Page 1 of 2 Next >> During the Summer of 1966, Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata and Bruce McLaren joined forces. The wealthy Italian nobleman would supply his Serenissima V8 to the fledgling McLaren Formula 1 effort, while both a single seater and sports car chassis would move in the opposite direction. The partnership was short-lived as, despite scoring a World Championship point, the compact Italian V8 ultimately did not prove up to the task, and was replaced by a BRM V12 for 1967.
Volpi was nevertheless still determined to break into Formula 1. He tasked his chief engineer, Alf Francis, to create a Serenissima F1 racer. It was a long-held belief that this new machine was based on or inspired by the McLaren M2B but in fact Francis used an earlier BRP F1 as the basis. As discovered by Ian Wagstaff while writing his book on BRP designer Tony Robertson, former BRP mechanics Bruce McIntosh and and Stan Collier eventually brought the first BRP chassis to Francis' Italian shop. Here McIntosh helped Francis create the Serenissima M1AF.
What was carried over virtually unchanged from the McLaren M2B was Serenissima's own engine. This V8 had been designed a few years earlier by the highly experienced Alberto Massimino for the mid-engined '308' sports car. The all-aluminium unit featured twin overhead camshafts and two valves per cylinder. Fitted with twin-spark ignition and four Weber carburettors, it produced just over 300 bhp. Sassamotors of Modena, Italy was tasked with the construction of the engine for Serenissima.
One of the revisions made by Francis to the chassis design was to cut off the rear section, to which the suspension was originally bolted. Instead he used 'his' Colotti-Francis gearbox as a full stressed member of the chassis. The rest of the running gear was wholly conventional. Count Volpi commissioned Medardo Fantuzzi to create the aluminium body for the new F1 racer. Reportedly Carlo Chiti helped Fantuzzi with the aerodynamics, which included front winglets and a rear wing integrated in the engine cover. Page 1 of 2 Next >>