|Derrington Francis ATS GP|
While Enzo Ferrari has gone into history as one of the most successful automotive entrepreneurs, his people managing skills, or lack there off, have led to serious problems on several occasions. The most telling example is the fall-out late in 1961 with a large number of his senior staff after he fired Ferrari's sales manager, Gerolama Gardini, for dubious reasons. All the people that were loyal to Gardini and requested him to be reinstated were subsequently fired as well. Among them was chief engineer Carlo Chiti and his right hand man Giotto Bizzarrini.
Shortly after the 'Palace Revolt', the group of defectors was approached by a young, but very rich Count Volpi. He was a big racing fan and frequently entered racing cars under the Scuderia Serenissima banner. With so many experienced engineers available, he could now persue his dream of building his own Serenissima road and racing cars. With further backing from two other wealthy industrialists, he set up shop early in 1962 and work was started to design both a mid-engined GT-car and a Formula 1 racer with successfully taking Ferrari on as the ultimate goal.
Sadly there was little progress, due in no small part to a clash of egos with both the backers and also the engineers. Bizzarrini and Volpi were in one corner and Chiti in the other, which eventually led to a split in the second half of 1962. Volpi took the Serenissima name with him and Bizzarrini went on to offer his services as an independent consultant for many other manufacturers. The remaining group had to come up with a new name and chose 'Automobili Tourismo e Sport SpA', or ATS. Under this moniker a new Formula 1 car was launched in December of 1962.
One of the main reasons Bizzarrini walked out is that he felt his ideas were completely ignored by Chiti, who had his mind set on a V8 engine. Bizzarrini did work on a V12 engine, but never even showed it to his colleagues and it is believed that the later Lamborghini V12 was based on this early design. For the Formula 1 car, Chiti's V8 displaced just under 1.5 litre and sported twin overhead camshafts. Initially four Webers provided the fuel mixture, but one point a Fuel Injection system was also tried. At its debut, an output of 190 bhp at 10,000 rpm was claimed.
Mated to a Colotti six-speed gearbox, the V8 engine was installed in an unusually low spaceframe chassis. Suspension was by double wishbones all-round with the coil springs and dampers at the front fitted inboard. With a very small frontal area and an exceptionally low weight the ATS Tipo 100 looked like a top contender on paper. So much so that the team managed to enlist the services of 1961 World Champion Phil Hill, who had also jumped the Ferrari ship. He was joined by another former Ferrari employee Giancarlo Baghetti.
Problems with completing the ATS factory caused the competition debut of the Tipo 100 to be postponed to the Belgian Grand Prix, halfway through the 1963 season. Looking at the state of the two cars, it was obviously still a rushed debut and neither car made to the halfway mark of the 32 lap race. The cars were further developed throughout the season, but it did not improve the performance or reliability much. In ten attempts, a Tipo 100 only managed to reach the finish once; seven laps down on the leader. Chiti had a new car ready on the drawing board, but it never materialized.
At the end of the 1963 season, the team fell apart and ironically the assets were bought by Count Volpi, which he used to finally construct his much desired Serenissima cars. Sadly, they made a similar impression as the ATS cars. Together with the two Formula 1 cars, ATS also constructed between eight and ten examples of the 2500 GT mid-engined sports-cars. One of the Tipo 100s was bought by a British team, who used many of the mechanicals for the Derrington-Francis car raced once during the 1964 Formula 1 season, again with little success.
Featured is the Derrington Francis ATS GP, which used all of the Tipo 100 running gear, which was fitted in a new, shorter spaceframe chassis. The engine was equipped with a Lucas Fuel Injection system, which added another 10 bhp to the performance. Portuguese driver Mario Cabral qualified the car on the 19th place of the 20 car grid at its Monza debut. Ignition problems caused the car to retire and after just 25 laps the career of the Anglo-Italian racer was over. The unique machine did survive and is seen here at the 2006 Goodwood Revival, where it, fittingly, did not make it to the finish.
Article by Wouter Melissen, last updated on February 14, 2007
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