Andy Gilberg and his March Cars

  • story by David M. Brown
  • photos by courtesy Andy Gilberg
  • posted on 05/2024
  • posted in: Great Garages

Andy Gilberg cherishes his collection of March race cars.

He was about 14, and his uncle, the track announcer, invited him to an SCCA race in Donaldsonville, Georgia. Gilberg saw a couple of Lola Mk3 Formula Jrs, a Lotus 23 and an Elva Mk 7. “I was smitten.”

Many years later, he maintains a collection of vintage racers in Cumming, Georgia, with seven complete vehicles and two under construction.


Until he graduated from high school, Gilberg lived in Tallahassee, Florida, “hanging out with car and motorcycle delinquents,” he recalls. He graduated from engineering school in the spring of 1970 with a bachelor’s of science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State.

Planning for the summer of 1970, he applied for work with many race car manufacturers; the drawing room at British Racing Motors (BRM), a former British Formula 1 racing team in Bourne, England, offered him a job. About a week before leaving for England, a letter arrived, noting the company had reconsidered and the position would not be available. He tossed the letter in the trash and went anyway. When he arrived, he said he didn’t know anything about the retracted offer; that got him a draughtsman job for 25 pounds per week.

On the weekends, he attended some motoring events with racers he met at a local garage in Bourne. One was the nonchampionship F1 event at Brands Hatch, where he saw legends Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon driving the first March 701s. He became fascinated by the inverted wing-profile fuel tanks on the cars, Peter Wright’s design. Wright later helped design the Lotus 78 and 79, the first F1 cars to be designated as “ground effects” cars. These don’t have the flat bottoms that were traditional before about 1978; they use an underbody shaped like an inverted wing to create a venturi effect that sucks the car down to the pavement and enhances traction. “Peter Wright and Tony Rudd had been employed by BRM but were let go the season before I arrived. They had started construction of an inverted wing car, which I was able to see on its construction frames.”


Following the summer in England, he began his racing career in Formula Fords. He bought his first race car, a Titan Mk5 Formula Ford, in the summer of 1970 and began racing it the following season. He continued to compete with Formula Ford cars in the SCCA through 1979.

From the end of 1970 through 1971 he attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, where he earned a masters in mechanical engineering. Then, in Dearborn, Michigan, he worked for six years in the Safety Research area for the Ford Motor Company. During a year off (1972–1973), he became the engineering editor of Competition Press and Autoweek in California.

“I fell in love with the March F-Atlantic cars of the mid to late 1970s and the Indy cars of 1980s. I could not afford them, unfortunately, so eventually, when I was ready to graduate from FF, I decided to retire,” he recalls. Gilberg then sold his second race car (a Zink FF) and moved to Atlanta to work as an engineering consultant doing vehicle fire analysis and accident reconstruction.


Rollover accidents became his specialty. These are highly correlated with ejection and unwanted door openings, he explains. That led him to research in door-latching systems and hinge hardware, which is what he is best known for (see his SAE papers: 880067; 980028; 2002-01-0689; 2004-01-0737; 2009-01-0073).

After two decades into a professional engineering consulting career, he hired an assistant, Jeremy Buckingham, a British expat who began his career with March. He helped with Gilberg’s day job and with the vintage Royale RP20 F2 car he was racing on the weekends.

One day, he saw an ad in the back of Racer magazine for “March car drawing sets.” He showed it to Buckingham, who responded, “They won’t be able to sell car sets.” As a former March employee, Buckingham knew that March car drawing sets were an amalgam made for each car, and those carried over from earlier cars.


The drawings were owned by one of the people who liquidated March, and he was not aware of the problem he had created for himself; he already had taken deposits on 14 car sets, Gilberg recalls. After six months of negotiation, Gilberg secured 33,000 hand-drawn originals which took years to repair, organize, catalog and scan. He now assists March owners by supplying the reprinted drawings they need for restoration and repair.

His current collection:

March 693 –– This is the very first March, chassis #1, from 1969. Ronnie Peterson and James Hunt both drove it in Formula 3 competition. Peterson was generally recognized as the fastest F1 driver in the 1970s, and James Hunt was F1 World Champion in 1976. “The car is closest to my heart, but it’s difficult to drive due to its very narrow power band,” Gilberg says.


March 761B-2 –– The most satisfying car to drive is the 761B, which has had five or six different identities as a front-line F1 car. It was one of six 761s built during the 1976 season. 761-1 had four tubs that year, but by the end of the year it had ceased to exist on anything except a carnet and a chassis plate. It received the tub from 761-3 (which had two tubs during the season) for the Swedish GP and, after a crash at the Nürburgring, was rebuilt with tub #761-10, an inventory number never associated with a car.

For the winter of 1977, it was rebuilt as the press version of the 2-4-0, March’s six-wheeler F1 car. It was identified as “the press version” because it was demonstrated for the press during the winter (on a rainy day) without drive installed for the rear axle tires. It was then dismantled in the spring and used as the basis of 761B-2.

At mid-season 1977 Arturo Merzario purchased the car; it was further modified and changed from its Hollywood livery to all red and redesignated a “Merzario.” It continued life as an active F1 car into the 1978 season. Around 2000, Simon Hadfield, Merzario’s original mechanic, restored it mechanically. It was later acquired by racing service provider Scott Drnek in the San Francisco Bay area who returned it to its original Hollywood livery. Its current configuration and livery is how it presented during the beginning of the 1977 season.


Gilberg, who had previously seen the car under restoration in Simon Hadfield’s shop, purchased it in 2005. The tub has never been drilled for a chassis plate, but he has the plate for 761-3, which also has never been drilled for rivets but does have the residue of double stick tape on its back.

The Royale RP20 –– This is the only Royale semi-monocoque F2 car designed by Dave Beacon; The Royale RP20 F2 car is also one of one built in 1973. Although finished too late in the season to compete in many events, this car was tested by Tony Trimmer and Tom Pryce, both F1 drivers in the 1970s, Gilberg says, and it has raced in Formula 2 in Europe and in the USA in Formula Atlantic and Formula B as well as vintage and historic events.

March 87C-25 Indy car –– Due to its position “on the bubble” as the last-place qualifier for the 1987 Indy, it received more coverage in the TV broadcast of the race than any other car except the winner, Al Unser’s March 86C. Steve Chassey worked the car from 33rd up to 13th place before the engine self-destructed.


Swift DB2 00788, a.k.a. “the Black Lobster” –– This car was liveried to pay tribute to the famous March Red Lobster GTP car from 1983 driven by Dave Cowart and Kemper Miller. The 2-liter sports racer was based on the 1971 Ford Capri engine. Gilberg is planning to construct a new chassis for this car.

1972 Lotus Europa, his third Europa and fourth Lotus –– Sam Nelson, the well-known engine builder and rally driver, built the still solid engine.

2004 Mazdaspeed Mazda Miata turbo –– a street driven track car Gilberg uses at Atlanta Motorsport Park.


March 741 –– This replica F1 car is under construction in Gilberg’s shop. Chuck Cornelison, formerly an engine specialist for Roger Penske, is rebuilding its DFV Cosworth engine.

The collection is not open to the public.

If you have a GreatGarage and would like it to be considered for an upcoming issue, please email