1983 ARROWS A5/A6-1: THE FIRST ARROWS BUILT FOR A WORLD CHAMPION
For the 1983 U.S. Grand Prix Arrows team boss Jackie Oliver lured a Formula One World Champion out of retirement to race the Arrows A6. Australian Alan Jones had won the 1980 world title for Frank Williams’ team, only to retire a year later after a disappointing 1981 season. In order to get the twelve times GP winner on board, the team had to tackle a ‘minor’ problem; Jones wasn’t able to squeeze himself into the A6 narrow honeycomb cockpit.
Following a series of violent and fatal accidents, for 1983 the FIA had banned wing-shaped floors to generate ´ground effect´; the art of creating a low pressure area underneath the car to create more grip. During the 1982 season Swiss driver Marc Surer had debuted the ground effect Arrows A5-1, essentially the prototype for the Arrows A6-1, be it that the 1983 A6 became a 'flat bottomed' car. The 90-degree Cosworth V8-powered A6 started out just fine, with Surer finishing inside the points at the first race of the year. Brazilian Chico Serra brought it home in 9th to take a double top 10 finish for the British squad. For the second round of the season in Long Beach, California, Serra had to make way for Alan Jones, the first world champion to ever race an Arrows F1 car.
In 1970, Alan Jones, a successful go-kart racer down under, had travelled to the UK in pursuit of a racing career. He finished 2nd in the 1973 British F3 championship and made his debut in Formula One two years later. Jones raced for Graham Hill and John Surtees and won his first race in 1977 in a Shadow, handing the Shadow team its only F1-victory. From 1979 to 1981, driving for Frank Williams, Jones went on to win another eleven official Grand Prix races. Five of those came during his championship winning 1980 season. Frenchman Alain Prost, a rookie in Formula One that year, would later describe Jones as ‘the most fiery, powerful - even violent – driver‘ to ever compete against.
Jones had put on some weight after his retirement and was recovering from injuries sustained in a fall while horse riding. Doctors had inserted metal pins in both of his hips. When it was time for Jones to test the car he was unable to fit inside the A6 cockpit. That’s when the team decided to dust off Surer’s 1982 ground effect A5. The old aluminium A5 tub was fitted onto the A6 chassis and, to fit Jones, the team unceremoniously beat two bulges into both sides of the cockpit. Despite the effort, Jones’ return to racing proved unsuccessful and the Arrows team decided to continue the season with Surer and Serra.
This 1983 ARROWS A5/A6-1 was Jones’ spare car for the US Grand Prix West. He tested it in Willow Springs. It was raced by Surer in Imola, Monaco, Spa and Montreal, while Serra used it to compete in the 1983 French Grand Prix and the race of champions. Its current owner Arthur Bruckner from Austria restored it and had it painted into the one-off ‘Golia candy’ livery with which Arrows competed the 1983 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The 'Jones bulges' are still there.
During the TABAC Classic GP Assen Bruckner will demonstrate the car in the Formula Legends category.