Ferrari 750 Monza
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
Long on performance but short on tolerance, the Monza was as a potent as it was beautiful. It became known as a mean machine, with a killer-car reputation. At the 1955 Le Mans
it proved that it was no ordinary car as it hurled the 750 Monza Ferrari around the Sarthe circuit. The Monza was a suprisingly small car too, being about the same size as an MG A
, although it looked larger before you sat inside.
Behind the Wheel
Ferrari built the Monza as a sports car to be raced, basing it on the design used for the 1954 Gran Prix monoposto, stretching the light alloy motor from 2.5 to three litres, fitting the same four-speed gearbox and suspension
, altering and widening the chassis to accommodate two people. There was no comfort in the interior, no lining for the big chassis tubes that enclosed the cockpit. The no-nonsense gear lever poked up from the six-slot gate that mounted on the central transmission tunnel.
The big round instruments looked at you from behind the large three-spoke steering wheel with the wooden rim, easy to read in black and white although the wording was in Italian. From the left there is a fuel gauge
that read from the 240-litre tail-mounted tank, oil pressure, tacho
to 8000 rpm, oil temperature and water temperature
. There was a small panel in the middle of the dash that held several switches for the main lights, horn button, ignition switch, electric fuel pump and instrument light switches.
On the Road
Above this panel was a round rear vision mirror, protected behind a curved and shaped windscreen, while a similar mirror sat out in the breeze on the right hand side of the car. There was nothing else except the pedals, and the aluminium panels that rattled with the beat of the engine. It was hard to get into gear, as the clutch used aluminium and steel plates that did not like disengaging - you would quicky lean not to slip the fierce clutch, or the plates would overheat and melt. But get the action right and you would hear the suck of unsilenced Webers as the giant hand of power would throw the car forward.
There were three hundred and ten horses all working under your right foot and the acceleration was tremendous, yet the steering
was featherlight and you felt vulnerable because of the smallness of the car, as if the enormous power would pick up the Monza and hurl it bodily aside. The brakes
were not comforting, as the huge finned aluminium drums had internals that needed a determined stomp on the brake pedal to make them work, although unlike most disc setups these did improve as they got hotter. The suspension
was hard and you felt every stone on the road, although it soaked up the larger bumps with surprising ease.
There is a wide gap in the gearbox from first to second, from there to fourth the ratios were close and even, witn each selection smooth as oiled glass in the non-synchromesh gearbox
, although it would baulk and complain at any lack of precision in shifting. The engine
was noisy yet quite incredible in the way that it would potter down to 900 rpm in top gear and still pull away smoothly, then happily sing on to the rev limit of 5500, although it would run up to 1000 rpm higher without distress. Some of the engines peaked at 6000 rpm, others at 5400.
Ferrari introduced the 750 Monza in 1955 as an extension of the very successful two-litre Mondial series.
Arguably the most famous Ferrari Monza remembered today was the one originally driven by Mike Hawthorn
before being sold to Jaguar Motors and driven for them by Mike Spartan. The Monza had no trouble demolishing the opposition that was mainly put up by the C-Type Jaguars, and was sent to race in the 1955 Le Mans
. Driven by Mike Spartan and Masten Gregory, the car was staying with the tremendously fast D-Type Jaguars
until the gearbox let go after 11 hours, forcing the Monza's retirement.
A Lethal Ferrari
The Ferrari Monza was considered by almost all who drove it as being twitchy, and with so much power crammed into such a small and light chassis it's not hard to see why many also considered it lethal, and sometimes proved to be. Yet the Monza was not all that different to many others. The chassis was built up from mild tubing, with 100 mm main members and smaller tubular superstructure. The engine
was front mounted and drive through a small diameter tailshaft to the rear mounted four-speed gearbox, in unit with a ZF limited slip diff. The drive was taken out to the rear wheels by universally jointed half shafts, while the rear axle was of the De Dion
type, using a large diameter steel tube to interconnect the rear wheels.
Side location of the rear axle was controlled by a chassis mounted guide, while braking and driving loads were controlled by twin radius arms each side. The final drive ratio was variable, with the highest set giving 160 km/h in first gear and a theoretical 340 km/h in fourth, although the true top speed was probably in the vicinity of 280 km/h. Front suspension was independent with wishbones and small coils springs, the components being massive forged units that were machined, plated and polished. Steering was by a worm and roller steering
box with a three-piece track rod and idler arm, while the brakes were made almost totally from aluminium alloy, the drums having the traditional rivetted in cast iron liners.
The wheels were 405 mm alloy rimmed Borrani units, and two rim sizes were available. A 25-litre dry sump oil tank lived underneath the right hand mudguard and the massive 240-litre fuel tank in the tail, with just enough room for a spare wheel above it. Two fuel pumps fed the Webers, one electric, the other a mechanical unit driven off the end of the left hand camshaft. The engine had a bore and stroke of 103 mm by 90 mm for a capacity of 2999 cm3 and gave 194 kW at 6400 rpm, on a compression ratio of 8.6 to one. The engine breathed through two large valves per cylinder in hemispherical combustion chambers, the fire being lit by twin spark plugs.
The Monza was an incredibly exciting, fire-breathing animal, the aluminium body crafted into a shape that was sensuous enough to draw crowds wherever it went.