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Art & Inspiration Aero-Engined Vintage Racers

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by SteveLines, Nov 11, 2007.

  1. SteveLines
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    SteveLines Member

    By popular request, as an offshoot of the Vintage Bugatti thread here's one dedicated to aero-engined vintage racing cars.

    A few from the UK to kick things off!

    GN JAP

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Vauxhall Viper

    [​IMG]

    Picard Pictet

    [​IMG]
  2. storm king
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    storm king Member

    A WOOD chassis?! How could you not love it!
  3. The one with the wood chassis is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time! It just looks mean.
  4. jimdillon
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    jimdillon Member

    Steve, a nice thread and a few nice cars to start it out. Aero engine cars are always interesting to say the least. Although I have an engine to tear down it is hard to turn down a thread on aero engines. There are some great stories with aero engine cars with the Hall Scott engines and the Chitty Chitty cars of Count Zaborowski and Ray Keech in the triple engine Liberty based racer called Triplex and Babs with the Liberty, as well as many more. Most of these though were hot rods in a sense where men could test their mettle I suppose but there were some successful race cars based on aero engines.

    Mercedes in their quest to test their aero engine principles put some 4 cylinder aero style engines in a newly designed chassis and prepared 5 cars for the 1914 French Grand Prix at Lyons. The French of course with the Peugeot and their Delages thought they would have the cars to beat but Mercedes ran away with the race and took the top three spots in what was some consider to be one of the greatest contest ever run. Lautenschlager in the #28 took top honors (this car is owned by George Wingard), Wagner in the #40 car took second, and Salzer in the #39 car was third. The photo with the Mercedes engine apart was the post race teardown to make sure it met all of the proper criteria. The great American racer Ralph DePalma was in an English Vauxhaul but did not fair too well as the cars were relatively not competitive. The first World War was only a matter of days away and Ralph who had represented Mercedes very well with several Mercedes racecars in the States, was summoned to the Mercedes factory and a deal was struck for him to take back the second place finisher of Wagner.

    Most racing drivers of the era could not afford the high cost of racing and had patrons who were sportsman and bought the cars and helped with expenses. E.C.Patterson was Ralph's patron at the moment and the car was brought back to the states and ran quite well at Elgin as well as some other tracks. The car was entered in the 1915 Indianapolis classic and it was sent to the Packard experimental department to be readied for the race. Jesse Vincent Packard's Chief would serve as the crew chief during the race and DePalma credited the preparation and especially the change in carburetor from the Claudel to a Packard carb with a big reason for his winning the 1915 Indy. The one photo shows the Packard carb and the other photo is DePalma driving out on about Detroit with new more streamlined bodywork. Shortly after this Patterson feeling the heat of owning a German car during the WWI campaign gave up his interest in the Mercedes and DePalma found some new patrons in Frank and Herbert Book from Detroit wherein they would form a partnership to build racecars. Ralph's 14 GP Mercedes was rebuilt several times in the Packard experimental department though prior to the Book Brother's involvement. The Mercedes was brought into the Packard shop in November 1915 and Packard went about building their own racer to test their own aero engine principles. As is well known Packard (and some others) built Liberty aircraft engines to help go fight the Kaiser. The photo with the progression of 12 cylinder aero engines shows a 299 c.i., then two 905 c.i. engines, then two 1650c.i. engines. They built 2 of the 299 engines and several of the 905 engines for aero testing. They built bunches of the 1659c.i. variety. It was not happenstance that they built 299 c.i. engines as the AAA racing limitation at the time was 300 c.i.. According to my grandfather who worked in the department when all of this was occurring and who worked on some of the racecars as well as on the Liberty engines, the 299 racers were built side by side to the rebuilding of the Mercedes and there were several things they adapted from the Mercedes racers such as the rear spring hangers (exact copies). The 299s were finished in the early spring (first photo of engine with the hood up shows the early intake and a second photo showing the second intake with Ralph tinkering on the car) and were tested although Packard came out with an edict that due to the war they were not going to go racing, which did not kill the effort but surely slowed it down. At the time Ralph was racing with the Book brothers and they had a pretty impressive stable of cars, the 14 GP Mercedes, a Mercedes copy called the Detroit Special, Lutcher Brown's Peugeot, a Stutz and then the 299 Packard which DePalma owned. The Book's got busy with war work and DePalma was also busy with some war work but found some time to race the 299 in 1917 and 1918 and setting a good number of track and world's records with the car. The one photo shows it on the boards in 1917. In 1917 Ralph DePalma with the 299 and Barney Oldfield with the Golden Sub had a series of match races. The Sub did very well on the dirt but not as well on the boards and the reverse was true for the 299, where it was very fast on the boards. The photo below with the three cars lined up is at Sheepshead Bay with Louis Chevrolet in one of his beautiful 1916 Frontenac OHC fours. DePalma on that day was fastest, running around 121+mph as he took the checkers. Note in the photo on how DePalma and his mechanician are leaning forward to cheat the wind a bit.

    During this time Packard had placed one of the aero 905s in a chassis and went about testing and setting records. When the war ended in 1918 Packard went about rebodying the 905 and took it to Daytona in 1919 and set the world land speed record at 149+. Ralph officialy was the first to 150mph, hitting that in the kilo on February 12 ,1919 and then went on to set the world record running both ways the 20 mile distance. It is a long story but the sanctioning body for record setting in the States with AAA and the foreign sanctioning bodies were not on the same page so some took issue with whether the record was truly official. Whiners all.

    The 299 was rebodied as well for the upcoming 1919 Indianapolis classic and the press had a field day writing how successful the car should be. The car with familiar#4 sat on the outside of the front row and led the first half of the race, pretty much running away but suffered a few setbacks, including a valve problem and then a frozen right front wheel bearing which took 20 minutes to repair. The car stormed back running strong and finished in 6th position. It is still the only 12 cylinder car to ever finish the Indy 500.

    The whereabouts of the DePalma Mercedes is unknown although Frank Book kept his Mercedes copy, the Detroit Special and could be seen driving it in the early to mid thirties, whereabouts unknown. One of the 299s (engine#2) was sold to a Baroness Maria D'Avanzo and was raced in Europe and the did well racing in the Alps and the Fanoe Islands. On November 14, 1920 at the Gallarate Speed Trials Eugenio Silvani in the other 299 blew away the competition breaking the Italian Speed record at 157.894 kph average. One of the competitors that day in an Alfa was a new driver by the name of Enzo Ferrari and there have been articles written that Enzo stated he had the inspiration for his twelve from the Packard 12 that raced at Indy in the teens. There were two 905s and Jesse Vincent's diary notes the sale of the first for $10,000 probably to Jesse Lasky in Hollywood. The second was pushed around the experimental department for awhile, whereabouts today unknown, although there is a 905 engine in the catacombs of the Smithsonian. Whether this is the Daytona record setting 905 is unknown as it is setup for aircraft and not auto racing.

    The 299 engine#1 resides in my shop. The 299 had a few racing miles and whereas the 1914 Mercedes of DePalma required much repair work and many parts replaced, the 299 had served DePalma quite well with very little repair. After Indy in 1919 the 299 finally starting showing the strain of high speed racing and in September she finally retired with a broken bottom end, more than likely a thrown rod. My engine has a new crankcase that has some minor differences from the one cast in 1915/16. Right after the engine was retired from competition, it was placed proudly on display at Packard headquarters until they went out of business. It floated around in a few others hands until in the early eighties I was fortunate to buy it . Work has a habit of getting in the way of me having fun and working on cars all day but as soon as I finish my present project, work in earnest will begin on getting the 299 back on the track, albeit vintage.-Jim

    Attached Files:

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  5. jimdillon
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    jimdillon Member

    More of the photos-Jim

    Attached Files:

  6. jimdillon
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    jimdillon Member

    More photos yet again-Jim

    Attached Files:

  7. chaddilac
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    chaddilac Member

    Is that a two seater... that's got to be the coolest vintage racer. I'd like to see more detailed images of the cool wood frame and all the detailed parts!!!
  8. Jonny69
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    Jonny69 Member

    That GN is the bollocks
  9. Bigcheese327
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    Bigcheese327
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I didn't look at the Bugatti thread, so I don't know if this one made it in, but I've always liked it:

    [​IMG]

    This one has an OX5, but I also love Liberty engines - whether they're in planes, boats, or cars. Too bad no one ever built a road-going Packard Merlin car after WWII.

    -Dave
  10. Casey
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    Casey Member Emeritus

    wow! interesting thread . I have no clue what this is.
    but the guy brought it from across the pond and showed up at the Kingsbury car show and fly in two year`s ago.
    [​IMG]
  11. Casey
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    Casey Member Emeritus

    ok that`s just wierd:cool:
  12. Toast
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    Toast
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    Man, those things ar freakin cool!
  13. MidnightTrain
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    MidnightTrain Member

    I've been dreaming of driving on of these type of car for years now. It's a goal before i die to build a modern-ish version. It's all planned out,i just need the funds.

    Thanks for all the awesome information, Jim.


    and yea,that GN is the Tits.
  14. fur biscuit
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    fur biscuit Member

    the Vauxhaul is for sale if anyone is interested.
  15. fur biscuit
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    fur biscuit Member

  16. fur biscuit
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    fur biscuit Member

  17. fur biscuit
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    fur biscuit Member

  18. fur biscuit
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    fur biscuit Member

  19. fur biscuit
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    fur biscuit Member

    <object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/2U-ynRK4e6s&rel=1"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/2U-ynRK4e6s&rel=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>
  20. jimdillon
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    jimdillon Member

  21. 22dodge
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    22dodge Member

    Awesome thread, that first wood framed car is amazing.
    Damn, it makes you want to go build something... '22
  22. Casey
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    Casey Member Emeritus

  23. fur biscuit
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    fur biscuit Member

    i think that HAMB has an anti pre-'23 policy ;)
  24. Mac the Yankee
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    Mac the Yankee Member

    Love that Bleriot- I think I'm off to Home Depot to build myself a frame!
  25. Clark
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    Clark Member

    The GN rules!!! I would love to see that car in person. I'm sure it has great details everywhere!!
    Clark
  26. mac miller
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    mac miller Member

    Hey! Don't forget the great American race cars from the 30s through the 50s(maybe, even, into the early 60s) that used the Hisso and the Ranger aircraft engines. These cars were, basically, outlaw sprint cars(usually called "Big Cars") running the half mile tracks from Indiana to California. I look forward to seeing some of them, in person, every year at the great old outlaw track at Jungle Park Indiana reunion...
  27. Ramblur
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    Ramblur Member

    Well it doesn't have wheels on it,but it is a vintage racer and does have an OX5,so I'll throw it out here. Was at Fantasy Of Flight this
    weekend,and they did start and run it a couple
    times...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  28. Ramblur
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    Ramblur Member

    And heres the rest...

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  29. Ramblur
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    Ramblur Member

    Here's the rest...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  30. Rand Man
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    Rand Man Member

    There is a lot of information on the Web about the old "Hisso" sprint cars. They were usually made from half of a Hispano-Suza WWI aircraft engine. I think they had bout 400 cubic inches in four cylinders. I don't have any photos handy right now, but you could spend hours surfing Hisso.

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