The first Chaparral, a conventional front engined vehicle, was built by Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes in 1961.

In 1962 Jim Hall and Hap Sharp formed Chaparral Cars, Inc. and immediately began the design and construction of Chaparral 2, a mid-engined car with an aerospace inspired semi-monocoque fiberglass chassis. In it's first race at Riverside near the end of the 1963 season, Hall qualified Chaparral 2 on pole position with a new track record and after the first few laps of the race was a half mile ahead of the field when an electrical problem put him out of the race. Driving Chaparral 2, Jim Hall won the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) in 1964. With 25 starts in 15 events Chaparral 2 had scored seven overall wins, six seconds, and two thirds. In 1965 Chaparral 2 dominated United States road racing with 16 wins in 21 races, and its greatest win to date, the Sebring 12 hour race against top international competition.

In 1966 Chaparral introduced the 2E for the Can-Am series. With its high mounted wing it was the car that changed racing forever. It scored a one-two finish at Laguna Seca with Phil Hill and Jim Hall driving. 1966 also saw the Chaparral 2D in World Championship Endurance competition winning the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometers event, driven by Phil Hill and Jo Bonnier.

In 1967 Chaparral introduced the 2F, a high winged coupe for World Championship Endurance Racing. It set the fastest lap in five of its eight entries and won its final race at Brands Hatch.

In 1970 Chaparral introduced its most controversial car, the Chaparral 2J. This car had a separate engine to drive two fans that exhausted air from beneath the car to create suction down force. The car was quickly banned after sitting on the pole in three of its four starts.

In 1978 Chaparral won Indy with a Chaparral prepared Lola driven by Al Unser. For 1979 Chaparral decided to build its own Indy car, Chaparral 2K. Al Unser lead the race from the outside pole until 2K's transmission failed. In 1980 Johnny Rutherford won both the Indianapolis 500 and the USAC and Cart National Championships in 2K.

Chaparral 2, 2D, 2E, 2F 2H, 2J, and 2K, are now on permanent display in the Chaparral Gallery of the Permian Basin Peroleum Museum in Midland Texas.

In 2005, in partnership with his old Chevrolet R&D friend Jim Musser, Hall starts a new venture with the 2E Continuation Series.

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