From the Race Track to the Road | Hemmings Motor News

27 Мар 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »
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Racing engines made purebred sports cars for discerning enthusiasts

Feature Article from Hemmings Sports Exotic Car

Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. This old line is more than just cynical marketing—it’s reality, because automotive enthusiasts have always appreciated the cachet that racing has provided to the street-driven cars that share the racer’s pedigree. The vast majority of sporting street cars that have benefited from the glow that racing gives have had engines that have been production-derived, then race-tuned. But a handful of street-driven sports cars have been powered by engines that started their lives being driven in anger on the track.

One of the prime examples of a production car that was powered by a race-derived engine is the Maserati 3500 GT seen elsewhere in this issue; its exotic 3,485cc, DOHC, twin-spark ignition straight-six started life under the hood of the 350S sports racer, that an evolution of the mid-1950s Tipo 250F Formula 1 car. By lowering the compression ratio and fitting street-suitable carburetors, this engine was made tractable and reliable for powering the glamorous grand tourer.

Those tricks—compression and fuel delivery changes—were just two of many techniques used to calm down a high-strung racing engine and to make it flexible enough to use in everyday traffic. This task is not as simple as it may seem, because racing engines are engineered with a different set of values than are production car engines. Racing engines are highly stressed units built to precision tolerances, using components that are as strong and light as possible. Their power is typically made high in the RPM range to allow triple-digit speeds, and they only need to be as durable as long as the race is run, because frequent rebuilds are commonplace.

On the other hand, street-driven engines are typically mass-produced (meaning that looser tolerances are engineered in to allow for build and upkeep variance), they run on less potent fuel, and they must make their power at lower RPM to feel responsive at the lower speeds cars achieve on the road. Production engines also need to meet pollution regulations and fuel economy standards, and should operate reliably in every traffic and weather condition, for 100,000 miles or more. So it’s not impossible to run a racing engine in a street-driven car—the race engine will usually be stronger, piece for piece, and if RPM and use are kept at a low level, there’s no reason it shouldn’t last for a long time—but this makes for an expensive way to power a street car that is often sold to consumers at a price that likely won’t reflect the precision engineering that went into it.

While our list isn’t comprehensive, the number of street cars powered by racing engines is surprisingly small. We’ve also found that some well-known sports car engines are a question of the chicken and the egg: Was the production engine built to homologate a race car? Or was the racing engine derived from the basic structure/design of a production engine? This topic will inspire debate, and we look forward to your input.

1970-1977


ALFA ROMEO MONTREAL

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Engine derived from:

1967 Tipo 33 sports racing prototype

The Montreal was born a show car with a speedy body that was calling out for an engine to match. Alfa Romeo discarded the Expo 67 show car’s underpowered Giulia TI 1600 four-cylinder and slotted in a special engine—the Tipo 33 V-8, fettled by Alfa Romeo’s racing arm, Autodelta. Carlo Chiti, Autodelta leader and ex-Ferrari engineer, had designed a 90-degree, dry sump, 1,995cc DOHC V-8 that was soon enlarged to 2,462cc; a detuned version, fitted with Spica fuel injection, powered 1967’s road-legal 33 Stradale. The production Montreal’s dry sump V-8 displaced 2,593cc and had a 9.0:1 (versus 10.7:1) compression ratio, as well as a single plug-per-cylinder design (versus twin) with two Bosch electronic capacitor discharge systems firing each plug. Power was rated at 200 at 6,500 RPM, rather than the original 270hp at 9,600 RPM, but this was sufficient to allow a 137 MPH top speed.

1927-1931

BUGATTI TYPE 43 GRAND SPORT

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