Cisitalia Grand Prix

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The Cisitalia Grand Prix is a single-seater car for the postwar 1.5-litre supercharged Grand Prix class, built by Italian sports car manufacturer Cisitalia and introduced in 1949. It was designed on behalf of Cisitalia by Porsche between 1946–47, and is therefore also known by its Porsche project number, Typ 360.

An extremely advanced design, it proved too complex to build for the small Italian firm—leading to a lengthy development and eventually to the financial downfall of the company. Between Cisitalia's 1949 liquidation and the fact that supercharged engines were banned for the 1952 Formula One season, the car never raced.

History[edit]

The car was commissioned by Piero Dusio in 1946. Dusio paid a large sum of money up front, part of which was used to free Ferdinand Porsche from the French prison in which he was being held effectively for ransom. Dusio gave Porsche only 16 months to complete the car which proved too short a time to sort out the advanced design.

Porsche 360 Cisitalia in the old Porsche museum
Porsche 360 Cisitalia in the new Porsche museum

Design[edit]

The Dr. Porsche designed unraced 1939 1,482.56 cc (53.0 x 56.0 mm) 2-stage Roots supercharged flat-12 Auto-Union had been projected to deliver 327 bhp (244 kW) at 9,000 rpm. This provided the basis of the Cisitalia 360 car which was built in Italy by Cisitalia personnel with help from former Porsche employee Robert Eberan von Eberhorst [1] around a mid mounted supercharged 1,492.58 cc (56.0 x 50.5 mm) flat 12 engine giving a conservative 300 hp (224 kW) at 8,500 rpm and a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). A fully enclosed streamlined body for fast circuits was planned giving over 200 mph (320 km/h). Later bench tests showed about 385 bhp (287 kW) at 10,500 rpm. The chassis was of chromoly tubing and featured on/off four wheel drive with a sequential gear-shift and a rear mounted transaxle also sending power through a driveshaft to a front differential. Suspension was trailing arm in front De Dion tube in the rear. Porsche's experience with the pre-war Auto Union Grand Prix cars showed through in the layout and design of the Cisitalia to the extant that it has been referred to as the "E Type".

Legacy[edit]

By the time the only prototype was finished Dusio was out of cash. The car languished in development until 1951, at one point being shipped off to Argentina to try to persuade president Juan Perón to invest in the company. By 1952 Formula One rules had changed and while Dusio attempted to source a 2-liter motor for the car a lack of funds relegated one of the most advanced Grand Prix cars of its day to a few Formula Libre events and quick retirement. The car is currently on display in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

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