John Nicholson

From Auckland in New Zealand, John Nicholson made his name as an engine-tuner, and at the start of 1973 went into business in partnership with McLaren to prepare Cosworth DFV engines. The relationship resulted in World Championship success for Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976.

In his spare time Nicholson was a racer and won the 1973 and 1974 Formula Atlantic titles in Britain, driving for Lyncar. He took part in the 1975 British Grand Prix driving a one-off Lyncar Formula 1 car, which was a typical Cosworth kit-car of the era. The car was later modified considerably and used in 1976 and 1977 by Spain's Emilio de Villota in the British F1 series. By then Nicholson had lost interest and had turned to powerboat racing to get his kicks.

His engine company, however, continued to prepare Cosworth DFVs for F1. It also branched out into sports car racing with an IMSA programme with BMW engines in 1978 and 1979 when the company decided to take on the Porsche 935s with its BMW 320is, being driven by the likes of David Hobbs and Derek Bell.

At the end of 1980 Nicholson-McLaren Engines became independent of the new McLaren International and as the DFV faded from Formula 1 it turned its attention to preparing engines for Group C2 sports cars and was briefly involved in Formula 3 with the Saab engine. In 1988 the company began preparing Formula 3000 engines and won the title that year with Roberto Moreno. There were further championship successes in 1993 with Olivier Panis; 1994 with Jean-Christophe Boullion and 1995 with Vincenzo Sospiro. The engines were also used by Spice Engineering to win the World Sportscar Championship in Group C2.

In addition the firm supplies engines to a variety of different racing series such as hillclimbs and historic racing. Now based in Wokingham, the company is working on the development of engines with alternative fuels.