Twin-engined racing cars
Posted 27 September 2001 - 02:35
I thought that might have triggered some discussion on twin-engined (or multi-engined) racing cars, particularly GP and Indianapolis cars. Surprisingly, it didn't, although there was some good information on John Bolster's famous "Bloody Mary" from Roger Clark.
In Australia we have had Eldred Norman's "Double V8", a big car built from war surplus parts in the late 1940s with two Ford V8 engines running in tandem.
In the late 1950s Jack Myers ran two twin cylinder motorcycle engines, first in a Cooper Mk IV, later in a tube frame car of more modern design.
Both of these cars were moderately successful, although I suspect they demonstrated - as almost all such cars (with the exception of some Land Speed Record cars) do - that an improved single engine might have been a better way to go.
The Alfa Romeo Bi-Motori is well known, but was unsuccessful. And there was an earlier attempt with two engines side-by side.
Posted 27 September 2001 - 09:01
Posted 27 September 2001 - 11:02
Posted 27 September 2001 - 11:33
Posted 27 September 2001 - 11:38
Posted 27 September 2001 - 12:00
Posted 27 September 2001 - 14:01
....and didn't Twin Mini almost kill John Cooper? Somewhere in an issue of SCG Bernard Cahier &/0r John Blundsden had a look at the Twin Mini -- and I think the Targa as well.
Posted 27 September 2001 - 14:25
I also remember a couple of Pikes Peak hillclimb specials with twin engines. Volkswagen tried a twin engine Jetta.
Posted 27 September 2001 - 14:53
Posted 27 September 2001 - 17:25
I also remember, about that time Laurence Pomeroy proposing a twin engined GRand Prix car, but I don't know whether it was two 750cc engines for the current formula or two V8s for the newly announced one. THe car was never designed, let alone built, of course!
Posted 27 September 2001 - 17:57
Posted 27 September 2001 - 20:01
Posted 28 September 2001 - 00:00
I haven't gotten around to doing any serious research on this yet. I was hoping The Nostalgia Forum members would narrow the targets of what I am looking for. But I seem to remember that the Tipo A is the one I referred to in my original post as the "earlier one with the engines side by side".
I have seen both cars (Bi-Motori and the Tipo A "twin") and the latter looked a much more elegant piece of engineering to me. The Bi-Motori looked (and by all acounts was) a real monster.
The Tipo A, though, probably had too much weight at one end and too much power for a chassis designed for half the engine size.
If anyone has any magazine articles on ANY multi-engined cars (Twin Mini etc) and are able to scan same for e-mailing, I would love to see them.
This has been a long term interest of mine (not that I think it's a good way to go, just that I love to see engineering ingenuity and the determination required to try to make the theory work). I am beginning to put it all together.
Something else that would be of interest would be magazine reports of John Cooper's crash. There was talk of throttle problems, gear selection malfunction etc, but I always wondered if it might not have been a simple case of driving too fast for the conditions. Does anyone know more?
Posted 28 September 2001 - 00:46
As an entirely Scuderia Ferrari venture, two Bi-Motore Alfa Romeos were built in less than four months at Modena in 1935, designed by Luigi Bazzi, and intended for formula libre races on very fast tracks and for record breaking. These cars each had a lengthened P3 chassis, with one P3 engine in the normal place, and the other in the tail behind the driver, who sat on top of three speed gearbox between the engines. front suspension was Dubonnet, the rear axle was jointed in the middle and located by the radius rods, with semi-elliptic springs. One car built for Nuvolari had two 3.2 litre engines and the other built for Chiron had two 2.9 litre engines. (continues with results...)
Peter Hull 'Alfa Romeo'
P.S. If there are any typos, worry not, it's me after all, and I was typing it in a bit of hurry...;)
Posted 28 September 2001 - 04:51
Posted 28 September 2001 - 17:13
In a lesser venue, the Fittipaldi brothers built a twin Porsche-engined car with a VW Beetle body. (This was before they went to England.) I remember a magazine article about it, possibly in Motor Trend. I probably have the magazine somewhere, although it might be years before I run across it.
Posted 28 September 2001 - 17:22
Posted 28 September 2001 - 17:36
They took the front end of another Scirrocco (inner wings, suspension, subframe, engine and gearbox) and somehow welded it into the back of the other car. IIRC, it had a 1600cc front engien and a 2000cc rear one, or something ,like that , to give a better power distribution. Dunnio how they sort the gear change out, but the thingg worked pretty well. On club level tarmac rallies in NW England it was almost unbeatable for a few years, especially on events on the old Aintree circuit.
Eventually the RACMSA banned it (and all twin engine cars) for rallying because they were a loophole that got around the MSA's maximum engine capacity rules.
Posted 28 September 2001 - 22:09
A second Bolster Special (not a Bloody Mary) was built by John's elder brother Richard. This originally had four rudge motorcylce ngines, coupled together ith chains. richard gave upthe struggle of synchronizing the engines and fitted an 1100cc MG Magnette engine. Richard was killed during the war.
Posted 28 September 2001 - 23:57
Originally posted by Barry Lake
The Tipo A, though, probably had too much weight at one end and too much power for a chassis designed for half the engine size.
If anyone has any magazine articles on ANY multi-engined cars (Twin Mini etc) and are able to scan same for e-mailing, I would love to see them.
This has been a long term interest of mine (not that I think it's a good way to go, just that I love to see engineering ingenuity and the determination required to try to make the theory work). I am beginning to put it all together.
Something else that would be of interest would be magazine reports of John Cooper's crash. There was talk of throttle problems, gear selection malfunction etc, but I always wondered if it might not have been a simple case of driving too fast for the conditions. Does anyone know more?
I thought that the Tipo A's chassis was designed specially for it. It had the dual transmissioon system that Jano later used for the Tipo B. It was, I understand a lot easier on tyres than the rival Maserati and Bugatti, and certainly than the Bimotori. OrsiniZagari in "Scuderia Ferrari" say that Campari liked the car, but Nuvolari and Borzacchini did not, possibly blaming it for Arcangeli's fatal crash. It won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, so the handling can't have been too bad.
I've looked, but I can't find any descriptions of the twin engined minis apart from this in Motor Sport's report on the Targa florio: "A mini bodyshell with an engine at each end and four wheel drive, the only connection between the two being the gear-change mechanism. A large scoop on the right, just in front of the rear wheel, took air in across the rear engine to the normal Mini layout of a radiator and fan, but with a larger radiator element, and the air then exuded from a rearward-facing scoop in front of the left rear wheel.
Autosport said of John Cooper's crash: "folowing n inexplicable crash on the two-way section of the Kingston By-Pass near the Hooch underpass, John Cooper was taken to Kngston Hospital with head injuries. He was driving an experimental twin-engined Cooper-Mini with struck the 3-ft retaining wall separating he double highway, from all accounts the car first mounted the nearside kerb, before spinning round. John was unconcious when admitted to hospital, but his injuries were found to be not as serious as first believed. When he recovered conciousness he had no recollection of what had happened."
It is possible that this accident and the performance of the Downton car in Siciliy, caused he concept to be quietly forgotten.
Posted 29 September 2001 - 01:34
Silly mistake of mine to say the Tipo A was designed for half the engine size. That it was originally designed to have the two engines side by side explains why it looks so integrated; it really is a nice looking piece of work. There is no outward suggestion that there are two engines under the bonnet
The Bi-Motori, on the other hand, always has looked to me like a "hot rod" by comparison.
I have remembered another couple of twin-engined cars in Australia. One was former Repco engineer (and one-start GP driver) Paul England's Ausca-VW hillclimb car. The other was a Goggomobil Coupe my son and I came up against in club events about 10 years ago that had an engine in each end (which might have been Minis, I will have to check). It went like stink up hills and around dirt short circuits, but they seemed always to be working on it.
Vitesse2's recommendation of Motor Racing Mavericks was a good one. I have had the book for many years but had not thought to use it as a short cut to list many of these "twingine" cars.
Posted 29 September 2001 - 12:03
'Black Tuesday', 29 October 1929, was the day on which Wall Street's famous crash occurred. The Dow Jones trading index plummeted 48.31 points in the day, and was to fall to its all-time low of 41.22 points in July of 1932. World trade slumped 57 per cent between 1929 and 1936 and at its height the Great Depression wiped $125,000,000,000 off security values.
Despite financial chaos and disaster the relatively carefree motor racing world went on its way. There were changes, there were down-gradings, but still the originality of thought bred only by fierce competitive pressure continued to shine through.
For the 1930 Indianapolis '500' the AAA raised their capacity limit from 91.5 cubic inches to 366 cubic inches (5.99 litres). There were to be no superchargers allowed on four-stroke engines, no more than two poppet valves per cylinder, no more than two carburettor throats, a minimum weight of 1,750 lbs was imposed, track width was set at between fifty-four and sixty inches, and body-widths were set at thirty-one inches with both driver and mechanic to be carried. This latter ruling was tragically to cost many lives during the reign of the 'Junk Formula', but the legislators were well-meaning in their attempt to cut the costs of buying and maintaining a racing car, and to attract the big manufacturers back into racing.
The new cubic inch allowance also allowed some adventurous 'special builders' to get to work, and the Formula's first 500-Mile race saw 1928 winner Lou Meyer in one of the most interesting of the new oars.
It was a 16-cylinder with two ninety-one cubic inch straight eight Miller engines mounted in parallel on a common, twinned crankcase. It was the work of Riley Brett, who had become one of American racing's most famous figures.
He had been Jimmy Murphy's mechanic back in the early twenties, the man who promoted the front-drive Millers. Then he had helped build the 'Black Hawk' Stutz Land Speed Record car for Frank Lockhart.
Lockhart himself was a towering figure in the development of American speedway racing. He had won the Indy '500' on his first attempt in 1926 and he ended the season second in the AAA Championship. He was the man who dreamed up the supercharging intercooler for racing use, intended to cool the charge before it entered the cylinders and improve performance. In 1927 his speedway winnings exceeded the season champion's by more than $15,000, and he invested it all in the Stutz in which he met his death at Daytona in April 1928. He was then only 25 years old, but his shadow stretched long over the racing scene.
His specially-modified pair of rear-drive Millers were the most potent cars on the speedway circuit, developed and refined by Lockhart's intuitive engineering skill coupled to the practical talent and experience of mechanic Ernie Olsen - the man who had been Murphy's riding mechanic on the day Duesenberg won the French Grand Prix for America.
After the Daytona tragedy Ray Keech bought one of the Lockhart Millers. The other was driven by Lockhart's ex-team mate Tony Gulotta at Indy, and it would have won but for minor troubles which allowed Lou Meyer to go ahead and stay there to the finish. Meyer invested his winnings in Gulotta's car, adding the services of Riley Brett, and in 1929 the two Lockhart Millers raced home first and second in the Indy '500', with Keech ahead of Meyer. Two weeks later Keech was dead, killed in his car on Altoona Board Speedway.
Later that year Brett contacted Leo Goossen, the guiding hand behind Miller's detail design, to draw him a sixteen-cylinder engine, using vertical downdraught inlet ports. Brett had a bee about this system, and so Goossen confected the double-eight unit which was to power Meyer's car in the 1930 '500'.
Truck manufacturer Alden L. Sampson owned the car, suitably named the 'Sampson Special', and its basically Miller 91 engines had been enlarged to 100.5 cubic inches each (1.65 litres) with bore and stroke dimensions of 2 5/16 x 3ins. Spur gears on the front of each crankshaft meshed with a central gear driving a long hollow shaft which ran rearwards between the crankcases to a large central flywheel. The racing clutch and three-speed transmission from Meyer's 1929 car mounted against the rear of this unit.
Except for their fuel supply the two engines were individually plumbed, so that failure of one's ancillaries did not affect the other. Each had a downdraught Winfield carburettor and complex manifold, with its own exhaust piping feeding out into two large diameter tail pipes running along either side of the big car's body.
Each engine had its own oil system, drawing from individual tanks, and there were two eight-cylinder Bosch magnetos mounted crosswise at the front, driven by bevel gears from the main power shaft.
The crankshafts themselves were two inches in diameter, and the coupling gears were 6.25 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches thick. All this machinery was mounted in the front of a classical wide-body speedway chassis, with a standard Miller tubular front axle and a new back-axle design with a strongly cross-webbed diff housing to which steel axle tubes were bolted. Wheelbase was 8ft 7ins, front and rear track 4ft 8ins and 4ft 8.5ins respectively, and the car's empty weight totalled 1,950 lbs. The gas tank held 38 gallons, while nine gallons of oil and four of water completed the new double-eight's reserves of vital fluids.
This Sampson Special faced a horde of less sophisticated but fast and durable racing and stock models, including the supposedly fearsome 'Sedici Cilindri' Maserati from Europe. The Italian car will be examined later, but here at Indy its fangs were drawn by the mandatory removal of its supercharging.
Meyer's sixteen was the fastest car in the field, howling along the straight-aways but nose-heavy and 'pushing' in the turns. He stole an immediate lead from the start but after two brief and glorious laps Billy Arnold bulleted ahead in his eight-cylinder Miller-Hartz, with which he was to score the first '500' victory for front-wheel drive.
The Sampson was running a close third until lap 23 when Meyer made a 4.5 minute stop to fix a broken throttle linkage. He rejoined in fourteenth place, battled his way up through the field and was back into fourth place at the finish. His winnings were $4,200.
For 1931 Brett adopted a new front-axle design to improve the car's handling, and with a change in the race regulations was able to fit an impressive array of eight Winfield downdraught carburettors.
It was not a good year for the several sixteens entered, and although Meyer started the Sampson from pole position (won at 113.953mph) he had to make a forty-second stop on the seventh lap and was out for keeps when an incurable oil leak was diagnosed on lap 28.
The 1932 race found Meyer out again in the further-modified Sampson, but he qualified slow and spun on lap 51 during which incident the car's drive-line seized (as cause or effect I am uncertain) and both crankshafts snapped in the 16-cylinder engine.
Lou Meyer forsook Alden Sampson's sixteen for 1933, took to the 'Tydol Special' rear-drive Miller and romped away to his second Indy win. Chet Gardner drove the 'Sampson Radio Special' into a strong and popular fourth place, and the following year found him running again, qualifying fast at 116.894mph and coming home ninth. Then the Sampson sixteen went into honourable retirement but without a success to look back on.
Fageol Twin Coach Special
But to my mind the most striking postscript to the story of Harry Miller's '35 Fords was seen at Indianapolis in 1946, in the first postwar '500'. It was the 'Fageol Twin Coach Special', which used front-drive units from the eleven-year-old project mated to midget Offenhauser engines in either end of the frame, driving all four wheels!
The car was described by Peter De Paolo - then a racing columnist for the Indianapolis News - as '. . . one of the most beautiful racing cars that will face the starter in the 500-Mile race May 30. . .'
Lou Fageol's entry was anything but beautiful to modern eyes, bulbous and bulky with a tiny high-sided cockpit exactly amidships and a muted head-rest faring down the tail to kick up into a small aircraft-style vertical fin. The body-panelling was smooth and evidently nicely made, broken only by two rows of neat intake louvres on either side of the tail, feeding into the rear engine bay. Large air ducts, similar to those '. . . found on P47 Army fighter planes . . .' supplied the superchargers at front and rear.
The midget-racing Offy engines had a nominal capacity of 97 cubic inches (1.59 litres), but they had been modified with an eighth-inch shorter stroke to give a 90 cubic inch (1.47 litres) capacity. This doubled-up to produce a total of 180 cubic inches which brought them just within the supercharged limits. Fageol selected Roots lobe-type compressors for his new car, borrowing directly from European road racing practice. Most American speedway cars used centrifugal superchargers which delivered high boost at very high engine speeds, but which were woefully lacking in mid-range 'punch'. This is one of the shortcomings which ruined the notorious V16 BRM programme.
The only connection between the two engines, front to rear, was a coupled throttle linkage, and provision was made for either unit to be disconnected and the car to be driven as either a front-drive or a conventional rear-drive machine.
The idea behind this twin-engined special was to equalise weight distribution front and rear and to make full use of four-wheel drive's tractive capabilities. Fageol felt that a four-wheel drive car with a single engine must have been wasting some traction at the 'light end', and although his 'Twin Coach Special' was heavy at 2,520 lbs his West Coast team approached the '500' optimistically.
Paul Russo was signed to drive the car, and in practice he expressed himself very satisfied with its performance and stability. Paul Weirick, mechanic and car constructor, also did some laps in the car and then Fageol himself took over and put in some shattering laps which had Chief Steward Jack Mehan running into the Fageol pit, flagging him in and presenting an excited reprimand for going so fast when he hadn't even taken his mandatory 'driving test'. Fageol was unrepentant, smiled from the cockpit, and said of his new creation 'What a sweetheart!'.
Russo proved how sweet when in qualification he punched it into second place on the front of the grid with an average of 126.183mph.
Then, in the race, he was running well in contact with the leaders until the 16th lap, when he lost control in the northeast turn, the well-balanced Fageol rotated like a top and smashed into the retaining wall. It was written-off, and Russo was carefully lifted clear with a broken leg. On that same lap an Alfa Romeo retired in its pits with a bad fuel leak and two laps later a rejuvenated Sampson sixteen (of which we will hear more) dropped out with its oil leaked away. Perhaps Russo lost his unique car on a slick of fuel and oil, or perhaps something caused the twin engines to go out of synchronisation. Whatever the truth, the Fageol Twin Coach Special was the most enterprising idea at the Speedway since Miller himself had vacated the scene; but it shared his luck . . . and that was always against it.
Two years before Riley Brett, Leo Goossen and Alden Sampson put together their sixteen-cylinder 'twin' engine in America, Ettore Bugatti had toyed with similar ideas in his Molsheim works, near Strasbourg, in Alsace.
During the Great War he had produced a sixteen-cylinder aero engine design subsequently taken up by Duesenberg on behalf of the US Government. In 1928 he produced his first sixteen-cylinder car, using an engine confected in similar style.
He took two existing 60mm x 84mm, 1,900cc straight-eight cylinder blocks and mounted them side by side, with their individual crankshafts coupled together in much the same manner as the first Sampson Special of America's Depression years.
The two blocks were joined by steel structures at front and rear, the rearward one housing spur gears which united the two crank-shafts. Gear-trains on the back end of both blocks powered camshafts, magnetos and superchargers, and a forward-facing central shaft took drive to the front-mounted water pump.
Each crankshaft ran in eight roller-bearings plus a single central plain-bearing, all of which were mounted in housings hanging down from the huge block casting. A gigantic unstressed sump pan was then bolted up underneath, common to both eight-cylinder blocks.
Bugatti's original sixteen-cylinder aero engines had suffered persistent lubrication problems which were eventually cured by Charles B. King, Duesenberg's chief engineer, much against the Patron's wishes for he evidently hated anybody challenging his designs! Great care was taken with the new racing engine's lubrication, and there were three pumps driven by worm gearing from the crankshafts - one scavenged the sump, another gave a low-pressure feed to the camshafts and coupling gears and the third forced very high-pressure lubricant to the crankshaft bearings.
Drive was taken through a multi-plate clutch from the centre coupling gear, and a short propeller shaft led back to a gearbox located below the driver's knees. Another short propellor shaft then drove to a lightweight back axle. Both engine and gearbox contributed materially to the light chassis frame's torsional rigidity, and suspension was by semi-elliptic leaf springs passing right through a typical beautifully-made Bugatti tubular front axle, and by quarter-elliptics at the rear. Combined capacity of this new double-eight was 3,801cc, and it is thought that it produced about 250bhp. It certainly weighed around 500 lbs, and the completed cars (which were absolutely archetypal Bugatti despite their voluminous exhaust systems) were given the Type 45 classification. A road-going Type 47 was projected, with an intended displacement of 2,986cc, but before prototype work could be completed, the whole programme ground to a sudden halt.
Three Type 45s had been built for the French Grand Prix, but when that event was downgraded to become a handicap race for sports cars at Comminges the sixteen-cylinder Bugattis were all dressed up with nowhere to go.
The redundant trio were subsequently entered in hill-climbs and other minor speed events, but according to Bugattiste Hugh Conway the crankshaft coupling gears proved a source of continual trouble. The cars were consequently retired, and after lying derelict for many years I understand that one is now in America, and that the other two are in the private Schlumpf Collection in France.
Maserati V4 & V5
On 1 July 1929, a brand-new Maserati racing car appeared for the first time, being entered for a race on the very fast 25-mile public road course at Cremona, in Italy.
Baconin Borzacchini was recruited by the Maserati brothers to drive the low-slung, vicious-looking beast, and when it howled through a measured ten-kilometre section of the Cremona course at 152.9mph, its construction seemed fully justified. This was the fastest speed ever recorded on a road circuit at that time, and was also claimed to be the first international record to be set on Italian soil. The 'Sedici Cilindri' Maserati had proved itself the fastest road-racing car in the world.
Maserati was a famous name in Italian racing. The brothers from Bologna, Carlo, Bindo, Alfleri, Ettore and Ernesto, had links with the dawn of motor sport when Carlo had raced on both two-and four-wheels. He had died in 1911, and during the Great War the remaining brothers began a business making Maserati sparking plugs. In the early twenties Alfieri acted as racing engineer and driver for Diatto, and in 1925 he built a pair of two-litre Grand Prix cars for the Turin company. When Diatto withdrew from competition in 1926 Alfieri took over his Grand Prix designs, modified them to 1.5-litre form and reproduced them as the first Maserati cars.
In the late twenties these cars and their derivatives began to prove very popular with private entrants, and for 1929 two wildly different models were offered at the top and bottom of the Maserati range.
One was the 8C-1100 with a supercharged twin overhead-camshaft straight-eight engine of 1,078cc, and the other - since the original eight-cylinder Diatto design could not be enlarged effectively - was the doubled-up Sedici Cilindri double-eight.
The brothers took two of their two-litre engines, and mounted them at a very slight vee angle upon a cast light alloy coupled crankcase. The vee between the two blocks was just sufficient to give clearance between the cam boxes. Block castings were in iron, and the heads carried two inclined valves per cylinder set at an included angle of 90 degrees and actuated by twin gear-driven overhead camshafts. Bore and stroke were 62mm x 82mm, which doubled-up to produce a total capacity of 3,961cc.
The left-hand block was in virtually standard trim, while the right-hand unit had been modified with the inlet and exhaust ports reversed to bring the exhaust manifolding to the outside of the assembly. Two individual Roots compressors were mounted on the front of this composite, each being driven from its respective unit's crankshaft, and they drew mixture from a single Weber carburettor each.
Bosch magnetos were used to fire single plugs per cylinder, and light-alloy pistons were mounted on con-rods machined from the solid. It is said that each rod and piston assembly weighed 1.84 lbs with rings. Blower pressure was quite modest, under 15 psi. There were two gear-type oil pumps, an oil cooler fitting in the nose beneath the normal water radiator with its divided cores, and there were two centrifugal water pumps, one mounted above each compressor and driven from the timing gears. The Officine claimed 305 bhp at 5,200 rpm, and the Cremona speeds seemed to confirm it.
After Borzacchini's maximum speed record in the new car, which had been confusingly titled the Maserati V4, Alfieri took over for the Cremona race, averaging 124.4mph for fastest lap but failing to survive to the finish.
The Italian Grand Prix should have been held at Monza later that year, but a Formule Libre Monza Grand Prix was run in its place, using a 2.8-mile version of the Autodrome circuit.
Alfieri Maserati drove the raucous V4 there, and set another lap record, this time at 124.2mph. He was beaten by just 0.2 of a second in the first heat by August Momberger's unlikely Mercedes SSK, but later in the day the V4 went off song and eventually retired. It was clearly the fastest car of its day, but that was no recompense for its continued inability to finish races.
In the following season Maserati were to have a good year, their cars winning seven major races and the brave Borzacchini bringing victory to the V4 at Tripoli when he won at an average of 91.05mph. The car was then shipped across the Atlantic to compete at Indianapolis, but with the new 'Junk Formula' regulations in force it had to run minus its twin superchargers and performed poorly, qualifying at an indifferent 95.213mph and retiring after only seven laps with apparently incurable electrical trouble. It was to be another nine years before Maserati rang the changes at the Speedway, and won the '500'.
Back in Europe Ernesto took over the V4 at Pescara, shattered the lap record on one madly-adrenalised lap, and finished behind his new driver, Achille Varzi, in one of the new 8C-2500 cars.
For 1931 René Dreyfus took Varzi's place at Bologna, and Ernesto continued racing V4, and won the Gran Premio di Roma on the steep-banked Littorio circuit. In the first heat of the Monza Grand Prix later in the year he trailed home in last place, and this marked the end of the trail for the four-litre car.
In 1932 a larger V5 Sedici Cilindri was built-up, using an engine of similar type to the original but with 8C-2500 components giving a capacity of 4,905cc and an output of over 330bhp at 5,200rpm. This power was demonstrably too much for the very basic chassis frame in which the engine was installed, but with a suitably courageous driver the latest Sedici Cilindri was clearly going to be a potent road-racing car.
Luigi Fagioli, the granite-hard driver-cum-spaghetti-manufacturer, was just the man for the job, and he shared the new V5 with Ernesto Maserati (briefly) in the 1932 Italian Grand Prix.
The race was held in June, and with a five-hour duration it should have been Maserati's all the way so long as the new car could last the pace. But the Trident team's pit-work was pathetic in comparison to that of Alfa Romeo with their brand-new P3 Monopostos, and all the advantage which Fagioli gained by sheer bullet-like speed out on the Autodrome wasted away on the pit-apron. Fagioli was seconds per lap faster than Nuvolari in the new Alfa but he just could not quite catch him.
Fagioli wrung the utmost out of his car in a wild final attempt to close on the single-seater Alfa Romeo, but the V5 could do no better than come howling home in second place, with a new lap record of 112.2mph for the revised circuit.
Soon afterwards 'The Abruzzi Robber' gained just reward in V5, by winning Maserati's third consecutive Rome Grand Prix, and then the car was entrusted to René Dreyfus who ran it in the AVUSRennen in Berlin and came home with a new lap record at 130.87mph despite something failing within that complicated engine and putting him out of the race.
Back at Monza in September for the circuit's own 'Grand Prix', Fagioli and Nuvolari had a terrffic wheel-to-wheel battle in their heat which ended when the Alfa Romeo evidently found itself shouldered off the track. Nuvolari's car bounded over a low wall, slewed wildly across a narrow grass verge and then rejoined the race with a buckled wheel and bent axle. He still managed to finish second to Fagioli's winning V5, which had averaged 106.3mph.
Fagioli's driving very nearly led to Alfa Romeo withdrawing their fleet of P3s on the spot, but they did run in the final which saw Fagioli's car suffering ignition troubles and running badly.
Later that month there was one final event at Miramas in France, but again V5 misbehaved and could do no better than stagger home sixth in this Marseilles GP on a circuit which should have suited it.
With the racing season ended, the Fratelli decided to mount an attack on the World's One Hour and other records at Montlhéry, but instead of using the rugged Fagioli's services once more they arrived at the Parisian course with a young driver named Ruggieri. He had considerable experience of racing Maseratis, but they had been small ones.
The Sedici Cilindri was a very different kind of motor car, and unfortunately V5 got away from Ruggieri at high-speed and hurtled off the Autodrome course, thundering off banks and trees and ending up a total wreck with its unfortunate driver fatally injured.
This was a tragic blow at the close of a hard season, and followed closely upon the natural death of Alfieri Maserati himself. He had been working on a front-wheel drive racing prototype in recent months, which seems to have been something of a personal pet and which was dropped after his demise. I contacted Pete Coltrin - an American living in Modena who is a great Maserati authority - to obtain more details of this mysterious front-drive car. His reply was brief and to the point; 'Re the front-drive car - it didn't work'. Thus history is written.
Despite these losses the surviving brothers embarked for 1933 upon their most ambitious racing programme yet, but VS was rebuilt as a low-priority project. This was the last season of Formule Libre racing, before the new 750-Kilogramme Formula was to come into effect, but the Sedici Cilindri was not to appear until the following year when only a few events remained for it to contest.
In 1934 the rebuilt V5 - now much more like a normal production 8CM single-seater but with at least 350bhp beneath its tall bonnet - was entrusted to Piero Taruffi for the very fast Tripoli Grand Prix on the Mellaha desert circuit.
In the first four laps of the race Taruffi found his car's front brakes overheating consistently into one corner at the end of a very fast straight. He was reaching towards 165 mph along that straight, and on the fifth lap his front brakes locked solid and remained locked as he took his foot off the pedal!
In his autobiography he wrote; 'I still have a clear picture in my mind of the front wheels motionless and clouds of smoke pouring from my tyres as they melted . . . I thought the car would never stop....'
In basic terms, it didn't. It speared off the outside of the slightly banked corner, arched through the air, bounced hard on its wheels, shattered a hoarding advertising beer and then somersaulted end-over-end, finally coming to rest upside down with its unfortunate driver pinned underneath. He was dragged out with a broken arm and severe shock . . . but it was the end of Maserati's sixteen-cylinder.
In later years the smaller V4 engine reappeared in a most desirable road-going tourer owned by a Dutchman named Verkade, but the larger V5 appears to have been far beyond resurrection.
Alfa Romeo Type A & Bimotore
Alfa Romeo also had their twin-engined cars, the famous Bimotore cars of the mid-thirties, and the Tipo A of 1931. This car followed on naturally from Maserati's remarkable showing with their double-eight, but Vittorio Jano (Alfa's famous ex-Fiat designer) decided on a slightly less exotic double-six.
He took two existing 1,750cc supercharged 'sixes', and mounted them side-by-side in similar style to the preceding Maserati V4. The two engines were 'handed', placing their inlets together on the inside of the 'U' and their exhausts on the outer sides. The two crankshafts revolved in opposite directions, to counter each other's torque reaction, and on the rear of the units were two individual gearboxes although the cranks were geared together as in other doubled-up engines we have seen. Both clutches were linked to a single pedal, and there were two gear-levers also linked so that the driver could change with either hand. Two parallel propeller shafts ran to individual bevel-gear final drives for each rear wheel.
This 3.5-litre ensemble was mounted in a conventional channel chassis with semi-elliptic leaf springing. Steering was by two separate drag links with no track rod, and to bring this rather heavy vehicle to a stop there were massive dural drum brakes with steel liners, measuring a full 18 inches in diameter and 2.5 inches in width. They were rod-operated.
The car carried genuine Monoposto bodywork with a single central seat, and the twin rev counters mounted on the dashboard were to become a familiarly anachronistic feature of the single-engined P3 Monoposto which was subsequently developed from this prototype.
Cylinder dimensions were quoted as 65 x 88mm, giving a total twelve-cylinder capacity of 3,504cc, and power output was about 220bhp at 5,000rpm, although at least 300bhp was claimed at the time. Wheelbase was 9ft 6ins and track 4ft 9ins, and the Tipo A scaled 2,570lbs which was in fact only six pounds lighter than the much bigger, much more powerful Maserati V4.
As Grand Prix regulations asked little more than that race duration should not be less than ten hours, the Italian Grand Prix that year was brought forward from its normal September date to be run on May 24. It was there that the new Tipo A made its debut.
Unfortunately, Luigi Arcangeli was killed in the car during practice. He was trying to better Giuseppe Campari's times (set in the new wide-body 2.3-litre Alfa which was to win its 'Monza' name tag in this race) when he lost control in the deceptive bends at Lesmo, the Tipo A rolled over and threw him out.
The car itself was barely damaged and Jano had it rebuilt and entrusted it to Nuvolari for the race. Borzacchini, the ex-Sedici Cilindri driver, was to be the Mantuan's partner, but neither seemed very keen on the idea and the car proved a pig to handle.
Nuvolari was running a rather unhappy third in the Grand Prix when Jano called him in after 33 laps to take over one of the 2.3-litre cars in an attempt to reel in the leading Bugattis. Nuvolari succeeded in this task, sharing with Campari, and won the race.
Later in the season the Tipo A reappeared, this time in a better-developed and more manageable form. Campari actually won the Coppa Acerbo race on the fast and arduous Pescara circuit on the Adriatic Coast, and after this success two Tipo As were entered for the Monza Grand Prix to be handled by Campari again, and by Nuvolari.
Unfortunately Campari's car suffered some kind of trouble with one of its gearboxes, and when Nuvolari's ran into tyre problems it was the end of the double-six Alfa story. They were never to be raced again, but performed yeoman service in pointing the way towards the classic P3 Monoposto which was to dominate Grand Prix racing until the advent of the German teams.
In 1933 the Alfa Romeo works officially withdrew from participation in racing, leaving the private Scuderia Ferrari to uphold their honour. This Enzo Ferrari's team succeeded in doing, and with the advent of the 750-kilogramme Formula the cars carrying his legendary prancing horse symbol fought a gallant rearguard action against German might.
Work at Alfa's own Portello factory was slow in producing an effective answer to the new all-independently-suspended silver cars, and Ferrari's own engineering staff began to work on some prospectively money-making but fearsome 'specials' of their own.
Technical director of the Scuderia Ferrari was Luigi Bazzi, and after the Scuderia's annual banquet - on 16 December 1934 - he suggested that a very powerful racing car could be built in a very short time by taking two existing engines and mounting them both in a suitably-modified existing chassis.
His calculations indicated that the resultant car would be over the 750-kilogramme Grand Prix weight limit, but it could still earn useful funds in the predominantly Italian-organised Formule Libre events. He was determined not to run into the twinning complications experienced in the Bugatti and Maserati double-eights and the original Alfa Romeo double-six, and so he envisaged his two engines being completely separate, with one at either end of the car to create an even weight distribution.
A team under Bazzi and another engineer named Arnaldo Roselli began work in Ferrari's Modena works with the cautious approval of Enzo himself and Jano. They took a new Monoposto chassis, lengthened it by six inches and then boxed it for extra rigidity. The Dubonnet-type independent front suspension then being adopted on the 1935 Grand Prix cars was grafted onto the modified frame, but since both front and rear engines were to drive the rear wheels (Bazzi not being drawn into four-wheel drive) the rear suspension was much more complex.
Since the rear engine would be in the way, the normal tubular beam axle of the existing Monoposto had to be discarded, and in its place Bazzi adopted very wide-based fabricated wishbones (resembling the claws of a pair of coal tongs in plan view) which carried the individual bevel drives for each rear wheel. These wishbones were as long from front to rear as were the semi-elliptic leaf springs, and they mounted inside them on the same chassis cross-members.
Bazzi turned the rear engine around in the chassis, so that it drove forwards towards the front engine. This unit retained its normal P3 clutch housing and gearbox, with the differential mounted on the gearbox output shaft. Bevels took drive from this differential, and then powered two propeller shafts which diverged towards the rear of the car to provide a vee drive to the individual bevel-box final drives attached to each hub. This was standard practice in the P3 design, but now a second drive from the rear-mounted engine had to be introduced.
Bazzi adopted a hollow gearbox main-shaft, and drive from the rear engine passed right through it and on through the clutch centre where it engaged with an internally-toothed union.
There was a simple dog-clutch introduced into the drive-line from the rear engine so that it could be disengaged by the driver to leave the car with only the front engine driving the rear wheels.
Final major departure from Tipo B layout concerned the fuel tanks, which could no longer reside in the tail cowling and so were slung pannier-fashion on either side of the chassis frame. This feature served to concentrate the vehicle's mass even more within its wheelbase, and meant that its handling should not be altered materially as the fuel load was burned off.
There were two separate radiator cores, one for each engine, mounted in the nose, and massive Ariston drum brakes were fitted all round, with hydraulic operation and an extra mechanical hand-lever operating on the rears. Wheelbase was 9ft 2.25ins, track 4ft 6.5ins, height 4ft 6.75ins and overall length 13ft 7.5ins.
Two of the cars were assembled, one using the latest 3,165cc straight-eight supercharged GP engines and the other two of the earlier, provenly reliable, 2,905cc units. The larger engines produced 270bhp each at 5,400rpm to provide a total of 540 horse power in the larger 'Bimotore'. The smaller units were rated at 260bhp at 5,400rpm, to total 520 horsepower. Both sizes of engine shared a 100mm stroke, the larger being bored out to 71mm as against the earlier dimension of 68mm.
The two cars were bodied in aluminium sheet, formed in classical lines over dural bracing, and with the suspension carefully cowled at front and rear and a prominent tail fin extending from the head fairing, Ferrari's new 'specials' were very striking in appearance. Dry weight was quoted as 2,205lbs, rising to 2,888lbs fully-laden.
The smaller car was completed in only three months, and on 10 April 1935 it was tested on a closed section of the Brescia-Bergamo Autostrada by the Scuderia's chief tester, Attilio Marinoni, and Tazio Nuvolari. The champion driver was timed at 175mph on one run at 4,500rpm, and then he booted the new prototype to a brief near-rev limit 5,300rpm on the return run and recorded 210mph! That afternoon the car was taken to Monza Autodrome where it completed quite a long session mechanically trouble-free and apparently quite pleasant to handle. The rear tyres began to show certain signs of distress with sustained high-speed running, and Bazzi instantly realised that this would be a problem when it came to racing the car.
Ferrari and Jano both gave their full support at this juncture, and-while the Tunis GP was allowed to slip by-the second, larger-engined car was completed and a two-car Bimotore entry made for Tripoli.
The fast North African race took place on May 12, and the two brand-new Bimotori took their places on the 28-strong starting grid with Nuvolari in the latest 6,330cc model and Louis Chiron in the original 5,810cc prototype.
Mercedes and Auto Union were present in force, and from the flag Caracciola and Fagioli rushed into the lead with Nuvolari hanging onto their tails with the big Ferrari Alfa. He forced his way past Fagioli into second place, but at the end of his third lap he brought the Bimotore swerving into the pits for new rear tyres!
After four more spectacularly rumbustious laps Nuvolari was back again to replace rear tyres worn through to the canvas, and so it went on. He eventually changed eight tyres during the race while Chiron's smaller car had to change six. They were not alone, tyre-changing being an integral part of top-class motor racing in those days, but their consumption was much higher than the opposition's and it cost them dear. Nuvolari was finally placed fourth and Chiron a troubled fifth, but although immensely fast along the Mellaha's straights neither car could match the German cars' nimble handling and meteoric lap speeds. Caracciola won, and his best lap of 136.77 mph in the Mercedes compared admirably with Nuvolari's fastest at 133.78mph. The Bimotore was clever, but far too crude in this company.
Europe's fastest race, the AVUS-Rennen, followed two weeks later, and practice saw Nuvolari watching open-mouthed as his tyres stripped before his eyes, whenever he attempted to hold more than 175mph along the narrow straights. Stuck's Auto Union was a whole twenty seconds quicker while the Italian car consumed its rubber, and yet Nuvolari was not to be cowed by this disconcerting habit and kept his foot hard on the floor in the first five-lap heat. He made his first stop for tyres on the second lap, eventually finished sixth and failed to qualify for the final.
Chiron took things more calmly, treating his car's tyres as though they were made of paper, and he qualified for the final by tip-toeing into a comfortable fourth place in his heat. He drove very intelligently in the ten-lap final and while the faster German cars stopped to change tyres he just kept going, easing his way round the corners and feathering the throttle on the straights. Fagioli's Mercedes won, but the Bimotore boomed home in second place with one rear tyre completely devoid of tread.
This was the end of the Formule Libre season, and so the Scuderia turned to record-breaking with its twin-engined cars. On February 14 Hans Stuck had set a new flying mile record for Class C (3-5-litre cars) of 199mph in his Auto Union on the Florence-Viareggio Autostrada-actually using the level eight-kilometre section between Lucca and Altopascio.
Although the big Bimotore was in Class B (5-8 litres), Tazio Nuvolari set about raising the German record on Italian soil. There was little doubt that the car would shatter its strict class record (then held by Doré's Panhard at only 137mph on the Arpajon road) but that was purely a secondary target.
Early on the morning of July 15, the big 6.3-litre Bimotore was wheeled from its transporter onto the Lucca road. It had been modified with a slick head faring and disc covers for the rear wheel spokes. The pannier tanks had been removed and 50kg weight had been saved simply by removing the big tail-mounted oil tank. Dunlop tyres were fitted in place of the original Engleberts, these being 6.50 x 32 rears and 6.00 x 19 fronts.
Bazzi was on hand with his team of mechanics, Carlo Pintacuda was cooling his heels as spare driver and the Duke of Spoleto was spectating. It was intended to try for the record in the cool, still, morning air, but on a preliminary run Nuvolari found the oil pressure was fluctuating and so had the oil tank replaced.
The best time of the morning was past when he got going again at 9.30, thundering away down the arrow-straight Autostrada towards Altopascio. The red car disappeared from sight long before its twin-engine exhaust note stilled in the air. A 200-yard battle for control left its legacy in glaring tyre marks just after an over-bridge where the Bimotore was caught in a sudden cross-wind, but Nuvolari simply wheeled round at the end of the run and came howling back again, correcting another vicious side-swipe to return to a relieved, and soon elated, Ferrari depot.
The timekeepers announced that the Bimotore had taken the flying mile record at 200.77mph, the flying kilometre at 199.92mph and that its peak recorded speed through a special trap had been 208.91 mph... The flying kilometre figure bettered the former record set by Caracciola's Mercedes at 197.35mph on the Gyon Highway, in Hungary.
Next morning the Autostrada again shuddered to the Bimotore's passing, but the wind had risen and after five increasingly desperate runs Nuvolari gave up. The big car was taken back to the Scuderia Ferrari workshops in Modena, where its engines were removed and it was put into a back stores beside its similarly demobilised smaller sister. One of the chassis was subsequently scrapped, while the other (generally accepted as being the Chiron car) was bought in 1937 by British amateur driver Austin Dobson for national events at Donington and Brooklands.
Ferrari installed a pair of 2.9-litre engines for their new client, replaced the Dubonnet front suspension with a more modern trailing-link set-up and shipped the rebuilt car thankfully to England, having made some return on the project at long last.
Dobson's appearance with the Bimotore caused great excitement in British motor racing circles, and after discovering that the big car was right out of its element on the twisty road course at Donington Park he broke the Class B lap record at Brooklands' Mountain Circuit, taking it to 77.84mph. He shared the wheel with Fairey Aviation test pilot Chris Staniland in the BRDC's 500-Kilometres race, and the latter lapped the outer circuit at 132.8mph. The Bimotore was placed sixth in this event on corrected handicap.
At the close of the season Dobson decided that perhaps the car was not for him, and he sold it to the Hon. Peter Aitken. He decided to modify it for English racing, and had it cut virtually in two, the rear engine removed along with the transmission and rear suspension, and replaced by an ENV pre-selector gearbox with a new back axle mounted on quarter-elliptic springs.
This emasculated special was renamed the 'Alfa-Aitken', and it was not completed until the middle of 1939 when it appeared with a brand-new bodyshell with bulbous fairings completely enclosing front and rear suspensions, and an odd almost circular radiator grille high-mounted on the nose.
After some brief appearances the Alfa-Aitken was retired for the duration of the war, during which its owner was killed, and postwar it passed to R. V. Wallington who won in it at Gransden Lodge aerodrome in Britain's first postwar race meeting.
Wallington sold the car to Major 'Tony' Rolt-one of Colditz Castle's glider manufacturers when a prisoner-of-war-and he had it modified by F. W. Dixon who removed its twin superchargers and fitted eight SU carburettors to make it eligible for what were then 'Formula A' races. Dixon enlarged the surviving engine to 3.4 litres and Rolt raced the resulting 'GP car' quite widely in the late forties.
This 'Monomotore' Alfa eventually found a buyer in New Zealand where it was further abused, winding up with a GMC truck engine installed. It is now in the good hands of Gavin Bain in Christchurch.
Meanwhile the original rear engine from the car had been acquired by Lord Ridley, of Ridley Special fame (see pp. 50-51), and later came to the Hon. Patrick Lindsay who fitted it into an engineless Tipo B Monoposto chassis which he had bought from Australia. This chassis (No 5002) was reputedly ex-Nuvolari, and after its emigration to Australia it had been variously powered by 4.3-litre Alvis, six-cylinder side-valve GMC truck, and Chevrolet Corvette V8 engines.., at least it, and the remaining Bimotore, have survived!
Stutz Black Hawk
While the circuits of Europe were echoing to twin-engined exhaust notes of Bugattis, Maseratis and various Alfa Romeos, perhaps one of the most interesting and impressive power units of 'speed history' was lying in storage in America.
It was the 'double-eight' engine from Frank Lockhart's Stutz Black Hawk record car - once again Lockhart, Indy winner at 23, dead national hero at 25, was throwing his long shadow across American motor racing.
On 4 February 1927, Malcolm Campbell had covered the flying mile at 174.224mph on Pendine Sands, and on March 29 Segrave's Sunbeam had broken the 200mph barrier and pushed the Land Speed Record to 203.79mph at Daytona. On April 11 Frank Lockhart wheeled his little Miller '91' Speedway car out onto the crusty salt of Muroc dry lake and recorded a two-way average of 164mph and a one-way best of 171mph with less than one twenty-eighth of the 1,000hp Sunbeam's cubic capacity.
This feat staggered the motoring world and fired Lockhart's imagination. On a longer course, such as Ormond Beach at Daytona, his Miller could have pulled a higher gear and travelled much faster. With more power he could become the fastest man on earth.
Lockhart was a visionary, an instinctive engineer whose imagination boiled and buzzed with schemes. He had already won the '500', he was already the biggest money-earner in speedway racing, but he wanted something more, something which would give him the stature to turn all his dreams into hard, successful, mechanical fact.
He approached Fred Moscovics, head of the Black Hawk, Indianapolis-based Stutz Motor Company, to support the building of a Land Speed Record car. Moscovics was enthusiastic, raised around $35,000 in outside sponsorship and put Stutz's facilities at Lockhart's disposal. In return the car was to be named the Stutz 'Black Hawk'.
Lockhart conscripted the Weisel brothers, gifted young aviation engineers whom he had met on the West Coast, to design his record car. He wanted to mount two of his special Miller '91' engines side-by-side with the crankshafts geared together in similar style to the Bugatti-King aero engines of the Great War.
Zenas Weisel drew on Duesenberg's experience, perhaps not knowing that in Alsace the Bugatti works were building a similar engine at the same time, and for the still modest power which this double-Miller would produce he advocated a slender torpedo-shaped body with separately fared wheels to reduce frontal area.
The engine combined Miller, Lockhart and Stutz parts, with the two '91' straight-eight dohc blocks and crankshafts mounted in a thirty degree vee on a common casing. The crankshafts were geared together and two centrifugal superchargers with attached Zenith carburettors ran at 3.5-times engine speed off the rear of each block. This three-litre twin-crankshaft V16-cylinder produced 385 bhp at 7,500 rpm.
Less than eight months after its initiation the project was complete and the Stutz Black Hawk rolled out in February 1928. It had already swallowed all the original cash float, and during those months Lockhart had been pursuing a furious racing programme to keep the project solvent.
Weisel's body shape was wind-tunnel tested to suggest a potential maximum speed, with the modest power available, of no less than 330mph - at a time when, on February 19, Campbell was just pushing the record up to 206mph on Daytona's sands.
At Daytona the Stutz initially disappointed. It couldn't do better than make a few faltering runs at under 180mph, but the bugs were quickly combed out and on a dull, drizzly day with a cold wind knifing inland off the grey Atlantic Lockhart eventually went through the traps at 225mph!
Suddenly the tiny white car ran into a rain squall, blinding its driver who unwittingly veered into soft sand. The Stutz kicked its tail in the air, and abruptly tumbled over, bounced into the sea and planed crazily over the breakers to sink in shallow water. Lockhart's unconscious form was almost submerged, but Moscovics himself was first on the scene and held the driver's head above water until the car was dragged ashore.
Lockhart's injuries were not serious and as he recovered in hospital so the car was rapidly rebuilt back in Indianapolis. In mid-April the team returned to Daytona, but Lockhart was looking for every possible way of making money, and he had some free tyres fitted whose manufacturers had offered $20,000 should he take the record.
At dawn on 25 April 1928, Lockhart warmed the car in a gentle southerly run along the level beach. He returned, and then wheeled into another run to the south which was obviously in earnest as the superchargers wailed piercingly away into the distance. His speed was announced as 198.29mph, and then the Stutz was spotted on its return run, rocketing into the measured mile at around 220mph and still accelerating rapidly.
It was bulleting along the beach when there came a spout of sand and shredding pieces from the right-rear tyre, the car appeared momentarily sideways-on then blurred into the air, pounding end-over-end down the beach to end up in a heap of tangled scrap. Lockhart was hurled out to his premature death, and the great project was over . . . a clam shell had split that tyre.
Riley Brett, who had worked on the car at Stutz, bought the V16 twin-crank engine and put it away in store until perhaps there would be some use for a three-litre racing unit.
Time passed, Brett's Sampson Special sixteen-cylinder was built and raced and faded away, and then for 1938 the AAA announced that Indianapolis rules were to be brought into line with Europe's Grand Prix Formula, and that eligible engines would be of up to three litres supercharged, or 4.5-litres unsupercharged. Brett now had a use for the old ex-Lockhart engine, and with backing from Alden Sampson he asked Leo Goossen to design him a chassis.
Brett had been in Europe in 1937 and he had seen the W125 Mercedes-Benz in action with its wishbone front suspension and torsion-bar suspended De Dion-axled rear end capable of transmitting much of its mighty excesses of power.
Goossen laid out a similar chassis, the first in America to use torsion bar suspension. The arched De Dion tube carried a ball stud at its centre, which rode in a vertical slot formed in the rear of the diff-housing. This allowed vertical movement of the wheels while tying them together laterally, and short universal-jointed half-shafts drove to them from the chassis-mounted diff.
The gearbox was in unit with the differential and both were dry-sumped and pressure-fed from a separate lubricant reservoir. Long, drilled radius arms ran forward from the wheel hubs to locate them fore and aft.
An engineer named Gordon Schroeder built the car with Brett and in the short space of five months they completed the chassis, modified the old engine in the light of modern experience and had it in race-worthy tune in time for the 1939 Indianapolis '500'.
The new 'SMI Special' was something new and unusually scientific in the American speedway world of the late thirties, and Sampson signed up Bob Swanson to drive it.
He qualified on the outside of the front row of the grid behind Jimmy Snyder and Lou Meyer with an average of 129.431mph. Unfortunately the back axle failed after only 19 laps, and Swanson later relieved Ralph Hepburn in the 'Hamilton-Harris Special'. On the 107th lap this car was involved in a multiple collision which killed Floyd Roberts (winner the previous year) and which put Swanson and Chet Miller in hospital for a long time.
In 1940 Swanson returned to the Speedway in the wailing sixteen-cylinder and this time round he had a steady run into sixth place, the last fifty laps of the race being run under a yellow caution flag due to falling rain. Later that year Swanson died in a midget car accident on the Fort Miami Speedway in Toledo, Ohio, and in 1941 Deacon Litz drove the Sampson 16, but slowly, and went out after 89 laps with some kind of oiling problem, being classified 22nd. That December saw Pearl Harbour.
With the return of peace in 1946 Indianapolis was revived, and in Los Angeles Gordon Schroeder wheeled out the sixteen-cylinder Sampson and fettled it up ready to race again. He attracted sponsorship from Spike ('Tea for Two', with raspberries and whistles) Jones, and hired Sam Hanks to drive the car at Indy as the 'Spike Jones Special'.
Hanks found it a very good-handling car, but with its centrifugal superchargers it was very docile and sluggish at low engine speeds and then the power came in at about 4,000rpm and it would sit-up and take-off like an artillery shell.
He qualified at a modest 124.762mph (Ralph Hepburn's Novi V8 having qualified quickest at no less than 133.944mph) but became an early retirement when that old lubrication problem reared its head again after only 18 laps. The car was classified 31st, and this was its last appearance in the '500'. Schroeder decided that the beautiful beach car engine would have to be entirely redesigned to suit the different conditions of Speedway racing, and today the car and its historic engine are displayed in the Indianapolis Speedway Museum; Frank Lockhart's memory lives on, though in failure.
Britain has always been richly endowed with special builders, and many of them have produced designs which were way ahead of the major manufacturers then involved in competition.
In 1935, while the Chamberlains were campaigning their splendid special in Australia, Harry Miller was building Ford cars for Indianapolis, and Count Trossi was wrestling with his radial-engined machine in Italy, a remarkable little air-cooled, four wheel drive sprint special was being put together in England.
It was the work of an enthusiastic engineer named Robert Waddy, and he based his car on an aircraft-type fuselage very similar in principle to Auguste Monaco's multi-tubular structure then being used in the Trossi car. It was welded up from 18-gauge chrome-molybdenum tubing, and borrowed its basic layout from an Avro Avian light plane fuselage. Again, it was one of the very earliest 'spaceframe' chassis.
Waddy mounted a single-cylinder two-stroke JAP dirt-track engine at either end of this tubular frame, each having its own Rudge gearbox and chain-driving to its particular pair of wheels. Each engine had a bore and stroke of 81mm x 96.8mm, and a swept volume of 498cc.
The only linkage between these two engines was a dual throttle control, which connected to an adventurous rocking pedal device in the cockpit. By pressing the pedal straight down. Waddy could accelerate both engines simultaneously, and by rocking the pedal with his toe or heel he could open up each engine individually and so make tiny corrections to avoid unnecessary wheelspin at either end!
He used trailing link front suspension with torsion bar springing as seen on the contemporary Auto Unions, and at the rear springing was by a transverse leaf and a complex link system located the wheels.
The whole car was clad in a dumpy body shell, in many ways prophetic of the Gulf-Millers to come in three years' time, and unlike Auto Union the cockpit was placed further back in the frame, closer to the rear wheels.
Waddy christened this delightful car 'Fuzzi' because its chassis was like an aircraft 'fuzzilage', and during its regular sprint outings from 1936-39 it became a terrific favourite with the crowds while becoming hated by the commentators. They had the onerous task of having to fit 'Robert Waddy's "Fuzzi"' into a hectic high-speed commentary, and it regularly reached the crowd's delighted ears as 'Frobert Wuddy's "Fizzi",' or 'Wubert Euddy's "Wazzi"'. During its career the Rudge gearboxes were replaced by a pair as used in Morgan three-wheelers, and Fuzzi proved itself capable of streaking along a standing-start 'half-mile course in 25.80 seconds and nipping the 100mph mark as it went through the traps. It could also climb Shelsley Walsh's hill in 44.08 seconds, and Waddy proved both the capabilities of four-wheel drive and his own skill as driver of this complicated device.
Fuzzi was put away during the war, and reappeared in 1946 when Waddy decided to use a big American V8 engine in place of the two reliable but small JAP units. He cut the existing car in half and lengthened the chassis to accommodate a Mercury V8 housed amidships. Chains and shafts drove to front and rear wheels, and every other part of the car then had to be beefed-up to absorb the Mercury's extra horsepower. Unfortunately the basic concept of simplicity had been lost and the new 'Son of Fuzzi' was never able to reproduce its parent's great performances.
Posted 29 September 2001 - 12:28
Posted 29 September 2001 - 19:32
Posted 29 September 2001 - 22:26
Originally posted by Barry Lake
..... Something else that would be of interest would be magazine reports of John Cooper's crash. There was talk of throttle problems, gear selection malfunction etc, but I always wondered if it might not have been a simple case of driving too fast for the conditions. Does anyone know more?
This is an account of Cooper’s accident taken from Rob Golding’s book ‘Mini – Thirty Five Years On.”
Failure seemed to dog the tracks of the Twini and enthusiasm was even further dampened when John Cooper had a horrific accident in a road-going Twini. It was the third in a series of accidents in which Cooper was involved and very nearly his last. He was returning from Fairoaks airport having been to collect his Tri-pacer light aircraft. This had crashed some months earlier when he and Lotus chief Colin Chapman were aboard with a professional pilot at the controls. I had cartwheeled on landing without causing injury to anyone. When he collected it, it had sustained further damage while on the ground. The tailplane was badly bent and had he failed to notice it before trying to take off, he could have been in serious trouble again. As it was, he was in a hurry on his way home to collect his wife, Paula, at Surbiton to join Salvadori for dinner.
The Twini was equipped with two 1300cc engines, which were to have been tweaked up to 135 bhp apiece with fuel injection. Batting along the Kingston bypass at 100 mph, the steering arm that had been welded-up to the rear subframe came adrift. As the rack had been removed, the steering link had been used as a suspension arm. The wheel was suddenly free and made a sharp right turn. The car catapulted end-over-end into a wall, throwing Cooper clear but fracturing his skull. Few who saw him thought he would live. The first car on the scene – one that Cooper had just overtaken – contained a lady who suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of seeing the accident unfold, and she tried unsuccessfully to claim for compensation from Cooper’s insurance.
There is quite a bit about the other Twinis in the book. The first one was a Moke that Issigonis built in early 1963. It had a 950cc engine at the front and an 850cc one at the back. John Cooper was shown the car and he and Issigonis both decided they would build a Mini-bodied version. Cooper completed his one day before Issigonis and had it ready for track testing within weeks. John Whitmore did the test driving. “By April 1963 both engines were fully-tuned Coopers and the result was a 2.5-litre vehicle developing 175 bhp, and wheelspin on all four wheels.”
Posted 22 October 2001 - 21:29
As I recall (I'm away from my files at the moment) it was actually powered by a flat-eight made from VW parts! It no longer exists, but I went to a Sao Paulo newspaper and got photos of it. My friend Tom Fornander (sadly deceased now) made a great cutaway drawing of it.
I don't believe this thread has emphasized the work done by VW in the 1970s on twin-engined cars for competition. That was quite a speciality of theirs. They developed some very sophisticated methods for linking and controlling the engines.
I also recall an engineer friend of mine at Cornell Labs making quite an argument for this concept, although he shrewdly recommended a smaller engine at the front than at the rear. Something like a Porsche four in the back and a Panhard in the front!
Lou Fageol of Indy fame went on to build at least two twin-Porsche sports-racers. In its ultimate form it had centrifugal superchargers for each engine which were powered by their own two-stroke engines! There's a four-engined car for you! They say it made quite a noise....
Posted 23 October 2001 - 04:53
Posted 23 October 2001 - 11:54
I remember Kim Mather's VW well, as he used to race it at Oulton Park in the race series they ran for rally cars for while.
IRRC it had a turbo on one engine for a while - which made it very interesting with the turbo lag on one end..
Kim was a very talented driver - only problem was he never had much of a budget - still didn't stop him from having a go - even entered the Silverstone rounds of the European F2 championship a couple of times - I guess you can't expect to be at the front when you have to get out of the car to help the wife change the tyres.
I think he was the only driver ever to win a round of the British F1 championship in an F2 car.
Posted 25 October 2001 - 11:06
If I remember correctly, the cause of the Cooper accident was attributed to a possible gear selection problem since the shifting was accomplished on the two separate gearboxes via a complex system of mechanical linkages.
There was also another, independantly constructed, Twini which raced in some sports car event in Europe at about the same time. I believe it had some engine problem which resulted in it spending most of the race as a rear engines Mini with a lot of extra weight in the front.
I have a magazine article giving a lot of detail on these cars somewhere. I shall look for it this evening.
Posted 08 November 2001 - 22:00
I don't recall whether he built a twin-engined car...
Posted 08 November 2001 - 22:16
Also,the current issue of Auto Retro has photos of the twin engine Mini.
Posted 11 November 2001 - 11:01
Posted 11 November 2001 - 14:56
it sounds bizarre to me, but the Frys who conceived it were very capable engineers, and writers who know far more than I do about technical matters have said it would have worked.
Posted 11 November 2001 - 16:31
In the late 80's in the european autocross Peter Mucke from Berlin used two buggys. The first one with two motorcycle engines Yamaha 1000 cc, and the second one with two Yamahas 750 cc. Austrian Horst Kaudela used the buggy with two Kawasaki engines.
Posted 11 November 2001 - 21:34
Posted 12 November 2001 - 07:54
At the time, I happened to be using a twin-engine Mini destined to cause me a lot of grief. I had driven this car from our Surbiton garage to Fairoaks, left it there while I got a lift up to Luton by plane, where I picked up my Tri-Pacer and flew it back to Fairoaks.
I had no sooner landed than someone told me there was an air display at Biggin Hill in Kent, that day, so a couple of the boys asked if they could cadge a lift and we went on by air to Biggin Hill to watch the aerobatics. When we got ready to fly back, “Sport” Martin, who was with me, remarked, “Have you inspected your plane, John? You’re supposed to do that before takeoff, you know:”
“But it’s just been repaired,” I said.
“Take a look anyway,” he insisted. And sure enough the tail of the aircraft was all bent over. Someone obviously had run into it while it was parked but had not even taken the trouble to leave note. So once again the plane was pushed into the local Piper agent’s hangar, that happened to be at Biggin Hill, for still another repair session. I phoned the Fairoaks Flying Club to see if they could send anyone to pick us up. They could and did. They sent a man with a private pilot’s license (which he had only just obtained) to fetch us, and besides getting lost on the way home I just admit this chap frightened us to death! But somehow we made it back to Fairoaks in one piece and I got into my Mini for the delayed drive home.
Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire! That night I was having dinner with Roy Salvadori at his house in Esher, along with Bruce McLaren. My wife, Paula, was going to be there, together with the other wives and the whole thing had been planned in advance. But Fate had decreed otherwise. On the way home from Fairoaks to Surbiton (where I planned to stop off and change for dinner), something let go in the Mini while I was on the Kingston Bypass. The car went end over end with almost no warning, and the next thing I knew was that I woke up in hospital without knowing where I was or how I had got there. My first recollection, in fact, was a vague belief that the jockey who had flown us back from Biggin Hill to Fairoaks had become involved in some terrible shunt.
One often wonders if when there is trouble ahead, things tend to build up to the final situation. First, there had been the incident of the bent tail on my damaged plane, which I had nearly flown back without knowing it. Suppose we had taken off—what would have happened? We might have run into serious trouble. Then that harrowing return flight to Fairoaks with our lives in the hands of some character who didn’t seem to know much. Our landing a bit late and my hurrying off in the Mini to get home and change, although in the ordinary course of events I wasn’t one to go very fast along the highways. My racing days were already a decade past.
Then, as I lay there in my hospital bed, things began to sort themselves out. I remembered driving along the Kingston Bypass and being pleasantly aware of the tremendous power of my little car, with two Mini-Cooper engines stuffed into one chassis! I recalled experiencing a sense of great pleasure at the terrific road-holding and neutral steering character of the car. I even got as far as a vague recollection that something had let go at the back, though in that split second I had no idea what it was. Later examination did establish the cause of the accident, which, I think, could fairly be called unusual.
This particular Mini actually had two front subframes, installed back to back so as to accommodate both engines—one up front and the other at the rear. The subframe fitted at the back had, of course, been modified to perform its particular job, although it was basically the same as its front counterpart. We had removed the rack and used the steering links as another suspension arm which pivoted on the subframe. Unfortunately, it was one of those steering links that let go. To get into slightly more detail, it was the ball joint on the end of the link which we had secured to the subframe instead of the rack itself. We had been testing this car some time previously in the snow, because the twin-engine Minis were very good under severe conditions. Following a demonstration to the Press boys, the car had been put aside so that we might install some better engines with a view to racing it. I think that what happened was pretty clear. One of the ball joints had somehow got snow in it, which produced enough rust to make the whole thing sieze up and break off. As a result, a rear wheel suddenly made a sharp right turn—there no longer being anything to keep it going straight—and as I was motoring along at probably 100 mph, the result wasn’t hard to imagine. A sudden veering to one side, followed by a number of somersaults!
I wasn’t strapped in when all this happened. A lot of people later said that if I had been using my seat belt I probably would have killed myself, but I think that the opposite would have been true and I might have escaped serious injury, particularly since the car didn’t catch fire. What did the real damage was when I hit my head on the doorpost during one of the rolls.
The place where the accident occurred was a very fast stretch on the Kingston Bypass, and interestingly enough, after all these years, there is still a deep gash along the wall where the car finished up.
At this point it might be appropriate to talk about the origin of this interesting machine. In those days, Alec Issigonis (a brilliant automotive engineer with BMC—the British Motor Corporation—about whom I shall have a lot more to say later) was a great one ffor thinking up new ideas, and it was he who had discussed with me the notion of putting two engines in to a Mini. The layout was so compact and took up so little room because of the transverse mounting of both units, that it seemed like a natural to try out. By then, Alec had spent a lot of time—both of his own and that of BMC—developing a machine called the “Moke”, which was intended primarily for the Army. It was in fact a Mini-Jeep, so built that the windshield would fold flat and the steering wheel could be collapsed, allowing these vehicles to be stacked into an aircraft or a ship like layers of biscuits, one on top of the other. The very small wheels and general compactness were of course a great asset.
The first twin-engine setup was in fact installed in a Moke, which was also Alec Issigonis’ idea. The thinking behind all this was very good, intensely practical and typical of the man. Normally, the most expensive item on a four-wheel-drive vehicle is the transfer box, in addition to which—or perhaps because of which—handling problems always seem to arise. At least they did in those days. But the idea behind the twin-engine Mini was much simpler. Each power unit operated independently of the other, and fitting a second engine was cheaper and simpler than the complications and cost involved with the usual transfer gear. Admittedly, a small amount of load-carrying capacity had to be sacrificed, but with transverse engines it didn’t amount to much. Against this, the actual performance was enormously improved.
There were other considerations too. If the car was on a flat road you could use the front engine alone, or the rear. There was no need to use both. The inactive one simply stayed in neutral. What in fact this amounted to was that you always had a spare engine available for use on difficult terrain such as, for example, the desert. The same was true under conditions of snow and mud. With both engines going, you would then have the finest imaginable vehicle for those conditions. And the cost was less than using a transfer box for four-wheel drive with a conventional layout. I think, despite my accident, that the advantages easily overruled the drawbacks. Our military people, on the other hand, disagreed. They decided they would sooner spend the money on a transfer box than on an extra engine. I think they made a big mistake, and most certainly my accident was in no way related to the basic principles upon which the twin-engine Mini was designed. Until the moment of that shunt, the little car had run beautifully and displayed great potential.
Unfortunately, Issigonis did not have any interest in marketing a twin-engine Mini for sale to the general public. His sole interest was beamed toward the use of this car for military purposes. I don’t think he really saw any future in a passenger car so equipped, although for my part, as soon as I got involved with this setup I immediately started to build a regular bodied, twin-engine Mini for my own use—with the help of Isssigonis, of course. My idea was to produce a thousand of these cars to get the design homologated by the FIA and win saloon (sedan) car races and rallyes. I am still convinced that with more development work—strengthening the gearbox among other things—this dual-engine Mini would have been a great success and a sure bet to win rallyes and closed circuit races as well. It would have been a natural, for example, at the Nurburgring.
We had started off with two 1000 cc engines, but the car in which I crashed had two 1300 cc power units, which was really going some! These were just stock 1300’s, but our intention had been to put in two full-house racing power units! What this would have meant is not hard to imagine when you consider that our later, fuel-injected 1300 cc engines were producing 135 bhp apiece! We could also have used ZF self-locking differentials front and rear, instead of the normal production type. Given 270 bhp in a car weighing about 12 cwt (1,344 pounds), we would have obtained a power-weight ratio of under five pounds per bhp, which at any time and even in straight –out competition cars would mean terrific acceleration and performance.
John goes on to describe how a lady who witnessed his crash experienced a “nervous breakdown” and tried to claim compensation from his insurance company. Apparently this wasn’t successful. He was in hospital for three weeks and spent two or three weeks recuperating at Littlehampton. It was because he enjoyed the place so much that he moved to the South Coast for good.
Please excuse any typos, it's late.
Posted 02 December 2001 - 20:07
There is a photo of a Lou Fageol special twin engined Porsche in Huschke von Hansteins biography.
The caption says that "it showed up at the race" (53 Carrera Panamericana) but it looks more of a show car to me, with its chrome hubcaps, next to to the Porsche entries.
Posted 18 May 2002 - 11:12
And one more car, even if I'm not sure it ever existed: Slovenian Avto Magazin was leading car magazine in former Yugoslavia and it featured a racing car in every issue. I remember that around 1980 it featured a twin-engine Volkswagen "silhouette" racer (Golf or Jetta, silver, with Akai as main sponsor - there were no photos, just a fine detailed cutaway drawiing), supposed for new series of silhuette racing. Car, according to my memory, featured two highly tuned engines, developing some 800 HP together... I don't remember more techical details, but car was supposed to have fans just in front of wheels for drying the surface! Now, I don't believe in existance of such a car but I would like to know from where they took info on it? Probably it was announced as idea of some very imaginative journalist in some German magazine but who knows?
Posted 18 May 2002 - 11:24
Posted 18 May 2002 - 12:04
Someone also ran a twin engine Golf in the Pikes Peak hillclimb in the 80s around the same time Audi showed up with the modified S1 and Peugeot with the Camel yellow 205. Looked fairly conventional (I´ll see if I can find the pic I have of it.)
The four engine Can Am car was known as the "Mac´s It special". It had a two stroke Rotax snowmobile engine at each corner. There was a little feature on the car in the Can Am special in Motorsport magazine (nov 2001?), "The raucous, smoky, thoroughly alarming(but most entertaining) Mac´s-It never made it to the grid on its only Can-Am appearance, Laguna Seca 1970."
Found the pic of the Golf online here , but not much other info.
Posted 18 May 2002 - 14:34
Posted 18 May 2002 - 14:37
Posted 19 May 2002 - 00:19
Posted 19 May 2002 - 06:09
Posted 06 July 2003 - 12:21
There were also some earlier twin-engined DKWs, (2 X 500cc?) which were raced by Macher, Bauhoefer and Simons and one of which is pictured - it has a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g bonnet!
Posted 06 July 2003 - 18:12
" . . . mystery car in photo 02 as the number 32 Sampson, driven by Bob Swanson. Mike (O'Leary)said perusal of the Indy 500 Chronicle showed it's likely the lettering says "Sampson '16' Special," the numerals referring to the Sampson engine's 16 cylinders. Records show Swanson qualified it at 124.882 mph, started 20th and finished 6th, 196 laps completed, earning $2,463."
Full page with links to larger versions of the photo
A photo showing part of a Faegol twin-Porsche road racer, apparently taken at Willow Springs in the early 50s is last of many interesting pictures on this KTUD page
'50s US Road Races
Posted 07 July 2003 - 04:48
An incredible 4WD device, this was powered by two VW engines, one in the rear driving the rear wheels, one (inboard I think...) at the front driving the front wheels.
As if the two engines weren't enough, Paul bored out the rear engine to 2.2 litres, the front was 1.8 litres, and both were supercharged via a supercharger driven off the front engine. A spare engine was kept at the ready... a 2 litre version so that it could be installed at either end.
Now I know that this was posted before... and someone* suggested that I might be wrong about these details... but I assure you I'm not.
Jim Robson, owner of the old Silverdale hill outside Sydney loved it. Jim had been campaigning for years to get rid of the old 'hockey stick' timing arrangements in favour of light beams as he had installed at his hill.
"You should see these people and their hockey sticks when Paul England brings the Ausca to the line," he once told me, "they don't know what to do with it!"
Posted 07 July 2003 - 18:24
Also (although not a racing car engine), didn't Deusenberg license build Bugatti sixteen cylinder aircraft engines that were essentially coupled straight eights? (that self destructed pretty spectacularly, as well!)
Posted 07 July 2003 - 20:21
There was this British Mini with a 2-cylinder BDA engine...