At a recent sports memorabilia auction, amongst the football programmes and boxing gloves, I saw an interesting lot – the black nose cone and rear wing of a 70’s formula 1 car. The catalogue entry noted they were from a mid seventies Shadow race car driven by Welsh star Tom Pryce who had signed the nosecone. I remembered a bit about Shadow from my youth and even had the Corgi toy car. I also knew a little about Tom Pryce, principally that he died in an accident before he was able to properly make his mark. So thinking that the nose cone would look good hung from the wall of my garage I made bid and found myself the owner of both items.


Nosecone of Tom Pryce’s Shadow


Rear Wing of Tom Pryce’s Shadow

Once I got them home I decided to research exactly which Shadow car they came from and how they had ended up in a small auction in London. The auctioneer told me the vendor was an elderly lady who had asked him to clear her late husband’s garage. The nose cone and wing had been hung on the wall for a very long time. Her husband had been involved in running the British GP at Brands Hatch and had apparently collected other nose cones and memorabilia from other teams including Tyrell and McLaren. As such it seemed reasonable to assume that the cone was collected at Brands Hatch, but when?

The Anglo American Shadow team were primarily known for running their cars in the black livery of their main sponsor, the oil company UOP, with their logo emblazoned on the noses and the wings. However those I had bought, whilst black and carrying other sponsors logos (Good Year and Valvoline), did not have any reference to UOP. After UOP ceased sponsoring the team at the end of the 1975 season the team changed their livery from black to the red of their new sponsor. So when had they run in black cars without the reference to UOP? A trawl of the Internet revealed that Shadow continued to run their cars in a black livery sans the reference to UOP for most of the 1976 season before they obtained new sponsors. I even found some photos of Tom’s car in action, perhaps showing the actual parts I had bought.


Tom Pryce’s Shadow DN5B, 1976, Brazilian GP – on the way to a fine 3rd place finish


Tom Pryce’s Shadow DN5B, Monaco GP 1976, on the way to finish 7th

Tom’s car ran the same black non UOP livery at the British GP at Brands Hatch in 1976, the race famously won by Hunt before he was disqualified and the win awarded to Lauda. The controversy surrounding the race stemmed from a big pile up on the opening lap which damaged many cars and led to the race being restarted. Tom, who went on to finish a splendid 4th, could well have been involved in the accident. Both the nose cone and wing show damage – were they replaced before the restart and were the damaged parts left with the vendor’s husband as a souvenir? It seems likely to me.

Shadow were a major team for some time but never quite made it. Their best F1 GP result was a single win by Alan Jones in the Austrian GP in 1977. They eventually folded in 1980. Tom Pryce was widely recognised as a very talented driver. He won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in 1975. His best GP results were two 3rd place finishes at Austria in 1975 and Brazil in 1976. Tragically we will never know how good he would have been in a competitive car as he was killed in a freak accident that was not his fault at Kyalami during the 1977 South African GP. All of which makes the nose cone and wing I now own a poignant reminder of a great team and a great man.