Gordon Murray’s dismissal of Auto Union GP cars as the true progenitors of the mid-engined revolution seems a little off the mark. While it is true the V16 cars of 1935-37 did squander the advantages of layout, the 1938 D-type was a much better designed car. Fuel tanks low down in panniers, de Dion rear suspension and twin-cam V12 meant the Auto Union, in the hands of Nuvolari, looked set to change the face of GP racing a couple of decades before the Cooper. The fact that Alfa Romeo had built their own mid-engined GP car suggests other manufacturers were beginning to see the light before war ended the 3-litre formula.
Sure, the Cooper was the modem era milestone, but I believe it is right to say that the Auto Union D-type proved the success of mid-mounted engines in top class racing first.
I AM, YOURS, ETC
Matt Willis, via E-mail