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  Ballot 3/8 LC
 

  Article Image gallery (54) Chassis (2) Specifications Video (1)  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1920
Designed by:Ernest Henry for Ballot
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 07, 2017
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMated to a four-speed gearbox, Henry's sophisticated 'eight' was mounted in a conventional steel ladder frame. On both ends solid axles were fitted with semi-elliptic leaf springs and twin friction dampers on each corner. A servo motor was used to apply additional force to the four drum brakes. Similar in design to the system used on Sunbeam Grand Prix cars, the servo was connected to the brake pedal. The cables that actuated the brakes could be adjusted by the riding mechanic. The cutting-edge package was tightly wrapped in an attractive aluminium body.

A three car team was sent to Indianapolis where the biggest rival looked to be the Duesenberg, which also featured a straight eight engine, be it of a slightly simpler design. The Ballots were easily the quickest cars out there but luck was certainly not on the French manufacturer's side. The team's fastest driver, Rene Thomas, crashed heavily in practice and only barely made it to the race. Various problems slowed the Ballots down in the race and eventually the team had to settle for second, fifth and seventh behind the winning car of Louis Chevrolet.

With racing resumed in Europe, Ballot focused on the continental Grands Prix in 1921. In the prestigious French Grand Prix, three-litre Ballots placed second and third. The company's biggest success came a few months later when Jules Goux won the inaugural Italian Grand Prix, held in Brescia. The cars were raced into the 1922 season both no major races were won. A maximum replacement reduction to two litres for the 1923 season was Ballot's cue to abandon Grand Prix racing and turn its full attention to road car production.

Despite competing for less than four seasons, the Ballot Grand Prix cars rank among the finest and most influential ever built. Especially the fully enclosed valve-train designed by Ernest Henry inspired engineers for years to come. The design, for example, was followed closely when Harry A. Miller laid down his legendary eight-cylinder engines. Unfortunately the formidable design was ultimately not matched by the results on the race track. At least three examples have survived for all of us to admire.

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  Article Image gallery (54) Chassis (2) Specifications Video (1)