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Monica, a personal ad

ER Classics Desktop 2022

An advertisement in a French magazine. But from NL: “The private mon collection: je vends deux moteurs and aluminum Monica V8, les numbers 2 and 4. de la série de construction. Le numero 4 est complètement démonté, avec deschemises de cylindre neuves. Le moteur est complete et en bon état. Moteurnummero 2 est monté et a dormi pour les vingt+ annees passes en stockage à sec. Elle concerne les moteurs avec un alésage de 87 mm, avec un cylindre de 3.431 cc. Les moteurs inclure valances et carburettors. Mon prix demandé par moteur est € 15.000. And attente de votre réponse, je reste sincèrement. XXXX, Pays Bas. XXXX@xs4all.nl.

And what about those Monica V8s?

The Monica V8 was a project by Jean Tastevin, a graduate engineer from the École Centrale de Paris. He thought it was a shame that no luxury fast cars were made in France. The Monicas were produced between 1972 and 1974 in the commune of Balbigny in the Loire department. About 40 were made, of which there seem to be six left worldwide. At the time, the Monica 560 V8 was considered by many car enthusiasts to be a beautiful French supercar and the natural successor to the earlier famous Facel Vega HK500 V8 GT. Smaller V8s were also used in F1 race cars. And therein lies our link. 


The motorization of the Monica

The motorization of the automotive world began with Chris Lawrence, a technician and racer. However, the goal was clear: The dream topper should of course have at least a V8 under the hood. Lawrence put Tastevin in touch with Edward C. 'Ted' Martin, who had designed a V8 engine that Lawrence thought would go well with the Monica. After evaluating the engine, Tastevin purchased the design, rights and existing tools for the engine. The deal involved four complete 3,0-litre engines. And at least two of them have now been found. In the Netherlands.

A light-alloy V8

The Martin engine was an all-alloy V8 with a belt-driven single overhead camshaft (SOHC) per cylinder row. Designed for the new 3 liter limit for the 1 Formula 1966 season, the engine weighed just 100 kilograms fully equipped and produced 270 horsepower at 7000 rpm. An unusual feature of the Martin V8 was that four of the connecting rods were forked on the big end, much like those on the legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.

This meant that the cylinder banks were not offset on the crankline, keeping the overall length of the engine nice and short. The engine was used in the Pearce-Martin F1 car and the Lucas-Martin, a modified Lotus 35 Formula 2 chassis. The block also came in 2,8-litre versions on some specials, including some of Lawrence's own Deep Sanderson sports and racing cars.

But Tastevin wanted to make luxury cars

So he needed a subcontractor to supply the engines. Two options were obvious: One was Coventry Victor and the other was Rolls-Royce. Lawrence had heard that Rolls-Royce had recently shut down one of their production facilities due to the loss of a defense contract and so might be interested in starting up the Martin V8 project. 

An appointment was made with representatives of Rolls-Royce, who were fascinated by the small dimensions of the Martin V8. But Rolls-Royce won an important defense contract that gave a lot of work internally again. Lawrence went back to Coventry Victor. Tastevin had kept Coventry Victor under contract to produce the engines. So it was now asked to produce 25 copies of the V8 engine with a displacement of 2,8 liters. Coventry Victor was able to produce 18 of these before the company went bankrupt. 

Meanwhile, Lawrence had continued to manufacture the engines at LawrenceTune's headquarters in England. Tests of the 2,8-litre engine showed that the engine was not powerful enough so he enlarged it to 3423 cc, breathing was provided by four twin Weber 40 DCLN downdraft carburettors and the block was given the Monica name molded into its valve covers. The revised engine delivered 240 horsepower at 6000 rpm. While maximum torque was not produced until 4000 rpm, the torque curve was relatively flat from 2500 to 4000 rpm.

Finally, the engineering drawings were completed and approved by Tastevin, who delivered Lawrence to Turin along with prototype #4, so that production of the body panels using the resin/steel hybrid tool could begin. Comparisons have been drawn between the final form of the Monica and many of its contemporaries, with the front view compared to the Maserati Indy and Lotus Elan +2, the rear view to the Ferrari 365 GT 2 + 2 and the side view to the Aston Martin DBS . But beautiful remains beautiful.

However, problems with the engine remained

Blown head gaskets were the order of the day and problems with the supply of both block castings and cylinder head castings didn't help either. The story stopped. And was forgotten. But now a few Monica V8 blocks have surfaced again. In the Netherlands…

10 Comments

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  1. Pfffff, turned up a few blocks again and then ………… First to make the readers comfortable
    and then don't tell.

    finish the story now or is the “rest” story in the AMK.

    Greetings Hans

  2. The mom collection. Numbers. Le moteur est complete. pour des vingt + anees. cylindrée. Les moteurs incluent les volants et les carburettors.
    Nice article, I didn't know the type yet. Some gadgets De Tomaso, Iso and Maserati, it seems. Nice block too, although as a racing block in a luxury sedan it may seem a bit out of its habitat.
    Didn't know the Merlins had forked connecting rods. But also very nice blocks, with their 48 valves and king shafts.

    • The special thing about this story is that two monicas or one with a spare block are cherished by a collector in the west of our country.

    • That's right. You can create a perfect layout via WP. But that's no different. The site is free to readers. The editors do get paid, and we'd like to pay them more for the effort. The site is therefore a service thing out of passion and costs money. We earn our sandwiches with the occasional slice of cheese on the leaf. That is why we ask you to become a regular and friendly subscriber via the site.

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