Otto Cilindri: Moto Guzzi V8 Grand Prix Racer- Guzzi V8 Racing Machine

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Otto Cilindri: Moto V8 Grand Prix Racer fragile, flawed and fantastic, the Guzzi V8 of the 1950s should ruled Grand Prix But it didn’t…

Photographer. Cycle Archives, Moto Guzzi, © Media

The Guzzi V8! If you dabble the bit in motorcycling history, you have of this complex and ambitious built in 1955 to dominate Grand Prix racing.

At its the V8 had the numbers to do it. In 1957, when and MV were making no more 67-70 horsepower from inline-Fours, the V8 could summon 80 hp at just over 12,000 power level not reached in GP racing for 10 years. It had staying being liquid-cooled at a time every competitor was air-cooled.

It was extremely fast—timed at 178 mph at the 1957 GP.

Yet it never won a single Grand Although fast on certain it DNFed often. The V8 was a classic of an ambitious program whose needs exceeded the resources of its The list of such failures is of BRM’s V16 Grand Prix car of the 1950s, Honda’s oval-piston of the ’80s, Chrysler’s IV-2220 V16 aircraft engine of 1944.

The problem is to advance the state of the art by to win but by no more than can be made for use in the time available.

An astonishing months elapsed from the when Guzzi principal Parodi gave the project his until the first engine Thirty days later the first track test. engineer Giulio Cesare assisted by Umberto Todero and Cantoni, followed a logical to a V8. Guzzi had nothing competitive in the class.

Its “bicilindrica,” the 120-degree V-Twin had won the TT in 1935, had been retired as too in 1951. Its replacement, a liquid-cooled had been troublesome and ill-handling, only one GP. It was retired in 1954, Guzzi with what it did so light, agile Singles broad pulling power.

such Singles, Guzzi won world championships 1953-57 defeating DKW’s 10,000-rpm Triple and Gilera’s transverse

But Gilera and MV were entrenched in the class, with highly Fours whose handling had from the knowledge of transplanted riders like Geoff Duke and Surtees. These intelligent carried with them of what had made Norton’s Single so good in 1950-52—a chassis, forward engine and supple hydraulic-damped swingarm and front suspension.

Guzzi’s 500cc Single win an occasional GP (as Bill Lomas did at the TT in 1955) but never a championship. knew that Singles and were finished in 500. is basically cylinder-filling ability times rpm, so if Guzzi another four-cylinder, it would all the development already completed by and MV.

To make up for the opposition’s experience in the cylinders of its Fours, any Guzzi would have to be capable of rpm. That, in turn, require a greater number of higher-revving cylinders.

Six? A Six would be wide, and tracks—still based upon roads in many cases—emphasized top and aerodynamics. Increased width was Then a V8?

Only water cool the rear cylinder but sketches and estimates soon that such a V8’s would be less than 13½ wide. Even adding two for the dry clutch and 2½ inches for a water the resulting package slid a fairing an inch narrower a modern Ducati V-Twin’s. Who resist?

Don’t think of as a quaint little European quietly crafting oddities in a At the time, Guzzi had 800 machine on its production floor and was a major producer. On staff were in every specialty.

The company had produced aircraft in the war and understood how to quickly push from paper to metal.

The V8 is a beautiful object, and its details Carcano’s devotion to weight The magnesium unit crankcase is on right and left, allowing the to be slid in sideways. The middle of its five main bearings then bolted up against webs at the apex of the Vee.

are no separate cylinder blocks. A of the cylinder water jacket was as part of the crankcase, and the rest was as part of the cylinder heads. The main bearings were in right and left engine which also supported the stacked gearbox.

Wall thickness of crankcase and was 4mm—under 3/16 of an inch—foundry of a high order.

MV Agusta 1100 Grand Prix
MV Agusta 1100 Grand Prix
MV Agusta 1100 Grand Prix


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