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LET US celebrate the New Year with racecar noise. This celebration came to mind a couple weeks ago when I unearthed my Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles album for the item about Aleister Crowley.
Also found at the time were several other vinyl LPs (“what are ‘vinyl LPs,’ Grandpa?”), each celebrating racecar noise. Two historic examples follow here, as well as observations on sharing such raucous entertainment these days.
This fine art book/recording echos the style of its publisher, Car Graphic magazine, Japan’s high-end car monthly. The recording’s commentary is in English, by the British car authority Ronald Barker, 1920–2015. Text of the accompanying book is in Japanese.
Edward VII reigned in Britain for only nine years, 1901-1910, a period during which the automobile evolved from being a pure toy of the rich into something approaching everyman’s transportation. In England and on the Continent, unlike America, huge displacement of the engine gave a motor car prestige.
These four examples of Edwardian Monsters fit the bill: the 20.5-liter 1907 Métallurgique Maybach, the 12.0-liter 1908 Italia, the 10.3-liter Cottin et Desgouttes, and the 11.5-liter 1908 Napier. To put these engine sizes in perspective, the engine of the Ford Model T introduced in 1908 displaced 177 cu. in., that is, 2.9 liters.
This particular 1907 Belgian Métallurgique originally had a mere 10.0-liter engine, but gained its Maybach surname in 1910 with substitution of a 20.5-liter six-cylinder engine as fitted to Zeppelin airships.
The Formula 1 Grand Prix Car.
This recording focuses on Grand Prix racing’s 2.5-liter era, 1954-1960. The 1955 movie, The Racers, offers plenty of sound bites on these particular cars. What fascinates me, though, is the Sound Stories recording of two Mercedes-Benz racecars of the Silver Arrow era, a 1937 W-125 and 1938/1939 W-163.
The Mercedes-Benz W-125 was powered by a supercharged straight-six displacing 5660 cc, producing 646 hp, and making decidedly mechanical sounds.
Today’s Sound Options.
We’re spoiled by the wonders of YouTube. One of my favorites recounts the fabulous Fiat Tipo S76, aka The Beast of Turin. Two videos linked to that SimanaitisSays item give a new meaning to internal combustion—when it’s only partially internal. And what sounds! ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018