Archive for the ‘F1’ Category

A McLaren MP4 TAG-Turbo was not a run of the mill testing sight at Porsche’s Weissach test track, so it is hardly surprising to see most of the workforce down tools for the occasion on 29 June 1983…

The race debut of a Porsche-turbo powered McLaren at Zandvoort in the hands of Niki Lauda is only two months away. On this fine, cool day John Watson put McLaren’s test hack MP4-1D TAG through its paces for the first time at Porsche’s renowned test track.

 

McLaren created a new paradigm with the debut of the carbon-fibre tubbed MP4 Ford in 1980. Whilst the cars were the best of the Ford brigade going into 1983, 550 bhp of normally aspirated Cosworth DFY V8 was no longer a match for 700 bhp plus turbo-charged Brabhams, Ferraris and Renaults. The ‘boiling tea kettle’ days of the first Renault V6 turbo-charged engines were a long time in the past.

McLaren International’s Directors pondered the available engines they may have been able to acquire or lease but design chief John Barnard rejected those as either compromised designs- the BMW-four and Renault V6 or insufficiently developed and compromised- the Hart-four.

The very focused Barnard held sway over matters technical and was determined, as Colin Chapman had been with Keith Duckworth in developing the Ford DFV, to very tightly prescribe the overall layout, dimensions, location of ancillaries and attachment points to the chassis of his new engine.

It was the era of ground effect tunnels, McLaren’s engine had to be designed in such a way that their efficiency was not compromised given how critical aerodynamics were to the overall performance of the car.

Watson in a Ford engined MP4/1C Ford DFY at Monaco in 1983, just to remind us of what McLaren’s primary contender looked like in 1983. Despite running Ford DFY’s both cars failed to qualify as a result of poor handling on the Michelins they had on Thursday and rain on Saturday…Rosberg won in a Williams FW08C Cosworth

Porsche had more turbo-charged road and race experience than any other manufacturer at the time, as a consequence they had been approached to build an F1 engine by others on a customer basis but Ron Dennis’ pitch to Porsche’s R&D Chief Engineer Helmuth Bott in the winter of 1981/2 was different in that his enquiry was to ascertain the companies preparedness to build an engine for McLaren International, who would pay for it. A novel concept in motor racing of course where nobody wants to pay for anything.

In short order John Barnard wrote a tight specification of his requirements which outlined in detail a narrow engine with a small frontal silhouette, it’s exhaust plumbing raised high each side to clear the raised underfloors.

Doug Nye wrote that his requirements to Hans Mezger of Porsche’s engine design unit included the maximum crankcase width and height, and maximum width across the cam-boxes. Pumps for oil and water had to go to the front of the engine within its crankcase silhouette. Exhaust pipes had to leave the heads horizontally, not downswept so as to leave the underfloors high on both sides.

 

Nye goes on to explain that the engine had to be a stressed member of the chassis just as the DFV and it’s successors were- Barnard wanted it to pick up similarly to the chassis. He even specified a precise crankshaft height, the same as the DFV, to offer the best design parameters for the whole car. It could have gone lower but John had concerns about potential piping and underbody problems. He had concluded that a V6 would provide the optimum blend of size and power but sought Porsche’s opinion in that regard.

Porsche R&D were an organisation notorious for the cost of their services but eventually Ron Dennis signed a contract for design of the engine and prototype build after which the design rights would be McLaren International property. The time allocated was six months which gave Dennis the period in which to embark on a journey to find a commercial partner to fund the cost of the engines themselves and their ongoing development.

Porsche modelling determined a V6 was the best approach with an 80 degree included angle between the two banks of three cylinders the optimum in terms of structural strength of the block, primary balance and room within the Vee for ancillaries.

The quoted bore and stroke of the TTE-PO1 V6 motor was 82mm x 47.3 mm for a capacity of 1499cc. The design of course included four gear driven camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Traditional Porsche suppliers Bosch and KKK provided the sparks, fuel injection and two turbo-chargers. Quoted power was initially 600 bhp with peak power produced at between 10000 to 11500 rpm, total weight ready to pop into a McLaren chassis was 330 pounds.

Dennis approached a number of potentional backers, Mansour Ojjeh’s Techniques d’Avant Garde were the successful partner- TAG Turbo Engines was duly incorporated with the production contract signed by Porsche in December 1982. By that time the prototype engine had been humming away on a Weissach dyno since the eighteenth of that month…

The prototype engine was shown for the first time at the Geneva Salon in April 1983.

McLaren used a float of 15 engines in 1984, the TAG truck and Porsche technicians would have been very busy

 

 

Nye explains at length the adversarial and on many occasions difficult relationship between customer and client which extended to the testing of the engine. Porsche wanted to run the motor in a 956 test hack whereas McLaren sought all of the testing to be done in an F1 car.

Porsche went ahead anyway, little was learned by Niki Lauda and John Watson in the 956 prototype but ‘…Lauda drove very hard, ignoring the meagre safety facilities of the undulating test track. He revelled in the new engines smoothness after the Cosworth V8’s vibration. And there was no doubting the power “Incredible, Fantastic, just like being hit from behind by a bomb” Nye quoted Lauda as saying having tested the 956. Importantly, with both drivers doing plenty of miles, engine reliability was good.

The car Watson is testing in these shots is McLaren’s original prototype carbon fibre chassis MP4/1-1 with 1982 straight sided bodywork- converted into the turbo test hack it was dubbed MP4/1D.

Initial problems centred around excess turbo-lag which had been disguised in the much heavier 956 sports prototype, and oil consumption. Porsche set to in solving both problems, with changed KKK’s and exhaust sizes the lag fixes. At Silverstone on test Lauda was delighted to be whistling along Hangar Straight at 186 mph, far quicker than he had ever gone before.

A major battle then erupted within McLaren between Lauda who wanted the car to be raced immediately, on the basis that there was no substitute for the sorts of pressures of a race weekend, and Barnard who wanted to continue testing but take the time needed to refine the design of his 1984 package.

Lauda’s car in the Zandvoort paddock

 

Lauda in MP4/1E at Zandvoort, not a bad looking car for one knocked together very quickly (unattributed)

The politically astute, wiley Lauda lobbied sponsor Marlboro and prevailed, so ‘in six weeks our blokes built two cars- well one complete runner and one 85% complete- ready for Zandvoort’ said Barnard. The new cars were allocated the tags MP4/1E-01 and 02, they were based on former chassis, MP4/1C-05 and 06.

At Zandvoort ‘Niki was unbelievably quick on the straight (in MP4/1E) but basically the Cosworth wing package download was way deficient with turbo power. We cooked the brakes in the race, a function of the turbo car going about 30 mph faster down the straight than the Cosworth’ said Barnard.

The Dutch GP was won by Rene Arnoux’ Ferrari 126 from the sister car of Patrick Tambay with Watson’s Cosworth powered McLaren in third.

Zandvoort again, photos emphasise just how much space was taken up by the turbo-chargers and related ancilliaries in these 1.5 t/c cars

 

Lauda, MP4/1E in the Kyalami pitlane, mid October 1983. Lauda Q12 and DNF electrical on lap 71 of 77 whilst poor John Watson was disqualified for passing a couple of cars on the parade lap. Piquet won the race and took the drivers title, Brabham BMW the constructors one

McLaren and Porsche were away, there were huge Bosch fuel injection problems to solve to develop their ‘Motronic MS3’ electronic injection system to meet the fuel restriction rules of 1984 but the 1984 McLaren MP4/2’s triumphed, Alain Prost took the first race win in the opening  round of the championship in Brazil- and won seven GP’s but he still lost the title by a smidge to Lauda who won five races but had greater consistency throughout the year.

Prost took the title in 1985 racing an MP4/2B to five wins, with Lauda winning another in his final year of racing. Watching him retire after a minor crash in Adelaide caused by locking brakes whilst well in the lead was a real bummer in his very last race for we Australian Lauda fans!

Hans Mezger getting the lowdown from John Watson, Weissach

Zandvoort 28 August 1983, McLaren TAG race debut…

I

‘l am telling you Ronnie, ve vill schitt on zem all next jahr! Say nuzzinc to any of zem journalists!’

Renault’s Gerard Larousse looking very thoughtful at right rear and thinking ‘holy merde’ this thing will be quicker than a Matra air to ground missile- and it was.

‘I’ll bet I am going to pay for a few more of these Turbo thingies in the next few years!’ is perhaps what Dennis is thinking above.

The first ‘in the field’ KKK change perhaps?

 

More power, gimme more! is perhaps Niki’s exhortation.

The engine itself is tiny, note the water and oil coolers in the sidepods and beefy intercooler.

Another TAG-Porsche powered MP4 1983 shot above of Lauda during the European GP weekend at Brands Hatch in September- Q13 and DNF whereas Watson was Q10 and DNF accident. Nelson Piquet won in a Brabham BT52 BMW from Alain Prost’s Renault RE40 with Nigel Mansell’s Lotus 92 Ford Cosworth the best of the normally aspirated brigade.

Credits…

‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye

Getty Images- all Weissach photographs by Hoch Zwei

Tailpiece…

The Swabian Hills are alive with the sound of Vee-Six Turbo Music- Watson up in June 1983.

Ya kinda get the impression it was an important day in Porsche history as indeed it was. Ditto McLaren International…

Finito…

 

 

My theory is that there are only a relatively small number of ‘T-Intersections of Life’ decisions which are key in determining the paths which follow…

Its interesting to read Tony Davis’ biography (with Akos Armont who has directed the accompanying documentary due in cinemas early next year) of Jack and pick what those may be.

Johnny Schonberg’s wife and her pressure on him to give up racing in 1948 gave Jack his start- that it was a speedway car meant Brabham both got a taste of competition and also entered the sport in Australia at its professional end- that is he quickly realised there was a dollar to be made if you were good.

David Chamber’s suicide meant his Cooper T23 Bristol was available when it landed in Australia in 1953- Jack was able to buy it with his savings and assistance from his parents and REDeX. Whilst Jack was a name in speedway the RedeX Special put his name in lights on the circuits. Cooper inclined, he bought Peter Whitehead’s Cooper Alta to race in England- a shit-heap as it transpired, but he attracted the attention of the John and Charles Cooper with it when he moved to the UK, donned some overalls in Hollyfield Road, initially on an unpaid basis and six years later had bagged two World F1 Titles with the team.

Jack poses with Number 28, the Midget he and Johnny Schonberg built which was then powered by a 996cc 8/80 JAP engine. It’s his first race night in a 23 year career, Parramatta’s Cumberland Oval on 5 December 1947 (T Wright)

 

Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol REDeX Spl at Mount Druitt circa 1954. The sponsorship arrangement and advertising, not allowed by CAMS, caused Jack plenty of grief (Nye/Brabham)

Betty Evelyn Beresford was the right choice of Jack’s partner in life- she allowed Brabham to have absolute focus on his racing whilst she brought up the family of three boys- all successful racers themselves of course.

It transpires that Brabham was ‘Jack The Lad’ and not averse to a bit of Hanky Schpanky outside the matrimonial boudoir, this ultimately caused the end of his marriage in 1994. Jack’s second marriage to his secretary, Margaret Taylor, in 1995 is not explored in the book, a shame as she looked after him for over two decades but maybe this was simply too painful for the Brabham boys who unsurprisingly adored their late mother. Conversely, Gary Brabham’s charges and jail for child sexual offences in 2009 and 2016 are covered in brief, to the credit of Davis and the Brabhams.

The partnership between Ron Tauranac and Jack was key of course, this relationship dates back to 1951. Brabham involved him in consulting on major modifications to the Cooper T45/51 whilst he and his brother Austin were building the first series of Ralts before he came (home in a way, he is a Brit by birth) to England to commence Motor Racing Developments Ltd with Jack at the dawn of the sixties.

It transpired they needed one another too- Davis explores Jack’s ‘relevance deprivation syndrome’ and mental health after he retired to the bucolic splendour of outback Australia and Ron had been shafted in the sale of MRD to Bernard Charles Ecclestone within twelve months of Jack jumping a Qantas 707 to enjoy his boat on the Georges River.

Yeah, well you may well be the boss of McLaren in a decade cocko but to soften the front bar turn it the other way! Tauranac, Brabham and Ron Dennis at Monaco in 1970- BT33 Ford Cosworth, second after that last lap mistake- Jochen Rindt the winner in Lotus 49D Ford

 

Repco RBE640 2.5 litre ‘Tasman’ V8 in the back of Jack’s Brabham BT23A at Warwick Farm in the summer of 1967 (B Wells)

The precise start of Brabham’s relationship with Repco- when they gave him his first free part is unknown and never will be but from little acorns did big things grow. Jack saw close up Charlie Dean and his Repco Research Team and their work in building and racing the Maybachs, got a further sense of their facilities and capabilities in the manufacture of the Repco Hi-Power cylinder heads for the Holden ‘grey-six’ cylinder engine- designed by one PE Irving. At some stage, probably via Charlie Dean, Jack met ‘Dave’ McGrath, Repco Ltd CEO, Frank Hallam saw on opportunity to look after Jack’s Coventry Climax FPF’s in Richmond circa 1962, and the rest- a cuppla world titles is history.

The final T-Intersection call was to retire at the end of 1970- its significant in that Brabham pulled the stumps at the top of his game and was able to die in his Gold Coast bed, an opportunity Bruce McLaren, Piers Courage and Jochen Rind- statistics in 1970 did not have. Davis relates how Jack thought he still had a year or three in him but Geoff Brabham speculates that Brabham knew it was getting harder for an older guy to run at the front as cars became more aero dependent and developed greater G-forces. Jack was 44 in 1970, Ronnie Peterson was 26 to put the Australian’s challenge into some kind of competitive perspective…

She’ll be ‘comin down The Mountain, Easter Bathurst 1969. Brabham BT31 Repco RBE830 2.5 V8- its practice, he raced with the rear wing only- first place in his last commitment to Repco in Australia (D Simpson)

 

Betty, Jack and his self built monoposto, all enveloping bodied Cooper T40 Bristol during his championship F1 debut at Aintree in 1955. Happy times and the world at their feet (S Dalton)

This is the fourth book on Brabham but the first biographical account- what makes it different are the perspectives of Geoff and David Brabham, Ron Tauranac, Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Denny Hulme, Frank Matich and many others rather than the account being largely Jack’s perspective.

There is plenty of ‘nuts and bolts’ for we uber-enthusiasts, i do like Tony’s ‘Cooper T45 Climax’ rather than ‘Cooper’, much of the story will be familiar to those of us of a certain age but there are a heap of fragments which were new to me. What was interesting throughout the process- i need to declare a bias here as i was engaged twelve months ago to read and comment upon the manuscript along with a few others, was to get to know Tony and understand some of the commercial elements of publishing. The intended readership is much broader than you and i, targets extend to more casual observers and those from outside racing, i believe Tony has made that ‘straddle’ of ‘average punter’ to enthusiast masterfully.

Australian readers of the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review will be aware of Davis as a motoring writer but he is also a noted author of adult and kids fiction as well as a number of motoring books. He is the son of Pedr Davis, who turned 90 in November, one of the doyen of Oz ‘muttering rotters’ from the sixties to nineties.

After reading the first few chapters of the manuscript i rang Tony and advised him that he was a Perick! ‘Why?’, he enquired. ‘Because you write with a beautiful descriptive fluidity, and i have been made acutely aware of my own limitations’ i responded.

Do buy the book, its a great read over the festive season or otherwise!

‘Brabham- The Untold Story of Formula One’, published by Harper Collins, ISBN: 978 1 4607 5747 5 (hardback) and ISBN: 978 1 4607 1122 4 (ebook)

Photo and other Credits…

Terry Wright’s ‘Loose Fillings’, Stephen Dalton Collection, Dick Simpson, Getty Images, Nye/Brabham, Bruce Wells

Jack loved the races he did for Matra in 1970- all he had to do was rock up and drive rather than have responsibility for ‘the lot’.

Here he is in the MS650 3 litre V12 prototype during the Brands Hatch 1000km- he shared the car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise to twelfth, Jack’s best result was a win at Montlhery later in the year, the Paris 1000km, his co-driver on that occasion was Francois Cevert in an MS660.

Finito…

 

 

(unattributed)

Tony Gaze during a pitstop for plugs, HWM Alta 2 litre s/c, chassis ’52/107′ during the New Zealand Grand Prix, Ardmore January 1954…

Hersham & Walton Motors (HWM) came to prominence in the immediate postwar years. Based in New Zealand Avenue, Walton, where the business still is today as an Aston Martin dealership- the company was a partnership between two great motor racing enthusiasts – driver George Abecassis and engineer John Heath.

George made his name aboard a single-seater Alta pre-war. When racing resumed post conflict both Abecassis and Heath campaigned a variety of Alta single-seaters and sportscars. John Heath developed Alta-based sports-prototype cars in 1948-49 and since George Abecassis had been racing his postwar GP Alta internationally with success – the pair planned a team of dual-purpose Formula 2/sports-racing cars to campaign at home and abroad in 1950.

The duo were adept talent-spotters recruiting along the way Stirling Moss, Lance Macklin and little later Peter Collins.

In 1950 the new HWM works team of three, or four HWM-Alta ‘F2’ cars were entered in a hectic program of racing, the team was well organised and its cars competitive with all but the best Continental factory machines.

HWM’s mechanics, including such later prominent names as Alf Francis and Rex Woodgate were capable and dedicated to putting the cars on the grid. They worked horrendous hours, transporting the cars from race to race in epic journeys overcoming all odds.

George Abecassis, leaning on the fuel tank and John Heath at left with one of the single-seaters coming together at Walton, which one I wonder? (unattributed)

 

Men of the moment- HWM’s John Heath and George Abecassis Alta ‘GP1’ and Alta’s Geoffrey Taylor at Goodwood on 18 April 1949. George was 6th in the Richmond Trophy won by Reg Parnell’s Maserati 4CLT (S Lewis Collection)

 

Lance Macklin, HWM Alta F2, Crystal Palace Coronation Cup May 1953. Fourth in the race won by Tony Rolt’s Connaught A Type. Doug Nye attributes the sexy bodies of the HWM’s to Leacroft of Egham (Getty)

In a hand to mouth, time honoured existence, start, prize and trade-bonus money from one weekend’s racing financed the next, under Heath’s technical direction and leadership HWM built a fleet of Formula 2 single-seater team cars for 1951, followed by developed variants into 1952-53.

In face of Ferrari, Maserati, Connaught, Cooper-Bristol and others HWM results deteriorated as time passed, 1951 being the teams best season, but in 1952 Lance Macklin and Tony Rolt drove their HWM Alta’s home first and second in the prestigious BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone. The cars held together for two hours and won from the Emmanuel de Graffenreid Plate-Maserati 4CLT/48 and Rudy Fischer’s Ferrari 500.

The chassis campaigned in New Zealand was originally built as an F2 car in 1952 powered by an unsupercharged 2-litre 4-cylinder Alta engine and was later re-equipped with a supercharged GP Alta motor specifically for Formula Libre racing in New Zealand in 1954.

In 1952 HWM entered cars for George Abecassis, Peter Collins, Macklin, Stirling Moss, Paul Frere, Roger Laurent, Yves Giraud-Cabantous, Duncan Hamilton, Johnny Claes and Dries van der Lof- many of these drivers gained good start money in their home-country GP’s.

Lance, the ‘playboy’ son of Sir Noel Macklin was said to be the most stylish and glamorous British racing driver of that period, team-mate Stirling Moss credits him with having taught the new boy “an enormous amount, not just about racing, but also about how to enjoy life in general…”.

Chassis ‘52/107’ was predominantly the car raced by Macklin in 1952 and 1953.

Bonham’s spiel about ’52/107′ before its June 2016 sale relates that ‘Lance Macklin was relaxed about which car he drove – too relaxed according to George Abecassis. Each of the drivers had specific and often different requirements which extended to tyre pressures, final-drive ratios, seat position, they were not readily adjustable- bolted down, steering wheels etc. Macklin retained the pre-selector gearbox for the early part of 1953 as opposed to the ‘C’ Type Moss box adopted on the other cars.’

‘There is evidence of this on chassis ’52/107′ not seen on ’52/112′ the sister car. Macklin also had his logo ‘LM’ painted on the side of his car at some time in 1953. Finally the mechanics recorded plug types, pressures and gearing race by race for future use…Heath and Abecassis only appeared briefly for practice/racing and returned to the UK without corporate records. ‘52/107′ has the mechanics’ notes, scribbled in hand in a school note book, the car is recorded as Macklin’s car in several books and was confirmed personally by Tony Gaze as ’52/107′.

Tony Gaze in ’52/107′ in England date unknown but 1990’s perhaps (unattributed)

 

Macklin ’52/107′ date and circuit in the UK unknown (unattributed)

Macklin contested 1952 championship grands prix at Bremgarten, Spa, Silverstone, Zandvoort and Monza for a best of eighth, and six or seven non-championship races the best of which was the splendid BRDC International Trophy win at Silverstone in May.

He had a shocker of a run in 1953 starting six GP’s- his only finish was at Zandvoort where he was fifteenth, the run of DNF’s due to engine and clutch failures occurred at Spa, Reims, Silverstone, Bremgarten and Monza.

Macklin also contested a similar number of non-championship races as in 1952, his best was third at the Circuit de Lac in Aix-les-Bains and two fourths at Crystal Palace in the Coronation Trophy and Crystal Palace Trophy.

The ‘winningest’ cars in British non-championship 2 litre F2 races in 1953 were Connaught A Types and later in the year Cooper T23 Bristols.

It seems George Abecassis sent the ‘52/107’/Gaze combination to New Zealand out of simple commercial expediency.

He had the ex-Joe Kelly Alta ‘GP3′ sitting in the workshop- this car contested the 1950 and 1951 British GP’s, his view was that the supercharged 1.5 litre, four cylinder engine would form the basis of a good Formula Libre car when mated with one of his F2 chassis’.

Similarly the ‘GP3’ chassis fitted with a Jaguar engine was also saleable, in addition Macklin was moving to sportscars and George was frustrated with him.

On top of all of that, critically, the writing was on the wall for HWM and several other teams needing a competitive engine for the new F1 commencing on 1 January 1954.

The 2½ litre Climax ‘Godiva’ FPE V8 engine was not being proceeded with, Coventry Climax famously ‘took fright’ upon reading of the claimed outputs of their Continental rivals, and Alta’s Geoff Taylor had contracted exclusively with Connaught for the provision of his 2½-litre, DOHC four cylinder engine.

Commercially therefore, without a suitable F1 engine, sportscars made the greatest sense and so it was that HWM  made good money out of converting both HWM and Alta single-seaters into sportscars powered by Jaguar engines.

HWM never to let an opportunity to pass, proceeded with their plan albeit the 1.5 litre supercharged engine was upgraded by Taylor to 2-litres using the same bore and stroke as the 2 litre F2 units to improve reliability and power whilst simultaneously ensuring commonality of parts- bearings, pistons, rings and the rest for operators of the car in the colonies- a new crank was obtained from Laystall to suit.

Aussie fighter-ace Tony Gaze was chosen as the driver given his strong performances in his Alta, HWM and other cars since the war- his brief from George was a simple one, win a couple of races including the NZ GP if possible and then sell the car before returning back to Europe.

Looks major ‘dunnit- Macklin (or Peter Collins?) and the mechanics- perhaps pointing is Tony Rudd left in profile is Tony Gaze and ‘head to head’ alongside Tony is John Heath with ’52/107′ (unattributed)

 

Joe Kelly’s Alta ‘GP3’ during the 1950 British GP weekend at Silverstone- Geoffrey Taylor in the suit. Q19 and DNF, the race won by Nino Farina’s Alfa Romeo 158 (unattributed)

 

Tom Clark, I think, in ’52/107′ Levin, New Zealand circa 1956 (BV Davis)

In New Zealand in January/February 1954, Gaze drove it to third in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore behind Stan Jones, Maybach 1 and Ken Wharton’s BRM P15.

It was a pretty competitive field which included the Wharton BRM,  Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 125, Jack Brabham and Horace Gould in Cooper T23 Bristols, Lex Davison’s ex-Gaze HWM Jaguar and others.

Gaze’ race was a great mighta-been.

He relates in ‘Almost Unknown’, Stewart Wilson’s biography of the great Australian, that Shell, his contracted fuel supplier did not have any of the required brew on raceday so he started the race with what fuel was left in the car after practice to at least obtain his start money payment.

When the flag dropped he tootled around, knowing he had sufficient juice for half the race at best, but the car was running on only three cylinders, a plug change rectified that. A lucky break was teammate Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 125 (shortly to become Dick Cobden’s car) clutch failing which allowed Tony’s mechanics to siphon the fuel from the V12 2 litre Ferrari  and pop it into the Alta.

Tony sped up, he still didn’t have enough juice to finish, passing Wharton’s BRM which had its own problems- at this point he was gaining three seconds a lap on Stan Jones’ Maybach. Then the car ran out of fuel on lap 92, as Tony coasted into the pits with the engine dead a fuel churn appeared- ‘borrowed’ from BRM. Topped up, with mechanics Peter Manton and Alan Ashton totally spent after pushing the car the length of the pitlane before it fired, third place was Gaze’s. Tony’s regret to the end of his life was that the race was his had Shell fulfilled their contractual obligations. The two-hundred pounds paid in compensation was no substitute for an NZ GP win…

In the month long gap between Ardmore and Wigram Tony and Peter contested the 24 Hour race held at Mount Druitt in Sydney’s west on 31 January- they led by an enormous margin in Peter’s C Type Jaguar only to have a suspension failure when the car hit an enormous hole on track- it was repaired but failed again later in the race. They restarted the car and limped over the line to win the sportscar class- seven of twenty-two starters finished led by the Jaguar XK120 driven by Doris Anderson, Charlie Whatmore and Bill Pitt- well known racers to Australian readers.

Back in New Zealand and off to Christchurch on the South Island for the Lady Wigram Trophy on 6 February, he was second behind the Whitehead Ferrari after Peter ignored Dunlop’s advice and completed the race without a tyre change on the abrasive track- they were ‘well shredded’ but it was a winning if somewhat risky ‘racers’ decision.

At the end of Tony’s tour- successfully completing the second part of his assignment, he sold the Alta to Sybil Lupp for John Horton to drive.

Gaze had a great taste of racing in New Zealand and returned again the following year, he and Peter Whitehead raced a pair of Ferrari 500/625’s, Tony’s chassis ‘005’ famously the ex-Ascari 1952/3 World Championship winning car, it was not the only chassis the Italian used but the ‘winningest’.

Horton raced ’52/107′ from February 1954 until February 1956- in which his best results were two second places, setting fastest lap both times at the February 1954 Hamilton Trophy at Mairehau and the April 1956 NZ Championship Road Race on the Dunedin ‘Wharf’ road circuit.

In the January 1955 NZ GP, back at Ardmore, Horton struck trouble and was classified fifteenth- Bira won that year in a Maserati 250F from the Whitehead and Gaze Ferraris in second and third places.

Other than the NZ GP meeting it seems Horton did not race the car throughout 1955, nor was the machine entered in the 1956 NZ GP, but he ran at Dunedin- tenth and in the South Island Championship Road Race at Mairehau, finishing second on handicap. Onto the Southland Road Race at Ryal Bush he qualified a very good fifth on this challenging road course but only completed 9 of the 41 laps- Whitehead won.

The last meeting that summer was the Ohakea Trophy held at the airfield of the same name on 3 March, Horton didn’t enter but the race was won by (later Sir) Tom Clark who was clearly impressed with the Alta having raced against it for a while in his pre-war Maserati 8CM- he acquired it from Sybil Lupp shortly thereafter.

Sybil Lupp susses her HWM Alta on the evening before the 1955 NZ GP at Ardmore, its said there was a possibility she would drive the car, but John Horton raced it. Car #77 is also ex-Gaze- Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar, the 1954 Australian GP winner started life as Tony’s 1952 Alta engined F2 machine. Car #3 is Reg Hunt’s just arrived in the Antipodes Maserati 2.5 litre A6GCM (CAN)

 

Tom Clark, Ardmore NZ GP 1957 (T McGrath)

 

Ron Tucker, Ransley Riley DNF, Tom Clark HWM Alta 6th and Bob Gibbons Jaguar D Type DNF during the 1957 Southland Road Race at Ryal Bush. Peter Whitehead won this race from Reg Parnell in identical Ferrari 555’s powered by 750 Monza engines (J Manhire)

Tom Clark, of Crown Lynn Potteries fame, began his stint with it by setting FTD at Whangarei hillclimb before finishing second at Levin in October 1956.

Clark shipped the car to Australia for the ‘Olympic’ Australian GP at Albert Park that December– finishing eleventh following various delays having run strongly early on in a world class field, Stirling Moss won in a works Maserati 250F.

Ninth place followed in the January 1957 NZ GP at Ardmore, Reg Parnell, Ferrari 555 Super Squalo triumphed that day.

Tom raced the car at Wigram DNF, Dunedin DNF, Ryal Bush where he was sixth and in much the same way that he had had a good look up close at the Alta decided the Ferrari 555’s were the go so acquired the Whitehead car, racing it to its first win at the South Island Championship Road Race meeting at Mairehau the weekend after Ryal Bush.

For sale, Johnny Buza was the purchaser.

He practiced at Ardmore for the 1958 GP, as the photograph (in Etcetera below) shows but appears as a DNA in the sergent.com results. He entered Dunedin and Teretonga but failed to take the start on both occasions. With plenty of mid-engined Coopers on the scene the older of the front-engined cars were finding the going tougher- the Alta didn’t race throughout 1959 or 1960.

Jim Boyd – more famous for his aero-engined Lycoming Special, raced the HWM throughout 1961- at Ardmore, Wigram, Dunedin, Teretonga and Waimate,  failing to qualify for the NZ GP but otherwise finishing the events with a best of eighth at Waimate towards the season’s end.

In 1962 it was driven by Lindsay Gough to win a beach race at New Brighton. J.G. Alexander also appeared in the car while Lindsay Gough raced it into 1963, although I can see no records of his events, by that stage though it was a ‘club car’ rather than a machine contesting the national level events reported upon by Bruce Sergent’s site.

By 1980 the car had been acquired by Russell Duell in New Zealand before passing to Colin Giltrap in 1989, the car has been in the United Kingdon since 1997.

Jim Boyd during the 1961 Dunedin Road Race, HWM Alta. Allan Dick wrote ‘This car was never really competitive in NZ but by 1961 it was very much a tail-ender, but Boyd competed for many years in a variety of old, outdated cars, finally striking it good with the Lycoming, followed by the Stanton Corvette and finally a Lola T70’ (CAN)

 

Etcetera…

 

(autopics)

Stirling Moss goes around the outside of Tom Clark during the December 1956 AGP at Albert Park. Maserati 250F and HWM Alta, Moss won from teammate Jean Behra.

 

(CAN)

Cracker of a shot- the kid with a proprietorial hand on the car is perhaps indicating ‘my dads car!’ During John Horton’s ownership probably at Cleland hillclimb perhaps. Input welcome!

Typical Kiwi/Oz kids of the period wearing their school ‘jumpers’ (jerseys) on the weekend.

 

(CAN)

Johnny Buza at Ardmore during the 1958 Ardmore NZ GP weekend. He is listed as a DNA but it seems he practiced at least- by then the old gal is getting a bit long in the tooth given the increasingly international nature of the Australasian Summer International grids.

 

Gaze and Davison driver profiles from the 1954 NZ GP race program (S Dalton)

 

(unattributed)

Cockpit of one of the 2 litre F2 Alta’s.

Doug Nye relates the story of Stirling Moss pitching out of his car a fire extinguisher which had come loose from its mount in the cockpit, when he reported this to John Heath back in the paddock the thrifty team owner promptly despatched his young star back in the direction of the track to find said expensive item…

 

(Motorsport)

These HWM Jaguar’s were and are attractive, fast racing cars.

Here George Abecassis in his DB3S inspired ‘025′ ‘XPE 2’ at Goodwood, circa 1955.

‘Abecassis himself sketched out the bodies of each HWM and, for the second generation HWM-Jaguars in 1955 he designed a neat functional new body. Two works cars were built: George’s was registered XPE2 and the second, for John Heath, took over the HWM1 number plate. It was in this car that John Heath decided to enter the 1956 Mille Miglia…In driving rain he lost control near Ravenna and the car hit a fence and turned over. A few days later Heath died from his injuries.’

David Abecassis on hwmastonmartin.co.uk continues, ‘That sadly, was more or less the end of HWM which still promised so much. Abecassis did build up one more chassis as a dramatically styled road-going coupe, but he gave up racing to concentrate on his burgeoning garage business. Today, HWM, still in its original premises on Walton-on-Thames thrives as a prestigious dealer in Aston Martins and other desirable and exotic road machinery.’

In an apt tribute to the role HWM played in the march of British motor racing post war Abecassis concluded, ‘Like all good racing cars, however, the handful of HWMs that came out of this courageous little team lived on, and most of them have never stopped being campaigned. Today they are cherished by their handful of lucky owners as important, and very effective, historic racing cars. Britain’s all-conquering motor racing industry owes a great debt to those pioneering European forays of John Heath and George Abecassis.’

Indeed!

 

John Heath and a mechanic work on one of the 2 litre Alta engines- Weber fed, during the 1953 British GP weekend at Silverstone (unattributed)

Alta Engine’s…

This summary of the Alta engine’s design is a trancuated version of Doug Nye’s piece in ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’.

Geoffrey Taylor’s twin cam, four cylinder design had a bath shape bottom end casting whose sides rose to provide cooling water jacketing.

The cylinders were formed in a separate Meehanite iron casting which fitted tightly into the crankcase bath. Crankcase rigidity was enhanced by box sections within its side walls and by horizontal cross-bolts positioning the main bearing caps.

Circumferential grooves were machined into the top of the cylinder-bore casting which matched grooves machined into the face of the alloy head- in assembly these matching grooves would clamp Wills pressure ring seals to create a joint which was water and gas tight.

The head was secured by thru bolts positioned by the tall outer crankcase casting, it carried two overhead cams operating two valves per cylinder via rocking fingers, valves were inclined at an included angle of 68 degrees- combustion chambers were hemispherical. Cam drive was by chain off a sprocket on the three main bearing crank. The Roots type supercharger, of Alta manufacture was driven off the crank nose drawing fuel from an SU carb delivering a maximum of 22psi.

In 1.5 litre supercharged form the engine was square- a bore and stroke of 78mm- 1480cc and was good for 7000 rpm using Specialloid pistons and a Nitralloy crank.

The basic  architecture was retained for the 2 litre normally aspirated F2 engines- the HWM engines of 1950 were fed by twin SU carbs burning a methanol/benzol/petrol mix. The 2 litre motors had a bore and stroke of 83.5 x 90mm- 1970cc and were claimed to give 130bhp @ 5500rpm.

Tony Gaze had twin Webers adapted to his engine when he ran at Monza in 1951- his lead was followed on other Alta motors.

For 1953 new type cranks were adopted, HWM’s engines that year were Alta based but the heads were HWM’s own design with gear driven cam drives rather than chain- the head, camshafts, rear-gear drive and other moving parts were made by HWM or its subcontractors.

Bonham’s piece noted the following, ‘There are major differences between the Alta GP and Formula 2 engines. The GP engine was dry-sumped with the crankcase going right down to the bottom of the motor with what is virtually a flat plate bolted to the base, whereas the F2 engine has a wet sump with the crankcase split in half along the centreline of the main bearings. There is a deep pan beneath the engine. The GP engine has a different crank which is extended at the front to drive the blowers- the ancillary drives for magneto(s) and oil pump(s) are also completely different.

The engine in ’52/107’ is marked ‘GP3’ in two places which is compatible with Joe Kelly’s ‘GP3’ as are the two blowers which were unique to ‘GP3’, it is thought the whole unit came from chassis ‘GP3’.

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Bruce V Davis, John Manhire, Simon Lewis Collection, Allan Dick’s Classic Auto News, Motorsport, autopics.com

Bibliography…

Bonhams ’52/107′ sale material 2016, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, ‘Almost Unknown’ Stewart Wilson, sergent.com, hwmastonmartin.co.uk, Terry McGrath Collection

Tailpiece: Lance Macklin, HWM Alta ‘52/107’ on the way to a win in the BRDC International Trophy, Silverstone 1952…

(Getty)

George Abecassis, on HW Motors letterhead wrote a letter to the cars then owner, which said in part: “I have often wondered what happened to the supercharged HWM which we sent to New Zealand, because it was undoubtedly the most exciting and fastest HWM that we ever made.’

‘It was one of the 1952 two-litre team cars and we fitted it with a two-stage supercharged unit especially for the Tasman series of races, and we lent it to Tony Gaze on the condition that he sold it for us in New Zealand, which he succeeded in doing’.

He concluded: ‘If ever you should get tired of the car, I would always be pleased to buy it back from you! I think it was the best car we ever made…’

Finito…

Rodney Clarke’s Connaught J3 Coventry Climax FPE V8 2.5, as concepted in 1954…

In anticipation of Climax’s forthcoming 2.5 litre ‘Godiva’ or FPE F1 V8 the amazing Clarke laid down a concept which ‘would have featured a stressed-skin monocoque section built up a round a geodetic latticed internal frame similar to the Barnes-Wallis originated structure of the R-100 airship and Vickers Wellesley and Wellington bombers of the 1930’s’ Doug Nye wrote.

This J3 (sometimes referred to as J5 or D Type) ‘tub’ would have supported a separate subframe which would have carried the FPE V8 and a bespoke Connaught transaxle and de Dion rear suspension with inboard mounted disc brakes.

’The transaxle was to be an epicyclic affair with its actual gearbox section overhung beyond the back axle line. One of these transaxles was actually completed, plus parts for another five, and was used in Paul Emeryson’s Cooper-Connaught’ Doug wrote.

As is well known the Coventry Climax lads felt ’emasculated’ by the claimed power outputs published by the continentals and the FPE was unraced in period, only one of the cars concepted around the wonderful V8 was eventually built, the Kieft, click here to read about it; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/03/kieft-de-soto-v8/

Cars were also planned by Climax customers Cooper and HWM as well as Connaught and Kieft. All was not lost at Climax, the learnings from development of the V8 were applied rather effectively to the all conquering family of FPF fours

Imagine the J3 racing in 1955 with a development budget to sort it…

Geodetic Airframe…

First i’ve ever heard of it. ‘It makes use of a spaceframe formed from a spirally crossing basket-weave of load bearing members. The principle is that two geodesic arcs (a curve representing the shortest distance between two points) can be drawn to intersect on a curving surface (the fuselage) in a manner that the torsional load on each cancels out that on the other’ says Wikipedia.

Credits…

Getty Images, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Theo Page

Tailpiece: Kieft F1 Coventry Climax…

Finito…

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(Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Andrea de Adamich hustles his McLaren M14D Alfa through the Zandvoort sand dunes and flowers, Dutch GP practice June 1970…

This is yet another of my ‘nutso’ articles in terms of flow.

It started as a quickie around some of Rainer’s (Schlegelmilch is a favourite of mine as you may have guessed) shots of the McLaren Alfa. Then I got interested in Andrea’s career, so off I went that way.

Then I thought ‘the F1 program really started in Tasman Formula single-seaters here in Australia’- that is Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D and Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ with the engines Autodelta-Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8’s- but I didn’t want to go too far with that as I want to do the topics justice, with Kevin Bartlett’s intimate knowledge of both the program and cars. So that aspect of this article is no more than a teaser.

Anyway, here ’tis, a bit weird, and with the ‘full job’ on the Alfa engined Mildren Brabham and Sub still to come…

The McLaren/Alfa Romeo partnership started reasonably well at Montjuic Parc in Barcelona but the grid had ten places reserved for seeded drivers and only six for the other twelve competitive cars, Andrea’s thirteenth quickest was just 0.05 seconds too slow to make the cut.

Same problem at 1970 Monaco with the same system- again he was thirteenth fastest overall but this time he fell short by 0.1 seconds.

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Andrea, Dutch GP practice June 1970. M14D Alfa DNQ (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The team missed the Belgian Grand Prix on June 7, McLaren took the time to adapt the Alfa Romeo V8 to its latest M14 chassis, which they designated ‘M14D’, unfortunately again failing to qualify for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort by 0.01 seconds where most of these shots were taken.

Peter Gethin was the quickest of the Cosworth engined McLarens with Denny Hulme missing the meeting due to hands burned at Indianapolis. Gethin’s car qualified eleventh but retired on lap 18 after an accident, writing off Denny’s M14 in the process so the M14D was quickly converted back to Cosworth spec to give Denny a competitive car when his hands recovered.

Back in the older chassis, de Adamich qualified his M7D at Clermont-Ferrand sixteenth, a good effort but only completing 29 laps retiring after a water pipe came adrift and he lost 9 laps in the pits.

He qualified eighteenth at Brands Hatch, again in the M7D but was a non-starter with a leaking bag fuel tank.

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The bespectacled Italian lowers his lanky frame into the McLaren M14 monocoque, Dutch GP 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

 

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George Eaton’s BRM P153 passes the #21 de Adamich McLaren M14D Alfa and #20 Hulme McLaren M14A Ford, Zandvoort pitlane, Dutch GP practice June 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The 1970 German GP was held at the fast Hockenheim circuit which places an emphasis on power/top speed, the Alfa engine lacked sufficient punch, Andrea again failing to qualify, he had complained about handling and the engine not pulling properly.

The speed of the chassis was ‘thereabouts’ though, Hulme finished third in a Cosworth DFV powered M14.

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#20 de Adamich McLaren Alfa Hockenheim, German GP practice 2 August 1970 and Donatella de Adamich in the Zeltweg pits 18 August 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Zeltweg’s 6Km layout places a similar premium on power and high speed handling too, the car qualified well in fifteenth for the Austrian GP, finishing twelfth, the decision to change the engine before the race went awry when the replacement pulled 1000rpm short of the engine used in practice giving Andrea a long race labouring down the back.

Allen Brown wrote that a lot of work was done by Autodelta in the lead up to the team’s home race at Monza with emphasis on the sumps- which had been identified as the main problem. Andrea qualified twelfth and finished eighth having run well for the first few laps in the race won by Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B albeit seven laps in arrears. It was Regga’s first GP win. Nanni Galli, another Autodelta racer had a go in the M7D but did not qualify having experienced camshaft trouble.

In Canada Andrea again qualified twelfth of twenty, starting really well and ran as high as ninth, but he hadn’t started with full tanks knowing he had to stop for fuel but diddn’t get to that point, pitting with low oil pressure from eighth position after completing 69 laps.

At Watkins Glen he failed to qualify after big dramas gave him limited circuit time- first a fuel leak and then a behind dash fire, perhaps as a consequence the team didn’t take the Alfa powered chassis to the season ending race in Mexico City on 25 October.

McLaren had no incentive to continue with development of the Alfa engined car given the competitiveness of its Ford Cosworth DFV engined machines, a purpose built F1 engine- Alfa’s engine stated life as a more robust long distance unit, and was never, without the commitment of sufficient money and engineering resources going to approach or eclipse the dominant DFV.

andrea portrait

de Adamich at the wheel of his Alfa 33TT3 , Targa 1972. He was 3rd in the car shared with Toine Hezemans (velocetoday.com)

Andrea de Adamich…

Tall, scholastic and patrician, the bespectacled Italian began racing whilst still a law student, making his name driving a works Autodelta Alfa Romeo in the European Touring Car Championship, which he won in 1966 at the wheel of a GTA.

andrea ti super

Andrea de Adamich corners the Alfa Ti Super he shared with Carlo Scarambone in the Tour de France 20 September 1964 . Nouveau Monde Hairpin, Rouen (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

He attracted Ferrari’s attention with some promising runs in Alfa T33 sports cars (which he continued to race whilst pursuing a single-seater career) and was recruited to the Scuderia for the non-championship 1967 Spanish GP, at Jarama north of Madrid.

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Traga 1967 in the 2 litre Alfa T33. DNF suspension failure in the car shared with Jean Rolland. Race won by the Hawkins/Maglioli Porsche 910 (Getty)

In 1968 Andrea was scheduled to drive full-time for Ferrari alongside Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx, but he crashed during practice for the Brands Hatch ‘Race of Champions’ and suffered neck injuries which took a long time to heal fully.

He returned to racing, winning the Argentine Temporada series the following winter with the powerful F2, works Ferrari Dino 166. de Adamich’ Ferrari 166 F2 Season was covered in this article on that car; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/09/temporada-f2-series-argentina-san-juan-1968/

andrea dino

de Adamich’s Ferrari 166 winning in front of F2 king Jochen Rindt’s Brabham BT23 Ford FVA, San Juan Argentina, Temporada Series 1968 (Andrew Marriott)

‘In 1970 McLaren was offered the opportunity of experimenting with an Alfa V8, a possibly tempting alternative to the then-ubiquitous Cosworth DFV, and one of the Italian engines was installed first in an M7D chassis and latterly an M14D for de Adamich to drive’, wrote McLaren.

‘To say this technical combo achieved modest results would be a dramatic understatement. The McLaren Alfa generally failed to qualify and when it did, could only muster twelfth in the Austrian GP followed by a distant eighth place in front of the Alfa top brass at Monza. McLaren, still reeling from Bruce’s death that summer, reckoned that the Anglo-Italian alliance was all a bit of a waste of effort and called time on the partnership at the end of the season’.

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de Adamich at the wheel of the T33/3 he shared with Gijs van Lennep in the 1971 Targa, 2nd to teammates Vaccarella/Hezemans (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

De Adamich took his Alfa engines off to March in 1971, with no significant improvement in their performance.

Andrea was thirteenth at Kyalami and eleventh at Watkins Glen whilst Nanni Galli was fifth in the non-championship Jochen Rindt Trophy at Hockenheim in July gaining the best ever F1 result for these engines.

Nanni was eleventh, twelfth and twelfth at Silverstone, the Nürburgring and the Osterreichring in a good run of finishes at least in July/August but then had three downers to end his season at Monza, Mosport and the Glen.

The engine was again unreliable with DNF’s for Andrea at Montjuic, Paul Ricard, the Nurburgring and Monza. He was unclassified at Silverstone.

image

De Adamich, March 711 Alfa, German GP Nurburgring Q20 DNF  fuel injection lap 2. Stewart won in a Tyrrell 003 Ford (unattributed)

 

The business end of the De Adamich March 711 Alfa in the 1971 Nürburgring paddock

March team leader, and one of the fastest guys on the planet at the time, Ronnie Peterson used the Alfa engines in chassis ‘711-6’ at Hockenheim, Zandvoort and at Paul Ricard, where he raced that chassis from grid 12.

He only lasted 19 laps before engine failure, Andrea started from grid 20 which provides some measure of how much more improved the performance of the car/engine could have been with an ace behind the wheel- whilst putting reliability to one side

The Italian driver switched to Team Surtees in 1972 which got him back behind the wheel of a Cosworth-engined car, a step in the right direction.

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French GP, Clermont Ferrand July 1972. de Adamich Surtees TS9B Ford Q12 P14, ahead of Derek Bell who was a race non-starter in his Tecno PA123 V12. Jackie Stewart won the race in Tyrrell 003 Ford.  (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

For 1973 de Adamich switched to the Bernie Ecclestone owned Brabham team after driving for Surtees in the season opener at Kyalami. His Brabham BT42 fell victim to Jody Scheckter’s first lap McLaren M23 Ford multiple car shunt at the end of the opening lap of the British GP at Silverstone, Andrea suffered serious injuries which brought an end to his career.

In more recent times he has built an impressive business career.

In 1990 he bought the circuit at Varano and created a highly specialised  driving school for the owners of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Abarth cars. He also puts on special days for Philip Morris, a legacy of his longstanding relationship dating back to the days when he and Giacomo Agostini were the first Italian contracted Marlboro drivers/riders.

Kevin Bartlett setting off to test the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo just vacated by Frank Gardner after the 1968 Tasman Series at Oran Park before the Gold Star series- she grew wings as the year progressed. Bob Grange at right (P Garrad)

The 1960’s Alfa Romeo Engined Single Seater V8’s…

Alfa’s Tipo 33 V8 was first used in elite single seater racing by Australia’s Alec Mildren Racing Team.

Mildren, a Sydney Alfa Romeo dealer, former Australian Gold Star Champion and AGP winner ran one of the most professional teams in Australia. He had impeccable Alfa Romeo/Autodelta connections having acquired and raced two GTA’s and a TZ2 in the early to mid-sixties and in the process ‘polished’ Alfa’s Australian brand, one of the greatest of the Grand Marques but then relatively new to the ‘Oz market.

Click on this link for an article about the Mildren Autodelta Alfa’s;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

and on Alec Mildren; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Mildren’s 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined Tasman Brabhams were being given a very hard time by the Repco Brabham and BRM V8’s amongst others circa 1966, so he sought an appropriate response- a sprint variant of the Tipo 33 engine was the obvious choice given his Alfa connections.

Mildren ordered three 2.5 Tipo 33 V8’s which were initially fitted to a bespoke Brabham BT23D chassis, a variant of Ron Tauranac’s new for 1967 Ford FVA powered BT23 F2 car.

The machine was first raced in the 1967 Hordern Trophy Gold Star round at Warwick Farm, Frank Gardner won, which was a portent of the cars 1968 Tasman Series speed- he was fourth in the championship against stiff opposition including two works Lotus 49 Ford DFW’s in the hands of Messrs Clark and Hill, Chris Amons Ferrari Dino 246T, works BRM’s and the rest. The engines were then fitted to the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, a monocoque car built for the team by Alan Mann Racing, designed by Len Bailey, for the 1969 Tasman Series where again Frank was ‘best of the rest’ behind the Lotuses, Ferraris and Piers Courage in a Frank Williams Brabham BT24 Ford.

After both cars were raced by Frank Gardner in the Tasman they were ‘handed over’ to Kevin Bartlett for the Gold Star Championship when Gardner returned to the UK at the end of each Australasian summer.

Bartlett won the Gold Star in 1968 and 1969 with each chassis respectively, for the sake of completness, in 1969 the ‘Sub’ was also powered by Merv Waggotts’s TC-4V 2 litre DOHC 4 valve 275 bhp engine for part of the season and into 1970 and beyond.

image

(Ian Peak/The Roaring Season)

The 2.5 litre, 2 valve, 4 cam Lucas fuel injected, twin-plug Alfa Tipo 33 V8 installed in Alec Mildren’s Gardner driven Brabham BT23D at Teretonga during the 1968 Tasman.

Gardner was equal fourth with Graham Hill in the series behind Clark, Amon and Courage in Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Ferrari Dino 246T and F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA respectively.

image

(Dick Simpson)

What a beautifully integrated bit of kit the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa was?

Here just before it progressively grew wings. Kevin Bartlett drove the wheels off the thing, here at Hell Corner Bathurst during the 1968 Easter Gold Star round. KB was on pole by 9! seconds but DNF with a broken rear upright, Phil West took the win in David McKay’s ex-JB Brabham BT23A Repco.

Bartlett won the 1968 Gold Star in this car and was equal ninth in the 1969 Tasman in winged form.

image

(Wirra)

Frank Gardner in the Mildren Alfa ‘Yellow Submarine’ in the Warwich Farm pitlane during the ’69 Tasman round on 9 February. The Aussie international was third behind Rindt’s Lotus 49 DFW and Derek Bell’s Ferrari Dino 246T. Gardner was sixth in the 1969 Tasman behind Amon, Rindt, Courage, Bell and Hill in Ferrari Dino 246, Lotus 49B DFW, Brabham BT24 DFW, Ferrari Dino 246 and Lotus 49B DFW respectively.

Kevin Bartlett had this to say about the Alfa Romeo 2.5 litre Tasman V8 and Waggott DOHC 4 valve engines.

‘My memory tells me the Alfa had around 350lbs (of torque) and the Waggott about 230lbs. Usable power range was quite different with the Alfa workable between 4500-8800 rpm and Waggott 6800-8750rpm. Not perfectly accurate as i work from  memory but around that kind of difference’.

‘The driving difference was the main change, as the power to weight felt little different behind the wheel, mainly due i suppose to the fact full throttle was used much sooner with the 4 cyl 2000cc Waggott. The turn in changed to a marked degree with the lighter power plant (Waggott) having less moment of inertia allowing the car to be literally flung into a turn. As it happens i am the only driver to experience both configurations.’ (Gardner having raced only the Alfa variant)

‘Len Bailey was the (Mildren’s) designer of the tub, which flexed a little at the rear with the Alfa’s torque, less so when the Waggott went in, with suspension being a (Brabham designer) Ron Tauranac adaption’.

Alfa Romeo claimed 315bhp at 8800 rpm for the 2.5 litre variant of the V8 engine. Click here for a short piece on the Sub; https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Bartlett doing his thing aboard the Mildren ‘Sub’ Alfa at Oran Park. Its an interesting photo in that this car was winged by the end of the 1969 Tasman- and KB is driving it after that- perhaps a day of back to back testing? The car, like all such machines globally, lost its big wings after the 1969 Monaco GP weekend where such aero was banned. Superb machine superbly driven by KB- Oz Gold Star and Macao GP winner in 1969 (D Simpson)

 

mac engine

Alfa Romeo 3 litre 4 valve F1 engine in a McLaren chassis in 1970 (unattributed)

A similar 3 litre 4 valve per cylinder, 32 valve engine- the Mildren V8’s were all chain driven 2 valvers, was developed for Cooper in F1 but wasn’t used before the teams demise.

Lucien Bianchi tested an Alfa Romeo engined T86C (T86C-F1-3-68) once but was unimpressed given its lack of power. Two further, more powerful motors were built but didn’t survive the bench tests, Alfa then withdrew their engines from that proposed program.

The 1970 variant of the engine was all aluminium with a bore/stroke of 86mm x 64.4mm for a total of 2998cc. Five main and camshaft bearings were used. The four valves were inclined at 30 degrees, the inlets were 32mm and exhausts 27mm in size, Alfa claimed an output of 400bhp @ 9000rpm in sportscar form.

With gear driven cams for F1 use Autodelta claimed 430bhp @ 10500 rpm at a time the Ford Cosworth DFV gave circa 440, the Matra V12 445-450 and Flat-12 Ferrari 460bhp @ 12000 rpm. It wasn’t enough really but Alfa had put their toes back into F1 water and would return soon with works Brabhams, as they had started with a Mildren Brabham a decade before…

Cutaway of the first 2 litre variant of the Tipo 33 V8 with detailed specifications as per text but chain driven DOHC, two valve, twin plug and Lucas fuel injected with engine a non-load bearing member of the car.

Etcetera…

The seven or eight race Tasman Cup was conducted over eight or nine weeks with a ‘hop across the ditch’- the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia, put great pressure on team logistics and repaid a mixture of speed and, critically, reliability and consistency.

Major chassis damage and engine unreliability were severely punished and it was the latter which meant that Mildren/Gardner’s campaigns in the Brabham BT23D and Mildren did not fare better, FG only finished half the races in each year.

Both cars were mighty fine machines but the Lotus 49 was the F1 car of the era and the F2 based Ferrari Dino 246 was far from shabby. In addition, Frank, whilst the equal of most on his best days, was not of the same level as Clark, Rindt, Hill, Amon, Brabham, McLaren or Rodriguez, to rattle off some of the competition in 1968 and 1969.

Was the Mildren Yellow Submarine a race winner in 1969?- yes, if the planets were aligned- and it were ‘winged’ from the start of the series. Quite how FG, having had a front row seat racing in Europe in ‘the year of the wing’ in 1968, arrived in Australia without said appendages on the Sub is an interesting question.

By Lakeside- at the halfway mark of the series the car was winged- they grew again at Warwick Farm as below where FG is leading Graeme Lawrence’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA but it was all a bit late. They were third and eighth in the sodden race won by the dominant Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49B Ford DFW. Derek Bell’s Dino 246 was second.

And in any event the reliability wasn’t there…

Would, say, Rindt have made the Sub sing? Absolutely- but he didn’t have Frank’s mechanical sympathy so he would rarely have finished I suspect.

So, perhaps the Alfa Romeo engined cars under-delivered in the Tasman Cup but Bartlett’s 1968 and 1969 Australian Gold Star wins were glorious and enhanced the Alfa Romeo brand for a generation of impressionable youth, me included…

(B McInerney)

Photo and other credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, velocetoday.com, mclaren.com, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’, Dick Simpson, Wirra, Kevin Bartlett, Peter Garrad, LAT, Brian McInerney

oldracingcars.com. See Allen Brown’s M7D and M14D detailed chassis records;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m7d/  and https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Tailpiece…

andrea targa

de Adamich/Vaccarella  Targa 4 May 1969. DNF lap 6 with engine failure. Alfa T33 2.5 V8 Spider (Schlegelmilch)

Finito…

Brian Hatton’s beautiful cutaway rendering of the 1927 Grand Prix Fiat 806…

Fiat’s impact on Grand Prix racing in the twenties was hugely significant, then they departed almost as quickly as they arrived in 1924, reappeared in 1927 with this radical 806, won and then disappeared from GP racing forever inclusive of destroying this jewel of a car, it’s parts and drawings…

One of the greatest of grand marques FIAT (Fiat after 1906) – ‘Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino’ was founded on 11 July 1899, the marque first appears on the race winners lists in 1900 with Felice Nazzaro’s win in the 28 April Torino-Asti race the beginning of many aboard a Fiat 6HP. Vincenzo Lancia won again later that year in the Padua-Vicenza-Bassano-Treviso-Padua event on a simllar car. Other winning marques that year included Panhard, Riker Electric, Peugeot, Benz, Daimler, Mors and Bolide.

Lets have a brief look at Fiat’s contribution in the Edwardian Age of automotive leviathans through to its defining GP cars of the early to mid twenties- the 801, 804 and 805, the circumstances of their sudden withdrawal from racing after the 1924 French GP and the equally surprising re-appearance on the grid at Monza in 1927 only to tease the enthusiasts of the day before ‘bolting out the Monza garage door’ for the very last time but for a few races in the US in 1925.

In 1901 Nazzaro won the Piombino-Grosseto event in the FIAT 12HP Corsa four-cylinder engine car owned by Conte Camillo Della Gherardesca setting a record of 1:49.54 despite the local tram service being maintained whilst the contest took place!

(GA Oliver)

Two races in 1904 fell to Lancia in the 75HP- the Susa-Montecenisio Hillclimb, and the Coppa Florio, by 1905 the FIAT four cylinder machine was of 16.2 litres in capacity.

The 1905 Fiat (above) whilst ‘built in admiration of the Mercedes’ wrote Cecil Clutton, incorporated a major engineering advance by placing both inlet and exhaust valves in a hemispherical cylinder head, the valves, inclined at 45 degrees were operated by pushrods. The 180 x 160mm bore/stroke engine developed 120bhp at no more than 1100rpm.

Fiat won three events in 1907, the second Grand Prix racing season- noting that the 1906 French GP is considered the first grand prix, when Felice Nazzaro won Targa (28/40HP) the Kaiserpreis (‘Taunus’ 8 litre) and the six and three quarters of an hour ACF French GP in the 135hp 16.2 litre car at an average speed of 70.5 miles per hour- very much making him ‘Driver of The Year’.

In 1908 Nazzaro won the Coppa Florio in Bologna and Louis Wagner the American Grand Prize at Savannah, Georgia. Aftrr the abstention of manufacturers from racing in 1909 and 1910, in 1911 Victor Hemery won the French Grand Prix at Le Mans and David Bruce Brown the American Grand Prize- Caleb Bragg won the American race again in 1913 aboard a 10 litre 120hp Fiat S74.

Aldo Weilschott, Fiat 2C starting, DNF accident, French GP 1906. Ferenc Scisz won in a Renault (unattributed)

 

1907 Fiat 130HP- Felice Nazzaro’s winning 1907 French GP machine (unattributed)

 

Vincenzo Lancia, Fiat 50HP, Targa Florio 1908- 2nd after unnecessarily pitting for tyres whilst in the lead, Vincenzo Trucco won in an Isotta Fraschini (unattributed)

One hundred years ago two races were held in 1919 of stature, the Indianapolis 500 and Targa Florio but the very first post-war race in Europe was a beach sprint at Fano Island on Denmark’s west coast on 24 August- Nando Minoia won aboard a Fiat Tipo S57A, a 4.9 litre SOHC, two valve machine first raced (S57 4.5 litre) in the 1914 French GP.

Europe was devastated by the impacts of The Great War and was slowly starting the process of rebuilding as peace settled. For a while at least.

With remarkable pace, given the circumstances, international motor racing recovered. In 1920 the AIACR, the ‘Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus’, the precursor to the FIA, announced a GP formula of 3 litres in capacity and 1.4 litres for Voiturettes. That years events included the Formula Libre Circuito de Mugello and Voiturette GP de’l UMF and Coupe des Voiturettes at Le Mans as well as Indy and Targa.

In 1921 the French and Italian GP’s were run for the first time post-war and won by Jimmy Murphy’s Duesenberg and Jules Goux’ Ballot 3L respectively.

Importantly the 3 litre straight-eight Fiat 801, credited to Carlo Cavalli and Giulio Cesare Cappa was designed and raced that season, the last year of the 3 litre Formula.

There was also a 3 litre four cylinder variant the 801/401, the eight cylinder engine, conceived by Tranquillo Zerbi was designated Tipo 801/402, in most texts the 801 appellation is applied without distinguishing between the different engine/chassis, but in some cases the eight-cylinder machine is named the 802.

The correct designations are the four cylinder Tipo 401 powered Tipo 801 and eight-cylinder Tipo 402 powered 802. ‘Cavalli and Cappa were assisted by Vincenzo Bertarione and Vittorio Jano…as designers’ wrote Robert Dick who makes no mention of Zerbi’s involvement. The risk in these exercises of ‘information assemblage’ like mine, not going back to source documents, is repeating the mistakes/interpretations of others…

Both four and eight cyinder engines were composed of steel cylinders with welded up ports, the cylinders were enclosed by sheet steel jackets. This practice was pioneered by Mercedes and used extensively by Fiat in its wartime aviation engines. The DOHC eight had a bore/stroke of 65 x 112mm, used two large valves at an included angle of 96 degrees per cylinder, ten roller main bearings and roller big ends. The dry-sumped engine produced between 115-120bhp @ 4400-4600rpm.

The machine had a four speed gearbox driving a torque tube rear end. Fiat’s Aviazzione department, under Chief Engineer Rosatelli, was responsible for the cars shape which included time in the wind tunnel, the car was distinctive for its clean underside from front to back and flat-sided, wedge-shaped tapering tail.

The lighter 810 kg Tipo 401 four cylinder car was designed with the Targa Florio and lower speed courses in mind whilst the more potent 920kg Tipo 402 eight was tasked for more open road courses and speedways.

Whilst the cars were not successful upon debut in the September 1921 Italian GP on a 17.3km course at Brescia due to a variety of problems, Bordino set the fastest race lap and led until a puncture and then oil pump failure stopped him, Fiat were emboldened to proceed down the design path they explored with this short-lived, due to the formula change, path.

Ugo Sivocci, Fiat 802 3 litre straight-eight, Italian GP, Brescia 1921. DNF after 18 laps engine, Jules Goux won in a Ballot 3L (unattributed)

Lets pause for a moment at look at the array of management and engineering talent before proceeding further with the cars.

Giovanni Agnelli was one of the nine initial investors in Fiat in 1899, a Board Member and was appointed head of the company circa 1906, by which time they had built 1149 cars, the company was publicly listed on the Milan stock exchange in this period.

The combination of automotive and aviation products within the group attracted and allowed assembly of an amazing array of engineering talent, these folks developed a reputation from the start for creativity and innovation, under the Chief of the Technical Office, Guido Fornaca.

Fornaca is often described as Chief Engineer but his talent seems more policy direction of a commercial type with the company technical direction and leadership provided by Carlo Cavalli ‘trained as a lawyer but inclined to engineering’. Extremely versatile he applied himself to the first shaft-drive cars, aero, airship and marine engines, tractors and racing cars. He was appointed as Technical Head of Fiat in 1919 having joined in 1905.

Design engineers included Luigi Bazzi, Walter Becchia, Vincenzo Bertarione, Giulio Cesare Cappa, Alberto Massimino and Tranquillo Zerbi (who replaced Cavalli as technical head upon his retirement due to ill-health in 1928) ‘while in charge of racing car preparation and team administration was Vittorio Jano’.

Within the early twenties all but Cavalli and Zerbi left- Bertarione and Becchia to Sunbeam-Tabot-Darracq, Bazzi and Jano to Alfa Romeo, Cappa left and so too Massimino. The brain drain was not applied exclusively to racing cars- Jano and Bazzi at Ferrari, Massimino to Maserati, Becchia to Lago Talbot and Bertarione to Hotchkiss examples.

It was with this amazingly talented, well led group of men that Fiat designed, built and raced very influential racing cars, the 801/802, 803, 804 and 805 and as a consequence set the trend for racing car design generally in the immediate future and specifically in terms of engine characteristics through until 1951.

Felice Nazzaro at 19 was both Senator Giovanni Agnelli’s chauffeur and a factory racer- both here in a 1901 Fiat 8 (CSF)

 

Felice Nazzaro on the way to winning the 1922 French GP, Strasbourg aboard a Fiat 804 2 litre six (unattributed)

 

The Fiat 804 lineup in France, 1922- #17 the ill-fated Biagio Nazzaro, #4 Felice Nazzaro and Pietro Bordino

 

Biagio Nazzaro and #15 Louis Zborowski, Aston Martin GP Strasbourg French GP 1922 (LAT)

 

Bordino, Strasbourg 1922, Fiat 804 (CSF)

In 1922 the GP formula changed to an engine capacity limit of 2 litres and a weight of no less than 650kg- the Fiat 804, a new six cylinder two valve machine was effectively two cylinders lopped of the end of the 3 litre straight-eight.

Credit for this design is attributed to Cappa, Cavalli, Bertarione and Becchia under the direction of Fornaca with Vittorio Jano in charge of preparation according to Cyril Posthumus.

The general specifications of the engine- timing gears at the back, cylinders built from steel forgings with welded on water jackets, wide angle valves and all roller bearing engine was all familiar to the previous types ‘and the choice of six cylinders seems primarily to have been dictated by convenience and not by belief in the superiority of this number as compared to eight cylinders in a line’ Lawrence Pomeroy wrote.

Fiat retained the 65mm bore of the 3 litre engine and reduced the stroke from 112 to 100mm thereby giving a capacity a smidge under the 2 litre limit. The engines developed about 92bhp @ 4500rpm fed by a single Fiat updraught carburettor set low on the offside, sparks were provided by a Scintilla magneto. Power was transmitted by a multi-disc clutch to a four speed gearbox attached to the engine, for the first time in racing Fiat used an enclosed prop-shaft which transmitted its power to the rear axle fabricated from light steel pressings.

The compact chassis turned inwards at the rear ro follow the lines of the tail, Cappa fixed upon a tubular front axle given the stresses imposed by the cars brakes which were servo assisted aluminium drums. Hartford friction shocks were used.

Fiat’s aviation team again shaped the body, with the mechanics seat sharply staggered back by about 8 inches, Fiat riveted the exhaust collector to the body, thus using siad item to stiffen the latter, the dimensions of the car were very small- wheelbase 250cm, track 120cm, and the weight at 660kg was close to the miniumum required by the regs. Pirelli tyres were specified af 760 x 90 at the front and 765 x 105 at the rear.

‘The Fiat immediately outdated all its contemporaries’ wrote Posthumus putting the impact of the car with precision.

The 804’s won both the blue riband 1922 events- Felice Nazzaro took the French GP at Strasbourg and Pietro Bordino the Italian GP at brand new Monza- the stunning autodromo in the park of the Villa Reale was completed in 110 days between May and August 1922.

Nazzaro’s win at Strasbourg was bitter/sweet in that his nephew Biagio Nazzaro lost his life when his 804 crashed after the failure of a thin gauge pressed metal welded axle flange at the wheel end, losing the wheel causing the promising young driver to crash to his death. Bordino’s car lost a wheel too but he was able to bring the car to a safe halt, Felice’s rear tyres were changed as a precaution, the great driver learned of Biagio’s death after the race.

There were six other GP’s plus Targa and the Tourist Trophy that 1922 season.

Into 1923 there were still just the two Grands Epreuves- this time won by Henry Segrave’s Sunbeam and Carlo Salamano’s Fiat 805- the French and Italian/European GP’s respectively.

Lets focus on Fiat for a moment and the exit of talent to the opposition, it is one of the reasons proffered by observers as the reason Agnelli ‘pulled the pin’ on racing after the 1924 French GP.

Luigi Bazzi had been enticed from Fiat to Alfa by Enzo Ferrari after a difference of opinion with his boss, Fornaca after the 1923 French GP at Tours- the new Fiat 805’s Type 405 supercharged 2 litre (60 x 87.5mm) 130bhp @ 5500 rpm straight-eight engine’s Wittig vane type blower was unscreened which caused the ingestion of roadside detritus and failure. Bazzi, its said, remonstrated with the boss over this.

Tipo 404 2 litre six cross section. In similar fashion to Mercedes the cylinders were built up from steel forgings with welded on water jackets (Motorsport)

 

Carlo Salamano’s 805 straight-eight s/c, Tours 1923 DNF engine (Fiat en GP)

 

1923 Sunbeam GP 2 litre straight-eight Fiat clone (Motorsport)

Fiat’s 1923 Tipo 805 was of course derivative of the cars which went before.

The block was still composed of steel cylinders grouped in two blocks of four with a bore/stroke of 60 x 87.5mm. The two piece crank ran in nine roller bearings with the diameter of the crank pins and main journals increased from 40 to 44mm from Tipo 404 to 405, reflective of the increased stresses of the supercharged motor. The conrods were of chrome nickel steel shortened to 165mm.

The big advance in the design was incorporation of a Wittig vane type blower which was mounted to the nose of the crank running at engine speed and blew compressed air into a single Memini carb- the beautiful motor produced 135bhp @ 5500rpm and was surprisingly lighter than the Tipo 404 six- 170kg for the oldie and 170kg for the 1923 motor.

At 262cm the wheelbase was a bit longer than the 804 whereas the track was the same at 120cm, the total weight was 700kg versus the 660kg of the 1922 car.

The 2 July French GP was on a triangular course near Tours- 35 laps of a 23km for a total of 799km, Fiat entered three 805’s for Bordino, Salamano and Enrico Giaccone with riding mechanics Bruno, Ferretti and Carignano. Pietro had his eye in having done a few laps in a 2 litre 804- the new cars rumbled in by truck via the Alps and arrived on 20 June.

Bordino did the quickest practice lap of 9 min 56 seconds and romped into the lead at the start and after 5 laps was ahead of Kenelm Lee Guinness Sunbeam ‘Green Fiat’…

Sunbeam boss Louis Coatalen had dispensed with the services of Ernest Henry given the lack of speed of his 2 litre four-cylinder car the year before and employed Vincenzo Bertarione (Bertarione was happy to join the company after his request for a pay rise was denied, he brought with him Walter Cecchia for good measure) for whom he designed and built a ‘Fiat clone’.

Working in both Wolverhampton and Suresnes the pair designed and built a car which was almost identical to the 1922 Fiat 804 except that 2mm was added to the bore and 6mm taken from the stroke. The exhaust valve was made larger than the inlets, the valve angle reduced from the Tipo 404’s 102 degrees to 96 and the gearbox had three rather than four speeds but the car was ‘very Fiat like’ the single Solex carbed engine developed circa 108bhp @ 5000rpm.

Kenelm Lee Guinness, Sunbeam GP 2 litre straight-eight, 1923 French GP, Tours (unattributed)

 

Rene Thomas, Delage 2LCV leads Bordino, Fiat 805 from pole, then #2 Kenelm Lee Guiness Sunbeam #3 Albert Guyot Rolland-Pilain and the #6 Ernest Friderich Bugatti T32 ‘Tank’, Tours French GP 1923 (unattributed)

 

Salamano sets off from the pits, 805, DNF engine (unattributed)

Back to Tours- The road surface broke up though, and as a consequence on lap 8 a stone wrecked the crankcase of Pietro’s Fiat, when KLG pitted Giaccone and Salamano took first and second.

Giaccone pitted on lap 17 for fuel, plugs and tyres- he stopped again for attention to the Memini carburettor but the 805 refused to start and was retired with a broken exhaust valve.

On lap 33 Salamano ground to a halt one kilometre from the pits, mechanic Ferretti ran to the pits for fuel but the 805 did not restart- Henry Segrave and Albert Divo were first and second for Sunbeam- or Fiat depending upon your perspective of design parentage…

Lets focus the exit of talent from Fiat to the opposition for a bit, it is one of the reasons proffered by observers as the catalyst for Agnelli ‘pulling the pin’ on racing after the 1924 French GP.

Its said that Luigi Bazzi was enticed from Fiat to Alfa Romeo by Enzo Ferrari after a difference of opinion between Luigi and his boss, Guido Fornaca at the conclusion of the 1923 French GP at Tours- the new Fiat engine’s Wittig vane type blower was unscreened which caused the ingestion of roadside detritus and failure. Bazzi, its said, remonstrated with the boss over this.

At Monza, the Italian Grand Prix was held on 9 September, the Wittig blowers had been replaced by Roots type instruments, the engine now gave about 146bhp @ 5500rpm.

The cars again showed their true speed and on this occasion, their endurance- Bordino led to half distance, a somewhat herculean effort as he broke his arm in practice and drove the race single-handed with the mechanic changing gear. It was a huge mind management tour de force as the crash that broke his arm the day before killed his riding mechanic, Giaccone.

Bordino was forced to retire by virtue of exhaustion whereupon Carlo Salamano took the lead and won at a speed of 91.6mph from Nazzaro and an unblown Miller driven by Jimmy Murphy third.

Pomeroy wrote that ‘it was the first race won by a supercharged car, and since that time (he was writing in November 1942) only one International GP has been won by an un-supercharged type, except on occasions when supercharging has been proscribed by the regulations.’

After the Fiat 805’s success at the 1923 Italian GP at Monza ‘In all significant respects Fiat had fixed the type of racing car for the next ten years: and not least important of their contribution was the use of the supercharger…and thereafter supercharged cars were exclusively successful in Grands Prix of major standing’ Leonard Setright wrote.

Most of you will recall Froilan Gonzalez’ victory in the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone when the normally aspirated 4.5 litre Ferrari 375 triumphed over the hitherto dominant Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159, the latest in a long line of supercharged GP winners begat by the 1923 Fiat 805.

1922 Gran Premio Vetturette, Monza, three of the four Fiat 803’s in shot- #23 is Carlo Salamano’s. Engine Tipo 403 1.5-four normally aspirated (supercharged in 1923)  (unattributed)

In fact whilst the 805 usually gets the twin accolades of first win by a supercharged car and first Grand Prix win so equipped, in more recent times those records are accorded the Fiat 803.

This car, powered by a normally aspirated 1.5 litre engine won the 375 mile Italian Small Car race at Monza in late 1922. In 1923, by then powered by a Tipo 403 1.5 litre, DOHC, Wittig-blown four cylinder engine an 803 won the 29 June 1923 Voiturette Grand Prix at Brescia, Alessandro Cagno was the driver.

As a consequence we now say the 803 was the first car to win an event supercharged, and the first to win a Grand Prix so powered, both achievements took place at Brescia on 29 June with Cagno the driver.

The first supercharged car to win a Grand Epreuve was the Fiat 805 raced by Carlo Salamano at Monza on 9 September 1923.

Rather than get sidetracked now, more details on the little 803 are provided in the ‘Etcetera’ section towards this pieces end.

The other significant achievement by Fiat and its band of designers, engineers, mechanics and drivers between 1921 to 1923 was to ‘institutionalise’ the DOHC, two-valve, supercharged engine approach as orthodoxy for a good many years.

Ernest Henry’s DOHC, four valve mantra was established in the 1912 and 1913 Peugeot’s as most of you well know- here, only a decade later it was challenged and turned over in part.

The twin-overhead cam bit survived with the four valve layout de rigour from the time Cosworth Engineering adopted it in the Ford Cosworth DFV- and the FVA four which appeared a little earlier. Coventry Climax and Ferrari experimented towards the end of the 1.5 litre formula in their mid-sixties V8 and flat-twelve but the path was far from clear ‘BC’- ‘Before Cosworth’.

Jano, Antonio Ascari, Alfa Corse team and Alfa Romeo P2 2 litre straight-eight s/c at Monza during his winning 1924 Italian GP weekend (unattributed)

 

Ascari on the way to winning the 1925 Belgian GP at Spa, Alfa Romeo P2 (unattributed)

The Fiat 805 raced on into 1924, revised to give 145bhp @ 5500rpm, so too did the Green Fiat Sunbeam, now supercharged to give circa 138bhp but both cars had a rival from Portello.

The Alfa Romeo P2 design, construction and development was supervised by Vittorio Jano, another Fiat departee whose exit to Alfa Romeo was advised by Bazzi and implemented by Enzo Ferrari.

Its supercharged straight-eight was assembled in blocks of two rather than the four of the Fiat to avoid thermal distortion. Bore/stroke was 61 x 85mm, it had a two piece crank which ran in ten bronze caged roller bearings and big ends in two piece rollers. The twin-cams were driven by a train of spur gears off the back of the engine, each camshaft ran in ten roller bearings and operated two 35.5mm valves per cylinder which were inclined at 52 degrees to the cylinder axis.

Jano brought all of his Fiat experience to bare but there was plenty of refinement, one example was the use of three concentric valve springs, a weak pint in the Fiat which could not exceed 5500rpm and used to break a lot of them in races of 800km. The Alfa sprngs were higher and of larger section wire resulting in lighter spring loading- and a rev limit of 6500rpm.

Fed by a single Memini carb it produced 134bhp @ 5200rpm when it first appeared at Monza on 4 June, and won, at Cremona, driven by Antonio Ascari partnered by Luigi Bazzi on 9 June 1924. The P2 power output was less than the Tipo 805 eight Jano left behind but of course rather more would come from it and whole families of engines by Jano’s hand at Alfa…

Alfa Romeo P2- Louis Wagners 4th placed car from the #14 Dario Resta Sunbeam ‘flagged off’ in 10th France 1924 (LAT)

 

Lyon prior to the start of the 1924 French GP. Cesare Pastore Fiat 805 first in the team line up

 

Onesino Marchieso, Fiat 805 2 litre S8 s/c (LAT)

 

Back into the fray, Felice Nazzaro, Fiat 805, it paid for the driver and mechanic to be at the compact end of the human sprectrum (LAT)

 

Pietro Bordino, Fiat 805, DNF brakes (LAT)

 

Bordino in the US in 1925, Fiat 805, where though folks? (unattributed)

Bordino crashed his 805 in practice at Lyon for the French Grand Prix, the car was trucked back to Turin for repair.

Four Fiat’s started the 3 August race crewed by Nazzaro/Carignano, Bodino/Bruno, Pastore/Mauro and Marchisio/Lorenzo.

Bordino led between laps 4 and 10 before being forced out with failing brakes, Nazzaro had the same affliction, he too withdrew. Onesimo Marchisio suffered engine trouble and Cesare Pastore left the road to end a miserable Fiat weekend.

Worse was that the Jano penned P2 driven by Giuseppe Campari won, ex-Fiat engineer Bertarione’s ‘Green Fiat’ Sunbeam GP was the quicker car but had problems with its Bosch magneto.

Alfa Romeo won again at Monza, on this occasion Alberto Ascari drove the winning P2.

The number of events in Europe started to ‘explode’ with seventeen Grand Epreuves and Grands’ Prix in addition to Targa- that year, coincidentally, Enzo Ferrari won three of these events at Savio, Ravenna and Polesine, Rovigo in an Alfa RLSS and the Coppa Acerbo, Pescara in an RLTF.

The racing history of the Fiat 805’s finished in the United States.

One chassis was rebodied as a monoposto, Bordino contested a 250 miler at Culver City in December 1924 starting from pole, and again in March 1925 for sixth, another race of the same distance at Charlotte in May for DNF rear axle and the Indy 500 in which he was tenth, the winning car was Peter DePaulo’s Duesenberg.

Alfa Romeo forged ahead for in the coming years whilst Fiat withdrew from motor racing as the company focused its energies in the air rather than on the road.

Lets have a brief look at that without getting completely side-tracked.

Macchi Castoldi M.C.72, the worlds fastest piston-powered seaplane in 1931 at Lake Garda. Powered by two of Zerbi’s Fiat AS-6 V12’s coupled in tandem. The engines were connected by double reduction gears and concentric shafts to two contrarotating duralumin propellers. These were good for 2800hp or 3100 in short bursts (unattributed)

Bill Boddy sheets home the blame for Fiat’s motor racing withdrawal at Benito Mussolini’s door. He saw the promotional value of racing, like Hitler, but also wanted victory in the Schneider Cup, contested by the fastest float-planes on the planet.

Engineer Tarquilo Zerbi was therefore tasked to develop winning aero engines rather than Fiat’s next GP contender.

In 1920 and 1921 in Venice the Italian Macchi’s won the cup albeit in 1920 no other nation entered and in 1921 they finished first to third noting that the French entry did not start.

In 1926 at Hampton Roads, in the US, Major de Barnardi’s Mario Castoldi designed Macchi M39 won- the low wing monoplane was powered by Tranquillo Zerbi’s 882 horsepower Fiat A.S.2 liquid-cooled V12, he  took first place with an average speed of 246.497mph despite having to climb to 600 feet to cool his overheating engine.

It’s said that soon after crossing the line the exultant pilot sent a telegram to Mussolini announcing ‘Your orders to win at all costs have been carried out’.

Two days later de Bernardi used another of the aircraft to achieve a new world speed record of 258.497mph over a 3km course at Hampton Downs.

It wasn’t so flash for ones favourite, short, well dressed Italian Fascist after that however.

Macchi M52 in Venice, Schneider Cup 1927. Powered by Fiat high compression AS3 1000hp V24 engine’s (unattributed)

In the 1927 Venice event all three Macchi’s retired, British Flt Lt Webster won in a Supermarine S5 Napier Lion, in 1929 the contest, bi-annual by then went to a Supermarine S6 Rolls Royce R-type, Flt Officer Waghorn was the pilot at Calshott- the Macchi by then was powered by a 1000hp Fiat AS-3 engine.

Worthy of mention, to say the least, is the 1931 Macchi Castoldi M.C.72, the worlds fastest piston-engined seaplane.

It was powered by two of Zerbi’s Fiat AS-6 supercharged V12’s coupled in tandem resulting in a 50 litre 24 cylinder engine. The two motors, mounted back to back were connected by double reduction gears and concentric shafts to two contrarotating duralumin propellors. These were good for 2800hp or 3100hp in short bursts. The plane took the Air Speed Record in 1934 at 440.681mph.

Five aircraft were to be built for the 1931 Schneider, three were completed but the first crashed, killing the pilot, Giovanni Monti. The Italians petitioned for the race to be postponed but the British refused, effectively eliminating both Italy and France- whose entry was not ready either.

 

Sectional view of the opposed piston two-stroke Fiat Tipo 451 engine, ‘scrappy’ but still worth including

Meanwhile, back in Grand Prix racing…

In 1925 Alfa Romeo’s P2 was the dominant GP car taking wins at Spa and Monza in the hands of Antonio Ascari and Gastone Brilli-Peri- the other non-Indy Grand Epreuvewas won by a Delage 2LCV shared by Robert Benoist and Albert Divo at Montlhery.

At the seasons end, having won the World Championship, Alfa Corse withdrew from racing leaving the way clear for Bugatti’s T39 2 litre straight-eight in 1926.

Jules Goux won at Miramas, France, and Lasarte San Sebastian/European GP with Louis Chauvel the winner at Monza- all races won by Bugatti T39’s. The exception was the British GP at Brooklands which was taken by a Delage 15 S8 shared by Robert Senechal and Louis Wagner. Bugatti won the World Manufacturers Championship.

Meanwhile back in Turin, amongst his aviation work Tranquilo Zerbi amused himself with two racing car projects for the 1926-1927 1.5 litre GP formula.

The first, the Tipo 451, designed by Zerbi with the assistance of Giuseppe Sola and Scipone Treves was a two-stroke opposed piston six (52 x 58.5mm bore/stroke) with geared crankshafts.

Roots provided the blower, whilst extensively bench tested to around 152bhp the engines consumption of fuel was matched only by its appetite for pistons. The metallurgy of the time simply could not cope with the enormous heat produced on the exhaust side so the motor never found its way into a car.

His ‘more conservative’ four-stroke offering did, however.

 

 

Pietro Bordino and riding mechanic during the 1922 French GP meeting, Fiat 804 2 litre six (unattributed)

Fiat’s return to elite level racing was as impactful as its designs had been several years before and was perhaps born of Agnelli’s simple desire to redress the balance- assert just who was the most innovative, successful motor car manufacturer of the day.

The engineers were tasked to lead the project and came up with revolutionary approaches in terms of chassis, engine and riding mechanic- or rather lack thereof.

Riding mechanics were banned in Grand Prix racing from the start of 1925, in 1927 two seat cars still required two seats but single-seaters were allowed provided the seat was at least 80cm wide and 25cm high- the Fiat engineers very much minimised and optimised the space.

The thinking extended to the chassis in that the team decided to broaden the distance between the two longitudinal members to allow the engine to be mounted lower by placing the engine in the middle of the lumps of steel rather than on top of them- the car was noticeably lower and narrower than its rivals. The steering wheel was flattened top and bottom to provide the driver with the requisite space to control the machine.

The Type 806 frame had a wheelbase of 240cm and a track of 130cm, the front semi-elliptic springs slid between rollers rather than shackles at their outer ends.

Fiat 806 cutaway drawing (bitmodeller.com)

 

 

(unattributed)

Zerbi’s Tipo Fiat 406 engine was one of extraordinary extravagance of expression and innovation.

An amazing piece of engineering, it was a twelve-cylinder unit comprised of two inline-sixes mounted side by side on a common crankcase with the cranks geared together. The banks of exhaust valves were placed on the outer flanks of the cylinder heads whilst the inlets were adjacent and operable by a single camshaft with twelve lobes.

The cranks were built up using ‘Hirth principles of crankpins mating with webs by radial serrationsand locked together by throughbolts’ LJKS wrote. Their were eight main-bearings of plain journal type- a departure for Fiat who had hitherto used rollers, a tradition they established. Connecting rods were one-piece with plain bearings, three camshafts and a single Roots blower. All up weight of the engine was 170kg to which was attached a four speed gearbox.

The quest was piston area- the bore was 50mm and stroke 63mm, at the time this was a lower bore/stroke ratio than only the Bugatti T39. Fiat achieved fitting larger valves into smaller cylinders.

(unattributed)

 

(Setright)

Whilst Setright asserts the ‘Type 406 engine could run happily run at 8000 rev/min’ at which it gave about 175bhp (187bhp @8500), it seems that state of happiness was not for prolonged periods as testing by Bordino at Monza in the summer of 1927 showed.

Mind you, the car was fast- reportedly four seconds a lap quicker at Monza than the 1925 lap record held by Peter Kreis. Boddy wrote that development work on aero engines impeded progress on the new GP car too so the thing clearly had huge potential.

The low, slender monoposto weighed 700kg dry and was, on paper, the most powerful and fastest car built to the 1.5 litre formula.

In the meantime the 1927 season was well underway with the Delage 15 S-8 proving very competitive with an early win in the GP de l’Ouverture at Monthlery in mid-March and then a championship win at the same circuit in early July.

At the end of the month he won again, this time at Lasarte near San Sebastian, the site of the Spanish GP which that year was one of five Grand Epreuves.

As the European GP at Monza drew closer, Hans Etzrodt wrote that Fiat suddenly withdrew their entry from the race, despite assuring the organisers they would compete if the event were postponed from 4 to 18 September.

The reason given for their withdrawal was supposed tyre problems but it was assumed the new Fiats were not yet ready- that is they were not sufficiently developed to complete a GP of 500km in distance.

As a consequence of Fiat’s concern about the experimental engine’s life- in fact it is said Agnelli himself intervened, whilst the ‘big boys’ contested the 500km European Grand Prix (also the Italian GP) at Monza on 4 September Bordino raced in the 50km Milan GP support event winning his rain soaked heat at 92.88mph and a similarly sodden final at 94.57mph from Giuseppe Campari’s aged 2 litre Alfa Romeo P2.

The victory was not without pain as an engine failed in practice requiring an ‘all nighter’ to have the sole 806 chassis race-ready.

The feature race, poorly supported with only six starters, was won again by Robert Benoist’s Delage 15 1.5 S8, from Giuseppe Morandi, OM 8C GP 1.5 S8 and the Cooper-Miller Special 1.5 S8 shared by Earl Cooper and Peter Kreis.

The Manufacturers World Championship was effectively decided after this race in favour of Delage as neither Miller or Duesenberg could best their points advantage by winning the remaining championship event, the British GP on 1 October.

Bordino, Fiat 806, Monza (unattributed)

 

Alfonso Zampieri Amilcar 1.1 S6, Bordino Fiat 806 1.5 12, Emilio Materassi Bugatti T35C 2.0 S8, Nino Cirio Bugatti T37A 1.5 S4, Abele Clerici Salmson 1.1, Peter Kreis Cooper Miller Spl 1.5 S8, Giuseppe Campari, Alfa Romeo P2 2.0 S8, Aymo Maggi Bugatti T35C 2.0 S8

 

Felice Nazzaro, who was the starter, talking to Bordino on the Milan GP heat 2 grid- Fiat 806. #14 is Robert Serboli, Ciribili 12/16 and #12 Nino Cirio, Bugatti T37A. Bordino won from Cirio and Serboli  (unattributed)

A full team of 806’s was entered for the RAC GP at Brooklands with Nazzaro, Bordino and Salamano nominated as drivers but the cars did not appear, Schneider Trophy priorities were cited as the reason for the no-show.

And with that Fiat withdrew completely from GP racing…finally to reappear as owners of Ferrari in 1969.

There are a variety of theories as to the reasons for Fiats withdrawal from racing whilst noting Boddy’s observations about a focus on aircraft racing earlier.

Dick Ploeg in his review of Sebastien de Coulanges ‘Fiat en Grand Prix’ in velocetoday.com attributes Giovanni Agnelli’s sudden withdrawal to the loss of too many of his star drivers- Evasio Lampiano, Biagio Nazzaro, Enrico Giaccone, Ugo Sivocci and Onesimo Marchisio had all been killed.

The death of Pietro Bordino testing a Bugatti seems to have been the last straw, and with that he ordered the destruction of all FIAT racing cars by the end of the 1927 season.

Cyril Posthumus wrote in ‘The Roaring Twenties’ ‘Benoist in the 1500 Delage had entered for the Milan Grand Prix but elected not to run. That way Delage avoided possible defeat. Only one car was actually built, and legend, unconfirmed, has it that Fiat chief Agnelli, returning from a long American tour, was furious at the work being put into the racing car at a time when the economic recession was already being felt, and ordered it to be broken up, together with all spares and patterns…’ Note that Fiat constructed a factory in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1910 so Agnelli’s knowledge of economic conditions in a key market would have been very much current.

Doug Nye on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ in 2003 wrote that ‘…I was schooled by Cyril Posthumus (my editor at “Motor Racing” magazine in the mid-sixties) to understand that Agnelli pulled out of racing primarily because he was outraged at the manner in which Bertarione had gone off to Sunbeam and produced a Fiat in green paint which won in France at Fiat’s expense, and Becchia went to Talbot and performed similarly and above all when Jano and Bazzi went to Alfa Romeo and really kicked the coal bucket all over Fiat’s lounge carpet…each of these engineers having been- in Agnelli’s view- expensively Fiat trained.’

Doug Nye, again, adds to the theses in his ‘Motor Racing Mavericks’. He wrote, ‘In Fiats experimental shop the prototype 806 lay under wraps until the new year, and on 14 January Guido Fornaca- Fiat’s very pro-motor racing managing director died. As a new regime took over under Agnelli so racing fell from favour, and then came the inexplicable order to destroy the last Grand Prix car, to destroy its engines and all existing parts, and even its detail drawings. This orgy of destruction spelled the end to Fiat’s noble Grand Prix career, and their ultimate racing car just became so much molten metal, bubbling in a cauldron in a Fiat foundry.’

A variety of historians, a variety of views and perhaps all are partially true- the sum total a decision by Agnelli to withdraw from racing.

Bordino, Fiat 806, Monza lovely impressionist piece (P Codognato)

At this point Setright’s observations about the state of Grand Prix racing are interesting.

‘This final abstention of Fiat from racing at the end of 1927 marked the beginning of a period in which, from the engineering point of view, Grand Prix racing went into a period of decline, so that in the next six years only one development of any technical value- the transmission of the 1932 type B Alfa Romeo- caused any stir amid the general stagnation.’

‘The period was also one in which the administration of the sport fell into disorder, the governing body finding itself powerless to control the active participants. Indeed it was this very dissention that contributed to the obstruction of technical progress.’

‘Whether paradoxically or as a direct consequence of this, the sport enjoyed a rise in popularity ‘qua’ sport, and the frequency in which races were held increased markedly in 1928 and 1929. In the first of these years it had been intended that a new set of regulations would supplant the 1 1/2 litre formula which, in its brief two years of life, had demonstrated fairly conclusively that any attempt to limit increases in performance by imposing more severe limitations on engine size would only lead to intensive development of more complex and highly tuned engines so that racing would not become necessarily any slower, nor essentially any safer, but inexorably more costly.’

‘It was therefore proposed that engine capacity should be unrestricted, but that it should be related to a sliding scale of minimum weights ranging from 550-750kg for the empty vehicle, and that races should be over a distance of at least 600km.’

In reality what actually happened was races run to Formula Libre from 1928 to 1934 when the 750kg formula started and a period of both innovation and intensive development of existing paradigms set in motion by the departed Fiat…

(Antique Automobile)

Tipo 406 Engine Detail…

There is not a heap of information about this engine or the car which carried it given the short life of all of the constituent parts, so I have reproduced the material about the motor published in the January 1951 issue of Motorsport. The writer, Bill Boddy, credits ‘Motor Italia’ as the source and ‘Antique Automobile’ for the translation.

‘The bore and stroke were 50mm by 63mm and the cylinder structure as before with a single crankcase for each row of three blocks of two. The inclined overhead valves were of 30mm overall, 27mm face diameter and had a lift of 7mm. Each had three guided springs. Valve operation was by three overhead camshafts, the centre one actuating the inlet valves of each bank, the pouter ones the exhaust valves, via fingers in each instance as in the other FIAT engines.The camshafts, running in plain bearings, were driven from the rear of the crankshaft, via Oldham couplings, by one very large and five small spur gears on anti-friction bearings.’

‘A Roots supercharger was mounted centrally at the front of the engine and driven from the right-hand crankshaft by a pinion meshing with one of the actual rotor gears via a multi-plate clutch. Three pinions united the two crankshafts, which were of built up type by Hirth, running each in four plain bearings. Normal plain big ends were used. The main and big end journals were 40mm in diameter, the former 30mm long, except for the front bearing, which was 32mm long, the latter 41mm. the connecting rods were 5.118 inches long, or over 2 times stroke.’

‘The pistons were again supported by their rings, of which there were two per groove, in three grooves per piston; 18mm sparking plugs extended well into the hemispherical conbustion chambers. The oil pump, at the back of the engine, ran at less than engine speed.’

‘Vaglienti had a hand in the design of this remarkable engine. It weighed 381 lb. and the model 806 car in which it was installed turned the scales at just over 13 cwt. Maximum speed quoted as 149mph. The engine developed 173bhp at 7500rpm and 187bhp at 8500rpm, figures that are truly remarkable. A test in July 1027 shows, shows 160bhp, at 8000rpm at a manifold pressure of 12.52psi, the temperature of the compressed mix 162 degrees fahrenheit (72 degrees C)’

‘This was an experimental engine and it is confidently stated that the aforementioned 187bhp, equal to a power/weight ratio of over 1hp per Kg, was subsequently attained. Compared with the present day 1 1/2 litre engine with two-stage supercharging which gives 300-400bhp on special fuels, the output of this 1927 twelve cylinder FIAT unit still ranks as exceedingly noteworthy’.

Same Monza shot as above but all tidied up with a Fascist or three in attendance (unattributed)

 

Etcetera…

 

(CSF)

Fiat’s first factory at Corso Dante, Turin in 1902.

 

(CSF)

The first Fiat to participate in low level competition was the 1901 8HP road machine but it was quickly replaced by the 12HP four-cylinder car in the same year, both cars are shown in the photo above of the 1901 Giro d’Italia Automobile.

The 8HP in front has a tube radiator whereas the four cylinder behind is fitted with a honeycomb unit and was Fiat’s first purpose built racer- Count Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia was the driver.

(CSF)

The Gordon Bennett Cup started in 1900, it was run until 1905 when the Automobile Club of France, international race organisers themselves, formed their own championship, the first for Grand Prix cars.

In the fifth Cup race in 1904 Vincenzo Lancia (above) won the Brescia-Cremona and Mantua-Brescia sections, the latter at an amazing 71.8mph in his big 75HP Corsa and for this won the Italian Cup, Graham Gauld wrote. The outright winner was Leon Thery in a Richard-Brasier.

(CSF)

Alessandro Cagno (tenth) in front of his 75HP Gordon Bennett Fiat- five were built. Wonderful atmosphere of the times, Event held on the Homburg Circuit, four laps of a 79 1/2 mile course through the Taunus Forest near Bad Homburg, Germany in June 1904.

 

(CSF)

Felice Nazzaro’s great win (above) in the 1907 Targa Florio, teammate Vincenzo Lancia followed his home, they both raced Fiat 28-40 Corsa- 7.3 litre eight cylinder machines ‘with two four cylinder engines in two pairs’ wrote Graham Gauld.

(CSF)

Emile Salmson after winning the 1907 Winter Cup- 322 miles from Gothenburg to Stockholm, over 23 1/2 hours over snow and ice coveered roads,  Fiat 60HP.

(CSF)

Cagno at the wheel of a 1914 Fiat S57/14B Corsa.

(CSF)

Post World War One Italy re-entered motorsport with the 50.9km Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb in October 1919.

The factory entered a 1914 S57A/14B Corsa they had raced at Lyons that year but fitted with an enlarged 4.8 litre engine. When they withdrew Antonio Ascari (above) acquired the car and won the race, beginning the family legend. Another legend got underway in thatsame event- Enzo Ferrari contested his first race in the same event finishing fifth in class aboard a CMN 2.3 litre car.

Three weeks later Ascari won again in the Coppa della Consuma, a 16km hillclimb east of Florence, he then contested Targa, he led after 31km but crashed out at Caltavuturo after 58km, overturning and landing in a ditch. Enzo Ferrari was there too- in an Isotta Fraschini, he also retired.

Carlo Salamano in a Fiat 803 1.5 litre S-4 unsupercahrged, 1922 Gran Premio d’Italia Vetturette (CSF)

You probably did a number count earlier on and wondered what had become of the Tipo 803- indeed there was such a car.

Quite a significant one given its credits of first supercharged formula car win and first to win a GP.

During 1922 design on the new Voiturrette got underway, the chassis was similar to the other race Fiats of the period with front springs passing through the axle. Initially the Tipo 403 engine was a 65 x 112mm bore/stroke normally aspirated twin-cam, two valve four which produced 60bhp.

So engined, a team of cars entered the late 1922 Italian Small Car Race at Monza, Bordino won from Giaccone, Lampiano and Salamano. These 1.5 litre road racers were the fastest cars of their type in the world at the time and almost as quick as their 2 litre brothers.

A further development of the car was to incorporate a Wittig supercharger into the specification, in this 80bhp form the 1.5 litre, supercharged Tipo 403 four cylinder engined machine raced in two events in 1923.

(unattributed)

The photo above shows the grid of the ‘Third Gran Premio delle Vette’ or 1923 GP Voiturette held at Brescia on 29 June 1923.

The 522km race, 30 laps of a 17.4km course, was won by the Alessandro Cagno’s Fiat 803 from Renzo Lenti, Bugatti T22 and Alete Marconcini in a Chiribiri 12/16. Please let me know if you can identify the cars/drivers.

Two 803’s also contested the October 1923 JCC 200 mile race at Brooklands, both Salamano and Malcolm Campbell failed to finish.

Fiat 804 cockpit during the 1922 French GP weekend. Plenty of instruments to keep the mechanic occupied and not a lot of space. A clock is an unusual fitment in a modern GP car. Fuel tap at far left, four speed ‘box. Wonderful.

 

(unattributed)

Enrico Giaccone Fiat 805 during the 1923 French GP, Tours. DNF engine after finishing 32 of 35 laps.

 

(CSF)

Carlo Salamano refuels the body whilst his 805 is attended to during the 1923 Italian GP at Monza, a race he won.

 

(CSF)

Pietro Bordino with the 805 monoposto in the United States in 1925, circuit unknown but possibly Indianapolis.

 

Fiat 806 cutaway drawing (Blueprints)

Art and Photo Credits…

Brian Hatton, Giulio Betti, britmodeller.com, Blueprints, ‘CSF’- Centro Storico Fiat, George A Oliver, Plinio Codognato

Bibliography…

‘The Grand Prix’ LJK Setright, Motorsport January 1951, Dick Ploeg article in VeloceToday.com published 14 December 2011, Hans Etzrodt race reports of the GP D’Europa and GP Milano on kolumbus.fi, ‘Motor Racing Mavericks’ Doug Nye, ‘The Roaring Twenties’ Cyril Posthumus, ‘Aviation History: Schneider Trophy Race’ Historynet.com, ‘Auto Racing Comes of Age’ Robert Dick, ‘Racing Car Evolution Part 3 1922-1925’ Laurence Pomeroy Motorsport November 1942, ‘The Racing Car Development and Design’ Cecil Clutton, Cyril Posthumus and Denis Jenkinson

Tailpiece…

(GA Oliver)

The 2 litre Fiat 804 straight-eight raced by Felice Nazzaro to victory in the 1922 French Grand Prix at Strasbourg. ‘With its low, compact build and six cylinder, roller-bearing engine, it set new design fashions’ wrote Clutton, Posthumus and Jenkinson.

The beautiful drawing of an equally attractive racing car is by George A Oliver.

Finito…

(VC Browne)

Ken Wharton, BRM P15 V16 during the 1954 Lady Wigram Trophy…

Alfred Owen started what became a long commitment to race his BRM’s in Australasia to further the Owen Organisations commercial interests with a trip by the stupendous, stunning and thoroughly nutty P15 V16 to New Zealand in 1954.

Its fair to say the car underperformed as it usually did, but the impact it made on all who saw and heard the marvellous machine at both Ardmore for the NZ GP and Wigram has endured for far longer than a more reliable but less memorable beast.

Wigram (VC Browne)

 

Such free and easy days- Wharton warms the car up before the NZ GP start at Ardmore (J Short)

The 1954 New Zealand International Grand Prix was the second in the history of the race, the first was won by local, John McMillan’s Ford V8 engined Jackson Special in 1950.

The Kiwi organisers leapt over their Australian neighbours across the ditch in attracting an international field to their Formula Libre race including Wharton, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 125, Horace Gould in a Cooper Mk23 Bristol as well as Jack Brabham’s similar car, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta, Stan Jones in Maybach 1- the eventual winner, Lex Davison’s ex-Moss/Gaze HWM and others.

Wharton had the race won in P15 chassis ‘2’ but suffered complete front brake failure- vaporised brake fluid streamed from the front brake cylinders coming down the main straight so Wharton slowed and came into the pits.

Repairs were impossible so the front brake pipes were disconnected with Stan Jones in Maybach 1 winning the race, and subsequent protests about lap-scoring. Stan had more than his share of those post-race contests over the years but he won this one, perhaps at Gould’s expense.

Wharton was second ‘…in what must have been one of the greatest drives of his career to bring the BRM home and to complete the longest race in the cars history’ wrote Doug Nye- Tony Gaze was third, Horace Gould fourth, Ron Roycroft fifth in an Alfa Romeo P3 and Jack Brabham sixth.

Wharton’s problems were caused by a bit of circuit grit lodging in one of the calipers preventing a piston returning fully and causing the brakes to overheat through constant friction, eventually popping off a brake hose union and releasing fluid onto the scorching disc.

(CAN)

At Wigram (above) Wharton again started from pole from Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari, Tony Gaze’s HWM Alta and Fred Zambucka in a pre-war Maserati 8CM.

Whitehead won from Gaze and Wharton, then John McMillan in an Alfa Romeo Tipo B the first local home. Wharton bagged the fastest lap and lap record- as he had at Ardmore.

The BRM had a fresh engine installed between the meetings the car exceeding 150mph on the back straight- shrieking and bellowing in the most audio-erotic fashion in all of motor racing.

(M Hanna)

‘Wharton more or less had the race under control until he had to pit around lap 42 and took on a gallon of oil, the car eventually quit short of the finish line, Wharton pushed it across the line home for third place’ wrote Bob Homewood.

‘The long-distance venture had not proved to be the prestigious demonstration Owen Racing Organisation had hoped…The car was shipped home on the SS Karamea…Ken Wharton flew home via Hawaii…while (mechanic) Gordon Newman decided that New Zealand was such a pleasant country he eventually settled there’ Doug Nye wrote in ‘BRM 1’.

(BRM 1)

Ken Wharton pushed the big, beefy BRM a quarter of a mile over the line just as fourth placed man McMillan’s Alfa Romeo P3 commenced its last lap, encouraged by the BRM mechanics.

(B Homewood)

Gold dust- a Lap Chart from Bob Homewood’s collection ‘…from my BRM in NZ stuff, I make no claim that the pencil lap times are correct’ he quips.

Whilst the Mk2 P15 returned to the UK the team would return many times to Australasia, on the next occasion with a P25 for Ron Flockhart in 1959, shown below at Wigram- he won the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy from Brabham and McLaren’s Cooper T45 Climaxes that day, a story for another time…

(CAN)

Credits…

VC Browne & Son, Classic Auto News, Bob Homewood Collection, Winton Bristow via Roger Dowding, Merv Hanna Collection, ‘BRM 1’ Doug Nye, sergent.com

Etcetera…

(BRM 1)

Jack and Ken at Ardmore.

Brabham in the cap looks across as Wharton sets off for some screaming but sonorous 1.5 litre V16 supercharged practice laps, Cooper T23 Bristol ‘Redex Spl’ looking suitably modest alongside its more aristocratic but far less successful countryman.

(BRM 1)

Lotsa plugs and lotsa plug changes…Newman and Southcott set to it, which of the two airfield circuits is unclear.

(unattributed)

 

Beast at rest in the Wigram pits

 

(W Bristow)

Roger Dowding wrote ‘…sketch by Winton Bristow…I have about eight of them, some finished some not (love to see ’em!) but interesting cars, I have Win’s notes too. Win was a car enthusiast…’. Luvvit!

Pity the long distance travelling race mechanic in 1954, read Nye’s account of Gordon Newman and Willie Southcott’s trip from Lincolnshire to the other end of the world in December 1953.

’…the adventure began at 8am in Bourne, when they caught the bus to Peterborough.

This was followed by a train to King’s Cross, London to report to KLM’s Sloane Street office at noon, a bus to Heathrow and then a 5pm flight to Amsterdam, thence to Auckland via Sydney, Australia.

They had a worldwide Letter of Credit with them, value £130, comprising 50% of 15 weeks wages (£60), expenses at £3 a week (£45) and an extra £25 for contingencies. The NZ GP was…run on January 9 and…Wigram…in the South Island on February 7 with sundry exhibition dates in between.’

No rest for the wicked…

The mighty supercharged 1.5 litre V16 engine (Vic Berris)

 

Wigram again (unattributed)

Tailpiece: Wharton, Wigram 1954- not exactly a light car, just ask Ken…

Finito…