I don’t recall ever being especially enamored with Chaparral Cars growing up. I’m not sure I even knew about Jim Hall’s bizarre-engineering-funhouse before I played Gran Turismo 6 and wondered what that ugly, boxy fan car thing was. I actually liked the looks of the Chaparral 2D, but that other thing? Ew.
As a lifelong Corvette fan, I’m sure I read Hall’s name in a book somewhere, but it didn’t really stick with me. Somehow it never sunk in that my beloved Chevrolet had a lot to do with a fellow Texan’s racing program, and that said Texan was at the forefront of aerodynamic technology in the 1960s. None of that really meant anything to me as a kid… and really didn’t even a couple years ago.
But I now find myself obsessed with those goofy Chaparrals. They were unusual, but they were ahead of their time. They didn’t always win, but other builders certainly took notice of what Hall was doing. Even when it seemed like everything had been figured out in race car building, Hall still went and built an innovative Indy 500 car — and won!
There’s just something special about those Road Runners. The original Road Runners. I don’t care if Plymouth licensed the name/likeness/sound from Warner Brothers. Or that Hall bought the name from the California company that built the original Chaparral 1. A Chaparral IS a roadrunner — and a Texas roadrunner at that.
I’ve been waiting to buy these two Hot Wheels Chaparral casts for awhile. They’re not hugely popular or especially rare and eBay prices are pretty cheap, but I always hate paying $6 in shipping for a single $1-2 cast. I was hoping I’d find a package deal or find somebody I could trade with, but I never had the luck. I finally gave up a couple weeks ago and just nabbed the 2 and 2D off eBay.
The Chaparral 2 was Hall’s first all-in-house Chaparral design and build after he bought the rights to the name from Troutman and Barnes, builders of the front-engined Chaparral 1 Hall raced in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Of course calling it an entirely in-house design isn’t exactly correct since it was heavily influenced by under-the-table support from General Motors and Chevrolet. The early Chaparrals were arguably the real racing versions of the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette GS-II research vehicle that was cursed to testing-only by GM’s ban on racing. I mean just look at the two cars…
The 2D was one of Hall’s more internationally successful Chaparral evolutions. It won the 1,000 km Nurburgring in 1966 with (noted American) Phill Hill and Joakim Bonnier driving and it was the first Chaparral to turn laps at Le Mans. It did 111 laps before retiring. A 2F — itself a winged evolution of the closed-cockpit 2D — made it 225 laps the next year before the Frenchies banned big block engines. Hall largely stuck to America and Can-Am cars after 1967.
The 2G is the only other true Chaparral car Hot Wheels has made, but I haven’t found the right one just yet. There’s the Chaparral Camaro Trans-Am car (from the Canada-only ROADRCR series), but that’s not exactly the same.
I’m also waiting for them to make a 2J, but they haven’t released a new Chaparral casting since the 2D in 2003 (the 2 was first released in 1998). Given the lack of demand for these older casts on eBay, I’m sure Hot Wheels doesn’t see much reason to add to the collection.
That’s really too bad because these are quite nicely done and are excellent tributes to an innovative race car builder.