Ex-Ian Ashley F3 car. Purchased from the factory by Ashlowe Racing Team, a partnership of Ian Ashley and Robert Owen (“Ashl”/”Owe” Racing) in 1967. Chassis 103R was campaigned throughout the heady 1967 F3 season against such rising stars, and future Formula drivers, as Francois Cevert, Clay Regazzoni. Patrick Depallier, Jean-Pierre Jabouille. Henri Pescarolo, Derek Bell, Reine Wisell, Peter Gethin, and many other drivers who went on to achieve success in sport car racing. Ashely competed at Clermont Ferrand, Rheims, Magny-Cours, Djuslandrang, Hameenlina (Northern Finland), Nogaro, Knutsdorp (Sweeden), Avus, Zolder, Albi, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, and Jarama, among other circuits. Ashely achieved multiple top five finishes for his efforts, which was very credible given the high level of competition during the 1967 F3 season.
Ashley’s 1967 season was that of the classic underfunded privateer against the often works supported teams. The file contains hilarious accounts of the team sleeping in their cramped VW transporter with the Merlyn sitting on the trailer behind. Notable was the maximum speed achieved by the VW during their travels; 50 mph, but that was downhill with a trailer-full of momentum!
The team also sought out the races that paid the most. They had to. Ashley, somehow, had convinced a bank to make a loan to purchase the race car! If the boys missed a payment, the bank was coming for the car. Ashlowe's team manager was paid in food and Gallois Cigarettes, nothing else. The teams' efforts were rewarded with their highest finish of the season, a podium at Avus. This was the last race on the Avus circuit with its famed high speed banked section.
For 1968, the car was completely rebuilt, but sat quiet. In 1969 Robert Owen sold the car to Steve Pfiefer, located in California, and shipped the Merlyn from Liverpool to San Francisco. Pfiefer reports he uprated the car to U.S. Formula B specs at that time, and a Lotus twin cam was installed. Then Pfiefer sold the car in June, 1969 to William Dunbar in Arizona. Unfortunately, Dunbar’s check bounced, and Dunbar quickly sold the car onto its next owner, Chuck McClain of Tucson, Arizona. That paid the bills.
McClain raced the Merlyn in Formula B in 1970. The car competed in the Arizona Sports Racing Association, and in the SCCA California Sports Car Club Region. The file contains a race result for McClain in the Merlyn at Ontario Motor Speedway in 1970.
McClain kept Merlyn 103R for the next 20 years. In May, 1990, he sold the Merlyn to Ed and Mark Brannon, also from Arizona. The Brannons restored the Merlyn and debuted the car for historic racing in May, 1991, at Willow Springs Raceway. The car also received the Monoposto Concours Award that year.
The Brannons continued to race the Merlyn until its sale to Mike Kennedy, of Klamath Falls, Oregon, in 1996. Kennedy kept the car for several years before selling it to David Gogna, of Corte Madera, California. Gogna raced the Merlyn in Northern California vintage races until purchased by its current owner.
The Merlyn is currently a perennial front runner, and winner, in historic Formula B racing. The car continues to be maintained at a very high level by a professional shop. It is a beautiful, and fast, piece of racing history from the late 1960's, an iconic period in formula car racing.
The Merlyn has a Dave Vegher built, 1600 cc Lotus twin cam engine. The engine was recently refreshed, including new pistons, by Ivey Engines in March, 2018. The Hewland Mk.5 gearbox was rebuilt in May, 2018, by John Anderson Racing. Pages of receipts come with the car showing all work performed in the past several years.
Additional documents that come with the car include, but are not limited to:
RAC (Royal Automobile Club) Formula Three Certificate of Origin for the Merlyn
June 9, 1967 Merlyn Invoice to Ashlowe Racing Team for the Merlyn
1967 Formula Three racing articles and results
Spares include a brand new body and windshield.
The Merlyn is in excellent racing condition, with all the work done, including a proper, competitive, setup. You can run it at the front in Historic Formula B, or Formula Libre. Or, you can install a 1,000 cc "Screamer" engine, and race it in prestigious Historic F3 events worldwide.
If your plan is to put the Merlyn back in its original F3 spec., please let us know. There is a possibility that you could purchase the car as a roller, with/without the Mk.5 Hewland, and install your own 1,000 cc engine.
The choice is yours.
Chassis Number: 103R