The Majestic Major was a large, staid, luxury saloon car, but despite its weight it could out accelerate a good many sports cars of the period. This ability came from its superb 4.5 litre engine, illustrated here in cutaway form. The smaller 2.5 version was more numerous, fitted into the SP250 sports 2 seater, and a Jaguar bodied saloon as well. The brilliant Edward Turner was responsible for the engine design as well as the famous Triumph speed twin motorbike engine. The illustration was drawn in pencils onto fine illustration board.
Norton/ Cosworth parallel twin
This drawing was published in Classic Mechanics magazine to accompany a feature. In the early seventies the financially struggling Norton company commissioned Keith Duckworth (of Cosworth fame) to design a new engine in an effort to compete with the influx of japanese competition.
The new design was also to be available in a road going bike using a single SU carburettor, but the project never came to fruition because the funds just couldn’t be raised to finish the development. At 750cc the configuration was derived by adopting two cylinders based on their famous DFV racing V8, and the engine was a success. What a pity it never realised its potential as an example of British design excellence.
Ducati SS900 Desmo V twin
Many of my friends had SS900 Ducatis, and you could hear them coming from miles away, for me one of the best sounding motorbikes ever made. Produced between 1975 and ’82, the replacement for the 750cc featured the same forward leaning V configuration (‘L’ in Italian parlance) the new 864cc engine producing 80 hp at 7000 rpm. A 9.5 to 1 compression and Dell’orto carburettors were used, but the bevel gear driven desmodromic valve gear was really the most unusual feature.
Separate cams and rockers open and close the valves, thus eliminating the need for a high loading against a heavy valve spring. It cleverly allows a practically unlimited valve gear rpm.