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Table of Contents
The V12 Engine by Karl Ludvigsen

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The V12 Engine by Karl Ludvigsen - Table of contents by Bentley Publishers


  • Introduction
  1. Origins
    The early debate over the number of cylinders an auto engine should have - Daimler's vee-twin and its connecting-rod layout - side-by-side rods, link rods and fork-and-blade rods - developments in other fields, marine and aviation, with up to 24 cylinders - the first-ever V12 of 1904, made in Britain for marine racing - Sunbeam's Toodles V of 1913 is the first European V12 auto - Packard takes an interest - In 1908 George Schebler builds the first V12-powered car.
  2. American Twin Sixes
    Duesenberg and Miller build V12 aero engines - Buick and Hudson assess twelves - Packard sets the pace, first with aero engines and then in 1915 with its spectacular and dramatic Twin Six - many others follow quickly: National, Enger, Haynes and Pathfinder, the last using the Weidely V12, as did HAL, Austin, Meyer, Kissel, Asinger, Ambassador, Meteor and Heine-Velox.
  3. European Twelves
    Exploration of twelves by Lorraine-Dietrich, Lancia, Fiat and Voisin - Sunbeam's spectacular twelves - the 350 hp that Malcolm Campbell used to break the land speed record - 4-litre Tiger and Tigresse, LSR success for Segrave - Delage's 10.7-litre DH record-breaker - its magnificent Grand Prix 2-liter of 1925 - Cappa's bizarre design for Itala, the smallest V12 ever - Fiat's Type 806 U12 of 1927.
  4. Aero Speed
    Napier's W12 Lion from World War 1 powers Golden Arrow, Campbell's Bluebird and Cobb's Railtons, one for his track car and two for his land-speed-record breaker - Australia's 'Wizard' Smith - America's Liberty V12 and successful LSR cars Babs and Triplex - the '1,000 horsepower' Sunbeam with its twin aero engines for Segrave - Sunbeam's disastrous Silver Bullet - R-Type Rolls-Royce used by Campbell in Bluebird and (two of them) by Eyston's Thunderbolt - Rolls-Royce Kestrel in Eyston's Speed of the Wind - Curtiss Conqueror the choice of long-distance record-breaker Ab Jenkins - Porsche-designed Type 80 for Mercedes-Benz.
  5. Classic-era Americans
    Late 1920s and early 1930s explosion of twelves in America's classic-car era - Cadillac pioneers, followed by Franklin - Packard returns to the fray - Lincoln's KB and KA twelves - extraordinary Cord E-1 provides the basis for Auburn's Lycoming-built V12 - Howard Marmon and his HCM prototype.
  6. British and French Classics
    Eminent European auto companies embrace the twelve - Laurence Pomeroy at Daimler produces no less than five different series, all with sleeve valves save the last - Rolls-Royce produces its most controversial model ever, the Phantom III - Walter Bentley designs a V12 for Lagonda and races it at Le Mans - Gabriel Voisin returns in 1929 with sleeve-valve twelves - Lorraine-Dietrich is heard from - Hispano-Suiza caps the era with by far the biggest twelve of the times, an immortal auto.
  7. Teutonic Twelves
    Germanic nations were not left behind - Ledwink's T80 for Tatra - other Czech twelves by Walter and Gräf & Stift - Horch and its ambitious V12 patterned after American examples - Maybach builds one of Europe's most elaborate twelves without regard to cost - just before the war Mercedes-Benz launches V12 prototypes, with engines which power searchlight generators during the war.
  8. Racers in America
    Auburn's V12 Speedster is fast as well as remarkably inexpensive - setting records on the dry lakes - Ab Jenkins and Pierce Arrow get together to break speed records at Bonneville - evolution of the Ab Jenkins Special - Charles Voelker's V12 is launched at Indy in 1937 - Voelker engine competes at the Speedway twice and is still trying to qualify in 1953.
  9. Grand Prix Glories
    V12s come into their own in racing in the 1930s - amazing record-breaker of Voisin - Alfa Romeo's Type A with two sixes side by side - Alfa Romeo's 12C-36 Grand Prix car and its successors through 1939 - creation of an unblown sports-car version, the 412, in 1939 - its post-war success with Willy Daetwyler - Alfa Romeo's S10 V12 road-car prototypes - 12-cylinder Mercedes record-breakers and Avus racers powered by the big DAB engine - successful 1938-39 Grand Prix twelves of both Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz - Auto Union's designs for a 1 1/2-litre E-Type V12 - Lago Talbot's V12 plans by Walter Becchia - Louis Delage's V12 sports-racer of 1937, which came to Brooklands in 1938 only to kill engineer Murray Jameison - Delahaye's Type 145 twelve and winning 'The Million' at Montlhéry - monoposto edition a flop - Delahaye Type 165 production version.
  10. Post-war Potency
    Aero engines in cars again - Rolls-Royce Kestrel in Flying Triangle, Merlin in Swandean Spitfire Special, Meteor in 2003 Thunderbolt that broke British records at Millbrook - America's Allison V12 is taken up by many - Jim Lytle puts one in a BMW Isetta and four in a Fiat Topolino - Art Arfons starts a record-breaking career with Allisons - Athol Graham's 300+ mph at Bonneville - inspired by an aero-engined Packard, Enzo Ferrari builds twelves - Colombo's role in the design - his 125, 159, 166 and four-cam 125F1 engines - Mercedes-Benz plans a 1 1/2-litre V12, its M195 - Auto Union engineers in East Germany build the 2-liter 'Sokol' Type 650 - Ferrari's big twelves, the 375 and 340 America - Gordini and OSCA collaborate on the design of their Type G 4 1/2-litre V12 - Lagonda's disappointing DP100 V12 and its racing career - Ferrari's big twelves: 375MM, 375 America, 290MM and 315S through 1957 - smaller Ferrari series: 212, 250MM, 250GT, 250TR, GTO - 4-litre Ferrari Type 209, 400 Superamerica and 330P2 - Giulio Alfieri's Maserati V12 in Grand Prix cars in 1957-58, 350S sports-racer, mid-engined Type 63 & 64.
  11. Competition Ambitions
    Two V12s built for the 1 1/2-litre Formula 1, one by Maserati and one, which races, Honda's RA271E - Ferrari's four-cam sports-racers from 1965 to 1967's 330 P4 - stillborn twelves: Abarth's Type 240 and Moteur Moderne's engine - with the 3-litre Formula 1 in 1966, an eruption of vee-twelves - Ferrari 312F1-66, V12s through 1969, 312P prototype - big-twelve Ferrari family with 612P, 512P and 512S - Cooper-Maserati engines, Types 9 and 10 - BRM P101, P142, twelves through 1977 - AAR's Eagle-Weslake V12 - Harry Weslake's own WRP-190 twelve and its travails - BRM P351 sports-racer engine broadly derived from it - Matra's shrieking V12s in both GP cars and sports-racers, MS9, MS12 - Le Mans successes, revival in GP racing branded as 'Talbot' - Autodelta's adventures from a V12 for Brabham to Alfa's own car and engines for Osella - Honda's RA273E Grand Prix engine and Nissan's sports-racing R382.
  12. Engines for the Elite
    Lincoln's Zephyr V12 is a link between luxury cars pre-war and port-war - insights into its troubled reputation - it does well in Britain in Allard, Brough, Atalanta and Jensen models - Packard considers relaunching a V12 - Bugatti designs a V12, its Type 451, but the company folds before it can mature - GM's Cadillac develops a V12 in the early 1960s but decides against production - two dreamers, Franco Romanelli in Canada and Alejandro de Tomaso in Italy, show twelves but don't produce them - Ferrari's luxury models from 365GT to 275GTB/4, 365GTB/4 Daytona, 365GTC4, 400I and 412 - newcomer Lamborghini decides on a twelve - 350GT, Miura, Islero, Countach and four-valve version.
  13. Cat, Roundel and Star
    As early as the 1950s Jaguar starts planning a V12 - its four-cam racing version in the 1960s in the XJ13 - insights into the gestation of the great Jaguar V12 by Heynes, Hassan, Mundy et al - its use in racing in USA and Europe, leading to victory at Le Mans - BMW begins studying V12s as a marriage of two of its fine sixes - experimental M70, M73 and M66 prototypes - introduction of M70 V12 in 1987, improved as M73 in 1994 - BMW's activity spurred Mercedes-Benz engineers, who had been thinking of a V12, the M101, for their 600 - new 'KOMO' prototype of 1985 - using six-cylinder components to create the M120 of 1991 - employed in Pagani's Zonda - racing the M120 in AMG's CLK-GTR of 1997.
  14. Formula Twelves
    After the banning of turbos and the setting of a 3 1/2-litre limit, Formula 1 exploded with 12-cylinder engines - designs for GM by Scott Russell - Motori Moderni's efforts - Austrian NeoTech engine for Walter Brun - designs from HKS, Nissan and Isuzu in Japan, their tests and problems - Paul Rosche's BMW studies including a six-cam 60-valve twelve - Porsche's catastrophic Type 3512 for Footwork Arrows - unraced twelves of Renault and Cosworth - the W12 idea is revived by Harry Mundy for his Trident, Guy Negré#'s MGN and Franco Rocchi's Life engine, a Grand Prix laughing stock - Yamaha's entry, evolving into its OX99 road car, built in Britain - Honda makes a serious effort with its RA121E and successor RA122E/B - Lamborghini's 3512 V12 powers several teams including its own - Ferrari's Grand Prix V12s from 1989 through 1995 - derived from them, F50 and F333SP engines.
  15. American and German Luxury
    Comedian Jay Leno tunes up a hot rod powered by 29.4 litres of Patton tank V12 - Detroiter Cyril Batten's engines machined from scratch - Ryan Falconer's successful Chevrolet-derived V12s - their use in a prototype for a planned Packard revival - Cadillac's XV12 programme and its use in the mid-engined Cien - Mazda's V12 plans for its Amati range - Toyota introduces a V12 for its Japan-only Century prestige model in 1997 - relationship between the new turbocharged Maybach V12 and the 3-valve Mercedes-Benz M137 twelve - AMG super-powered versions and an AMG engine for Chrysler's mid-engined ME Four-Twelve - BMW's twelves for the McLaren F1 and its P74 for a Le Mans winner - 2002 introduction of new N73 BMW twelve and its use as basis of engine for new Rolls-Royce Phantom - inside story of creation of VW's family of W12 engines - its use in record-breaking 'W12' sports car, Phaeton, Audi A8, Bentley Continental GT - Peugeot's '907' concept car of 2004.
  16. Ultimate Sports-car Power
    At Ford, engineer Jim Clark breaks the rules by building V12s - they power Ford's GT90 and Indigo concept cars - Aston Martin discovers them when looking for a new engine - creation of the Aston engines and their evolution to suit new models - TVR's Speed Twelve on a fabricated steel crankcase - Al Melling's engine design for a Lola GT car project - Monte Carlo's MCA Centenaire and its various twelves - Paolo Stanzani's amazing design for Bugatti's EB110 and its turbulent saga - new generation of big twelves for Lamborghini's cars, inspired by its sport-utility for Saudi Arabia - Ferrari's F116 and F133A evolution in its 456GT, 550 Maranello and 612 Scaglietti - new-generation F140 V12 introduced in Enzo in 2002 to be basis of future Ferrari twelves - F140 also powers Maserati's MC12, stunning new road and race car of 2004.
  • Appendix - V12 Firing Orders
Karl Ludvigsen
Karl Ludvigsen

In addition to his motor industry activities as an executive (with GM, Fiat and Ford) and head of a consulting company, Karl Ludvigsen has been active for over 50 years as an author and historian. As an author, co-author or editor he has some four dozen books to his credit. Needless to say, they are all about cars and the motor industry, Karl's life-long passion.

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