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.
The “Bisiluro” Italcorsa was one of the strangest-looking, as well as the fastest cars of its time. Piero Taruffi, a man who designed this vehicle, was one of the most professional and beloved racing drivers in the 1940s and 1950s. Taruffi drove for Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. However, “Bisiluro” Italcorsa was his most vivid and greatest achievement.
Nicknamed the “Bisiluro”, which means “twin torpedo” in Italian, the car was built for just one purpose: to break the world’s speed record. The first version of the Bisiluro had a fairly modest engine that could barely generate 50 horsepower. But even built with a motor suitable for a washing machine, the car managed to break the land speed record in the 0.5-litre wheel-driven category.
The second Bisiluro was of a much more serious calibre. This time, Piero Taruffi equipped the larger, longer and wider Bisiluro with a four-cylinder engine of a Maserati. Also, the car had -two additional compressors and increased horsepower to a furious 270.
In 1951, this car broke not one, but two speed records. A year later, the car added four more speed records to its name.
The second oddball also came from sunny Italy, where a horde of engineers who were crazy about the motorsport was growing up. Created by Enrico Nardi, the Nardi Giannini Bisiluro ND750 to this day is considered to be the weirdest race car to have ever entered 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.
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.