Three new Grand Prix cars

Making their first public appearance at the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring were three entirely new Formula One Grand Prix cars, one being a new make altogether and the other two being new models from established racing car builders. After running 1961 type cars for most of the season the Ferrari factory produced a new car based on the previous models, but with the object of reducing weight and frontal area in the search for more speed, the same engine and gearbox unit being retained. As a design it was not very brilliant, there being no signs of original thoughts; someone had made notes of things done by Lotus, Cooper and B.R.M., and combined them all, but unfortunately they were mostly things that were done last year, and which are now out of date! The wheelbase was kept the same as the older cars and a 120 degree V6 engine and gearbox unit was installed, being the old type with the 6-speed gearbox mounted behind the differential unit. The first thing to be done was to recline the driving position in order to cut down the height and this involved reorganising the pedals, steering gear, battery mounting, oil tank and radiators. In the interests of weight saving the chassis was re-planned using smaller diameter tubing, so the reorganisation of the driving position was worked in with the new chassis frame layout, with the result that the rack and pinion steering box and the track rods were moved forward of the front axle centre-line, giving’ more room in the cockpit for the driver’s feet. In turn this meant placing the calipers of the front disc-brakes to the rear of the discs instead of in front, because for space considerations the calipers are always mounted diametrically opposite the steering arms. The new chassis frame used smaller diameter and lighter gauge tubing, the heavy cross-member that previously carried the anti-roll bar inside it was done away with. Instead of the anti-roll bar with splined ends on which fitted heavy forged links joining, it to the wishbones, a one-piece anti-roll bar was clamped to the chassis, fully exposed, with the ends bent forwards and threaded through eye-bolts mounted on the wishbones, just like Lotus were doing some years ago, but now, of course, the fashion is to have short inboard anti-roll bars, as used on Lotus 24 and 25, Porsche and Lola. All this provided for a reclining driving position but Phil Hill found it impossible to tolerate as he kept sliding forwards in the seat, which is why Bandini was given the car for the German Grand Prix.

A very daring experiment for the Maranello designers was to carry the cooling water from the engine at the rear to the radiator at the front by way of the chassis tubes, shades of Lotus and Cooper again. The fuel tanks on each side of the cockpit were made thinner and had their filler caps at the front, as on Coopers, thus avoiding leaks, fumes and general mess in the cockpit. The front suspension was unchanged, having the latest pattern Ferrari wishbones with screwed ends for adjustment. The geometry of the rear wishbones was altered, they no longer being at right angles to the chassis frame, but having a slight trailing attitude, as on the old 4-cylinder Porsches and the current B.R.M., while this change of layout necessitated the redesign of the coil spring mountings, so they were moved from behind the wishbones to in front, this all being tied up with the new chassis frame design. The rear anti-roll bar was a one-piece rod like the front, with simple clamps and eye-bolt ends. The bodywork was changed, the nose no longer having the “nostrils” on either side of its point, but instead an old-fashioned blunt one-piece opening, which does not say much for the wind-tunnel stories that were supposed to have evolved the “nostrils,” The tail was similar to the old cars, except that the opening in the rear was free from cross-bars and the carburetters were under metal bulges behind which were air scoops for the inboard rear brakes. Wire spoke wheels were retained. While it was a new car it was not exactly a new design in the Grand Prix scene, but it was new for Ferrari.

The second new car was the long-awaited Brabham Grand Prix car, designed by Ron Tauranac and Jack Brabham, and built in their small workshop. The whole layout was up to the minute in design, but very orthodox in that it was similar to Lotus and Lola layouts. The chassis was a small diameter tubing spaceframe of present-day design, with the engine compartment owing much to Lotus inspiration, while the rear suspension was almost exactly that of the latest Lola, with top wishbone, lower link and twin radius rods, with cast elektron hub carriers that could have actually been of Lola manufacture. The front suspension had a bottom wishbone with a front pivot well ahead of the axle centreline, a single top arm and a Y-shaped radius rod running back to the chassis frame, the branches or the Y going to each end of the top transverse link. Coil spring damper units were used all round, as were disc brakes and alloy wheels, the front ones being, 13 inch diameter Lola wheels, the rear ones 15 inch Cooper, steering being a rack and pinion box ahead of the centre-line of the front axle. The driving position was the now popular reclining one, and the VS Coventry-Climax engine was naturally mounted behind the driver, coupled to a 6-speed Colotti gearbox operated by a left hand lever. The wiggly Climax exhaust system was used, discharging into the normal layout of two long thin megaphones, these being of Australian manufacture and very nicely blended where each set of four pipes merged into the venturi. The bodywork was very Lotus like, it being difficult to improve on something that is so right, and it was painted a startling turquoise colour, with a gold flash on the nose. Without doing anything very revolutionary in the way of design, such as 4-w-d, or torsion bars springing, or transverse engine mounting, it is difficult to design a car around standard components without it being very similar to something that has already been done, which is why the Brabham did not look inspiring from a design point of view, taken as a general layout. The wheelbase of 7 ft. 7 ins, is an inch longer than the Lotus 25.

The third newcomer at the Nürburgring was the Gilby-B.R.M. Vs designed by Len Terry and built by Gilby Engineering, being a follow on to the Gilby-Climax 4-cylinder that Keith Greene has been racing for some time. The chassis was a spacetype, built from a combination of round section and square section tubing, and followed the general lines of the previous Gilby, but being modified around the back end to take the B.R.M. Vg engine, there being a detachable top member to allow removal of the engine, as is general practice with British V8 cars, apart from the brilliant Lotus 25 “monocoque” chassis. Suspension front and rear was identical to the 4-cylinder Gilby, with classic wishbone and radius arms layout and coil spring-damper units. ‘The rear discs-brakes are mounted on the hub carriers, but inboard of them, as on the B.R.M., Making for short drive shafts, and fuel tanks are carried each side of the cockpit, the body being rather wide around the cockpit area. The nose has the distinctive Gilby shark-like shape, with air intake under the flat nose, while the tail panels fit closely around the engine and gearbox. The B.R.M. Vg engine uses Weber down-draught carburetters and upswept megaphone exhaust pipes, and the unit is coupled to a 6-speed Colotti gearbox, Most layouts of control rods for operating the 6-speed Colotti, which has the selector mechanism On the left of the casing, involve rods passing underneath the box and then having a linkage running forwards to the selector rod. By running the fore and aft rod high up on the chassis frame it was possible to approach the selector rod from the front of the gearbox, avoiding the reversal motion, but this meant that the gear-lever gate had to be mounted high up on the left of the cockpit, so it was turned through 90 degrees and the short lever lies horizontal instead of vertical, but the driver finds it quite convenient. Cooper elektron wheels are used back and front, and the wheelbase is 7 ft. 5 in. For a private owner this is a courageous effort and was built in a very short space of time when it was found that the Vg engine would not go into the earlier chassis. Making no pretensions at being a world-beater, or even a works challenger, the Gilby shows individuality and affords its driver some enjoyable motor racing, which is the object behind their efforts.

This second season of the 1½-litre Formula for Grand Prix rating has seen a fine display of new cars and engines, the Lola and the Brabham being entirely new names to G.P. racing, while new Lotus, Porsche, Ferrari and Cooper designs have appeared and the V8 B.R.M. and Vg Coventry-Climax engines have been well developed. Engine power outputs have not reached the high stage of development that can ultimately be expected, but the Formula is still young and having been extended for a further two years, into 1964 and 1965 it will be interesting to review the situation at the end of that period. Rumours about the Honda motorcycle firm of Japan building a Grand Prix have been rife for a long time, but they are now beginning to bear some resemblance to the truth, and one can expect to see a Honda G.P. car out on test next year. Similar rumours about a new G.P. Maserati have been going the rounds for a time now, and it is beginning to look as though there is quite a lot of truth in some of them, while also in Italy the newly formed Serenissima firm are working away on a G.P. car, which is hoped to be running on test by the end of the year, but some of their plans sound a bit ambitious. Rumours or not, the Grand Prix scene is very bright indeed, with a variety of makes all on a very equal footing.— D. S. J.