Germany was in shambles after World War II. But, there were a few companies that arose out of the ashes and became world renown. Interestingly, a good number of those companies that were able to rise out of the rumble were automobile manufacturers. Chief among those in memory would have to be Mercedes-Benz and BMW. However, neither of these were the first to build racing cars after the war's end. That honor went to a company called Veritas. Though short-lived, Veritas became a very well known and successful racing car manufacturer.
Veritas was started by Ernst Loof, Georg Meier and Lorenz Dietrich. Loof had been with BMW back in the thirties and had helped develop the company's 328 race car. When Veritas was started, Loof and the others took existing 328s and re-tuned them calling them BMW-Veritas cars. Later on, the cars simply became known as Veritas.
Veritas' main focus was on 2-liter contenders. The company was very successful and would provide Karl Kling a 2-liter German championship in 1947. The costs of grand prix racing were sky-rocketing. Competition was drawing thin, especially in the newly formed Formula One series. To keep interest in the series, by both manufacturers and fans, the organizers decided to make a change. It was announced that in 1952 the engines to be used in Formula One would be 2-liters in size. This decision most likely resulted from watching the competition during grand prix events. While the blown 1.5 liter machines and the un-blown 4.5 liter cars disappeared, the competition amongst smaller engined teams remained tight and dramatic. Amongst those smaller engine competitors was Veritas and its Meteor, in which the company built for Formula 2, but had also taken part in some Formula One races during the early '50s.
The car that took part in early Formula One races before the regulations were changed was what the company called the 'Meteor'. The Meteor was an elegantly designed car that was greatly streamlined. In some ways inspired by its 1948 'RS', the Meteor employed a large tear-drop style front grill. The body itself was actually designed quite wide. Its rounded sides extend very close to the inside line of the wall of the tires. The bodywork then turns back against itself. The bodywork then slopes upward at a rather steep angle, and then, arcs over the top of the basically re-branded BMW longitudinal 6-cylinder engine.
The nose sweeps upward at a decent angle and then rounds off once the engine would be cleared. From that point on, the bodywork and engine cowling was designed to slope gently upward to the windscreen and the cockpit. The majority of the independent front suspension and wishbones at covered by bodywork. The Meteor utilized drum brakes that were cooled by small holes drilled into the drum housing. On the top of the engine cowling was a small intake which fed air into the air induction pipes. Out of the right side of the engine protruded six small exhaust pipes. This was the most common exhaust arrangement throughout its racing career. However, another exhaust arrangement was to have two long pipes, fed by three cylinders each, run down along the right side of the car and exit out past the rear end where the fuel tank was located.
The sides of the car's bodywork was clean and smooth. Though the car had a low center of gravity, the driver sat high up and exposed. On either side of the windscreen sat rear-view mirrors that were either simply attached, or, had some simple panels created to house the mirrors and help potentially provide greater aerodynamic efficiency.
The cockpit itself was rather open with the sides of the bodywork cut down low, exposing the arms and elbows of the driver. In the center of the driver's cockpit sat the large steering wheel. There were few gauges employed in the cockpit. Down between the driver's legs ran the transmission and the gear-lever.
Of course, as with most all designs of that era, right behind the driver sat the fuel tank. The bodywork was designed in such a way as that it was sculpted similar to that of the rest of the car. The bodywork gently arcs up and in, and then, turns back upward again before arcing over the top. More for aesthetics than anything, this design had the intention of conforming somewhat to the shape of the car and the driver sitting in the car. It helped to provide greater aerodynamic efficiency to the airflow as it passed by this part of the car.
The 1951 Meteor only took part in one Formula One event. The car was entered by the Ecurie Espadon team and was driven by Peter Hirt. The Espadon team had also entered another car for the race, but that was a Ferrari 212 driven by Rudi Fischer. Peter qualifed 16th out of 21 entrants. Unfortunately, Veritas' only foray into Formula One in 1951 ended before it even began. Hirt failed to complete even one lap when his Meteor developed fuel system problems and forced him to retire before completing the first lap of the race. The rest of Veritas' racing experience in 1951 took place in Formula 2 races.
Despite its lack of success in Formula One, Veritas was still a very popular company with many teams, especially privateer entrants. The company would have some good results posted by private entrants and small teams throughout the next couple of years. Unfortunately, the costs of grand prix racing were becoming such that the privateer was beginning to disappear. Veritas remained around the grand prix scene until 1953. From that point on Veritas, both racing cars and production cars, practically disappeared. However, just recently, the Veritas name has been resurrected and is associated with some street cars bearing design similarities with Veritas' RS sports cars.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Veritas (automobile)', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 December 2010, 21:30 UTC, accessed 21 December 2010
Wikipedia contributors, '1951 Swiss Grand Prix', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 October 2010, 11:20 UTC, accessed 21 December 2010By Jeremy McMullen