BACK IN THE DAYS WHEN MEN WERE MEN, TIRES WERE SKINNY,
DRIVERS WERE FAT AND THE ENGINES WERE IN THE FRONT!
Ferraro Bugatti type 35
Kids today could be excused if they didn't know that racing cars weren't always rear-engine. Pre 1960 it was standard but because small-scale cars are mostly about new things, few examples of front-engined cars exist. Here are some that I have been able to accumulate.
A 1930's era Bugatti race car all in plastic, this toy is labeled Ferraro and is roughly 1/64th scale but I thought it came from Germany inside of a plastic eggshell. French Bugatti racecourse were a fixture on tracks until Mercedes and Auto-Union cars began to dominate Grand Prix racing in the late 1930's.
This very small-scale (less than 1&1/2 inch) pre-war race car could be another Bugatti or perhaps a Mercedes. It is by Micro-Machines and was part of a set.
The Maserati 4CLT raced both pre and post WW2, bridging the gap to the more modern Alfa-Romeos and Ferraris that dominated the early world championships in the 1950's. By Matchbox, it is a re-issue of an old model and also came in yellow.
The manufacturer of this Cooper-Bristol is unknown to me; it is a bit rough looking but a fairly nice representation of this obscure race car. It appears to be 1/64th scale. CB's were staples of club racing in 1950's England and grid-fillers in grands prix behind the larger Ferrari and Alfas.
The Mercedes-Benz racers pictured here were world-beaters in 1954 and 1955 driven by the best talent available at the time- Juan Fangio and Stirling Moss. Fangio won 2 of his 5 world championships in these cars and Moss got his first top-line drive to launch his international career. The Busch model pictured is approximately 1/72 scale (less than 2 inches) and is amazingly detailed for such a small model. The Schuco model is a "piccolo" and is almost exactly 2 inches.
The final entry in the front-engined derby is an F1 Aston-Martin, a DBR-5 model by Lesney. These are fairly hard to find in good condition and I had to accept one without a driver. At the time this model was entered to race in 1959, rear-engined cars had begun to dominate the scene so very few good results were scored. Aston quit racing after that year since they had won LeMans and the sports-car championship as well. One of their drivers was the great Carroll Shelby who went on to build the Cobra line of race and streetcars.
Are there other small-scale front-engined open-wheel cars out there? I would love to see them. It is a shame that Hot Wheels has not yet seen fit to make any of the front-engined Ferrari racecourse yet.
Micro Machines Pre WWII Single Seater
Matchbox Maserati 4CLT
Matchbox Aston Martin DBR-5