If you visit Brussels this summer, know that Europe’s capital has something in store for car lovers. Indeed, the Brussels Museum Autoworld has opened its doors every day of the week until September 2 to show you the magnificent history of Renault.
Pre-war glory: A 1937 4,1 litre 6 cylinder Vivasport… just dream away behind this sporting version of the Renault Vivastella sedan
We were present at the opening reception, and show you here some photos of the formidable and iconic cars which are on display, and we lift a brief veil on their history…
Here you see GIOLITO Roberto and GIUDICI David, Starting number 31, in their 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS… on the grounds of the Museo Storico, during the event.
As we told your earlier, dear reader, Alfa was present in strength at the latest edition of this beautiful event. The course led even to the Museo Storico grounds, and the Alfa’s which participated were equally breathtaking. Indeed, the race caravan paid a celebratory visit to the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo at Arese, where time trials were held on the internal circuit.
But besides meticulous cars, it also pays of to prepare yourself thoroughly for this regularity event. Know the course and the stages very well, and train yourself in driving to the (hundreds of a )second.
Here you see my drawing of the winners, receiving the chequered flag . For a better view, press ctrl + to or pinch enlarge it…
This is what the winners did, TONCONOGY Juan and RUFFINI Barbara, in their 1933 ALFA ROMEO 6C 1500 GS “TESTA FISSA”, starting number 85. You see them here on my drawing here joyously receiving the finish flag, with the second official presenting already the coveted champagne bottle. Miss Barbara Ruffini is already holding her left hand on the door to jump out of the car and collect her winner’s prizes.
This was not the only success of the formidable Alfa’s.
In second place, just eight penalty points behind the victor, there was the stunning 6C 1500 Super Sport dating from 1928, with coachwork by Stabilimenti Farina. This was an official car from the FCA Heritage collection, which is normally on display at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, driven by Giovanni Moceri with co-driver Daniele Bonetti, with starting number 30. See here the photo above.
In third place, the 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato of Vesco-Guerini, starting number 39.
It is very touching to see that 50 years after their 1928 victory, an Alfa is again on the winner’s podium in this iconic Mille Miglia.
I couldn’t resist making a drawing of the glorious moment when the winners drove on the podium, and present you also some more photos of the other winners and Alfa’s in the Mille Miglia 2018…
Bugatti engines have, like the cars, been wonderfully designed and built since the birth of the “marque”. They are designed like true sculptures, and Ettore Bugatti paid great attention not only to the mechanics itself, but also how they looked from outside. The external surfaces were also buffed especially in a circular pattern, just like the cockpit and dashboard panels.
His son Jean Bugatti continued the tradition of unique panache and style. Not only did he design magnificent factory made bodyworks, he also helped develop magnificent twin cam Bugatti engines which saw light in the thirties.
The twin cam version was seen amongst others in the Type 51 Racing car, which made its debut in 1931. This formidable engine, which I drew here in ink, enhancing it with some water color touches, was the 160 hp (119 kW) twin overhead cam evolution of the supercharged 2.3 L (2262 cc/138 cubic inches) single overhead cam straight-8 found in the Type 35B racing car.
This car, contrary to the 35 biposto, was to be very rare indeed: only some 40 examples of the Type 51 and 51A were build.
On my drawing, one clearly sees the compressor, and its small circular waste gate with its …. openings which protruded outwards at the bottom of the louvered right side of the foldable engine bonnet.
The pencil drawing – I used the 2B grade – shows the cockpit of the 51 “Voiture de Course”, with a very rare Cotal preselector gearbox. This was a manually controlled epicyclic box, as similar construction as the famous Wilson box. The difference is that instead of band brakes, it used electromagnetic clutches. Drivers could preselect the lower or higher gears under braking before or accelerating out of a corner, and it was seen on other French thoroughbred racing cars, like the Talbot Lago 4,5 liter monoposto for instance.
Twin Cam engines are also to be found on the type 57, and later variants (including the famous Atlantic and Atalante) was an entirely new design created by Jean Bugatti.
A lot more can be told about Bugatti’s, the cars and their creators, and as this drawing series is only beginning, you are in for much more in the future… stay tuned!
The love affair between the three pointed star and the Mille Miglia is now nine decades old.
The legendary successes include the victory of Rudolf Caracciola as the first non-Italian driver in 1931, with his co-driver Wilhelm Sebastian in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL (“Super Sport Short Light”). I included here my drawing based on the historical photo taken at the finish, drawn with ink pen and 2B pencil, focusing on the drivers, bringing them more in detail.
Then there is the sensational success of Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson in 1955, with the overall victory and a still unbeaten record time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds. In 1955 Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson drove the 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S) to overall victory ahead of their team mate Juan Manuel Fangio.
Also triumphant were the 300 SL “Gullwing” sports cars (W 198) in the Gran Turismo class over 1,300 cc displacement, and the 180 D (W 120) won a victory in the diesel class.
In 1956, in addition to several 300 SL “Gullwing” cars and three luxury class saloons of the 220 “Ponton” (W 180) model, a privately entered Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121) also competed successfully in the race.
In 2018, a large contingent of the Mercedes-Benz models SSK (W 06), 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198), 190 SL (W 121) and 220 “Ponton” (W 180) vehicles will be lining up at the start in Brescia. Among others, Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassadors Roland Asch, Ellen Lohr, Bernd Mayländer and Bernd Schneider will be at the wheel of the vehicles.
Today’s version of the “1000 Miglia” is run on a route which closely follows that of the original road race. This year, the first stage (16 May 2018) will lead from Brescia to Cervia-Milano Marittima, and then on to Rome on the second day (17 May). The route to Parma is on the agenda on the third day (18 May), before the rally returns to Brescia on the fourth day (19 May). Entry is restricted to vehicle models that already participated in the famous Italian road race during the period from 1927 to 1957.
Museo Mille Miglia: Public starting ramp with famous racing cars
The ties between the brand and the racing tradition are also underlined by the cooperation between Mercedes-Benz Classic and the Museo Mille Miglia in the historical monastery complex of Sant’Eufemia della Fonte just outside Brescia.
This year, Mercedes-Benz is putting on an extraordinary special exhibition in the courtyard of the museum: every visitor can drive his vehicle on a starting ramp as is typical for the Mille Miglia. He can position his vehicle for a photo between two famous Mercedes-Benz racing cars which caused a sensation at the Mille Miglia with their successes: the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) from 1952 (2nd and 4th place) and the 300 SLR (W 196 S) from 1955 (1st and 2nd place).
This staging can be seen and used from 10 May to 21 June 2018.
Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”
Apart from the actual competition, this is also down to programme items such as the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”.
The participants in the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge” will drive ahead of the classic cars on the same route and will compete in the same special stages. Vehicles permitted to take part in the Challenge are Mercedes-Benz SL models of various generations and vehicles from Mercedes-AMG plus models of particular historical value from the product history.
Dear reader, we now take you back to the twenties. To the days where engines counted most in a racing car. Aerodynamics and chassis design, tyres and brakes where timidly starting to develop, the focus was on the engine. A true genius designed it for Alfa Romeo. His name was Vittorio Jano.
Actually, he was born as Viktor János in San Giorgio Canavese, in Piedmont, son of Hungarian immigrants, who settled there several years earlier. He began at the car and truck company Società Torinese Automobili Rapid owned by G.B. Ceirano. In 1911 he moved to Fiat under Luigi Bazzi. He went with Bazzi to Alfa Romeo in 1923 to replace Giuseppe Merosi as chief engineer.
There is also a truly wondrous story to tell about the designers of Fiat and their engineers in the period between the two world wars, and it will be subject of a later series where we will present drawn portraits of the men and women who marked our automotive history.
Here one sees the carburettor side of the engine, its architecture being an example for all Alfa engines to follow, right until this day… On both drawings, some watercolor was added.
His first design with Alfa Romeo was the 8-cylinder in-line mounted P2 Grand Prix car, which won Alfa Romeo the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. But he was going to do much, much more for Alfa. In 1932, he produced the sensational P3 model which later was raced with great success by Enzo Ferrari when he began Scuderia Ferrari in 1933. We will also bring a special about this marvelous engine.
Jano also definitely established Alfa’s engine architecture, and indeed made Alfa technically what is Alfa all about. For the Alfa series production cars, Jano developed a series of small-to-medium-displacement 4-, 6-, and 8-cylinder inline power plants based on the P2 unit that established the classic architecture of Alfa engines, with light alloy construction, hemispherical combustion chambers, centrally located plugs, two rows of overhead valves per cylinder bank and dual overhead cams…
Indeed, this straight 8 engine is the architectural forerunner of what a classic Alfa engine is right until this day.
This 1,987 cc engine had Twin Roots Superchargers and 2 Memini carburettors, developed 140 bhp (104 kW) @ 5500 rpm in 1924, and 155 bhp (115 kW) a year later. As the P2 did only weigh 614 kg, it was fast enough to win 14 grand prix until 1930, and embodied together with the Bugatti 35 the most iconic grand prix cars in the twenties.
Its designer Vittorio Jano would in 1937 move to Lancia, and later to Ferrari, where he designed the V6 and V8 engines, which are still a technical basis for the Ferrari’s today…
Without any doubt, the powerful rear engine Auto Unions were ahead of their time. Their sheer “Leistung” or power was absolutely legendary. Just tires couldn’t cope, and the sheer chassis dynamics and even more importantly aerodynamics were not fully understood at the time. So the cars had no downforce at racing speeds, and the narrow tires with their still softer construction and not so adhesive compounds did not help.
The V16 engine of this Type C was a Porsche design, and started off in the type A with a displacement of 4360 cc. But it was originally meant to be a 6 litre engine, and this it was in the Type C. The two cylinder banks were angled at 45 degrees, and one central camshaft operated all the 32 valves. That is why the engine has this typical look of 16 pushrods in their gleaming chromed shafts connected with the exhaust valves, while the intake valves were actuated by the camshaft through rocker arms. So we see three valve covers on this beautiful engine.
The engine was laid out to develop massive low end torque, and for a racing engine, it revved quite low, as the rev counter clearly tells.
All this torque, a hefty 853 Nm being available at 2500 rpm, was very difficult to handle for the narrow rear wheel tires, and a limited slip differential was badly needed to stop the inner wheel in narrow corners from spinning fiercely through under full throttle, even in the dry!
The impressive two-stage Roots compressor at the back of the engine, fed by a battery of two carburetors…
Maximum power ranged from 485 to 520 PS or 357-382 kW during the racing seasons, and whether the race was to be long or short. It was achieved at – at least for a racing engine –a very lowish 5000 rpm. A two stage roots compressor was used, with 0,95 bar pressure.
One last item, which one tends to forget when talking about the sheer performance of this engines, is that the 200 L tank did not contain ordinary fuel. A (secret) mixture using amongst others ethanol and methanol was used. This did allow higher combustion chamber pressures and temperatures, without problems of knocking or lack of cooling. One needs to flush the system after races because the mixture is corrosive.
In our next edition, we will go for the equally stunning Alfa Romeo P2 straight 8 compressor engine…
Soon we will start here with a new series on the heritage activities of car manufacturers, as the interest in preserving their heritage in historic sites, buildings and cars is ever growing. The same can be said for the increasing love and interest for vintage and classic cars by the greater public, and therefore a comprehensive series on the subject is long overdue.
Besides the plethora of museums, there are also the services which manufacturers with a keen interest in their mobile heritage are offering to their customers, in the form of Classic Cars Service Centers.
We will first start off with two main German pioneers in the latter concept, Daimler and BMW. But of course there is more to come, just think of Porsche, and not to forget the British museums and heritage centers
and their activities like the Land Rover Series I Reborn programme executed in their Classic Works.Indeed, there is Jaguar Land Rover Classic… And a lot more.
We promised you, dear reader, that we would come back to you with more reports about the delightful 2017 edition of the Zoute Grand Prix®.
The cars presented at the Zoute Concours d’Elégance® certainly turned heads, and there was one little gem, brought from the Škoda Museum, a 1937 Škoda Popular “Monte Carlo”. A rare car indeed, lovingly restored to former glory by the craftsmen of the museum, as engineer Michal Velebný explained us. We show him here with the car in the following two films, and some photos, and treat you to an interesting story…