The ultimate American CanAm works team contender,1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider  Chassis no. DN4-2A

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Lot 513
The ultimate American CanAm works team contender, 1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider
Chassis no. DN4-2A

Sold for US$ 381,000 inc. premium
The ultimate American CanAm works team contender
1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider
Chassis no. DN4-2A
This is the type of jet-black CanAm Shadow-Chevrolet which perhaps will for ever be identified with compact, chirpy British racing star Jackie Oliver, and his often tense team-mate relationship with tough, uncompromising (and quick) 1972 CanAm Champion predecessor, American hero George Follmer.

Jackie Oliver progressed from racing tiny little front-drive Mini saloon cars, then a wooden-chassised Marcos GT and an E-Type Jaguar to an escalating string of single-seaters, rising through Formula 3 and International Formula 2 to emerge in 1968 as World Champion Driver Graham Hill’s team-mate in the Formula 1 Lotus program. He became a Formula 1 regular in BRM, McLaren and Shadow cars while winning Le Mans for Gulf-JW Ford in 1969, and at World Championship level in Porsche 917s at Sebring and Daytona. He became a major CanAm contender almost from his 1969 debut there in countryman Peter Bryant’s Autocoast Ti22 and remained a regular front-runner even unfazed by a horrific high-speed ‘blow-over’ accident at Ste Jovite in 1970. From 1972-74 he drove the Don Nichols Shadow-Chevrolet CanAm cars, while also leading their British-based Formula 1 single-seater team. And in 1974 in this kind of shapely, familiarly all-black Shadow-Chevrolet DN4, England’s Jackie Oliver became the seventh (and last) of the great CanAm Challenge Champions.

Pete Lyons summed up his success like this: “Fast hands, heavy feet and the dogged mindset of a street fighter finally brought success in his sixth season of trying…”. Jackie Oliver himself recalls his Champion season as having been “Good fun – my fiercest opposition was my team-mate George Follmer. Like when he got so frustrated with me being quicker than him that he chased me round the pit garage – which was like a racehorse chasing a whippet, so he couldn’t catch me then either! We ended the season with a kind of celebratory match race at Watkins Glen before the Grand Prix, and he did win that one, when my car hit trouble..."

The significant development in CanAm racing for 1974 was a fuel restriction regulation. It was Oil Crisis time and where the all-powerful twin-turbocharged Porsche 917/30 of 1973 had been a virtual fuel tanker, for 1974 the organizing SCCA applied energy measures which restricted CanAm cars to only 37 gallons per race distance.

This provided the race car designers with a smaller tank around which to shrink their cars. Shadow took best advantage of the change and compared to the big DN2 model of 1973, the new DN4 was more compact, and lighter, and packaged around fuel tanks displacing a total of some 45 gallons overall. Wheelbase was shortened 3-inches compared to the 103-inch long dimension of the DN2. Both track dimensions and overall width also shrank, in proportion.

In all other respects the Shadow DN4 was a conventional CanAm sports-racing spider. Its hip-mounted radiators were now carried further aft than those of the 1973 DN2 model, with air ducted in via troughs on each side of the swelling central cockpit moulding. The front fender profiles were rather more smooth and wrapped more closely around the front 13-inch diameter wheels which replaced the 15-inch size commonly employed upon the 1973 DN2. Rear wheels remained 15-inches in diameter but team plans to run tires with an outside diameter of just 26½-ins evaporated when Goodyear decided it could only supply the older standard 28-inch outside diameter size. Like its Tony Southgate-designed Formula 1 sister model, the single-seat/open-wheeled DN3A, the CanAm DN4 shared some suspension components. The rear suspension featured two long trailing radius rods each side, with parallel lateral lower links instead of a single trailing radius rod and a lower A-arm or wishbone system. Brakes remained outboard at the front, and inboard at the rear while the transaxle of choice remained the reliable Hewland 4-speed LG.

While the rule-makers at the SCCA had expected engine sizes to diminish in CanAm due to the meager fuel allowance, Shadow’s motor man Lee Muir discovered that assembling his engines’ fuel injection units with greater precision not only yielded the necessary mileage bonus, but also found an additional 35 horsepower! Shadow team data released at the time claimed a power output of 735bhp from their CanAm Chevrolet V8 engines – matching that of the naturally-aspirated 1973 Shadow units – but the real figure is understood to have been closer to 800bhp.

Preston Lerner of Sports Car International quoted Shadow team driver George Follmer as saying: “There’s no substitute for horsepower, but chassis-wise the DN4 pointed in well and was very predictable. And because frontal area was so small, it was fast in a straight line. It was an extremely good race car”. As Pete Lyons added in his book ‘CanAm’ – “It was, in fact, the last great CanAm car…”.

The 1974 CanAm Challenge series commenced at Mosport Park, Canada, on June 16 that year. Jackie Oliver instantly qualified his works DN4 on pole position at 1min 14.5secs, a lap average of 118.82mph, 0.6sec faster than his team-mate George Follmer on the outside of that front row. They finished imperiously, first and second, Follmer setting fastest race lap, beating the McLaren M20 of Scooter Patrick, Bob Nagel’s Lola T260, Lothar Motschenbacher’s McLaren M8F and Gene Fisher’s Lola T222. These Shadow DN4s were indeed the ultimate CanAm cars in the literal sense.

At Atlanta on July 7, Follmer pipped Oliver for pole position, 1.1secs quicker than the Englishman. But for the two-part race overall, it was ‘Ollie’ who won again from Follmer in another DN4 1-2 result. Watkins Glen on July 14 saw Follmer taking his second consecutive pole position, again a second faster, but was beaten yet again come raceday – and ‘Ollie’ now had two consecutive fastest race laps to his name. Mid-Ohio followed, on August 11 – Brian Redman stealing pole in the Porsche 917/30KL with Follmer and Oliver second and third fastest. On raceday Oliver won for the fourth consecutive time – beating Brian Redman in the Porsche, while George Follmer opted out of the race after taking the lead, setting fastest race lap, but then losing a fender-jarring duel with his team-mate.

At Elkhart Lake on August 25 the Universal Oil Products (UOP) sponsored black Shadows qualified 1-2, Follmer 0.6sec quicker than Oliver. They ran unopposed, they ran 1-2 throughout the heat race, but then both cars failed in the main race and Scooter Patrick won in his 1972 McLaren M20. George Follmer’s car sheared a half-shaft, Oliver’s engine blew apart – after he had set yet another fastest race lap.

That was the end of traditional CanAm competition. Jackie Oliver emerged as 1974 CanAm Champion Driver, with 82 points against runner-up George Follmer’s total of 45. And at the end of that season, at Watkins Glen as a precursor to that year’s Formula 1 World Championship-deciding United States Grand Prix, an exclusive match race was arranged for UOP Shadow’s three DN4 CanAm cars – over 15 laps for a $10,000 winner-takes-all prize. French Formula 1 UOP Shadow team driver Jean-Pierre Jarier took over the third car, and after just five laps of practice was just over 4 secs slower than Oliver and Follmer. The Englishman took pole position but in race-morning warm-up his car’s clutch failed, ‘buzzing’ his engine. In the match race itself George Follmer managed to break clear and Oliver’s engine lacked the edge to respond, while Jarier cantered round happily in his role of makeweight – the UOP Shadow-Chevrolet DN4s thundering into CanAm history, first, second and third.

This beautifully presented car, evidently concours-prepared before its long yet pampered duty on display within the Rosso Bianco museum at Aschaffenburg, is accompanied by a Bill of Sale, dated August 9, 1987 from Thomas Frederick to Peter Kaus.

This DN4 is an exquisitely beautiful example of the ultimate American CanAm sports-racing car, a certain head-turner at any exhibition or concours competition, and a simply fabulous proposition as a potential Vintage or Historic racing machine.

Saleroom notices

  • Mr Peter Kaus confirms that he bought this car from Mr Don Nichols on the expressed understanding that this was the DN4 chassis driven by Jackie Oliver “to win the 1974 CanAm Championship title”.
The ultimate American CanAm works team contender,1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider  Chassis no. DN4-2A
The ultimate American CanAm works team contender,1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider  Chassis no. DN4-2A
The ultimate American CanAm works team contender,1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider  Chassis no. DN4-2A
The ultimate American CanAm works team contender,1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider  Chassis no. DN4-2A
The ultimate American CanAm works team contender,1974 AVS Shadow-Chevrolet DN4 CanAm Sports-Racing Spider  Chassis no. DN4-2A
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