A life well lived: retracing 120 years of the heat engine Car News

The problem was that the engines were still woefully inefficient. Bentley’s masterpiece, the 8-liter from 1931, produced only around 200 horsepower – just 25 horsepower per liter. The problems weren’t just a lack of engineering knowledge either. The metallurgy was not good enough, nor the machining process it went through. The quality of the gasoline was a joke compared to what we take for granted today and the compression ratios have been kept proportionately low to deal with it.

Some limitations were even self-imposed: In Britain, cars were taxed on the width of their cylinder bores, forcing designers to create inefficient, low-rpm, long-stroke engines that were unable to breathe properly due to the valve diameters that this imposed.

The 1930s were a decade of consolidation. Overfeeding has become more common and German racing teams have done amazing things with it on the track; The Mercedes-Benz W125 was getting 646 horsepower from a 5.6-liter engine in 1937, and that would be in the 1980s before the big-price machines gave back so much power. On the road, however, the engines got bigger and better, but stuck to known principles.

There’s nothing quite like a global conflict to kick-start technology in the back, and none have ever proven this point as well as WWII. In the air, we entered with biplanes and came out six years later with jet fighters.

By the time the automotive world was back on its feet in the 1950s, great things had started to happen. Think about some of the most powerful and long-lasting engines: Ferrari’s Colombo V12, Jaguar’s two-cam inline six, Chevrolet’s small block V8, and even Porsche’s flat six: all were designed between the end of the war and the end of the 1950s. It was a truly epic era for engine production.

The best, however? When I think of the engines that mean the most to me, it’s actually those from the 1960s and 1970s, although there were relatively few radical innovations during this time. Overeating was all but gone, while even in the late 1970s overeating was still in its infancy. What we had instead were naturally aspirated, free-revving, high-capacity, carburetor and carburetor engines that howled, howled, howled and made their way unblocked into our souls. Just look at Lamborghini’s V12 in the Miura and Countach, Ferrari’s equivalent in the Daytona and its flattened successor in the Boxer.

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This notice was published: 2021-05-15 05:01:25