Racecar designers are sometimes accused of copying others’ ideas, but are they really “copy cats,” or is it a case of “great minds think alike?” Something worth examining, albeit there is evidence on both sides of the argument. In any case, if a designer sees that one of his rivals has produced a great piece of technology, which provides a significant improvement in performance, then he would be foolish to ignore it. The other designer may be somewhat irritated at having his idea copied, but perhaps he can console himself with that old adage that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
There are instances where one designer may spot a concept, but have his own way of applying the technology. As an example, Lancia brought out their D24 sports car in 1953, and swept all before them, including the Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia. The more observant folk would soon have spotted that it had inboard brakes at the rear—and in the front. Mercedes were racing with their 300SL coupes, and so presumably their designer Rudi Ulenhaut attended a number of races. It is hard to imagine that Ulenhaut would have passed up the opportunity to take a good look at the very impressive Lancias. Did the inboard front brakes, unusual at that time, on the Lancia appeal to him as a way of reducing unsprung weight? Quite possibly, as when the Mercedes W196 Grand Prix car appeared the following year it featured front and rear inboard brakes.
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