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Group C: The Rise and Fall of the Golden Age of Endurance Racing: Cars and Constructors Part 5

Submitted by on September 13, 2019

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

In this latest instalment of our Group C retrospective, we look back to the efforts of Ford and Gebhardt as they contested the World Sportscar Championship between 1983 and 1991.


Ford entered Group C with the C100, a car designed by Len Bailey and introduced in 1981. The car was initially destined to be a Group 6 contender, although it ran later in Group C. Unfortunately, reliability problems led to the C100 being unable to reach its potential.

As Bailey wasn’t satisfied, he left the project prior to the development of an uprated version and was followed by Tony Southgate. Although several parts of the car were redeveloped, Ford decided to stop the project.

After the demise of the project, Zakspeed decided to develop the car themselves. The German motor racing team modified one of the chassis into C1/4. This car was powered by a 1.8-litre turbo engine as used in their Group 5 Ford Zakspeed Capri Turbo, sat on a stiffer chassis and benefited from improved aerodynamics. Zakspeed would further develop the C100, eventually producing the C1/8 which was powered by a 4.0-litre Cosworth DFL.


Günther and Fritz Gebhardt, leading German producers of high speed conveyor systems, turned their attention to Group C cars during the early ’80s. Initially they produced the Gebhardt JC842 and JC843 for the 1983 and 1984 24 Hours of Le Mans, scoring top ten finishes.

In 1987 the Gebhardt name disappeared, reemerging in the early ’90s when the Gebhardt C91 flirted with both the IMSA Championship and the FIA Sportscar World Championship. In 1991 the C91 entered the American IMSA Championship powered by a 2.1-litre turbocharged Audi engine. Using the 2.1-litre engine, the car was allowed to enter the GTP category.

With the help of MOMO, the C91 made three appearances at Topeka, Watkins Glen and Road America. Its best result was a 17th place at Topeka, driven by Gianpiero Moretti.

Following that season, Gebhardt Motorsport began flirtations with the FIA World Sportscar Championship. In order to enter this category it was necessary to assemble a 3.5-litre engine with an atmospheric displacement, so the turbocharged 2.1-litre Audi was replaced by the 3.5-litre Ford Cosworth V8 DFR.

The car was driven by Almo Coppelli and Frank Kraemer, scoring a fourth place at the Monza 500 km race. One more participation in the 500 Kilometers of Silverstone would follow, but after just two laps the engine broke. That same year they made one last run at the Nürburgring for the Interserie Championship, finishing in 10th place.

This was the last time the Gebhardt C91 was seen. In 1998 Gebhardt replaced the bodywork with an open roof and ran at the South African round of the FIA World Sportscar Championship at Kyalami. By that time the car had been renamed the Gebhardt F4. In 1999 Gebhardt participated in four tests, but the project was eventually scrapped.

In 2005 the car was purchased by a new owner in the United Kingdom. From that time it was completely restored to its previous specification with an 580 hp 3.5-litre Cosworth V8. Seen pictured above is chassis 901 pictured at the 2018 Le Mans Classic and illustrated below is the same car seen in the pits at the 2017 Spa Classic.

Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

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