THE 2E CONTINUATION SERIES
A "continuation" make or model refers to a historic sports or racing car that is built by the original manufacturer on a date beyond its original historical period, but which is virtually identical to the original car in design, construction and materials. The continuation make or model should accurately meet all the period specifications of the original except for certain specific safety enhancements.
Many historical sports and racing cars were built in extremely limited numbers. In many cases only a few were built. And in rare cases, just one. Most often, the rarest cars are permanently housed in museums. Continuing the production allows an enthusuaist to acquire a car which may be, otherwise, unattainable.
Given the prodigious output of Jim Hall's workshop in the 1960s and 70s, why was the 2E model chosen for the Continuation Series? Simply put, it was Jim Hall's favorite and most innovative racing machine.
The Chaparral 2E Continuation Series is the continued production of an innovative racing marvel built nearly 40 years earlier and constructed from the original engineering plans, using the original body molds, by the same people, operating under the same venerable nameplate, with the continued energy and passion that inspired the creation of its legacy.
Hall & Musser
In the early 60s, a young engineer in Midland, Texas and another young engineer in Detroit were each designing and building a sports car that was a break from the traditional cars of the day. By coincidence their paths would cross and the most influential car in what many call the "golden age" of sports car racing would emerge.
After several years of racing experience, and with his background as a mechanical engineer from the California Institute of Technology, it was clear to Jim Hall that he could do just as well at designing and building racing cars as his American and European contemporaries.
The first Chaparral was a small, lightweight, tubular-frame, Chevy powered, front-engined car designed and built by Troutman and Barnes in California. While it performed well, it didn't produce the overall results Jim wanted, so in 1962 Hall set out in his Midland, Texas shop to design and build an all new car, Chaparral 2.
Chaparral 2 would be a mid-engine design to put more weight on the driving wheels, lower the center of gravity, reduce weight, and reduce frontal area. Hall reasoned that a fiberglass monocoque chassis, using fewer body parts, would be lighter and stiffer then a tubular steel space frame with full body panels. It would use an American stock block V-8 and a European transaxle for an extremely high power to weight ratio.
In Detroit, Bill Mitchell, GM's Vice President of Styling, had one of his designers, Larry Shinoda, toying with mid-engine sports car designs. Over at Chevrolet, the head of the Research and Development Department, Frank Winchell, had one of his young engineers, Jim Musser, at work on an alternative for the Corvair using the Corvair power plant up front, ahead of the axles, in a front wheel drive configuration. Bunkie Knudsen had recently become general manager of the Chevrolet Division. While he had no great love for the troubled Corvair he had inherited, he was a performance car enthusiast and was intrigued with Mitchell's mid-engine sports car idea. He put Winchell and Mitchell together and Frank recognized that the front drive Corvair's engine, transaxle, and suspension would be a natural for the mid-engined car, so he put Musser to work on the project which was to become the Monza GT.
Mitchell's concept was to use a tubular space frame like the exotic European sports cars of the time. But after a brief study Musser concluded that while the space frame by itself was an efficient structure, the weight increase when a floorpan, wheel wells, dash panel, etc. were added to make the car suitable for the street, a more efficient approach was to use these panels in a monocoque construction and then cover the rest of the structure with plastic body panels. When the car was completed, Mitchell was so excited with its appearance and performance that he wanted to show it at a display during the Road America Race at Elkhart Lake, so Winchell and Musser drove to Wisconsin.
Jim Hall was also on his way to Elkhart Lake to race his front engined Chaparral since the mid-engined Chaparral 2 was still under construction. When he saw the Monza GT on display he immediately struck up a conversation with Winchell and Musser about its design since it was similar in many respect to his Chaparral 2.
After Elkhart Lake conversations continued between Hall, Hap Sharp (Jim's partner in Chaparral Cars), Winchell and Musser. Recognizing the limitations of the Corvair powered Monza GT, Chevrolet R&D wanted to develop a transaxle for their more powerful V8 that could become the basis of a mid-engined Corvette. They also wanted to study vehicle dynamics at the limits of control. What better approach was there then involvement in a program with Hall? Chaparral's facility included a skidpad and 7 turn, 2-mile test track. In January 1964 a track rental agreement between Chaparral and R&D was signed that began the program.
The results of this relationship were truly remarkable. It was Hall that first recognized the importance of aero downforce and balancing that force front to rear to achieve near neutral handling in high speed turns. The aerodynamics of the contemporary race car still has its origins in the Chaparral program. Even passenger cars utilize the Chaparral's front spoiler and many employ rear wings or spoilers and other ground effects. Sharp's early contribution was the idea for a torque converter transaxle. Hall remembers the occasion: "One day after we were out here running, Hap said, 'You know, I don't understand why we need a transmission. Hell, it'll spin the wheels in any gear you put it in. If we had a torque converter, why wouldn't that work?'"
In early 1964 Chevy R&D's Jim Musser showed up in Midland with two cars that would have a major impact on future Chaparrals. The first was the GS II. (Zora Duntov had just built several light weight front engined Corvettes called the Grand Sport, hence at Chevrolet, Musser's mid engined car was dubbed the Grand Sport II). This car was similar in concept to the Chaparral, but was intended to be a prototype for a production mid-engined sports car. It incorporated a steel monocoque chassis but more important it had a torque converter transaxle. Driving evaluations on the Chaparral track by both Hall and Sharp verified that the torque converter concept was suitable for a race car.
The second car was the Suspension Test Vehicle (STV) which had a fully adjustable suspension system so various roll center heights, camber changes, and anti dive/lift could be evaluated. Hall logged many miles around Rattlesnake driving the STV with numerous suspension settings until the ideal configuration was determined.
Several months later Musser returned to Chaparral Cars with a new GS II. It was referred to as the GS IIb to distinguish it from the original GS II which now was referred to as the GS IIa. The GS IIb utilized an aluminum monocoque chassis to reduce weight to better evaluated the torque converter transaxle. It was mated to an aluminum Chevrolet small block high output engine. The IIb also incorporated the suspension geometry developed on the STV. Because of its lightweight and the advantage of the torque converter transaxle the IIb posted better lap times than the Chaparral 2. As a result the engine/ transaxle combination was tested in the Chaparral 2 to further evaluate it under actual racing conditions.
The IIb was strictly a development vehicle, it was never raced, however it became the prototype for the Chaparral 2C (the name "2C "was used so as not to confuse the vehicle with the IIa and IIb).
With further development the 2C became the 2E. The changes included moving the radiators to behind the doors for more weight on the driving wheels, but the biggest change was of course the high mounted rear wing. This was unique in that the wing mounted to the rear suspension uprights to put the down force directly into the tires without compressing the suspension. It also was adjustable with a foot pedal from the maximum down force angle for cornering to a minimum drag angle for the straightaway. Of all the Chaparrals this car was Jim Hall's favorite. There was a second 2E built but one of the 2E's crashed so only one has survived and is currently in the Chaparral Gallery in Midland.
As the favorite Chaparral and considering its technical importance, Hall has decided once again to team up with Musser to produce a limited number of "Continuation Series" 2E's for possible use in vintage racing. The new 2E's are true continuation vehicles, not only because they are being built by the original people but also because they are using the original 2E body molds along with chassis parts made from the original engineering drawings. The first of the new 2E series will be displayed at the 2005 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races where the Chaparral is to be the featured marque.
The 2E Continuation Series Under Construction
|The original body molds were used to make a master plug from which production molds were pulled.|
|The original engineering drawings were used to fabricate the chassis parts
|Click to enlarge the following pictures showing the build in process.|