Over at Petrolicious I bumped into a post that took a look at one of the more fascinating styles of racing automobiles: engine passengers. Obviously, we’re not talking about engine riding shotgun, and the reality is that it can be a bit hard to imagine for those who do have not seen one. So let’s take a look at some of the cars they’ve shared with the readers.
That’s the Nardi Bisiluro Damolnar. As you can see, the engine is fitted not under the hood, but in a section of the body that runs parallel to the driver’s side. Debuting in 1955, this particular vehicle was built with one thing in mind: endurance. Enrico Nardi wanted his car to compete with the best at the legendary Le Mans endurance race. One of the most important aspects of the dream vehicle was the emphasis on aerodynamics. This compact speedster actually required the driver to put their legs through the steering wheel, and the brake system was a work of genius in its own right. But while hopes were high, it ultimately did not finish due to suspension and weight problems— it met its end when it was blown off the track while being lapped. However, you’ve got to respect the ingenuity in the design.
While the Damolnar turned heads in its day, it certainly wasn’t the first vehicle to have that unique body design. That credit goes to 1951’s TARF II. The car was nicknamed “the twin torpedo”, and primarily competed in low-drag speed races. And speedy it was! It won a competition with an officially recorded rate of 185 mph, although it’s maximum speed was almost 200mph! Lucky for us, there has been video of this bad boy in action.
These cars aren’t only relics of the past. Honda is actually tinkering with a similar concept with their two cars aptly named Project 2 and Project 4. It’s pushing around 215 horsepower and weighs under 900 pounds. Again, this thing is a concept, so don’t expect to see it on the track anytime soon. But at least we know it’s out there.