Those "Le Mans" Cadillacs

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Work will be starting soon, if it hasn’t already commenced, on the Cadillaes which Briggs Cunningham intends to race at Le Mans this year, having qualified last year. Some further details are now to hand relating to the 1950 ears and by them the measure of this year’s American challenge may be judged. From an absorbing article in Road and Track by the late Sam Collier we glean that the saloon Cadillac reached about 4,700 r.p.m., equal to some 117 m.p.h. at the end of the Tours straight, and White House was taken at 4,000 r.p.m. It was a practically standard car with Burrell two-carburetter manifold, conventional in place of hydramatic transmission, air-scoops for the brakes and a 85-gallon extra fuel tank in the boot. The engine suffered badly from the lowoctane French petrol. Fuel consumption was expected to be 12, but actually worked out at about 6 m.p g, and resulted in running out of petrol away from the pit. French shock-absorbers were fitted before the race to steady the back end and Mareehal head and fog lamps used to supplement the American ones. Firestone road-racing tyres were employed, but when hair cracks were discovered in the walls special Dunlops were flown out in ease they were wanted. The ordinary jack sufficed for wheel changes.

The aerodynamic two-seater body of the other Cadillac was designed by H. Weitunan of the Grumman Aircraft Corp., after wind tunnel tests. It looked very wide but was actually 3 in. narrower than a normal Cadillac. The construction was alloy panels clipped to a chromemoly. steel tube framework that incorporated a crash-frame. Ducts at the front, scoops at the back, led air to the brakes on the enclosed wheels and standard Cadillac brake drums with Affin cooling fins were used. Link two way radio was carried and besides oil and water thermometers and rev.-oounter the facia carried six thenno-couples, four for the brakes, one for the transmission and one for the back axle, so that a very efficient temperature check was possible.

The engine was prepared by FrickTappet and had five carburetters. The exhaust pipes emerged each side of the body, flush with the tail side-panels. The battery was carried in the tail, the oil filter in the near-side front wheel well. The chassis was standard Cadillac with manual gear-change.