Surely one of the most controversial GP cars ever built was the Monaco Trossi, constructed by
Augusto Monaco and racing driver Carlo Felice Trossi.
It had an aircraft type radial engine, a feature that is rare but not unique for racing cars
(there was the much more crazier Gaudobaldi project in 1951).|
Augusto Monaco's first racing car project was a lightweight 1 litre front wheel car named 'Chichibio' that he constructed together with Enrico Nardi. After that the car preformed well in Italian hill climbs, Monaco decided to build a larger front wheel car for the 750 kg Grand Prix racing formula. For that project Monaco joined forces with an engineer/driver named Giulio Aymini. They got support from Senator Agnelli at FIAT, who offered facilities at FIAT's Lingotto plant to build and test the new two-stroke radial engine. However the tests revealed so many problems that Agnelli later withdrew his support.
Monaco then managed to convince Count Felice Trossi to become a partner in the project. Trossi offered them the full manufacturing facilities of the workshop in his own home, the Gaglianico castle just outside Biella (complete with an electrically operated drawbridge!). A friend of Trossi, Count Revelli, helped designing a streamlined body to the car.
After much rumours and speculation the car was finally revealed to the public at Monza tests in July 1935. Those present were amazed at the first sight of what looked more like an wingless airplane than a racing car. The car was indeed bulit according to very advanced aircraft methods. Sadly because of the weight distribution and problems with the engine, the car was never raced.
Monaco-Trossi (a.k.a. Trossi-Monaco)
The radial engine was mounted in the front end of the car, with its eight blocks positioned around a central crankcase. Each of the 8 blocks carried two cylinders and pistons with common conjoining combustion chambers. Inlet ports were in the rear cylinders and exhausts in the forward set. The three-piece crank shaft was located in a duralumin crank case. The rods were of radial engine type with one master rod connected to the seven other rods for each row.
Behind the engine were two Zoller superchagers with a modest pressure of 0.68 atm, each supplied by a Xenith carburettor. Exhaust gases discharged into four-pipe collector rings on the front of the engine, which led to two long pipes under the car. Transmission was by a shaft straight through the gearbox to the clutch, then back into the gearbox. A short column from the steering wheel operated independent links to each wheel via an inverted Y arm.
The chassis was a revolutionary aircraft type 'spaceframe' made by 4 cm manganese-molybdenum steel tubes with larger cross tubes front and rear. The car featured hydraulic brakes on each wheel. Front tyres were 5.25 x 31 and rear tyres were 4.40 x 27.
Both Aymini and Trossi tested the car at Monza in July 1935. The car was on the entry list for the 1935 Italian Grand Prix. But because of extreme understeering (the weight distribution was 75-25!) the car proved to be too dangerous so it was never raced. There were also serious problems with the cooling and the habit of the engine to destroy the spark plugs.
The car was donated by Count Trossi's widow, the Contessa Lisetta, to the Museo dell'Automobile in Turin where it still remains, accompanied by Monaco's 'Chichibio'.
(With thanks to Evzen Klimek and Richard Armstrong)
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