Home | Wiki | Discord | Dev Stream | YouTube | Archived Forums | Contact

MCF Cars


#1

THE BEGINNING OF A GREAT HISTORY

During the Second World War, Jacques Martin (1903-1985), a Swiss engineer with deep Italian roots and great passion for engines, was put in charge of the design of Daimler-Benz aircraft engines, signing the brilliant Messerschmitt Bf109’s engine.

His fame as an engineer grew throughout the war, taking part in the design of the engine of the Tiger I, the famous German heavy tank, and in the complex gear system of the Panther I. By the end of 1943, the increasing defeats of the German Army and the continuous pressures of Hitler that left no time for further elaborations, pushed Martin to abandon, in August 1944, his place of work, with the Third Reich in fall.

After the end of the war, the german industries were completely destroyed by the bombings, and the economy was in severe crisis. Jacques, without a work, decided to move again in Switzerland, investing the money earned to establish a car factory in Geneva. As a well known engeneer, were not few the requests to take part in this ambitious project.


#2

THE 356’S CHALLENGER

Jacques’ target was to create a light and agile car, capable of remarkable performance, but also of good comfort, without being too expensive. The car dreamed by the swiss engeneer was the right recipe to make drivers happy. If the Volkswagen Beetle and later the 500 gave each family a car, Jacques Martin and his factory members gave the joy of driving.
The project took nearly 2 years of hard work, keeping always in mind factors as balanced management costs, good performances and a reasonable price. The car was ready at the end of 1948, and it was presented during the Geneva Motor Show, the following year, together with the Porsche 356. The rivality between those two cars was immediate, but the model presented by Jacques Martin, who named the car factory MCF stole the scene from the Porsche.

The C164 (1.6 litres, 4 boxer cylinders) had lot in common with the german cousin, including the design, but the swiss coupé could boast a superior power-66 hp- and also 151 km/h of maximum speed;


The MCF C164 at Geneva 1949

The quality of the car was pretty high, as the performances, but Jacques decided not to take part at any competion (even though Porsche and his 356 was very successful).

The model, which mantained the same engine for years, was sold with remarkable results in France, Italy, Germany and also in UK, where the little and agile coupè was used in some competitions with private teams during the '50s, putting in difficulty Jaguar and Porsche.
CAR SPECS:
-Steel trellis frame
-4-speed manual gearbox
-Aluminum bodywork
-1597cc OHV, 4 cylinder boxer engine
-Front axle suspension with springs
-66.3 hp at 5100 rpm
-Rear suspension: Mac Pherson
-0-100 km/h in 11 s; 100-0 Km/h in 43 m
-674.4 kg of weight
-Max speed: 151 km/h

In 1954 came the time for a restyling, which saw an engine upgrade: the power was raised up to 77 hp, thanks to new Weber DCOE carburetors and the increase of the compression ration from 6.7 to 7.2 :1 . The speed reached during a test was 163 Km/h, again faster than the 356. Only the Carrera version, which mounted the 550 RS engine, was able to beat the C164.
Not only the engine had important modifications: the interiors were improved and it was added a radio, and the brakes saw their power increased; in order to keep the agility excellent, the suspension were harder than before, putting an accent to the sports DNA of the car.

CAR SPECS:

-Steel trellis frame
-4-speed manual gearbox
-Aluminum bodywork
-1597cc OHV, 4 cylinder boxer engine
-Front axle suspension with springs
-76.7 hp at 5400 rpm
-Rear suspension: Mac Pherson
-0-100 km/h in 9.8 s; 100-0 Km/h in 42.5m
-789.1 kg of weight
-Max speed: 163 km/h

in 1954, together with the restyling, it was launched also a cabriolet version, which soon became a classic.

By 1956 it was introduced also a cheaper version, with a 1.3 litres engine capable of delivering 61 hp.
The following year, Jacques understood that the time to introduce a new car was coming: the C164 saw the end of the production in 1960, after 11 years and over 39.000 cars sold. One of the last MCF was sold to the Swiss president: it was a special version of the Cabrio, with a 1.8 litres engine and 92 hp. Again, the competion with the 356 was glaring, and lots of specialized magazines compared the small swiss car with the legendary Porsche, considerning the challenge result more uncertain than ever


#3

THE ADMIRAL’S SCANDAL

Already after the 1949’s Geneva Motor Show, the Switzerland’s Minister of Transport had a long chat with Martin, confessing that his new-but still little-factory could have a bright and safe future. He said also that if that new model, the C164 presented that year, has spread well in the other European States, maybe the MCF could have received major grants, directly from the Swiss government. Jacques refused at the moment, because he wanted to try to make his factory bigger by himself.
He was glad that the C164 was sold for more than 35.000 units, but he soon understood that MCF couldn’t propose a single model, and the time to launch a new model came. By the end of 1953 a series of meetings were organized with the main investors of the brand and the top management of the company; the decision was taken: the next model had to be a sedan.
The Europen population’s spending potential saw a strong raise, thanks to the economical boom of those years: that meant also more expensive cars and more powerful engines.
The cost to renovate and expand the factory, together with the sector’s research, put Jacques and the entire in a situation of trouble: the risk of serious debt was high, so he remembered of that proposal made by the minister soem years ago. It was still available. The swiss government was happy that Jacques accepted, but some restriction had to be respected.
MCF was asked to build an admiral for the major members of the government, and so, in 1955 the A246 was born.

The car was equipped with a bigger engine than the C164’s one: a 2.4 6-cylinder in-line engine with 93 hp, enough for a 1273 kg car. What was surprising was the interior’s quality, and the security of the model, really really high for that decade. The body was strongly renforced, as a kind of "armored " car. The model was used by the greatest politics’ exponent of Switzerland, and soon was noticed by bankers, investror, CEOs and so on.

CAR SPECS:
-Monocoque frame in galvanized steel
-2-speed automatic gearbox
-Steel bodywork
-2387cc SOHC, 6 cylinder in-line engine
-Front and rear suspension with double swing arm
-93.3 hp at 5000 rpm
-0-100 km/h in 15.2s; 100-0 Km/h in 53m
-1273 kg of weight
-Max speed: 146 Km/h

It was defined one of the main symbol of the capitalism, and because of this and the disclosure of the contacts between the company and the goverment, soon it was defined as the “Scandal-Car”. Many controveries arose, and the competiors of the growing Swiss company considered all this unfair.
In spite of everything, nothing prevented the higher social classes from buying one of the most refined and exclusive twigs of the time, built however in limited edition, according to the tastes of the buyer.


#4

THE CHALLENGE TO THE RACING WORLD

By 1957,the C164’s design started to generate some bad critics, especially by the specialized car-magazines. Despite the recent restyling,the car was on sale with more or less with the same design since 1949: an exceptionally long time. Although the pretty little coupé saw the end of the production in 1960, the next year-1958-designers and engineers, naturally with the supervision of the company founder Jacques Martin, gathered to give life to the project that would have brought the MCF to the new decade.
The year before, the first design proposal began to emerge: one of those was considered suitable for a bigger, and eventually, more powerful model. The project was rejected, but decided that the design had to be transferred to a real car, to give the company the chance to emerge in the racing world. The dynamic features of the C164 appeared in their true identity when the coupé was used by private teams in local races in the UK.
But the world of the real competion, was hegemonized by Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, Aston-Martin, and also Alfa Romeo, all well known brands, famous for their sports car; Jacques pushed a lot on this project, and so the forces were concentrated first on the ambitious dream of the company founder, who always dreamed of being the maker of a competition car.
The big expenses for the realization weren’t covered, or even supported by the main investors of the brand. So, if the chassis and the other components were ready, the engine was missing. The entire project was at risk…

Running for cover, the developing team decicided to elaborate the engine used for the A246, the big admiral of the brand.
In order to greatly increase the 6 cylinder in-line engine’s power, a new double overhead camshaft was introduced instead of the old SOHC one, and the compression ratio stood at 9:1. Also the suction system had important changes, with the introduction of a DCOE Weber carburator, modified for being applied on racing engines.
The car arrived just in time for the last edition of the iconic Mille Miglia. The last edition was in 1957, and the S246MM was “presented” during the race start, with a huge surprise.


The S246MM during the last Millie Miglia.

Compared to the Ferrari 315S, which won the competion, the S246MM was obviously less faster, beacuse of the V12 of the italian brand, but had a challenging competion against the Maserati 300S. The three cars presented arrived at the end of the 992 miles race without failures, demonstrating a great agility and superior 0-100 shutter.

CAR SPECS:

-Steel trellis frame
-fiberglass bodywork
-Front and rear suspension with double swing arm
-4-speed manual gearbox
-2388cc DOHC, 6-cylinder in-line engine
-226hp at 6600 rpm
-0-100 km/h in 7.74s; 100.0 km/h in 38.6m
-1027 kg of weight
-Max speed: 225 Km/h

The model was supposed to race also at Le Mans, in the S2500 category, but due to engine failures caused by the long Mulsanne straight: the engine and gearbox settings were perfect for the less fast section of the circuit, but the long high-revving straight caused severe failures, which forced withdrawal at two of the three cars. Some private teams bought those cars after the french competition, and took part at the Sveriges Grand Prix, in Sweden and the Gran Premio de Venezuela, getting good placings.


One of the models at the MCF Museum, Geneva