Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nothing New Under The Sun (Porsche Division)

                                                                                                                                    photo: Sports Car Racing Though Time blog

This is Johnny von Neumann in his Porsche 550 Spyder at the Santa Barbara Road Races in September, 1955.  He came second to Ken Miles in another Spyder, followed home by three more.  Which gives some idea of the dominance of these cars in the small-bore modified classes at the time.

But that's not my point.  Evidently von Neumann was looking for extra brake cooling, because he sawed holes in the nose--which remind me of the (equally ugly) side radiator vents on modern water-cooled Porsches.  These were the days when Spyders were just race cars, not venerated objets d'art worth six to seven figures.  But nobody copied Johnny's massive holes, so they must not have worked.  Or if they did, improved cooling was offset by increased drag and/or aero lift.

                                                                                                                                                                         photo: Julius Weitmann

And this is Michael May's Spyder at the Nurburgring in 1956.  May was a young Swiss engineer who believed that an elevated wing, mounted to the chassis, would improve rear tire adhesion.  But the organizers of the 1000 km race found the modification "unacceptable" and the car was not allowed to start with the wing.  May was DNF in the race.  He anticipated Jim Hall's winged Can-Am Chaparrals by ten years, winged Formula 1 cars by thirteen years, and the first winged factory Porsches by fifteen years.

1 comment:

Wannabe Hotshoe said...

I once hack-sawed off the lower corners of the leading edges of my less-than-yr-old '70 Olds Cutlass wagon's front wheel arches to provide adequate turning clearance for a new set of wider tires/chrome reversed wheels. Would the scrutineers allow that on the Nuburgring as an acceptable mod??? That was a dumb thing to do, though, wasn't it??

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