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Cars from the twenties.


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#1 YOSSARION

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Posted 10 September 2001 - 17:17

I have a particular interest in the Grand Prix cars of the twenties, particularly the 1.5 litre formula, as there seemed so much potential there. Does anybody have info on these cars, particularly the Itala (Tipo 451 I believe) which was apparently built, but only as a 1.1 litre voiturette. The Fiat 806, and the opposed piston engine that they dropped (did the eventual V12 have a wide angle as the car seems very low). The OM 865, the Alvis FWD, Thomas Special/Flatiron. Did Alfa or Mercedes have anything planned, but which was dropped?
I look forward to your responses on this.

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#2 alessandro silva

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Posted 10 September 2001 - 20:26

ITALA
1926. Never raced. Designer Giulio Cesare Cappa.
1100. 60 degree V12 engine 46x55 mm
1500. 60 degree V12 engine 50x55 mm
two horizontal valves per cylinder operated by a single camshaft within the V.
8000 Rpm. Compression ratio 5.5:1 with a Roots blower running independntely of the carburettors supplying compressed air to the cylinders through ports at the bottom of the cylinder barrels when uncovered by the pistons. The compressed air thus at the end of the firing stroke cleaned the cylinder and at the end of the induction stroke diluted the mixture.
AMAZING!!
Wooden Chassis, single seater body.
I have seen the car in the Turin Museum and it looks excessively high from the ground and rather heavy and tall. But a look at the engine is an EXPERIENCE!

FIAT 451
1926. Never raced.
“The must curious device of the decade” [Court, Power & Glory]
6 cyl 52x58.55 mm vertically mounted with two geared crankshafts and 12 vertically opposed pistons with communal combustion chambers
152 bhp at 5200 rpm developped to 170 bhp at 6000 rpm. Bordino tested it at Monza in the Summer of 1926 reputedly with good results.
Project nonetheless abandoned but you can imagine the noise made by such an engine! I do not know the fate of the car.

FIAT 406 engine (806 car)
1926/27. Raced Once
Twin six with side by side crankshafts. Three camshafts operated 24 valves, plain bearings replacing the Fiat rollers, nonetheles enabling them to retain one-piece big ends.
160 bhp at 8000 rpm.
187 bhp at 8500 rpm.

Entered sometimes in 26/27 but raced only for the 40 min. (5+5 laps heat & final) long GP Milano at Monza 1927 that won with Bordino at the wheel.
Court calls them “Three of the most breathtaking designs”

Tomorrow the other cars.

#3 YOSSARION

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Posted 12 September 2001 - 15:19

Thanks for that Alessandro. Can I ask where you get your info from? And are there any pictures available?
They do sound like astounding motors, especially for 1926. Is Giulio Cesare Cappa the same man behind the Bugatti T53 4WD?

#4 alessandro silva

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Posted 15 September 2001 - 10:01

YO. I am posting an abriged version of some old notes of mine taken the 50s and 60s mainly from Italian magazines. For the Fiat and Itala cars I checked with
Court, Power & Glory, Mc Donald, 1966 pages 153/154; for the other cars I have foggier references.

In 1926 ALVIS produced a FWD GP design for the current 1.5L formula.
Engine: s/c 8 cyl (straight). Horizontal valves. Monobloc casting of cylinder block, head and top half of the crankcase.
Susp. Reverse De Dion front axle as on the Miller. Rear axle by straight tube suspended by reversed quarter elliptic springs.
Body and chassis in steel, boxed in the bottom of the driving seat, cockpit and part of the rear of the engine, monococque style. Two examples, not ready for the British GP, ran in the 200 race.
In 1927 the engine acquired twin ohd camshafts and the car independent front suspensions and a central driver seat. The cars were DNS at the British GP and DNF the 200 race. Lack of money is considered the reason for lack of reliability.
(from an article by Peter Hull, circa 1968)

OM GP (1926)
“A curious half-baked affair”.
Twin overhead camshaft straight eight engine in the GP tradition of the period.
A good unit hindered by a 3-speed gearbox, an inexplicable handicap. The chassis, moreover, caused severe handling problems, much to the contrary of the famous 2L OM sportscar.
Second and fourth at the Europe GP, Monza 1927.
(from an article by LJK Setright, circa 1968)


For Thomas’ “Flat Iron” I have more, but my scanner does not work properly and I have no time to type it today. I’ll do in some later instance.
You certainly are asking for information about a bunch of highly interesting cars.

#5 Vitesse2

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Posted 15 September 2001 - 11:04

YOS: the full story of the Fiat 806 can be found in "Motor Racing Mavericks" by Doug Nye. It's quite long - if you can't find a copy of the book (it's quite rare) I can photocopy it for you - just PM or e-mail me.

#6 YOSSARION

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Posted 20 September 2001 - 17:49

Thanks to Vitesse for the articles on Fiat 806, Itala and Alvis. The Itala, from the one view I have seen (from behind, and slightly above) looks like a cleaned up, single seat version of the Fiat 805-405, was Cappa involved with the development of that car?
The aticles did raise some questions though. My understanding was that the Talbots were vey fast, but incredibly unreliable. But the horsepower figures given seem to indicate that the Delage was considerably more powerful than the Talbot. Was the Talbot very light, or was the Delage heavy, or are the horsepower figures wrong? I have 144bhp for Talbot and 170bhp for Delage.

#7 karlcars

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Posted 21 September 2001 - 21:05

May I humbly suggest a look at my book, Classic Grand Prix Cars, which has a lot on the cars of the Twenties?

#8 Felix Muelas

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Posted 21 September 2001 - 21:53

Originally posted by alessandro silva
ITALA
1926. Never raced. Designer Giulio Cesare Cappa.
1100. 60 degree V12 engine 46x55 mm
1500. 60 degree V12 engine 50x55 mm

I have seen the car in the Turin Museum and it looks excessively high from the ground and rather heavy and tall.


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#9 YOSSARION

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Posted 24 September 2001 - 08:33

Karl, I welcome any suggestions on reading material, be it humbly or otherwise :) . Being the tight-wad that I am I like to know what it is that I'm purchasing, and the bookshops hardly ever stock the more interesting titles, such as your book. But if anybody can point me in the right direction as far as the best books on this subject I will be more than happy.
Felix, thanks for that photo. The car looks as fantastic as it is in conception.

#10 John Cross

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Posted 26 September 2001 - 15:00

Here is the Fiat 806 chapter from "Motor Racing Mavericks" - quite fascinating really. One of the great "might have beens"!

Brief Encounter, Last of the Grand Prix Fiats

Italy, 1927

Monza Autodrome, 4 September 1927; a cold, grey and dark place to be. The day had dawned to lowering skies and an incessant drizzle fell from grey clouds to drip from the dying autumn leaves of Milan's Royal Park.

Despite the weather a huge crowd was assembling at the Autodrome to watch the Italian Grand Prix, hoping to see a battle of the giants between the French Delages, trying to defend an unbeaten record, and the brand-new Fiat which was headline news that morning. The more knowledgeable among them knew that Delage had sent just one car to defend their record in this the most important race of the year, and they also had the disappointment of knowing that the new Fiat would only be running in the Milan Grand Prix supporting race.

Even so this was to be an historic day, for the new Grand Prix car was to represent the great Torinese company which had dominated the scene until their sudden withdrawal, three years previously.

The great Pietro Bordino was to be driving the Fiat, and sure enough, he took his place on the wet starting grid for the race's first five-lap 50 kilometre heat. The Fiat looked low-slung and wicked, its exhaust note shrill and crisp. It looked every inch a winner.

But from the flag the Fiat was slow off the mark, running gently in mid-field as Bordino sought to run-in a brand-new engine and get the feel of the strange car on Monza's deceptive surface. After one exploratory lap he began to drive with all his renowned skill and fire, passing Campari's Alfa Romeo and Materassi's Bugatti, streaming into the lead and winning at 92.88mph, over half a minute ahead of Count Aymo Maggi's second-placed Bugatti.

The full Grand Prix followed, the taciturn Robert Benoist winning easily in his solitary Delage. His fastest lap of 94.31mph looked lame compared to Bordino's 94.96mph on a damper track, but the Delage was not to run in the second heat of the Milan GP and Bordino brushed off his opposition with disdainful ease, got the full measure of his new mount and stormed round the still wet Autodrome to record one staggering fastest lap at 96.49mph and win from Campari by over forty one seconds!

The huge crowd fully appreciated the new Fiat's potential, and dreamed of a free-for-all battle between that new Italian car and the haughty Grand Prix-winning French Delage. Some are still dreaming of such a battle today, for it never took place, and the Fiat 806 was never to race again....

Fiat had a long competition history. As the Fabbrica Italiana Automobii Torino, the company had been founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli di Bricherasio and Count Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia, the gentleman who gave his name to Turin's fabulous automotive museum.

Their FIAT cars made their name by winning the Grand Prix, the Targa Florio and the Kaiserpreis in 1907. They never looked back, and re-entered the arena in 1921 with a three-litre straight-eight model followed by the super successful Bertarione-designed two litre 'six' which sparkled Louis Coatalen's splendidly wise dictum ''e ees a wise man 'oo copy wizout altair' as he pinched both Bertarione and his design for his later two-litre Sunbeams!

The Italian company, now rendering their name 'Fiat', introduced successful supercharged racing cars - a 1.5-litre 'four' and a 2-litre 130bhp straight-eight which won the European GP - in 1923, and after a crushing defeat in the French Grand Prix of 1924 Senator Agnelli withdrew from racing in a huff. His company had been beaten by Alfa Romeo P2s designed by ex-Fiat engineers lured away to the rival company, and he saw no future in nurturing design expertise from which others were to draw the credit.

This withdrawal came as a bitter blow to those racing department engineers who remained loyal, notably Luigi Cavalli and Tranquillo Zerbi. The latter was largely responsible for the first supercharged engine when barely thirty years old, and now with his elder colleague he began working toward the time when Fiat would re-enter the fray.

In July 1925, Zerbi began work with engineers Sola and Treves on a design intended for the 1500cc Grand Prix Formula which was to run through 1926-27. They were attracted to two-stroke principles, and followed the phantom of reliable two-strokery for more than a year.

They chose a six-cylinder, twelve opposed-piston layout in a similar mould to the old 100mph Gobron-Brillié. The two crankshafts were geared together and the unit was intended to stand in the chassis with one crank vertically above the other. Bore and stroke dimensions were fixed at 52mm x 58.5mm, and typically Fiat roller bearing crankshaft and big-ends were adopted. A Roots-type compressor fed pressure air to the carburettor at a modest 1.37ata (5.25 psi) and the charge then fed through the inlet manifold to a series of ports uncovered by the upper pistons. The lower piston set controlled the exhaust ports.

A prototype engine was assembled and bench-tested, producing some vague power output between 150-170bhp, varying according to the reporting authority.

As with all engines of this type, piston crown cooling was a major problem. The brief opening of the inlet ports (virtually half that available with a four-stroke cycle), and the stark fact that one piston set was continually exposed to all the exhausting charges of incandescent gas, proved more than a match for the oil-cooling system applied to the exhaust pistons. Several spectacular failures occurred on the test bed, and the accompanying explosive noises issued from their test house quite regularly during 1926. So the back-up design was eventually brought out and dusted-off.

This was for a more conventional four-stroke engine, but one which was arranged in an unusual manner. It had twelve cylinders, arranged in two separate vertical banks of six, mounted on a common crankcase in which the two crankshafts were geared together.

Three overhead camshafts controlled inclined overhead valves, the outer pair operating six exhaust valves on each side and the centre shaft carrying twelve cams which actuated the inlet valves in both banks. A similar arrangement was to feature in Dr Porsche's V16 Auto Union engine which was to appear in Germany seven years hence.

The cylinder banks consisted of welded-up two-cylinder blocks, which was standard Fiat practice, but gone were the roller bearings they had earlier helped to popularise. Instead Cavalli and Zerbi used a Hirth-type crankshaft running in four broad plain bearings, and the six con-rods on each crank were formed in one piece.

A front-mounted Roots-type supercharger was driven by the engine's right-side crankshaft, and although this 'double-six' engine looked quite big and bulky, its weight was kept very low by the extensive and daring use of advanced alloys. Bore and stroke were 50mm x 63mm, giving 1,484cc and this unit, designated the type 806, scaled 381 lbs. Compared to Delage's straight-eight, which was its main rival, this was extremely light, for the all-roller bearing French engine weighed fully 500 lbs. It produced 177bhp, but that was no match for the new Fiat 806 unit which showed a shattering 187bhp at 8,500rpm on the test bed. Miller, Talbot and Bugatti were way out of court where this kind of power was concerned.

In May 1927 the 806 car was completed and was given a brief shake-down test on a deserted military parade ground in Turin. The cockpit was offset to the right-hand side to give the driver some room, even though the engine was itself offset to the left by three inches for the same reason.

In August serious testing began at Monza, with Pietro Bordino and Carlo Salamano doing the driving. Both complained of excessive steering vibration but Bordino forced the wicked-looking car round the ten kilometre Autodrome in 3 minutes 32.6 seconds, no less than 4.1 seconds inside the Grand Prix lap record which stood to American Pete Kreis's Duesenberg from 1925.

This was a most praiseworthy performance, but unfortunately it proved too much for the new engine, which broke. Obviously a sustained 8,500rpm in a hard-pressed chassis was more than the new unit's sophisticated alloy construction could stand, and another unit was built up at Turin with reduced boost pressure and capable of producing a more modest 160bhp at 8,000rpm.

Even this was sufficient to be competitive with the contemporary Delage, for the 806 weighed 1,4771bs complete, which was over two hundredweight less than the Delage and Talbot. Its maximum recorded speed of 149mph was thought to be over 15mph faster than the French car's best and it was clearly capable of winning a Grand Prix if it survived the distance.

Cavalli and Zerbi hoped to enter the car in the Italian Grand Prix that September, but Agnelli was not keen to place Fiat's reputation so heavily upon the 806's un-proven shoulders.

So a compromise decision was made, and the 806 was entered in the supporting race. Bordino took the car to Monza and was showing its fierce paces in practice when its fragile engine shattered once more.

In Turin the experimental staff had their hands full with aero engine work for the Schneider Trophy sea-plane race, but after a slow start they knuckled down to a crash building programme to get the 806 mobile in time for its race debut. They worked twenty-four hour shifts and in the small hours of race morning the last nuts were tightened, the levels checked and the new engine howled into life. The car was transported back to the Autodrome and in slick, damp conditions Bordino put up his great performances and announced to the Grand Prix world that Fiat were back.

After the Monza success there were rumours that a three-car entry had been made for the British Grand Prix at Brooklands, where the new overhead-cam front-drive Alvises were to appear, but Fiat of course had neither cars nor engines.

The 1.5-litre Formula to which the 806 had been so carefully constructed effectively came to an end in the new year, when virtual free formula took over Grand Prix racing and the old two litre cars of 1922-25 were revived.

In Fiat's experimental shop the prototype 806 lay under wraps until the new year, and on January 14 Guido Fornaca - Fiat's very pro-racing managing director - died. As a new régime 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 became just so much molten metal, bubbling in a cauldron in a Fiat foundry.

#11 dmj

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Posted 26 September 2001 - 15:23

Italian magazine Ruoteclassiche published an article about racing Fiats a few years ago. I don't understand much Italian but pictures are great, including a full page cutaway of 806. If you want me to post it I will try to find my copy and scan it tomorrow...

#12 Don Capps

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Posted 26 September 2001 - 16:33

Karl's book is a very good one and, unfortunately, one of the few recent books to even give the 20's a serious look. Although perhaps not one that leaps to some minds, but Griff Borgeson's The Golden Age of the American Racing Car, which was reprinted not that long ago and the Mark Dees book on the Millers (Borgeson also had a book on the Millers as well) are wonderful places to look for some of the best -- if not The Best -- 1.5-litre/91 cu. in. cars. Vanishing Litres by Rex Hayes is another good book to look at.

#13 dmj

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Posted 17 October 2001 - 09:45

I hope you will find these interesting (if it will work)
Posted Image
Posted Image

#14 dmj

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Posted 17 October 2001 - 09:56

Maybe this way...
http://photos.yahoo....view=t&.hires=t
http://photos.yahoo....view=t&.hires=t

#15 Felix Muelas

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Posted 17 October 2001 - 11:58

dmj

No, it will be this way : FIAT 806 and Two more pictures :)

Efuliel Samx -that was the best I could do with my name following the "Bison Ravi" guidelines ;) Unfortunately, it doesn't mean a thing! :(

Felix

#16 Darren Galpin

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Posted 17 October 2001 - 12:05

Felix - here are some alternatives:-

Sex Flu Email
Sue Axle Film
Flu Isle Exam
Slim Axe Fuel;)

#17 dmj

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Posted 17 October 2001 - 12:55

Thanks, Felix, I'm still learning how to use vB code :mad: :mad:

#18 valionsu

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:17

Hello to all,

 

I want to ask did anybody have a good picture of the left side of Fiat 805-405 engine. I have cutaway drawing of 405. But I need to see the left side of the engine. If original picture or drawing exist? I mean side view not section.

 

Thank you in advanced

 

Best regards

Valentin



#19 Isidore

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 07:17

There is a drawing, side view left hand side, in:

Fiat en Grand Prix

1920 - 1930

This is I think THE book on Fiat Grand Prix cars.

By Sébastien Faurès Fustel de Coulanges

Published by ETAI in 2009 - yes it is only in french, but the content is absolutely fascinating!

Still available.


Edited by Isidore, 20 August 2014 - 07:17.


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#20 valionsu

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 08:10

Thank you for the answer Isidore,

 

I ask about it because a friend of mine is restoring very rare motorcycle. And we think its engine was made by remains of Fiat 805 and 806:

 

riva-big-res.jpg

 

Sadly the engine is missing. He has all the frame and wheels and tank. But the engine is gone. And this is the only picture where we see what it was in this frame.

 

It was built by italian racer Valerio RIva in 1928. He use Majestic front suspension. But the engine is unknown. The most similar in design is Fiat 806. Only 4 cylinders (two pairs) by the whole 12 cylinder engine. Or it might be possible that even Fiat built the engine for this motorcycle. We need better picture to compare it. Because until now I find only drawings and right side of the engine. But I need to see the left side. Because the picture above is the only one that we know to exist. Is it any info about 500cc 4 cylinder DOHC Fiat enginein the book above? Or they might be even write about Riva motorcycle?

 

Best regards

Valentin


Edited by valionsu, 20 August 2014 - 08:13.