1930 Burney Streamliner: Worst Case Of Rear Weight Bias Ever?

Burney engine

(first posted 12/3/2015)      The recent conversations here about the Corvair’s excessive rear-weight bias (64%) got me thinking about what car had the most excessive rear weight bias ever. And this is what came to mind; a picture that always gives me the willies when I think about how this car must handle in a fast curve. Unfortunately, no specs are available to confirm my guess, but the 1930 Burney Streamline was lightly built, on aircraft principles, with fabric covering the body’s aluminum frame. But hanging out back was a large and heavy OHC eight cylinder inline engine (make unknown). One of the headlines covering it proclaimed “Streamlined Auto Can Almost Fly”.  Take it fast enough through a curve and hit the brakes, and I’m sure it would. Another superlative: it must have the most accessible engine ever.

Burney Streamline_Popular_Science_Dec-1930_01

Here’s a rendering of the Burney taking to the air. Given its rear weight bias, it probably didn’t take much to catch air with the front wheels.

Burney R-100_Streamline_Car_1931_01 (1)

Here’s Sir Dennistoun Burney with his creation. It’s actually a quite advanced car in many respects, just not one that was realistically going to be produced in large numbers. twelve were built, with one going to the Prince of Wales. But it graphically showed the benefits of aerodynamics given thta it could readily hit 80 mph with only 80 hp. And it showed at least some of the benefits of a rear engine, removing the noisy contraption to the rear; that also allowed a lower floor and roomy passenger compartment.

Tatra77 1934

It’s a concept that the 1933 Tatra T-77 would bring to production. But at least the Tatra had a compact, air-cooled V8, in an effort to lighten the rear load a bit. As it turned out, that still wasn’t good enough, as the T-77 was notorious for its wicked snap oversteer. The even lighter T-87 improved on that, but it too was a “killer”, and Hitler eventually banned his Luftwaffe officers from driving it, because of too many deadly crashes.

Burney Streamline 1931 Cutaway large

Here’s the Burney in a detailed cut-away (click for full size). If I had to guess, it probably carries over 75% of its weight in the back, given its super-light frame and body. maybe even 80%. Of course, that would improve a bit with passengers in the front seats, but still….this is asking for trouble.

Burney streamliner

More info and images of the Burney are here: carstyling.ru