A car’s engine resembles its heart, and it is what engineers probably focus on the most. Front-, mid- or rear-mounted vehicles is a common practice throughout the automotive industry, but it does not mean that the world never met a lunatic who tried to do away with the accepted system.
“Bisiluro” Italcorsa/Tarf II
Featuring an unconventional design, the "Bisiluro" Italcorsa was both a remarkable and high-speed automobile during its era. The creative mind behind this vehicle was Piero Taruffi, a highly esteemed racing driver in the 1940s and 1950s. Taruffi's notable career included driving for Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo. However, his most remarkable and significant accomplishment was the creation of the "Bisiluro" Italcorsa.
Dubbed the "Bisiluro," which translates to "twin torpedo" in Italian, this car was specifically designed to shatter the world's speed record. The initial version of the Bisiluro featured a relatively modest engine producing around 50 horsepower. Despite its small engine capacity, the car managed to set a new land speed record in the 0.5-litre wheel-driven category.
The second iteration of the Bisiluro was a significantly more formidable machine. Piero Taruffi upgraded the larger, longer, and wider Bisiluro with a four-cylinder engine borrowed from Maserati. Additionally, the car was equipped with two extra compressors, resulting in a formidable power output of 270 horsepower.
In 1951, this remarkable vehicle not only broke one but two speed records. The following year, it went on to secure an additional four speed records, solidifying its reputation as an extraordinary feat of engineering.
Nardi Giannini Bisiluro ND750
Another eccentric creation emerged from Italy, a hotbed for passionate motorsport engineers. Enrico Nardi was the mastermind behind the Nardi Giannini Bisiluro ND750, a race car that still holds the distinction of being the most peculiar vehicle ever to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
First of all, it was built from two Fiat 500 Topolino cars, which is not the best basis for sports cars. Secondly, the unusual-looking vehicle was powered by a 0.7-litre BMW engine that could only generate 62 horsepower.
The legend has it that the Nardi Giannini Bisiluro ND750 managed to get blown off the track (literally) when a Jaguar D-Type passed by it. Some say it happened because the car was ridiculously aerodynamic and lightweight – the Nardi Giannini Bisiluro ND750 weight is just 453 kg.
Hurst Floor Shift Special
Ongoing experiments are a driving factor in motorsport. Engineers, racing drivers and other professionals are constantly looking for ways to cover a specific race track as fast as possible.
The people behind the Hurst Floor Shift Special project had the same goal – to cover the track as fast as possible and win the Indy 500. They decided to think completely out of the box. Instead of mounting the engine in the middle they created something unique in order to achieve a better weight distribution.
While designing the Hurst Floor Shift Special, constructors took the inspiration from the Blohm & Voss BV 141 aircraft that had its moment in WW2. Its propeller and cockpit were mounted in the middle, side by side.
The motor racing fanatics used this unusual formula to build an Indy 500 race car. The engine was mounted next to the rear axle. However, the driver was not sitting in front of it like he usually does. Instead, the driver sat between the front and rear wheels, or more specifically – between them.
This uniquely designed car has only made it to the race track once in 1964. During the practice, the car has shown some good speed. But the smile was wiped off the faces of the constructors by an accident that have occured during qualifications, when Nascar veteran Bobby Johns lost control of the Hurst Floor Shift Special and slammed into a safety wall.
UNSUNG HEROES #66 - The TARF Bisiluro