Five things: five facts about flat engines
Subaru and Porsche may be current supporters of the horizontally opposed engine, but they are far from the only ones using them. Today we take a look at five interesting facts about horizontally opposed motors that you may not have known, including the fact that while all “boxer” motors are horizontally opposed, not all horizontally opposed motors are. boxers …
Karl Benz invented it
That’s right, the same guy who is widely credited with inventing the modern car also came up with the horizontally opposed engine.
Benz obtained a patent for the first horizontally opposed cylinder engine – a twin-cylinder in boxer configuration – in 1896 and built its first engine in 1897.
* Five station wagons with supercar performance
* Five pieces of racing technology in road cars
* Five highly unlikely (but still real) rally cars
* Five famous Ferraris
He would use it in road cars such as the Benz Phaeton and the brilliantly named Benz Mylord, as well as a 12-seater bus. He even built a 5.4-liter flat-four for use in the 1900 20 hp race car.
Production of the “contra engine,” as Benz called it, ended in 1902 and Benz never used a boxer engine again.
Not just cars
It will come as no surprise to motorcycle fans that the horizontally opposed motor was not just a car thing – BMW Motorrad has used them for a long time, and although the Honda Goldwing is a famous example, many other motorcycle manufacturers have used them. horizontally opposed engines since Benz invented the concept.
But the design has also been used in airplanes, including the most famous of all time (in this part of the world, at least) – the Pearse monoplane that New Zealander Richard Pearse arguably made two years before the brothers. Wright.
During World War II, the German company Reidel used a two-stroke flat-twin as a starter for their jet engines.
Not just Porsche and Subaru
While Porsche and Subaru have stuck with the horizontally opposed engine for decades, they’re not the only automakers to flirt with the setup.
Ford, Lanchester, and Jowett all played with flat twins in various early engine designs, while Tatra used flat twins and flat four cylinders in their cars.
The Tucker 48 and the Chevrolet Corvair both used flat-sixes and, of course, Volkswagen started their entire business on the basis of an air-cooled flat-four.
Ferrari also used dozens of flats, but these were unusual in that they weren’t the “boxer” layout of most other engines (where the pistons have separate crankpins), but rather “180 degree V” engines. »(Where the pistons oppose share a crankpin).
The Flat-10 never succeeded
While Porsche used flat-eight engines in racing cars and Ferrari used flat-12 engines, no flat-10 engine ever went into production.
The only one that reached the prototype stage was a Chevrolet flat-10 that was part of a scrapped program for a modular engine family to replace the Turbo-Air 6 flat-six engine.
Horribly, the flat-10 was for the Corvair which had enough handling issues with a flat-six in the rear and rear swing-axle suspension, thank you very much.
However, it never made it past the prototype stage where one rode on – wait – a 1962 Impala that had been converted to front-wheel drive.
Flat-16 never worked
Poor Lotus, she found herself embroiled in two disastrous attempts to make a flat 16 engine for Formula 1.
The legendary British engine maker Coventry Climax tried to make a 16 flat engine for Lotus in 1966, but failed spectacularly, with a large number of design issues the company simply ran out of time to fix.
Lotus was forced to run on BRM’s equally disastrous and massively overweight H16 engine (two flat 8s on top of each other with a common output shaft) in 1966 which saw it have a winless season. , while the failure of Coventry Climax caused considerable damage to its reputation. and saw him give up F1 altogether.