|1952||AFM||Küchen 2.0 V8||AFM||Hans Stuck|
|AFM-KuchenBy Jeremy McMullenAmidst the rubble of war-ravaged Germany at the end of the Second World War, there were some individuals who had their hope renewed. These individuals and small groups would help point the way toward a new and prosperous future. One of those early pioneers was Alex von Falkenhausen.|
Under such conditions; connections, relationships and caring for one's neighbors became the only way to rise from the ashes. In von Falkenhausen's case, one of those important connections came through a previous employer—BMW. Just like Ernst Loof, who started Veritas, von Falkenhausen was an engineer with BMW prior to the war, and therefore, was quite familiar with its highly competitive 328. At the conclusion of the war, he would start his own racing and tuning shop called Alex von Falkenhausen Motorenbau (AFM). He would gain access to the powerful BMW 328 motor and began building a chassis in which to house it. In doing so, AFM would become quite successful.
Rebuilding is about giving a helping hand to lift another out of the ruin and giving them a second chance. AFM would provide, and receive, a helping hand from an old grand prix master—Hans Stuck. Stuck would team up with AFM and would enable the mark to go racing outside the German borders. This was only made possible because the old Auto Union pilot had switched to Austrian nationality after the war. With one of AFM's chassis, Stuck was able to go to Monza in 1950 and win one of the heat races. The fifty year-old driver had proven he still had the touch behind the wheel. But he also proved the AFM chassis had a good deal of promise. It only needed a couple of other touches to make it truly competitive.
The problem with the BMW 328 engine was the fact it was designed for pre-war cars. The strain the more-modern cars were producing was too much for the venerable engine. Alex continued to look for a more-competitive alternative that would truly 'complete' the package and make AFM successful.
It was believed one of the important components for the complete package came through a man named Richard Kuchen. Kuchen had designed a 2-liter V8 that was capable of producing 150 bhp, but was incredibly light. This was one of the components von Falkenhausen and Stuck believed was missing. The small and powerful 2.0-liter engine would be put in the AFM chassis and found the car had incredible acceleration. Stuck would use the car to compete in hillclimbs throughout Germany and Austria, and would experience considerable success.
Surprisingly, while Stuck had received new life in racing at over fifty years of age, he would not have to go seek being welcomed back into the top levels of grand prix racing, it would come to him.
In 1952, the World Championship governing-body needed a quick-fix. The first two years of the new Formula One World Championship had featured Alfa Romeo as a main competitor, later to be joined by an impressive Scuderia Ferrari team in 1951. The financial straights of Alfa Romeo, and the rising dominance of Ferrari, made it clear 1952 was looking to be an uncompetitive year in Formula One. Lacking competition and spiraling out of control costs were not a recipe for a lasting racing series. Something needed to be done.
Formula 2 had featured regularly large fields of entries. In addition, the costs were much less than those for Formula One. To top it off, the competition amongst the field was strong. The World Championship governing-body had found its stop-gap solution. In order to give the organizers time to come up with competitive regulations, the Formula One World Championship would run according to Formula 2 regulations for the 1952 and 1953 seasons. This opened the door for Stuck and the AFM-Kucher.
AFM had built a number of different chassis designs. One of those was designed and built by von Falkenhausen so he could go racing. Then, toward the later-part of the 1940s, he had built a truly revolutionary chassis known as the AFM Type 1949. This had a space-frame chassis that predated some of the larger manufacturers by a couple of years. This chassis would use the BMW 328 engine. Unfortunately, the 328 was notorious for lasting only short distances as, again, the pre-war design could not handle the stresses of port-war racing.
Some of the competing manufacturers, like Veritas, were closing its doors. This brought a number of requests AFM's way. This led to AFM to start manufacturing chassis for Formula 2 in the later-part of 1949. This was almost perfect timing as the regulation changes for Formula One would be only a couple of years away. It would prove to be a little too far away.
Thinking he would move into the production industry, AFM designed a new 1950 design. He would take inspiration from the 1949 Intertype model he had built to form the basis for what would simply be known as the Type 50 chassis.
Compared to a number of other cars of the period, the Type 50 was a slightly bigger car than most of the Formula 2 cars. Despite its size, the tube section layout made the car very light, but strong. When totally completed, the car only weighed 420 kg. The light tube section layout also made the car very easy to maintain and very simple, which also made it popular with customers.
The nose was wide and featured an oval shaped grille. The profile of the nose showed the line of the car rose almost vertically at the very tip of the nose, and then, contoured downward to create a much more gently ascending line up to the driver's cockpit.
Drawing from the revolutionary design created in the later 1940s, the Type 50 utilized integrated drum brakes on all four wheels of the car. This helped to reduce unnecessary weight. To do this, the brake drums were cast as part of the wheels themselves.
Along the top of the engine cowling arose an air scoop. Dependant upon the type of engine, and the desire of the team, the extent of this scoop's protrusion from out of the top of the car varied. On Stuck's model, with the Kuchen engine, the air scoop was small, not very tall at all.
Because of the V8 Kuchen engine, the bodywork on Stuck's Type 50 was also changed from the other competitors. Many of the other competitors would had chosen to use the Type 50 utilized a bodywork styling that featured extensions on the side of the car and a more-pronounced, narrower bodywork contour over the top of the engine. On Stuck's Type 50, this was changed. The bodywork contour over the top of the engine was slightly broader. The whole of the nose of the car was round. The pulling-in of the bodywork didn't start to take place until around the area of the air scoop and going back past the cockpit. Despite the revision, the car was still aerodynamically sound.
Along the side of the car, behind the front wheels, a number of louvers were created in the bodywork to help eradicate the heat around the V8 engine in the tight bodywork. The air passing along the side of the car, and over these louvers, would create a low pressure that would help draw the hot air out of the engine compartment. It would also help to pull air in through the front radiator as it would create a suction effect.
Running down along the side of the car, near the numerous louvers, were the car's exhaust pipes for the V8 engine. They exited the car quite low and passed its hot exhaust gases down underneath the car.
The driver sat behind a one-piece windscreen for protection. The windscreen was flanked on either side by round mirrors. The driver actually sat rather low in the car. This was helpful to lower the car's center of gravity, thereby increasing its cornering stability. This lower position of the driver was accomplished through a revolutionary concept put forth by von Falkenhausen. The car featured two transmissions that allowed the transmission to be mounted at a steeper angle. Usually, the transmission would run right through the floor of the cockpit, thereby increasing the height of the driver as he sat right on top of it. Through this design, AFM managed to seat their drivers lower in the car. Thus, the weight of the driver was also positioned lower.
The driver had more than the steering and the transmission in which he could control throughout the race. AFM had created a hydraulic brake system that was comprised of twin circuits. This twin-circuit enabled the driver to adjust the brake balance between the front and rear wheels.
If its light-weight, lower driver position and adjustable brake balance wasn't enough to make the Type 50 a good handling race car, AFM made it even better with the use of de Dion rear axle. This further provided sure footing for the Type 50.
Powering this light, nimble chassis was the Kuchen 2.0-liter V8 engine. It was capable of producing 150 bhp. The engine, despite its power-output, was incredibly light. It weighed only 100kg. When combined with the AFM Type 50's lightweight chassis, the power from the light Kucher engine gave the car incredible acceleration. Its only trouble was what Stuck had gotten annoyed with the BMW 328 engine for—incredibly poor reliability. Despite its poor reliability, Stuck would purchase two of the three examples Kucher had made of the V8.
By this time, AFM had seen its time come and go. It had risen from the ashes to provide hope and innovation to the German motor racing scene. Despite racing directly for AFM throughout 1949, Hans Stuck continued on as a privateer entry, but would still enter races under the AFM name.
In spite of the fact AFM had closed its doors, Stuck would arrive in Switzerland, in May of 1952, with the Type 50 chassis and the Kucher 2.0-liter engine and would take part in the race under the AFM name. The Swiss Grand Prix would be the only official World Championship race in which Stuck would race with the AFM-Kucher, but it nonetheless made its mark on Formula One World Championship history.Sources:'Alex von Falkenhausen's Brave F2 Effort', (http://forix.autosport.com/8w/afm.html). 8W: The Stories Behind Motor Racing Facts and Fiction. http://forix.autosport.com/8w/afm.html. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
'Phoenix from the Flames, part 2: AFM', (http://forix.autosport.com/8w/df2-afm.html). 8W: The Stories Behind Motor Racing Facts and Fiction. http://forix.autosport.com/8w/df2-afm.html. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Alex von Falkenhausen Motorenbau', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 February 2011, 20:56 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Alex_von_Falkenhausen_Motorenbau&oldid=415925159 accessed 30 March 2011