GREAT RACING MARQUES---continued
near Amiens. The three Italas which were entered for it were among the most interesting cars in the race, for their big 4-cylinder engines of 125 x 160 mm. bore and stroke (7,853 c.c.) were fitted with rotary valves. The cars were driven by the famous Felice Nazzaro, Moriondo and H. R. Pope ; but it was soon proved that, like so many others, the Italian firm had again to serve its racing apprenticeship. Pope was especially unlucky. “With a name like that,” said a Frenchman before the race, “le bon Dieu must be on his side.” But the race was run on the 13th July, 1913, and Pope’s car was No. 13, so it was natural that he fell out on the first lap with a seized bearing at the thirteenth kilometre stone ! In the meantime also Moriondo had an exciting time. After covering the first lap at high-speed he took the corner
by the tribunes too fast and overturned. He and his mechanic extricated themselves and righted their car unaided, thereafter continuing despite a bent steering gear, the whole feat being probably unequalled in racing. In the end, however, both he and Nazzaro were put out of the race by broken back springs, due probably to the fact that for the first time the Itala people were not using radius rods. Although success had not attended them in this race, however, the last had not been heard of the rotary-valve Italas. In 1919 the first post-war race was run in the shape of the Targa Florio, and for it were collected a heroic group of cars, mostly old in point of years, but yo. ung as far as use was concerned, due to the great hiatus of the war. The straight-eight Ballot was brand new, but the Peugeots had been built for the 1914 Grand Prix des Voiturettes, which was never run ; the Fiats, the Nazzaros and the Aquilas were of 1914 Grand Prix vintage ; and finally Moriondo and Landi appeared with two of the 1913 Grand Prix Italas. Both set off
these Italas were entered, with Moriondo, Landi and Foresti as their drivers. The race was for 268 miles, and in the end Foresti came home a winner of the 3-litre class, with his team-mates Moriondo and Landi in second and third places.
The next year Itala again returned to the charge, and three cars of the same type were entered, Moriondo again captaining the team, while the other two cars were driven by Rebuff o and Lopez. Again Moriondo proved the victor in the 3-litre class, being twelfth in the general classification, while Rebuff o and Lopez both finished. Incidentally, Moriondo, though not among the first flight of the race, succeeded in bettering the time of the victor of the year before. The next year, Itala did not take part in the Targa, but in 1924 the race was run concurrently with the Florio Cup. This was the seventh race for the cup, and the rules stated that it was to become the permanent property of the firm who had won it most of the seven times. Actually six firms had so far won, including at high speed, and at the end of the first lap were fifth and sixth respectively. On the second lap, however, Landi was forced, to retire with a broken differential ; Moriondo, on the other hand, continued, and had some consolation for his plucky effcrrt in the 1913 Grand Prix, which was won by Georges Boillot on a Peugeot, by finishing second to Andre Boillot on the same make of car When the Itala Co. began production again after the war, they commenced to build their well known 3-litre sporting model, with four cylinders of 83 x 130 mm. bore and stroke (2.831 c.c.), a model which afterwards became famous at Brooklands in the hands of Malcolm Campbell. At this time the Targa Florio contained classes for standard cars, and for the 1921 race threcof
the Itala team was entered, Cagno finally proving victorious, his Itala averaging 29.1 m.p.h. over the difficult course.
The next year, Itala did not appear in the Grand Prix, and it was not until the 1908 race at Dieppe that they again appeared on the starting line. That year three cars were again entered, with Cagno again at the wheel of one machine, while the other two were entrusted to Fournier and Piacenza. The engines of the cars for this race were limited to a bore of 155 rum., while there was no limitation to the stroke employed. The Itala designers, however, still faithful to the short stroke, only used one of 160 mm., although one brave man built his engine for the race with a stroke of 185 m.m., a huge stroke-bore ratio for these days. The Itala engines were of a nominal 120 h.p. and used a hemispherical cylinder head, their capacity being 12,081 c.c., while the engine speed was nearly 2,000 r.p.m. The rest of the specification remained practically unchanged, with the exception of the use of a 4-speed gearbox. These new racers, however, did not succeed in gaining a very prominent position in the race. .Piacenza retired on the second lap, leaving the other two to finish, Cagno being eleventh at 58.6 m.p.h., and Fournier nineteenth.
London-Monte Carlo Record.
-In the meantime, however, the Itala had been engaged in another form of sporting activity. The affair was started in April, 1907, when Charles Jarrott on a Crossley set up a record between London and Monte Carlo in 37 hours 30 minutes. This time was beaten in the ensuing month by Rolls on a Rolls-Royce, who cut down the record by the narrow margin of two minutes. Then, in June, H. R. Pope took a hand in the game. He selected for the run a 24 h.p. Itala with a large tonneau body, and succeeded in lowering the record by well over an hour to 36 hours 5 minutes. There the matter rested for that season, but in March, 1907, Jarrott set out again and lowered the record to 35 hours 20 minutes, this time being improved upon shortly afterwards by Auriac on a Napier, who completed the run in 33 hours 34 minutes. Once more, however, it was left to Pope to annex the record, this time for good. For his second effort, he used a 40 h.p. Itala
with a rather more business-like looking body, and after a magnificent run succeeded in lowering the record by no less than 4 hours 18 minutes to 29 hours 16 minutes.
During this same year an Itala took part in a still more extraordinary sort of race. The trouble all started when “le Matin “thought of the happy idea of challenging anyone to travel from Pekin to Paris by motor car. In spite of the fact that conditions seemed to make the feat impossible, the challenge was widely taken up, and finally, 25 cars having been entered, the thing was transformed into a race. Actually, however, only five turned up at the starting point, consisting of a three-wheeler, a couple of De Dions, a Spyker, and a 40 h.p. Itala driven by Prince Scipione Borghese. Of these cars, the Itala was the only one which ever reached Paris. Starting from Pekin on 10th June, the car crossed the Mongolian desert into Russia, and finally, after incredible adventures, reached Paris on 10th August. “By travelling from Pekin to Paris in a motor car,” said Borghese, “I have proved one thing—that it is impossible to travel from Pekin to Paris in a motor car.”
In 1908, the Itala again made an appearance in Russia, for in that year a long distance race was held in that country, and once more H. R. Pope appeared on the scene, and succeeded in finishing third on his Itala from a field of eleven.
Three years later, in 1911, he again started on his sporting activities. This time the scheme was to set up a record from London to Turin, and for this ‘he again used an Itala. London was left on 24th June at 8 p.m., and after a run of 23 hours, 51 minutes, the Itala triumphantly reached Turin at 7.51 p.m. on the 25th. Two years later Pope decided to improve on this performance, and, having left London on July 19th at
8.16 p.m., his Itala reached Turin at 5.52 p.m. the next day, thus cutting down the record to 21 hours, 36 minutes.
Rotary Valve Innovation. After the 1908 race the Grand Prix had been allowed to lapse, but in 1912 it was again revived, and in 1913 the Itala firm decided to return to the fray. That year the race, which was on a fuel consumption basis of 14 miles to the gallon, was run over a distance of 570 miles
The Itala which annexed the Monte Carlo record in 1907.
Itala on account of Raggio’s victory in 1905. In 1924 Rebuff° set out on a lone effort with a 3-litre Itala, but was only able to finish fifteenth.
The race was won by Mercedes, which had not been victorious before, and a final had, therefore, to be run in conjunction with the 1925 Targa. Rebuffo set out again to try and gain the cup for Itala, but this time he was not able to complete the course.
In the meantime, however, the enterprising Materassi had put one block of cylinders from a Hispano-Suiza aero engine into an Itala chassis, and this car he entered for the 1926 Targa Florio. The competition in this race intense, but the success of Materassi’s new car was apparent when, at the end of the first round, he appeared in third place ; and in the end he finished fourth behind the victorious Bugatti team. The same car was entered for the Grand Prix de Milan later on in the year, and in the hands of Brilli Peri succeeded in finishing fifth, again behind the Bugattis. This car came to an unfortunate end the next year, when it was being driven by Materassi in the Grand Prix de Rome, and got out of control, ran off the road and was wrecked.
12-cyl. and F.W.D.
At this time Itala had decided to take part once more in the Grand Prix type races, and some very ingenious 12-cylinder racers of 1,500 c.c. and 1,100 c.c. were built.
These cars had front wheel drive, and the engines (lad their valves set at right angles to the axes of the cylinders, operated by a single camshaft, while both forced induction and extraction were used. Unfortunately, however, owing to the lapse of the Grand Prix type races, these cars were never raced, and their ultimate fate remains a mystery.
At this time, however, the Itala Co. were making a 6-cylinder sports car of the 2-litre class, and in 1928 it was decided to enter two of these cars in the Grand Prix d’Endurance at Le Mans. These cars had engines of 65 x 100 mm. bore and stroke (1,991 c.c.), with push-rod operated overhead valves, and were driven by Robert Benoist and Dauvergne, and Sabpa and Christian. The second car had to retire fairly early on, but Benoist and Dauvergne had worked their car up into fifth place, directly behind the big cars, by half time, and, after retaining this position till near the end, finally finished eighth, having averaged 58.46 m.p.h. for 1,403 miles.
This was the latest appearance of the Itala in racing, but it is to be hoped that it will not be the last. Anyone who inspected the new 2-litre Itala with two overhead camshafts at Olympia this year must feel that this car has an excellent chance of distinguishing itself in the touring car races, which are at present almost universal.