Do we have to introduce the Mille Miglia once more? This 4-day historic rally over 1000 miles through Italy with the best automobiles from around the world doesn't need to be introduced. It does however need to be on your bucketlist. Participate or visit at least once in your lifetime and you won't regret it.
Like many other years, we entered 4 cars and 8 wonderful people. Supporting it all with 2 service vehicles and you would expect everything to go perfect. It did for the beefy Lagonda M45 Team Car. 220BHp out of a straight 6 cylinder 4.5l Meadows engine all managed by a lovely lady. The brave Dagrada 750 Siluro also carved through the mountains like it did it daily, and even a modern Mercedes 220E had to push to follow!
Unfortunately, the Maserati 26M Grand Sport decided it had enough in Rome after 4 Mille Miglia's. Their engine had almost 30 years under its belt since its last rebuilt and was rather tired. After a night long marathon to try to repair it in the car park, we had to give up. There was just too much risk of having a piston coming out of the side of the engine. After working through the night, we let the Maserati (and owners) have a rest.
The Delage D6-75TT however, shortened our lives by a few years.
We inspected the car thoroughly at home base and apart from adjusting the brakes and the carburetors, the car was ready to take on the Mille Miglia. With enough spares packed, the adventure started. We went through scrutineering, medical checks and the car was even used to go into town. All without problems, until the evening before the start ! The owner, heard a strange noise inside the engine during an extended test drive, and after further inspection the sump had to come off to fully assess the problem. When we dropped the sump, it was clear that some of the white metal bearings started to show micro cracks from 20 years of old age and racing. To make matters worse, the bearing on cylinder N°3 had started to crumble. The crank had then hammered the last bits of the big end bearing to almost nothing. Big problem !
After thinking of all possible solutions, we only had one choice to finish the Mille Miglia first you need to get to the start.... The answer was to take N° 3 piston and rod completely out and re-brand the Delage as a D"5"-75TT. We tapped plugs into the oil feed drillings in the crank, Removed the push rods for the valves from that cylinder and assembled everything again, disconnected the ignition lead, and with a slight vibration, many girls would appreciate, the two men bravely started the Mille Miglia a few hours later.
Miraculously, other than the carburetors vibrating loose only 20kms before the finish, which was an easy fix, the car held together perfectly. A more than happy customer drove over the finish line with the sixth piston and rod in his hand and a smile on is face. Job well done!
A real adventure and even Julian, who has now participated over 20 times, will remember this one for a very long time with fond memories as always.