SOLD 04/23

1963 LeGrand
Mk1 "Cheetah"

Bring a Trailer NO RESERVE auction In Progress: One of six Mk1s built to compete in 1964 SCCA Formula Four, extensively restored, BMW-powered with factory-widened suspension, presented in it's 1964 livery. Race-ready and on the button!

  • VIN8
  • Exterior ColorRed
  • Interior ColorBlack
  • MileageTMU
  • Engine1043cc air-cooled BMW boxer-twin
  • Transmission4-speed manual
  • StatusSold
  • StockFJ2735


1963 LeGrand Mk 1 “Cheetah” Race Car (Auction ends Monday April 24th at 2:00pm)

Chassis Number – 8
Exterior Color – Red
Interior Color – Black
Engine Type – 1043cc air-cooled BMW boxer twin
Gearbox – 4-speed manual
Current Miles – TMU

Highlights of This LeGrand

- Race-ready restoration with engineering upgrades by original team member
- One of six built to compete in the 1964 SCCA Formula Four Season
- Offered with trailer, extensive spares, and period documentation

General History

In the late 1950s sports cars and competition racing was becoming a growing industry for enthusiasts all over the world. Nowhere was this more prevalent than North America where race tracks were flooded with privateers assembling newly developed race cars for rapidly growing sanctioned events. In November 1963, the Formula Racing Association (FRA, largely a west coast operation) announced in Sports Car Graphic magazine, a new set of regulations for the 1964 season. “Formula Four” allowed for a maximum displacement of 750cc and a minimum weight of 440lbs (200kg). These parameters opened a wide range of possibilities for clever builders. Best of all, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), a national entity, embraced the classification. One of the privateers excited about participation in the new class was Alden “Red” LeGrand. A dedicated racer and nascent builder, LeGrand had just completed his first production race car, a layout that matched quite well to the newly announced Formula Four regulations. Using an 80 hp BMW boxer-twin air-cooled engine, the lightweight frame and body tipped the scales at exactly 440lbs. Originally named “Cheetah” LeGrand later officially changed the name to “Mk1”.

History of This LeGrand

This example was originally purchased in 1964 by Phyllis Gaylord of Pasadena, California. Bearing the LeGrand chassis plate “No. 8”, built July 1963, it is one of six Mk1’s built by Red LeGrand. As part of marketing his business, LeGrand gave customers and the press the impression that Formula Four was in demand. Though LeGrand, known to stretch the truth about production, claimed that as many as 25 cars were under construction, 10 in Los Angeles alone, only six cars were constructed in the original production run. LeGrand did offer “kits”, several of which were sold to private builders, including one completed in 2012. After her purchase, Phyllis Gaylord successfully raced this car in 1964 at Pomona and Willow Springs and in Santa Barbara in 1965. She is mentioned in the February 1965 issue of Sports Car Graphic and is also pictured with the car in the August 1965 issue of SCCA’s Sports Car magazine, photos of which are included in the gallery.

Although Formula Four was off to a great start, it lacked momentum, was unable to raise larger sponsorships, and the sanctioning bodies were rapidly becoming aware that class consolidation would benefit all categories. In February 1965, the SCCA announced the 1966 season would consist of Formula A (3,000cc, 1100lbs), Formula B (1,600cc, 848lbs), and Formula C (1100cc, 750lbs). 750cc Formula Four cars were unable to compete without radical and costly redesigns. Although Phyllis continued to campaign her LeGrand through 1966, she eventually returned to her first love, Alfa Romeos, and in 1967, sold the LeGrand to John Griffiths, the Mk1 draftsman employed at LeGrand.

After Griffiths purchased this car, he and LeGrand modified the front suspension from "inboard rocker" to traditional A-arms and slightly widened the track. Although these improvements greatly enhanced the handling, Griffiths never raced the car at sanctioned events, instead preferring to use it as a test bed for future project ideas. In 1969, Griffiths sold the car to Warren Wickes where it is believed to have remained for quite some time before appearing again under Wickes ownership as a vintage race car. Logbooks accompanying the car show that Wicks ran the car at Palm Springs in 1987, but otherwise mothballed the car until 1996, when it was purchased by Mike Duffey. Mike undertook a full restoration, replacing the aging 700cc BMW air-cooled flat-twin sedan motor with a 1 Liter air-cooled flat-twin sourced from a 1981 BMW R100 motorcycle. This engine retained the same 80hp horsepower but offered the distinct advantage of greater reliability at high revs, ease of parts sourcing, and pump gas operation. Duffey campaigned the car with the SCCA at Laguna Seca and with CSRG at Sears Point and Portland in 1997 and 1998. Duffey eventually sold the car to Jerry Burr in 2000. Burr campaigned the car with CSRG for an impressive 20 years, at Sears Point and Thunderhill, HMSA at the Wine Country Classic (2005-8), and the Monterey Historics (2008). Under Burr’s ownership, this LeGrand was featured as a 2009 “BaT Exclusive” article. Eventually, Burr retired from racing in 2019, selling the car to the current consigning owner. Under current ownership this car was extensively researched and painstakingly restored, making every effort to return it in exacting detail to its 1964 competition livery. In 2020, during the restoration process, the current owner was delighted to meet John Griffiths, LeGrand’s draftsman and second owner of this car. Griffiths proudly produced a picture of the car from his wallet, taken at Riverside in 1968, having carried it with him every day since. Griffiths offered reference information, expertise, and valuable drawings to the current owner as part of his contribution to the restoration process.

Under current ownership this car most recently raced at Sonoma with CSRG (March 25, 2023). An in-car video of this race is available for viewing. Prior to the event, a nut and bolt was performed by John Buddenbaum. The engine and gearbox have been built by an expert familiar with BMW twins including the carburetors, ignition, specially crafted stainless-steel exhaust, while also addressing the tanks, suspension, hydraulic lines, and numerous other components on the car. The engine is built to redline at 9,500 rpm. The gearbox is a BMW 700 4-speed with reverse locked out. In this application, the gearbox is now cleverly mounted upside down and backwards with the breather added to the former bottom of the case, with the former inspection hole now serving as an efficient main mount. The gear set currently in the car is the rare “sport” set which is ideal for tracks like Sonoma where second and third gear take advantage of the 9,500 rpm engine redline. A chart diagraming the gears and shift points is included in the image gallery.

Dates for major consumable components:

Tires - purchased new in 2019, two race weekends of use
Brake pads/calipers/master cylinders/stainless steel lines - purchased new in 2019, two race weekends of use
Safety Belts - good through end of 2023
Fire suppression system - purchased new in 2019, recertified in 2022
Fuel bladder - custom built by FuelSafe in 2019, foam filled
Battery - purchased new in 2022

Current Condition of this LeGrand

Today this LeGrand presents in excellent condition throughout. The restoration has been performed to a very high standard including the gleaming red paint accented by white stripes and #3 circular white discs. The quality of the paint is very nice draping several removable body sections held in place using spring tension fasteners. In person, the LeGrand has an almost impossibly low center of gravity, is remarkably compact, and must be considered one of the finest examples of engineering minimalism. Under the engine cowling, the BMW cylinders peek out from behind the rear suspension arms, hinting at the origins of the powertrain. The dramatically low stance, staggered size Dunlop racing tires, and exposed suspension contribute to the dynamic and innovative visual presentation. The rear view is all business with the engine and exhaust viewed through the open rear bodywork and expansive rear track suspended by polished suspension. Beautifully finished upper and lower suspension arms, wrap around windscreen, BMW nose emblem, and cast wheels are among the many features of this rare LeGrand.

The cockpit is purposeful and clearly laid out with a compact contemporary Racetech binnacle sporting three gauges in a satin black cluster. Inside, CSRG event stickers flank the driver’s seat, draped with Willans competition seat belts approved through the end of 2023. The interior is finished with a removable small diameter wood-rimmed steering wheel. With the body panels easily removed, in a matter of minutes, the beautifully constructed chassis is visible, proving once again the magic of this innovative lightweight construction combined with superb restoration. Visual inspection of the various suspension components, four-wheel Airheart disc brakes, coil over suspension, and compact gearbox show that considerable specialized attention has been afforded to make this car the best it can be both mechanically and cosmetically. Polished hardware, painted components, and a purposefully detailed BMW twin engine are all in keeping with the quality of mechanical work also performed to a high level.
Beautifully prepared, with only minimal hours since recently serviced, this LeGrand is a rare and wonderfully prepared example of a brief era in racing that captures all the glory of motorsports competition when clever engineering, grit, and determination put some of the most innovative race cars on track all over the world. This LeGrand is ready to continue the exciting legacy of period racing at many of the eligible vintage racing events held throughout the world.

Included with this Car

This LeGrand Mk1 is offered with a single axle tilt-back trailer, a set of four tiedown straps, a spare set of wheels, numerous suspension spare parts (including the original “rocker” type front suspension), hoses, hardware, gaskets, fasteners, and misc. sorted and labeled parts. Additional items include a spare transmission, various LeGrand branded suspension upright castings, spare disc brake rotors, spare hoses, exhaust, a display placard, numerous period documentation and magazines, digital copies of photos showing the restoration, a set of Griffiths’ LeGrand chassis drawings, and a logbook dating back to 1987.
This LeGrand is a race car and not intended for street use. It is sold on Bill of Sale only.

The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.

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Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608