Home » This Vintage Ferrari Dyno Complete With V12 Engine Is Full Of Fascinating 1950s Tech, And You Can Buy It For Lots And Lots Of Money

This Vintage Ferrari Dyno Complete With V12 Engine Is Full Of Fascinating 1950s Tech, And You Can Buy It For Lots And Lots Of Money

Ferrari Auction Dyno Ts
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While cars themselves are often the focus of any car collection, it’s not uncommon for owners to keep car-themed decor, too. Usually, that comes in the form of items like vintage advertisements, furniture made from car parts, or racing suits. For the buyer who isn’t content with commonplace decor, there’s this 1950s-era dynamometer from Ferrari complete with a period-correct V12 engine. Of course, whoever buys it will likely need used Ferrari F430 money to have the pleasure of parking it in their garage.

Up for sale at RM Sotheby’s is this vintage engine dynamometer purchased directly from the automaker in 1953. According to the listing, it had been in use for “several years” at Ferrari before it went to work at collector Jacques Swaters’ Garage Francorchamps Ferrari dealership for some 30 years.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Swaters was a racing driver himself before becoming a Ferrari dealer and collector. His relationship with Ferrari was so close that the brand actually unveiled the 456 at the  Garage Francorchamps anniversary celebration in 1992. If the timing listed by the auction house is correct, this same dyno would have been there on the grounds at the time.

Which engine it might have had on the stand at that point is anyone’s guess. Today, it features a 4.0-liter V12 from a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 with a trio of Weber carburetors. A set of headers collect into long exhaust pipes pointed away from the operator and an updated aluminum radiator keeps the engine cool during operation. 

Functional Ferrari Engine Dynamometer1444924
Source: RM Sotheby’s

According to the listing, the engine still runs, and the next owner could even install a different Ferrari V12 of their choosing. RM Sotheby’s says that the dyno is fully functional, but it appears that a few pieces are missing.

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Old-School Cool Functionality

Functional Ferrari Engine Dynamometer1444925
Source: RM Sotheby’s

Dynamometers work by measuring the twisting “force” (it’s technically not a true force, it’s torque) of an engine into a measurement. To find the value, a dyno provides a known resistance for the engine to work against. Different dynos use different types of resistance such as an impeller spinning in a water-filled housing, or in this case, what is likely a simple adjustable friction brake.

Regardless of the type of resistance, the force built to resist the engine is called the brake. As the engine strains against that resistance, one can measure just how effectively it does so (in this case through a physical scale), and the resulting data can provide torque figures from which one can derive horsepower.

A closer look at the photos shows that while this engine may run, there’s no driveshaft connected to the power measurement section. When connected and calibrated properly, the engine’s output would register a value in kilograms on the large dial at the back of the dyno. The value could then be used to calculate horsepower using the formula conveniently printed on the dial itself.

Missing Driveshaft
RM Sotheby’s

The auction listing doesn’t make it clear who the manufacturer of this dyno was or if it’s been modified since its creation, but we can trace along the components of the dyno as it sits now and make an educated guess on how it worked and might be made functional again.

It appears the handwheel (A) sets tension on a friction brake inside the housing (B), which is mounted on bearings (C) so it can pivot. Engine power enters via the driveshaft at the flexible coupling (D). As the brake is applied, engine torque pivots the brake housing, and the arm attached to the housing lifts a weight (removed in this photo) attached to the spring (E).

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Dyno Callouts 3

The other device (F) attached to the arm appears to be a damper, which, in conjunction with spring-mounting the weight, would have allowed for smoother dial readings (see below) than if the weight were rigidly mounted and the arm action undamped.

Dyno Scale

In the image above, we see a large dial marked off in kilograms with a horsepower equation, lest the operator forget the math. It appears the lever arm’s upper attachment point was meant to connect to a rod that passed through the gauge’s open, cylindrical base to translate arm movement to gauge action. The dashboard display at the front of the stand would’ve allowed the user to manage RPM and monitor the engine’s vitals.

Panel Callouts 2

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We’re guessing at a few of these, but it looks like the gauges are for oil pressure (A), fuel level (B), oil temperature (C), RPM (D, via a tachometer straight off a mid-1950s Ferrari dash), and water temperature (E). 

It’s not too dissimilar from other dynos of the time. Famed American performance brand Edelbrock has at times posted about its very first dyno. It used an interface that (lightly) shielded the user from the engine during operation and had the power output front and center. According to EngineLabs, the Clayton Dyno at the Edelbrock shop could only read up to 200 horsepower.

Modern dynos incorporate far more digital technology and largely rely on force transducers as opposed to analog systems to determine engine torque output. Interestingly, both pre-digital and modern dynos often used physical weights on the end of a pole for calibration. In some cases, as in the video below, modern dynos use a water-filled impeller as the braking force that the engine must overcome.

Whether or not the Ferrari dyno will spit out numbers isn’t really the point of an auction like this. After all, those with the cash to splash and the desire to have a dyno with accurate measurements could get it for less than this. For the classic Ferrari fan, this is just one more fun piece of memorabilia.

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Interested parties can bid on the rig at RM’s Miami event in Coral Gables, Florida on March 1st. Keep in mind that the guidance on it is somewhere between $125,000 and $175,000 though it is going over the hammer with no reserve. Maybe this is your chance to own a classic Ferrari V12 that’s easier to maintain than any of the ones inside of an engine bay. Or you could just pick up an F430 on the used market. 

Functional Ferrari Engine Dynamometer1444928
Source: RM Sotheby’s

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Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
1 month ago

I’ve honed at least 3 classic Ferrari V12 blocks for a guy that restored classic Ferrari’s out of his mansion in the sticks of Florida. Like I’m talking the house had freaking gargoyles type of mansion.

You know how you make mistakes the second someone is looking over your shoulder? Well let’s just say if someone is machining your irreplaceable, original engine block don’t look over his shoulder. Sorry, not sorry to the rich asshole that has maybe a little too much clearance on one of his cylinders.

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
1 month ago

Neat setup. I wonder if “do you want to come upstairs and check out my Ferrari engine dyno?” would have worked better with the women than my usual “do you want to come upstairs and check out my Märklin model railroad?“.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

$3.50 this is worse than some other dudes project. Looks like a sound stage for Ghostbusters afterlife.

Mike F.
Mike F.
1 month ago

This is awesome. It will be great to see the look on my wife’s face when comes home one afternoon and sees it all set up in the living room!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike F.

Running at full chat, too!

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike F.

For the full effect, you need to get Clarkson’s V8 blender for the kitchen too!

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