fredag 20 november 2015

The origin of VW tuning – Type 115, 1939

Cut-away of the cylinder and head of the type 115. As can be seen it has a single overhead camshaft with a 74 mm bore and 40 mm intake valves. The bore size, with a 64 mm kdf crank makes 1101 cc. A rather odd displacement for a conpetition engine.

In the list of Porsche design numbers we can read that type 115 was a kdf based 1,1 litre engine with overhead cams, hemispherical combustion chambers and supercharger. Thus, a pretty advanced engine for its time, and as such a very interesting one for this blog! Perhaps it can also be seen as the grandfather of the Carrera engine?

Cut away drawing in which we can see the bevel gears and the shafts driving the over head cams. Even though the Carrera engine has twin cams per head the drive principle of the type 115 is not too far off.

But what was the background? Was it even intended for a kdf type car? Did it ever really exist?

Reading Chris Barber’s excellent book “The Birth of the Beetle” it is easy to believe it was a running prototype as a picture of what is supposed to be a type 115 engine in a kdf-wagen is published. However, looking closer at the picture we see a supercharged kdf engine with normal cylinder tin and what appears to be a standard case. For once the otherwise very correct Mr Barber seems to be wrong. What we see on the picture is a "normal" kdf-engine with a Roots type supercharger. As far as I know there are no known pictures of a completed type 115 engine.

The background why the project 115 was started I know very little about. My source has been able to measure the original engine block (yes it still exist) and confirms that if fits on a kdf-type transmission. He further claims that the case is very similar to its kdf sibling aside from the rear of the engine where the cam drive is. Thus it seems reasonable to believe that the type 115 was somehow connected to the kdf (race car) program rather than Porsches private sports car project (As the kdf-program was state owned Porsche was not allowed to use such parts in his own endeavors).

The supercharger is of a centrifugal type throwing out air in one pipe for each cylinder bank.

Another view of the rather unusual supercharger

The assembly drawings I have access to are dated 28.8.1939 and 1.9.1939, only weeks before the Berlin-Rome event. My immediate conclusion was that the engine must have been aimed for a future race after the famous one. But, my source who has interviewed mr. Kaes, cousin of Ferry Porsche, claims that the documentation sometimes were made afterwards, thus the date doesn't mean that much. In any case my guess is that the Type 64 needed a more "normal" kdf-engine for Berlin-Rome due to propaganda reasons and that type 115 was aimed for a future race.

If there ever was a running engine, or even a complete one, I don’t know. But, it seems that most of the parts were manufactured at least. According to my source, Otto Mathé saved the parts when he emptied Porsche’s shelves of old prototype stuff in the 40’s. It would be a thrill to see those parts come alive one day!

The first page of the drawing lot that this blogpost was based upon.

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