Race Behind the Race: The Logistics of Formula 1

The most famous Merlyn 11A became known retrospectively as the "Magic Merlyn". Chassis number 238 was owned and driven by a young Emerson Fittipaldi in 1969. Fittipaldi drove his 11A for less than a full season before distinguishing himself and moving on to Formula 3. By the end of 1970 he had won his first Formula One race. Fittipaldi sold his 11A to Colin Vandervell, son of the famous engine bearing mogul. Colin Vandervell drove chassis number 238 to many race victories in 1970, and swept the British Formula Ford championships. Vandervell then sold that very same Merlyn 11A to a youngster named Jody Scheckter. Scheckter only won one of his eleven races in the Magic Merlyn, but he credits the car and his time racing it while simultaneously working at the CRD works for teaching him the subtle art of car set-up and handling. Scheckter followed Fittipaldi to Formula One, where both men ultimately won world championships.

Through the early seventies Merlyn remained in the top echelon of Formula Ford constructors. Ultimately however, tool and die work would became a much more lucrative part of the company's business. In 1979 the Haywards decided to withdraw from racecar production. CRD Tool and Engineering Limited remains in business to this day and still offers Merlyn spare parts.

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Engine coolant was originally routed through frame tubes, but now the tubes have been capped off.


This large, aluminum crossflow radiator is a modern upgrade.


Airflow from the radiator core is diverted off to either side, and exits at suspension openings.


Dual Girling master cylinders with bias bar.


Only very minimal tuning of front suspension geometry is feasible because the control arms have
fixed-length ends instead of threaded Heim joints in ten of twelve possible positions.
This particular Heim joint appears to be adjusted to the very limit of its range.


Koni aluminum bodied double adjustable coilover shock absorbers and Eibach springs.


Cut-down steering rack.


This nifty steering adapter has a left-hand female thread and a right-hand male thread to make
toe adjustments quick and simple. Just rotate the adapter to change its installed length.


Triangulation, the installation of frame members that span rectangular bays to connect opposite nodes,
provides a great boost to chassis rigidity and strength. Without adequate triangulation, welded joints are
more heavily stressed. A distinctive feature of Merlyn 11/11A frames is a peculiar out-of-plane diagonal
that spans from the top lefthand corner of the front bulkhead to the righthand edge of the dashboard.


Another way to triangulate a four bar linkage is to install a stressed skin. Here, both sides of the
footbox have steel sheetmetal stitch-welded into place. If these panels had extended rearward down
the length of the driver compartment, they would've been in clear violation of Formula Ford rules.
(Formula Ford rules proscribed 6-inch or greater rivet spacing when side panels were applied.)

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In overview, the Merlyn 11A rear suspension looks similar to nearly every "Formula car" of its era:
inverted lower wishbones, single top links, and twin adjustable trailing links.


All eight rear suspension pick-up points on the Merlyn 11A frame are in single shear.
Contrast this, for example, with son ¹ where all eight Heim joints are
supported by double shear connections. It's a tiny design detail, but an important one.


Koni aluminum bodied double adjustable coilover shock absorbers and Eibach springs.


Rubber drive donuts were exclusively specified by Formula Ford class rules. In today's world, CV joints
would seem an appealing option because they're maintenance free and they should last much longer.


Merlyn's proprietary cast magnesium rear uprights, and an adjustable anti-roll bar.

Dave Fairchild's 1969 Merlyn 11A Formula Ford Race …
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