The de Tomaso
Making a brief appearance during practice for the Italian Grand Prix was the latest car from the small factory in Modena run by Alessandro de Tomaso. This Argentinian came to Europe some years ago, in the days of Fangio, Gonzalez, Marimon, Mieres and so on, and stayed in Modena while he raced sports Maseratis and later sports Oscas. He appeared at Silverstone on one occasion for a Formula Two race with a “desmodromic ” Osca sports car converted to F.2 trim and will be remembered for hitting the wall on the inside at Copse. The Editor of Motor Sport will remember de Tomato, for a piece of the wall scudded across the infield and hit the Editorial foot. When Formula Junior began de Tomaso gave up active racing and built a Junior car, based on a Cooper, which he called the Isis, and followed this with some Formula Two cars using 1½-litre Osca engines or enlarged Alfa Romeo Giulietta engines. By this time he was having most of the parts of the car manufactured in Modena and was using less and less proprietary material. His later F.2 cars had 5-speed de Tomato gearboxes, designed and built in the small factory he had opened in Modena. Last year he was working on the design of a completely new car for Grand Prix racing and was volunteering the information that it was to be a water-cooled horizontally-opposed 8-cylinder, naturally rear-mounted. Early this year assemblies were beginning to appear on the benches in his workshop and lots of small machine shops in Modena were working on bits and pieces, and by June de Tomaso was far enough advanced with tne building of the first car to display a full cut-away drawing of the projected car to certain people. Last month the first car was completed and out on test, and he brought it along to Monza for one brief practice appearance.
The engine is an horizontally-opposed 8-cylinder of bore and stroke 68×51 mm. and each bank has two overhead camshafts driven by a double-roller chain from the front of the crankshaft. Four downdraught Weber DCM carburetters are used and coils fire two 14-mm. plugs per cylinder. The crankshaft arrangement has two opposing connecting rods side-by-side on each crankpin. Coupled directly to the back of the engine is a 5-speed gearbox and final drive unit, the gearbox being behind the differential and the whole assembly being designed by de Tomaso and his team, which includes Massimino, who was at Maserati in the days of the 4CLT and later A6GCM cars. The engine/gearbox unit is mounted in a rectangular space-frame with a detachable structure over the top of the engine compartment and the linkage from the gearbox to the lever in the cockpit runs over the top of the engine. Water from the engine is fed directly into the chassis tubes to carry it to the forward-mounted radiator, and it is returned by external pipes.
With Massimino haying designed the “inboard coil-spring” layout of the 1948 Maserati, which Chapman has recently improved upon with his Lotus, it is not surprising to find the de Tomaso car with similar front suspension, with the upright for the hub carrier and the forward-facing steering arm all in one casting. At the rear is a typical Lotus/Lola layout of lower wishbone, radius rods and upper transverse arm, except that here de Tomaso has extended the upper arm inboard, pivoting on a chassis member, to compress inboard coil-springs as at the front. Brakes are all mounted outboard, being Girling discs at the front and Amadori discs at the rear, and the wheels are Amadori castings to de Tomaso pattern, 13 in. at the front and 15 in. at the rear. The wheelbase is 2,285 mm. and the estimated weight 467 kg.
This little factory with a personnel of nine mechanics deserves every credit for building the car which owes so little to outside manufacturers, and is refreshing in these days of taking “this chassis, that suspension, that engine and this gearbox ” and assembling them into a Grand Prix car. The de Tomaso car has the satisfaction of being all de Tomaso and while it is not expected to be a B.R.M. beater, it is another welcome newcomer to the Grand Prix scene.—D. S. J.