Oh history!

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A reader, engineering consultant Mr Brian T Pritchard Lovell, had brought to my notice something which I had not previously appreciated. It concerns who the designer of the engine for the 1939/40 three-litre, 135 deg V16 Alfa Romeo.

In June 1945, Capt Moon wrote an article for us on his ideal 1½-litre racing car, in which he referred to the engine’s designer as HR Ricardo, the well-known British cylinder-head expert who had been responsible for the famous Ricardo-Triumph motorcycle engine and that of the 1922 TT Vauxhall. Capt Moon repeated this in July 1945 in a follow-up article, in two places.

Now during the difficult war years I ran Motor Sport by remote control, as it were, and did not see galley or page proofs. However, by 1945/46 I should have shaken off the aeroplane writing for the M of S and so I think Moon probably did think our great Sir Harry had drawn up this advanced Alfa Romeo racing power unit, unless his writing was misread.

What makes this into a conundrum is that, rather curiously, in a 1949 piece about the V16 BRM project, written almost certainly by Laurence Pomeroy, The Motor also attributed the V16 Alfa Romeo engine to Sir Harry Ricardo. But in his recent book The Alfa Romeo Tradition, which we reviewed at the time of its publication, Griffiths Borgeson says that the Alfa engine was the work of Wilfredo Ricart, whose full name was Wilfredo Palayo Ricart y Medina, although his name was rendered incorrectly both in the Enzo Ferrari autobiography and in his obituary by the French SIA, of which he had been a prominent member. Our correspondent queries who did design this memorable Italian racing engine? It is most certainly Ricart…unless anyone cares to correct this.

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