Page 1 of 3 Next >> Less than a decade after establishing one of motor racing's first displacement limits, the sport's governing body, the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR, later the FIA), lowered the limit for Grand Prix cars for the second time in 1926. The original three litre maximum of 1919 had been lowered to two litre in 1922 and eventually to just 1500 cc four years later. With the frequent regulation changes, the AIACR tried to keep the speeds down. This forced the engineers to perfect chassis and engine design, resulting in the development of some of the finest racing cars.
One of the protagonists of the 1500 cc years was the the Anglo-French Sunbeam Talbot Darracq (STD). The company's racing efforts in the two litre formula had concentrated on the six cylinder engined Sunbeams, which were designed by Louis Coatalen. It was decided that STD's next Grand Prix car would be built in France and raced under the Talbot Darracq badge. Coatalen assigned two young designers of Italian descent, Vincenzo Bertarione and Walter Becchia to develop and build the new car in the Suresnes factory.
Applying their lessons learned at Fiat, Bertarione and Becchia penned a brand new eight cylinder engine. In good Sunbeam tradition the blocks were not cast, but welded for additional strength. One of the biggest developments of the 1920s was the adoption of forced induction through a Supercharger and the new Talbot Darracq followed the trend. So despite the limited displacement of just 1488 cc, the beautiful twin-cam engine eventually produced 160 bhp at 7000 rpm. To cope with the exceptional stresses inside the engine, it was fitted with more than 200 roller-bearings.
The Talbot Darracq's chassis was equally advanced. The frame consisted of two 25 cm high pressed-steel side members, connected by several cross-members. The engine itself provided additional rigidity. The front and rear axles were fed through large holes in the side member, which considerably lowered the entire chassis. Although the regulations still required a cockpit wide enough, a riding mechanic was no longer mandatory. In the Talbot Darracq the mechanic's place was taken by the driveshaft; for the first time ever in a Grand Prix car the engine was mounted off-set in the chassis, which enabled the driver to sit much lower in the chassis. Page 1 of 3 Next >>