Stanguellini Formula Junior Cars

From 1959 to 1963, the Formula Junior cars were effectively the equivalent of today’s Formula 2 cars, which are a stepping stone to the Formula 1 series.  Most of the “big name” drivers of that era raced Formula Junior cars during that period.  One of the early winners in the Formula Junior series was the Stanguellini Formula Junior car.  This post features two of these lovely race cars.

Stanguellini FJ (1)

Stanguellini Formula Junior Car

The Formula Junior class was primarily based on the engine requirements.  The rules stipulated that the engines had to come from production cars; however engines with overhead camshafts were prohibited.  There were two optional capacity limits for the engine size depending upon the car’s weight.  Cars with 1,100cc engines were allowed with a minimum car weight of 400 kg (882 pounds) or 1,000cc engines were allowed with a minimum car weight of 360 kg (793 pounds).

Stanguellini FJ (2)

Stanguellini Formula Junior Is A Classic Front Engined Race Car

The Stanguellini Formula Junior cars used the 1,100cc, inline, four-cylinder, overhead valve engine from Fiat.  With twin Weber carburetors, these engines would produce a little more than 75 horsepower at 6,500 rpm.  Not much horsepower, but these were lightweight cars.

Stanguellini FJ Brochure

Stanguellini Formula Junior Brochure

The Stanguellini family owned a Fiat dealership in Modena, Italy.  During the late 1920s Vittorio Stanguellini started to modify cars such as Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati for racing.  He was doing this at the same time as another Modena resident, Enzo Ferrari, was putting together the Scuderia Ferrari.  This strong relationship with Fiat resulted in Stanguellini using a Fiat engine in their Formula Junior car.

Stanguellini FJ (4)

The Front Engine Layout design in 1958/59 Was Obsolete At Conception

The period in the late 1950s was a transitional period in race car design.  Designers were beginning to see the benefits of the rear-engine or more correctly, the mid-engine layout.  The Stanguellini Formula Junior car was very successful in 1959.  However in 1960, the Formula Junior racing was dominated by the rear-engined Lotus and Cooper cars.  Almost overnight the Stanguellini Formula Junior cars were obsolete.

Stanguellini FJ (6)

This Car Looks Good In French Racing Blue

During the Formula Junior days Stanguellini built more than 100 race cars.  But with the success of the Cooper and Lotus Formula Junior cars, it was clear that the days of the Fiat 1100-based, front-engined racers were over. As a result in 1966, the Stanguellini family concentrated their efforts on tuning equipment and running their Modena Fiat dealership.

Stanguellini Formula Jr 1959 (6)

The Stanguellini Formula Junior Looks Like A Scaled-Down Maserati 250F

The chassis was a simple tube frame construction with an unequal-length wishbone front independent suspension and a solid axle rear end.  The wheelbase was 80 inches and the body width was 37.5 inches.  The Stanguellini Formula Junior cars used ventilated drum brakes.

Stanguellini Formula Jr 1959 (5)

Slightly Angled Engine Allowed the Driver Sit Below and Beside The Driveshaft

Stanguellini was able to provide a low seating position by offsetting the driveshaft.  At this time, most of the front-engined race cars had their drivers still sitting above the driveshaft.  During this period, open-wheel Indy cars in the USA not only had offset driveshafts, they had offset engines.  Of course the Indy oval cars only had to turn left.

Stanguellini Formula Jr 1959 (4)

The Stanguellini Has A Classic Rear Engine Race Car Look

Stanguellini Formula Jr 1959 (3)

Borrani Wire Wheels Were Standard On The Stanguellini Formula Junior

Stanguellini Formula Jr 1959 (7)

The Stanguellini Name Has Been Involved In Motoring/Racing Since 1910

The Formula Junior class eventually disappeared as the Formula 1 series at that time had only 1,500cc engines, thus only slightly bigger than the 1,100cc engines allowed in the Formula Junior class.  The Formula Junior cars kept on getting more sophisticated every year and towards the end, the cost of ownership began to get so high that it no longer was seen as a stepping stone to Formula 1, but as a near equivalent to Formula 1, thus the FIA looked for a new Formula as its development class.  This led to a new Formula 2 era.  But the classy style of the Stanguellini Formula Junior car is still very impressive.

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