassis, a Cosworth DFV engine and a Hewland transmission. It also had untapped potential.
Berridge bought RAM 01-03 and undertook a major development program that included mounting real race rubber on its center lock wheels and installing a properly developed short-stroke DFV tuned to produce 525hp at a dizzying 10,500rpms. Wins in the FIA TGP Historic F1 series quickly followed in ’95 and ’96. In ’97 Berridge and 01-03 won the championship. RAM 01-03 would then be purchased by its current Australian owner who completed a nut-and-bolt restoration during 2008-2009 and who now lists the car for sale as he is “past my use-by date.”
The seller indicates that the car has only done two race meetings (75 miles) and is fully sorted and ready to win. Additionally, RAM 01-03 comes with a complete range of spares including 3 extra sets of wheels, 2 rear wings, body molds, a fuel churn, an engine warmer, and suspension parts including uprights. Better still, RAM 01-03’s straightforward build means the next owner will experience F1 performance without the costs and maintenance headaches associated with other modern era F1 cars. The DFV engine is incredibly powerful and remains well supported by spare parts suppliers, and the latter can be said as well of the robust Hewland transmission. This then, is a remarkable opportunity to buy a fast, serviceable, historic F1 car with interesting period history, impressive current race results and outstanding physical presence.
Parties interested in the sale of RAM 01-03 should contact: [email protected]