4. Ensign N176

S1831 Ensign N176 No.22 French GP 1976 – Patrick Nève

Mo Nunn and his Ensign-team were not in a good financial situation from the start (1973, please see blog entry Nr.2). However, the small British racing team turned out well with the N176 in 1976. And with the engagement of Chris Amon who could already gain a lot of experience in 88 Grand Prixs, Nunn and his team were looking forward to a promising season. But the N176, constructed by Dave Baldwin, couldn’t be expected soon. Only at the fifth race in Belgium it had its debut. Amon remembers: “The car was as good as a McLaren in regard to the chassis, maybe even better. But it had one problem: It was fragile.” Furthermore the team had a lack of financial resources, confirmed Amon. “If Ensign has had more budget, the car would have been less fragile.” Within five attempts Amon could reach the checkered flag only one time (13. position in Monaco). At the first race in Zolder the New Zealander had an accident with the N176, because one front wheel got loose; in Sweden, when Amon has achieved position four already, he flew off, because the rear suspension collapsed. As a result Amon, who reached 5 times a pole position, but could never win a race, had some vertebral injuries. At the French Grand Prix he had to take a break and Patrick Nève took place in the cockpit. But for the races at Silverstone (water leak) and at the Nürburgring Amon was participating again. But his own accidents and Niki Lauda’s fire accident at the German Grand Prix were the reason for Amon to quit being a racing driver. For the restart at the Nürburgring in 1976 he was not on the grid anymore. “I told to Nunn, I don’t want to drive a car which is constantly losing some important parts…”

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