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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1920
Designed by:Ernest Henry for Ballot
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 07, 2017
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn the wake of the Great War, top level racing on the European continent was suspended until 1921. Several European manufacturers, especially the French ones, already turned out new racing cars a few years earlier to compete in the lucrative Indy 500, which had its first post-War running in 1919. Among them was the small Ballot company, which had acquired the services of former Peugeot engineer Ernest Henry.

Established by the brothers Edouard and Maurice, Ballot had originally produced ship and car engines for other manufacturers. Among their many clients was future rival Delage. After the War, the Ballot brothers decided to expand their business and develop complete cars. Racing was chosen as the most effective tool to market the new machines. To ensure the competition Ballots were successful, Ernest Henry was hired. At Peugeot, he had been part of the team that designed the first four-valve per cylinder heads.

Henry joined Ballot early in 1919 and had just over three months to design and build a racing car from scratch. Eventually he just needed 101 days to get the new car ready. Despite the short time available, it was far from run-of-the-mill; it was one of the very first competition cars using a straight eight engine. This was an adoption of the four cylinder engines used to power the earlier Peugeots. The Grand Prix Ballot was, not surprisingly, plagued by problems but valuable lessons were learned for the 1920 edition.

Rule changes restricted the size of the engines to three litre, which meant Henry had to downsize his engine. He achieved this by adopting a 65 mm bore and 112 mm stroke for a total displacement of 2973cc. The design of the valve-gear was significantly improved over the earlier Peugeot 'fours'. No longer were the valve springs exposed but instead they were enclosed in 'cups'. This solution made the valve-train a lot simpler and was adapted in multi-camshaft engines for many decades to come. The 3-litre unit produced a commendable 107 bhp at 3800 rpm.

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  Article Image gallery (66) Chassis (2) Specifications Video (1)