Rally & Racing

Forgotten Legends
Leyton House

Photo credit: Wheelsage

It is the memory of that turquoise color that creates the legend of Leyton House. This name, a brand of an entrepreneur from the Land of the Rising Sun who chose to extend his business internationally through motorsport and to use it to champion Japanese drivers, made it all the way to becoming a Formula 1 manufacturer. 

The first sponsorship of Leyton House, in Japan, with the Mercedes 190E driven by Akira Hagiwara in Touring Car races. The turquoise colour immediately stood out for its originality

A short experience that lasted just two years between 1990 and 1991, when the turquoise single-seaters were the first design experience of the great talent of Adrian Newey, the father of all the current Red Bull World Champions.

European debut: in 1986, the turquoise Leyton House accompanied the Italian driver Ivan Capelli to success in the International F3000 Championship

But what exactly are we talking about? Well, it all started with Akira Akagi’s meeting with Ivan Capelli, the Italian driver who was making a name for himself in the F3000 International Championship, and whose team was in serious financial difficulty. 

Debut in Formula 1 in 1987 with March-Ford. The first point in the World Championships for Capelli and for the turquoise of Leyton House with a 6th place in Monaco

Akagi, who had also begun to look at European drivers after the tragic death of his Japanese Formula 2 and Touring Car driver, Akira Hagiwara during a private testing session, took this opportunity to help Capelli win the F3000 title. 

1988. Too many technical problems blocked the way to a better result in the Constructors’ World Championship standings, which could easily have been a 4th place

From there, the turquoise colour quickly arrived in F1, first with a March F1 car powered by a Judd engine for the 1987, 1988 and 1989 seasons, and then with Leyton House Racing in 1990 and 1991. Many happy flashes but above all several disappointments due most of the time to technical problems. 

Ivan Capelli with the first real Leyton House given the initials CG901 in 1990, created by Adrian Newey

The most important races coincided with the loss of victories that seemed certain, in particular at Estoril in Portugal in 1988, and at Paul Ricard in France in 1990, both of which finished with a second place. With Ivan Capelli and the Brazilian Maurício Gugelmin bringing home the results, a Japanese driver never got to drive a Leyton House. 

The young Adrian Newey, technical director of Leyton House, arrived from America where he had taken March to several victories in Formula CART, including the Indy 500

What could have been a very beautiful story, thanks above all to the talent of Adrian Newey who introduced very efficient aerodynamics on the car, was abruptly interrupted when the founder was implicated in a financial scandal involving the Fuji Bank in Japan and was soon arrested, which led to the disappearance of that magnificent turquoise colour, one that deserved far more glory and a much longer life.

1991. The new Ilmor V10 engine did not help Leyton House grow, as the clouds of the collapse of Fuji Bank forever removed the turquoise colour from Formula 1 tracks