Sunday, June 6, 2010


Finally!  Reader John Hall discovered a photo of Polish engineer Leo Kuzmicki (pronounced, if I remember my Polish, Kootsmitsky), an unsung hero in the history of the Norton Manx, Vanwall F1 car, and Hillman Imp.  The photograph was found on an Imp fan site, and discusses a bit Kuzmicki's development of the Coventry Climax engine, which was originally an iron four-cylinder pushrod motor used to power fire pumps, then re-purposed in the late 1950s for the first Lotus cars such as the Elite (one of the prettiest cars ever made, methinks).

The Imp engine became an overhead-camshaft, all-alloy unit of 875cc, which had to be shoehorned at a 45º angle to fit into the pre-existing Imp body.  The radiator was slotted beside the engine, at the rear of the car.  Kuzmicki's Imp engine was beloved by speed tuners of cars and racing sidecars, as it was very well engineered and strong, and light at 170lbs including carbs, alternator, etc.  It was considered the smoothest production four-cylinder engine of it's day and for many years after production ceased.

Below is a photo of the man himself beside the Imp unit: