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Why Coopers and not Auto Union?


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#1 Wirra

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 06:54

The celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of their first championship have repeatedly referenced John Cooper and Sir Jack Brabham as ‘revolutionising’ engine placement in F1 cars, i.e. front to back. Driving around town at present I see billboard advertisements for Audi featuring a rear-engined Auto Union. Why was it that the Coopers were so instrumental is bringing about wholesale change and not the Auto Unions 25 years earlier?

Also - How amazing that the Auto Union be used in contemporary advertising. I'm not complaining mind you but it would be interesting to see the market research that supported its use.

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#2 Wouter Melissen

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 09:50

The celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of their first championship have repeatedly referenced John Cooper and Sir Jack Brabham as ‘revolutionising’ engine placement in F1 cars, i.e. front to back. Driving around town at present I see billboard advertisements for Audi featuring a rear-engined Auto Union. Why was it that the Coopers were so instrumental is bringing about wholesale change and not the Auto Unions 25 years earlier?

Also - How amazing that the Auto Union be used in contemporary advertising. I'm not complaining mind you but it would be interesting to see the market research that supported its use.


A large part of this issue is that in the 1930s people believed that the mid-mounted engine was the main problem why the Auto Union's handling had such a bad reputation. The actual problem were the swing axles used in Porsche's original design. By 1939 the problem was actually solved and the Type D handled absolutely fine but other matters took priority in the news at the time. Phil Hill tested one of these for Road & Track and was thoroughly impressed. He suggested that had the War not intervened, all Grand Prix cars would have been mid-engined going into the 1940s. Mercedes-Benz had one in the works and so did Alfa Romeo. After the War resources were slim and conventional cars took over until Cooper gradually showed the way forward in the 1950s.

#3 Terry Walker

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 13:51

I think it's for the same reason that the Mini is credited with the front-wheel-drive revolution, even though it too was a long way from first. In both cases, the modern pioneer was soon followed by many others. Cooper's first proper 2.5 litre F1 car came in the late 50s; in less than 10 years, all F1 cars were rear engined. The Mini came in 1959, and it took a little longer - but not that much - before many other small cars followed suit, and became the dtandard format for small cars. Front-engine rear-wheel-drive, and rear-engine rear-wheel-drive format largely disappeared from the class.

Come to think of it, the huge front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Toronado appeared as early as 1968, just a decade after the Mini.

#4 RA Historian

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 16:57

Come to think of it, the huge front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Toronado appeared as early as 1968, just a decade after the Mini.

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#5 Wouter Melissen

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 17:19

Cooper's first proper 2.5 litre F1 car came in the late 50s; in less than 10 years, all F1 cars were rear engined.


The 2.5 Litre Cooper came in 1959 and the last front-engined Grand Prix win was in 1960.

#6 dretceterini

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 18:23

There were rear and mid engined cars before Auto Union.

#7 Allan Lupton

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 18:37

There were rear and mid engined cars before Auto Union.

Benz Grand Prix car to name but one . . .

#8 Wouter Melissen

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 19:20

Benz Grand Prix car to name but one . . .

Who designed that ??;)

#9 David McKinney

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 19:38

Who designed that ??;)

Hans Nibel and team, based on a design exercise by Dr Edmund Rumpler

#10 RA Historian

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 20:32

The 2.5 Litre Cooper came in 1959 and the last front-engined Grand Prix win was in 1960.

Not counting the non championship win by Stirling Moss in a Ferguson P-99 at the end of 1961. But I am sure that Wouter is referring to Grande Epreuves, with the last win being Phil Hill at Monza in Sept. 1960 in a Ferrari Dino 246-60. (That may not be the exact designation of the car, but you know what I mean)
Tom

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 20:45

Originally posted by Wouter Melissen
The 2.5 Litre Cooper came in 1959 and the last front-engined Grand Prix win was in 1960.


Take this a little further...

The rear-engined Cooper won major Grands Prix in 1958. The last front engined car designed for GP racing would surely have been the Ferguson in 1960/61, just after the Scarab I'd think.

I think it'd be fair to say that anyone who was serious about winning Grands Prix had rear-engined cars in 1960. Cooper, on the other hand, had a rear-engined car of reasonable capacity (2-litres) in GP racing in 1955. What might have deterred others from following that trend back then was the failure of the Bugatti of similar vintage and the lack of real success from the Cooper.

Graham Howard treats this subject very well in the Chevron book, The Official 50-Race History of the Australian Grand Prix, where he first describes the car among the entries:

Brabham's rear-engine cooper Bristol, on the other hand, seemed not so much a factory car as an Australian special built in England. Granted it had the standard Cooper asset of useful power/weight - about 150hp on 60% methanol fuel from its 2-litre Bristol engine (the quoted 2.2-litre engine, if it was ever used, did not come to Australia) - to propel a claimed dry weight of around 1100lbs; nonetheless the 250bhp of the Maserati only had to haul some 1400lbs and even the Lago, with a claimed output about equal to the Maserati, only weighed about another 300lbs more.

At least the car had the large Cooper Bristol type brakes, rather than the tiny drums of its Climax-engined Sports Car siblings.

It was a virtual orphan, and it tended to behave like one. Its UK outings, starting with the British GP in July, produced three successive DNFs (overheating at Aintree, bent valves after jumping out of gear at Crystal Palace, broken gearbox case at Brands Hatch) before it scored two fourths at Chaterhall and another fighting fourth, after leading Moss in the rain, at Snetterton. The car was then shipped to Australia - where it proceeded to DNF some more: it sheared its oil pump drive and probably damaged the engine during practice for the October Bathurst meeting, then had more oil-system trouble at Orange two days later, coasting into second after leading a preliminary, then retiring after just one lap of the main event. A week later - Tom Brabham having helped with driving the outfit the 850 miles across from Sydney - the car was at Port Wakefield for the Australian Grand Prix.


Interesting comments there in the context of this thread. Then, in his summary of its win in the 1955 Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield:

As for the car: it caused no instant revolution in Australian racing, and little wonder. From Port Wakefield, it returned to Sydney and raced at Mt Druitt a fortnight later, winning a scratch sprint but lapping a second slower than the lap record Brabham already held with his conventional Cooper Bristol. From there the car went to Southport for the Queensland Grand Prix, where it led before jumping out of gear and bending its valves; it then went to New Zealand for the NZ GP, but failed to start after splitting its gearbox case. The car next raced at Orange at the end of January, where it was timed at 145mph, some 5mph faster than Kevin Neale's conventional version, but where it was left well behind by Jones in the Maybach and Hunt's newly-landed Maserati 250F. The Cooper's final appearance with Brabham was at Fishermans's Bend in February: it broke a cam follower in practice and did not race.

The Cooper, in fact, had left Australian motor racing distinctly underwhelmed. People could see the new technology well enough: it was represented by as-new-as-possible factory-built Italian cars, and Jones ordered a 250F like Hunt's new car, while Davison bought Tony Gaze's recently-uprated Ferrari, and the face of late-1950s Australian GPs was defined. Brabham's car, on the other hand, was passed over.

"What an odd-looking racer this is" commented one of the magazines at the time. Unkind, perhaps, but truer than they knew: the rear-engined Cooper Bristol was not a natural thing. The message from Port Wakefield was not that it was the first rear-engine car to win an AGP, but that it could not have won it if it hadn't been driven by our first professional driver.



#12 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 20:51

Interesting that Prof. Porsche gets the general credit for "the Auto Union" and it's influence on racing car design but his C Type design was in many ways something of a blind ally with what eventually proved to be pretty dubious swing arm arrangement at the back (subsequently rather infamous for the way it made Beetles and early 911s handle in the wet) and a front end that although used in several other designs (ERA, BRM etc) proved markedly inferior to double wishbones in the way it maintained the intended geometry.
In reality the C Type was something of a monster which only one man (with almost supernatural talent) really seemed to master whereas the much more civilised, and in many ways much more influential D Type was not , I believe, actually a Porsche design? (Stands well back ready to be corrected if that isn't the case...risky making these statements from memory...)



#13 Wouter Melissen

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 06:35

Prof. Eberan von Eberhorst designed Type D after Porsche left to design the Beetle. The main difference was the DeDion rear axle that made it a much better car. The personnel changes meant that it arrived late and did not catch up with the exquisite Mercedes-Benz until the twin-stage engine was introduced at Reims in 1939. Actually, Auto Union driver Müller actually scored more (less actually) points than champion Lang.

See here: http://www.kolumbus....ellman/cha9.htm

#14 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 06:55

Prof. Eberan von Eberhorst designed Type D after Porsche left to design the Beetle. The main difference was the DeDion rear axle that made it a much better car. The personnel changes meant that it arrived late and did not catch up with the exquisite Mercedes-Benz until the twin-stage engine was introduced at Reims in 1939. Actually, Auto Union driver Müller actually scored more (less actually) points than champion Lang.

See here: http://www.kolumbus....ellman/cha9.htm

I thought that Nuvolari won at Monza and Donington in 1938.

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 08:35

Did you mean to quote Simon there, Roger?

Regarding the 'supernatural talent', I'm assuming...

#16 Allan Lupton

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 10:45

Did you mean to quote Simon there, Roger?

Regarding the 'supernatural talent', I'm assuming...

No I expect he was pointing out that the D-type had already won in 1938 before the two-stage blown version existed.


#17 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:34



How lucky were AU to have two successive team leaders in the 'supernatural talent' bracket?

Here's the pair of them at Donington a year apart. Wouldn't it be wonderful to hop in a time machine to watch (and hear) these two amazing drivers in these two spectacular cars?

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#18 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:36

No I expect he was pointing out that the D-type had already won in 1938 before the two-stage blown version existed.

I was, but it's also worth pointing out that Varzi and Stuck both won important races in the 16-cylinder Auto-Union. Rosemeyer may have been a supernatural talent but the story that he was the only man able to handle the early A-U is not true.

#19 David McKinney

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 12:12

Couldn't agree more, Roger

I have long believed that the Auto Unions' handling difficulty was a myth - compare the lap-times for each team-member with, say, Rosemeyer early on and Varzi and Nuvolari later, and then compare those differences with the ones for individual members of the Mercedes-Benz team, and see what conclusions can be drawn...

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#20 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 17:24

I'm sure that everybody knows that the A-U rear suspension was modified in the middle of 1936 - torsion bars instead of leaf springs and radius arms to locate the swing axle - but does anybody know what effect this had on the cars' handling? it must have more or less coincided with Rosemeyer's period of dominance.

#21 Tim Murray

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 17:45

The torsion bar rear suspension was first used on the 1935 car, and the radius arm to locate the swing-axle was always used. I thought that it was the limited-slip differential that gave AU their 1936 edge.

The W25 MB also used swinging axles, and I don't recall hearing too many criticisms of its handling (in 1934/35 anyway).

#22 Allan Lupton

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 18:10

The torsion bar rear suspension was first used on the 1935 car, and the radius arm to locate the swing-axle was always used. I thought that it was the limited-slip differential that gave AU their 1936 edge.

The W25 MB also used swinging axles, and I don't recall hearing too many criticisms of its handling (in 1934/35 anyway).

The jacking effect of swing axles is less important for a front-engined car, I suggest.
Without looking it up, I seem to recall very limited travel on the early MB suspensions which would have helped contain the swing-axle problems. I can't say for sure, but I think AU had greater travel.
The other difficult aspect of the early AU was the fuel tank position which put the driver even further from the back wheels than strictly necessary (although it minimised the c.g. shift due to fuel consumption).

#23 Roger Clark

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 18:12

The torsion bar rear suspension was first used on the 1935 car, and the radius arm to locate the swing-axle was always used. I thought that it was the limited-slip differential that gave AU their 1936 edge.

The W25 MB also used swinging axles, and I don't recall hearing too many criticisms of its handling (in 1934/35 anyway).

That's interesting. I got those statements from Cameron Earl's report.

#24 Tim Murray

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 18:35

That's interesting. I got those statements from Cameron Earl's report.

You're quite right - it does say that. I must have missed that bit when I first read it, as it is quite clearly incorrect. All the photos I've ever seen of the 1935 car indicate torsion bar, not leaf spring, rear suspension. My copy of the Earl report (the Quicksilver 1996 reprint) has on page 12 a layout drawing of the 1935 rear suspension showing the torsion bar linkages.

#25 Tim Murray

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 18:50

The other difficult aspect of the early AU was the fuel tank position which put the driver even further from the back wheels than strictly necessary (although it minimised the c.g. shift due to fuel consumption).

This is a very interesting point. For years I accepted this theory that the Auto Unions were difficult to drive because the driver was sat too far forward. Then the F1 cars of the early eighties appeared, with the drivers of some of these sat even further forward than in the AU. Again, I don't recall hearing any comments relating to these cars being more difficult to drive than the earlier (and later) cars where the driver was sat further back.

#26 Vitesse2

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 10:41

Couldn't agree more, Roger

I have long believed that the Auto Unions' handling difficulty was a myth - compare the lap-times for each team-member with, say, Rosemeyer early on and Varzi and Nuvolari later, and then compare those differences with the ones for individual members of the Mercedes-Benz team, and see what conclusions can be drawn...

Nevertheless, it's undeniable that the drivers who were apparently most successful with the cars - Varzi, Nuvolari, Rosemeyer, Müller - were ex-motorcyclists. Whether Auto Union believed that motorcycle experience was necessary I don't know, but they did test far more motorcyclists than Mercedes Benz: Geiss, Karmann, Kirchberg, Kluge, Ley, Loof, Soenius, Steinbach, Winkler and Zimmermann.


#27 Roger Clark

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 11:35

This is a very interesting point. For years I accepted this theory that the Auto Unions were difficult to drive because the driver was sat too far forward. Then the F1 cars of the early eighties appeared, with the drivers of some of these sat even further forward than in the AU. Again, I don't recall hearing any comments relating to these cars being more difficult to drive than the earlier (and later) cars where the driver was sat further back.

Setright said that the arguements about seating position were false, that what matters is angular acceleration (measured in radians per second per second) not linear acceleration (measured in feet per second persecond). Angular acceleration is the same no matter where the driver sits.

Edited by Roger Clark, 02 September 2009 - 11:36.


#28 DOF_power

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 12:12

Couldn't agree more, Roger

I have long believed that the Auto Unions' handling difficulty was a myth - compare the lap-times for each team-member with, say, Rosemeyer early on and Varzi and Nuvolari later, and then compare those differences with the ones for individual members of the Mercedes-Benz team, and see what conclusions can be drawn...




Pardon me, but that's B*.
How about comparing the amount of crashes, and the result of Rosemeyer vs. his team mates in 35, 36, 37.

Edited by DOF_power, 02 September 2009 - 12:17.


#29 DOF_power

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 12:18

The real answer, the current corpse of GP racing is controlled by the british, not the germans or other continentals.

#30 RA Historian

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 13:21

The real answer, the current corpse of GP racing is controlled by the british, not the germans or other continentals.

Just what the dickens does that have to do with the subject?? :confused:
Tom

#31 DOF_power

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 13:26

Just what the dickens does that have to do with the subject?? :confused:
Tom




Those who are in control write the history and put out the official popular stories.

#32 Allan Lupton

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 17:23

Setright said that the arguements about seating position were false, that what matters is angular acceleration (measured in radians per second per second) not linear acceleration (measured in feet per second persecond). Angular acceleration is the same no matter where the driver sits.

Whilst Setright is correct about angular acceleration, most still think you feel linear acceleration better, and that the nearer you are to the (in this case) rear wheels when they break adhesion the better the chance of doing something about it.
The more modern forward control cars were not expected to use slip angles of the magnitude the pre-war cars did, which may have helped support LJKS's view

#33 kayemod

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 17:30

Those who are in control write the history and put out the official popular stories.


"It's all lies, lies I tell you!"

Don't you just love conspiracy theorists?


#34 RA Historian

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 20:29

Those who are in control write the history and put out the official popular stories.

Oh for crying out loud!!

Friends, looks like we have another one here..... :well:

Tom

#35 Tony Matthews

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 20:36

Oh for crying out loud!!

Friends, looks like we have another one here..... :well:

Tom

Tom, you obviously haven't been visiting all available Fora, he's been on my ignore list - a very short list - for weeks, if not months. It saves a deal of blood-pressure.

#36 RA Historian

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 20:42

Tom, you obviously haven't been visiting all available Fora, he's been on my ignore list - a very short list - for weeks, if not months. It saves a deal of blood-pressure.

You are right, Tony, I haven't. I only frequent TNF and do not visit any of the others on Atlas. I notice that he has been a member for only a short time and has over 1000 posts. He just popped up here, so he obviously has been active elsewhere. Are his posts here representative of what he has been doing elsewhere? If so, good grief.
Tom

#37 uechtel

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 07:22

Nevertheless, it's undeniable that the drivers who were apparently most successful with the cars - Varzi, Nuvolari, Rosemeyer, Müller - were ex-motorcyclists. Whether Auto Union believed that motorcycle experience was necessary I don't know, but they did test far more motorcyclists than Mercedes Benz: Geiss, Karmann, Kirchberg, Kluge, Ley, Loof, Soenius, Steinbach, Winkler and Zimmermann.


But can this have something to do with the fact, that the Auto Union was running a motorcycle team as well unlike Mercedes? Also to my (not so well informed pre-war-) knowledge, hadn´t a majority of the drivers in that era begun on motorcycles? With the conclusion, that of course also a major part of the leading drivers were former motorcycle racers?

And on the contrary: what about Stuck? Again I am not familiar with every detail of his biography, but I don´t connect him with cars rather than motorbikes, and he had a *very* successful 1934 season, when - to the statements made here - the Auto Union should have been in the most difficult condition to drive?

#38 Catalina Park

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 08:10

Whilst Setright is correct about angular acceleration, most still think you feel linear acceleration better, and that the nearer you are to the (in this case) rear wheels when they break adhesion the better the chance of doing something about it.
The more modern forward control cars were not expected to use slip angles of the magnitude the pre-war cars did, which may have helped support LJKS's view

I have driven vehicles where you sit in front of the front wheels and you can easily feel when the tail slides. I do not accept the forward driving position as being the Auto Unions handicap.

#39 Tony Matthews

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 08:41

I have driven vehicles where you sit in front of the front wheels and you can easily feel when the tail slides.


Must be all that concrete mix moving about!  ;)

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#40 Catalina Park

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 09:29

Must be all that concrete mix moving about! ;)

Yep. It does call for a bit of fancy driving at times.

#41 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 09:33

But can this have something to do with the fact, that the Auto Union was running a motorcycle team as well unlike Mercedes? Also to my (not so well informed pre-war-) knowledge, hadn´t a majority of the drivers in that era begun on motorcycles? With the conclusion, that of course also a major part of the leading drivers were former motorcycle racers?

The only other leading GP driver of that era I can think of who had any success on bikes is Taruffi. And certainly AU drew on the DKW riders - but they also tested BMW men too. I'm not convinced that bike experience was necessary, but OTOH it's a remarkable coincidence.

And on the contrary: what about Stuck? Again I am not familiar with every detail of his biography, but I don´t connect him with cars rather than motorbikes, and he had a *very* successful 1934 season, when - to the statements made here - the Auto Union should have been in the most difficult condition to drive?

Yes, he may be the exception that proves the rule (if there is one!) But his 1934 season is perhaps illusory. Without doubt he had a great year on the hills, but in races, ignoring DNFs etc he was:

2nd Eifelrennen: led on a light fuel load, but lost over 2 minutes in the pits when he had to stop for fuel, plugs and tyres.

1st German GP: lost lead to Caracciola, who then retired.

5th Coppa Acerbo: took over Sebastian's car after his engine blew.

1st Swiss GP: won from the front, but Mercedes were in disarray and the only challenge came from Nuvolari, who stayed with him in an outclassed Maserati for lap after lap before retiring.

2nd Italian GP: actually handed his car over to zu Leiningen for 10 laps before resuming. Five of the first seven finishers were shared drives.

4th Spanish GP: led early, but retired. Then took over zu Leiningen's car, taking it from 10th to 4th, although still a long way behind the Mercedes.

1st Masaryk GP: effectively "lucked in" to a win after Fagioli's leading Mercedes had a long pit stop.

There's also the "there's no substitute for litres" argument, the 1934 AU having 4.4 to MB's 3.3.  ;)

#42 Tim Murray

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 10:11

Hermann Lang had some success racing and hillclimbing bikes, both solo and with sidecar, winning the German Hillclimb Championship (for sidecars) in 1931. He says in his autobiography that this played some part in his being given a test drive by MB.

#43 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 10:26

Hermann Lang had some success racing and hillclimbing bikes, both solo and with sidecar, winning the German Hillclimb Championship (for sidecars) in 1931. He says in his autobiography that this played some part in his being given a test drive by MB.

Heh. Brain fade there (only one cup of coffee!) Although if you check page 13 of "Grand Prix Driver", he was initially rejected for a job at MB because he'd raced motorcycles! Neubauer had misunderstood what he was applying for (he only wanted to be an engine fitter!), saying "he has worked as a motorcycle racer .... but I am not of the opinion that this qualifies him for the care of a modern racing car. If we should need a capable engine mechanic in the works, we can always call for him again. I am, however, of the opinion that he particularly wants a job as a racing driver rather than mechanic, and the former is of no particular importance at the moment."


#44 uechtel

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 12:36

The only other leading GP driver of that era I can think of who had any success on bikes is Taruffi. And certainly AU drew on the DKW riders - but they also tested BMW men too.


Yes, but they probably had insight view into the scene, they probably had a positive attitude towards motorcycle racers etc. etc.
I only want to point, that disregarding the other possible factors (that could have had influence on the decision whom to invite for the test drives) may lead to a biased conclusion.

Yes, he may be the exception that proves the rule (if there is one!) But his 1934 season is perhaps illusory. Without doubt he had a great year on the hills, but in races, ignoring DNFs etc he was:
2nd Eifelrennen: led on a light fuel load, but lost over 2 minutes in the pits when he had to stop for fuel, plugs and tyres.
1st German GP: lost lead to Caracciola, who then retired.
5th Coppa Acerbo: took over Sebastian's car after his engine blew.
1st Swiss GP: won from the front, but Mercedes were in disarray and the only challenge came from Nuvolari, who stayed with him in an outclassed Maserati for lap after lap before retiring.
2nd Italian GP: actually handed his car over to zu Leiningen for 10 laps before resuming. Five of the first seven finishers were shared drives.
4th Spanish GP: led early, but retired. Then took over zu Leiningen's car, taking it from 10th to 4th, although still a long way behind the Mercedes.
1st Masaryk GP: effectively "lucked in" to a win after Fagioli's leading Mercedes had a long pit stop.
There's also the "there's no substitute for litres" argument, the 1934 AU having 4.4 to MB's 3.3. ;)


Thanks for the facts, and agreed, the naked results may flatter his real skills, but if the rear engine would have been exceptionally problematic, then I would have expected him much less competitive, more litres or not. He got along well on the hills, he got along usually well on the circuits, and in both he was at least more competitve than the average of the rest of the field.

#45 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 15:21

Yes, but they probably had insight view into the scene, they probably had a positive attitude towards motorcycle racers etc. etc.
I only want to point, that disregarding the other possible factors (that could have had influence on the decision whom to invite for the test drives) may lead to a biased conclusion.

At this distance it's difficult to know, but certainly in Britain motorcyclists were viewed as (if I can use such a pejorative term) Untermenschen. Gentlemen raced cars, greasy mechanics raced motorcycles.

Thanks for the facts, and agreed, the naked results may flatter his real skills, but if the rear engine would have been exceptionally problematic, then I would have expected him much less competitive, more litres or not. He got along well on the hills, he got along usually well on the circuits, and in both he was at least more competitve than the average of the rest of the field.

Granted. Stuck was a good, but not an outstanding driver. Superb on the hills, although I wonder how much of that (at least in later years) was due to superior machinery. In 36-39, he picked up wins at places like Feleac, Maloja and La Turbie where there was no real opposition to his specialised hillclimb cars.


#46 Roger Clark

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 20:50

Phil Hill tested one of these for Road & Track and was thoroughly impressed. He suggested that had the War not intervened, all Grand Prix cars would have been mid-engined going into the 1940s. Mercedes-Benz had one in the works and so did Alfa Romeo.

I didn't know that.

I did know that Daimler-Benz considered a rear-engined car when designing the W25 and again when designing the W154. They did have a lot of ex-Benz engineers and by 1937 Porsche were working or them so they weren't short of information about the configuration. Uhlenhaut was quoted pst-war as saying that the rear-engine offered no significant advantages.

Alfa Romeo built a rear engined voiturette but not, as far as I know, a Grand Prix car. I wonder why.

There were factions within auto-Union, including the Technical Director, who believed that the rear engine was inferior and would have abandoned it except that the concept was so closely associated with the marque.

#47 David McKinney

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 22:04

Alfa Romeo built a rear engined voiturette but not, as far as I know, a Grand Prix car. I wonder why.

Wasn't it generally believed in 1939 that the next Grand Prix formula would be for 1500cc cars? Which would suggest Alfa did in fact build a rear-engined Grand Prix car :)


#48 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 22:35

Wasn't it generally believed in 1939 that the next Grand Prix formula would be for 1500cc cars?

Indeed it was. Both Neubauer and Feuereissen had publicly backed a 1500cc limit by early 1939. In addition to ERA (who already had the E-type) I know of at least five companies/individuals in Britain alone who were aiming to build a 1500cc GP car for the 1941-43 Formula. Not all would have come to fruition, but I think we can take it as read that ERA (in some form), Alta and Parnell's Challenge would have been there or thereabouts. The Dixon/Rolt 4WD is very unlikely to have been ready, Earl Howe's two-stroke was probably no more than kite-flying and I doubt Maclure's somewhat nebulous plans for an updated Riley would have ever coalesced either.

Even so, if you add Alfa, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Auto Union and perhaps Bugatti (and maybe even Gordini) to the mix I think you'd have had something resembling the variety of F1 racing in the late 50s.

Which would suggest Alfa did in fact build a rear-engined Grand Prix car :)

Exactly! It just wasn't as good as the 158.


#49 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 06:45

Wasn't it generally believed in 1939 that the next Grand Prix formula would be for 1500cc cars? Which would suggest Alfa did in fact build a rear-engined Grand Prix car :)

If you wish, but the point is that the 162 was front engined. That's what I was wondering about.

#50 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 08:33

If you wish, but the point is that the 162 was front engined. That's what I was wondering about.

Perhaps a front-engined layout was the only thing Ferrari and Ricart agreed on? Horse pushing the cart and all that ....