SPORTING CARS ON ROAD AND TRACK.
A WEEK-END TEST on the SUPER-SPORTS “ALVIS.”
AT THE TOP OF AL:As HILL.
ENGINE : Four-cylinder monobloc. 0.11.V., 68 mm. by 103 mm., 12/50 h.p.
CLUTCH: External cone, fabric faced.
GEAR Box : Separate unit, four-speed, side control.
CARDAN SHAFT: Exposed tubular with roller bearing Universal joints.
REAR AXLE: Aluminium casing ; spiral bevel gears.
BRAKES: Large diameter, ribbed for cooling ; F.W.B. extra. GUARANTEED SPEED: 70 m.p.h., capable of 8o m.p.h.
PRICE: Completely equipped, ‘550.
PRINCIPAL AGENTS: Messrs. Henlys, Ltd., Great Portland Street, W.
1N describing the test of the Super-Sports Alvis, it is not proposed to give ‘detailed particulars of the constructional features, for this information can be gathered from the Alvis Catalogue and other sources. Our chief concern is to offer comments on the performance of this well-known sports car following a series of trials extending over three days, during which the machine was submitted to a somewhat strenuous outing.
The car we tested was very kindly loaned by Messrs. Henlys, Ltd., of Great Portland Street, W., and was a stock machine in every way, having been driven up from Coventry a few days previously.
We gave some indication of the kind of test it was proposed to carry out, and Messrs. Henlys willingly gave their approval to the programme.
Running the Engine in.
To give the machine a chance for what was to follow we ran the car fairly gently to Southsea and back, the long, undulating stretches of the main road providing opportunities for observing the performance of the car at normal touring speeds. In spite of the fact that the engine was in a relatively raw state, it showed distinct possibilities in the way of acceleration, which improved very noticeably after covering the first fifty miles. At first some little difficulty was experienced in manipulating the gear lever, for owing to the somewhat cramped position it is awkward to get the right wrist between the steering wheel and the inside of the body. If one adopts the alternative of passing the right hand
in front of the steering wheel, and flicking the gear lever by a movement of the wrist, gear changing is apt to produce a little fatigue at first, that is, if one takes full advantage of the terrific ” pick-up ” available by judicious use of the third speed. A little more space between the wheel and the side of the body would be an advantage for winter driving when heavy motor coats and gauntlet gloves increase the virtual diameter of the wrist.
A Wayside Admirer.
Whilst halting at the summit of Hindhead to enjoy a frugal sandwich and to admire the view, a motor cyclist who had been following us for some miles was attracted by the smart appearance of the Alvis, and made various inquiries as to its performance, price and other details. In fact, after a few minutes conversation, he almost wanted to buy the machine as it stood, and, had we been motor agents instead of mere editorial persons, our story might have been brought to an abrupt conclusion at this point. We continued our journey, however, after having done a certain amount of
missionary work, and on arriving at Southsea had a look round the engine before starting for home.
By this time the engine was beginning to run nice and free, so one or two fast stretches were indulged in during which a speed of ” X ” m.p.h. was touched. (This model has a guaranteed speed of 70 m.p.h., which does not exaggerate the performance in any degree.) Up to 40 m.p.h. on third speed the exhaust gives out a kind of muffled boom, but further acceleration produces that peculiarly fascinating note associated with racing cars at speed, and on changing into top at this point the maximum speed is reached very rapidly.
If, when travelling between 40 and 45 on top gear, one drops quickly into third, the real benefits of quick acceleration become very marked, and, apart from the slight objection already mentioned, the ifs-e of the gears is extremely entertaining.
Observations after 150 Miles Run.
To obtain an absolutely unbiassed opinion as to the touring qualifications of the Alvis, the first part of the test was observed by a passenger who, previously, had not travelled at a greater speed than 50 m.p.h., and was inclined to be nervous. After becoming accustomed to the rapid acceleration, the speed of the car—thanks to its road-holding qualities—produced no alarm for our passenger, who was delighted at feeling an absolute sense of security and an entire absence of fatigue.
For our part we found the car extremely pleasant to handle, flexible to drive, with adequate braking and a delightfully comfortable driving position. Though the maximum speed did not surprise us in any way, knowing the reputation of the Alvis products,
we fully expected to find a brand new chassis somewhat on the harsh side ; but, with the sole exception of a little newness of the third speed, the car was astonishingly sweet, and possessed no “period” at any speed.
On Brooklands Test Hill.
It had been our original intention to submit the Alvis to some properly timed speed tests on the Brooklands Track, but at the time the latter was not open, so we had to be content with attempts on the test hill. Unfortunately it was impossible to do any accurate timing on this occasion, but the car made the ascent in 12 seconds, as far as could be recorded by the aid of an ordinary stop-watch. This was from a standing start from the point at which the gradient actually commences, no preliminary run on the level portion being possible, as the gate was not open.
The Ascent of Alms Hill.
The next item of the test was to proceed to Stonor, via Windsor and Henley, in order to attack the redoubtable gradient of Alms Hill, which boasts a r in 24 section. As usual there was the week-end congregation of sporting motor cyclists and a few car enthusiasts, but owing to the very treacherous surface, due to the recent rain, the majority remained at the bottom, save for those who went up on foot to watch a few unsuccessful attempts by motor cyclists. The Alvis made light of the incline until the Cannons were passed, and beyond this point a little assistance was required, as the wheels refused to grip the leafstrewn surface. Going up the incline alone, we were so occupied in getting over the bad places of the ascent that the speedometer needle could not be watched
closely, but, at any rate, no one could complain about the speed at which the hill was taken. Now going up Alms Hill when the surface is greasy is one thing, and coming down in similar conditions is an entirely different proposition ; but, nevertheless, the latter feat was accomplished successfully. By very careful application of the four-wheel brakes it was just possible to prevent the wheels from locking on the slimy x in 24 portion, and, once over this, the descent was comparatively easy, though with less efficient brakes it would not have been exactly a pleasure trip.
A car that will go up and down Alms Hill without chains during the depth of winter commands respect, even from the most blasé of sporting motorists, and we expect to try a very large number of machines before finding one capable of acquitting itself better than the Super-Sports Alvis on this particular test.
The gentle art of ” unditching ” sporting cars does not usually form part of our standard test, but on the occasion of testing the Alvis we were deceived by the innocent appearance of a level piece of grass on the roadside, and injudiciously attempted to turn the car on its surface. Had we known anything about the life and habits of worms this latter experience would have been avoided, for these little creatures gave evidence of the nature of the soil by traces on the surface. Anyhow, the warning was unheeded, and no sooner had the car reached the grass than in it went. To cut a long story short, it took us some time to get out again, but, thanks to the ample clearance beneath the chassis, and the perseverance of the engine, the car emerged none the worse for its accidental exploits as a plough.
Observations by a Police Constable.
With regard to the hum of the Alvis exhaust, perhaps we may be a little biassed, for on returning to town, via Chertsey, we thought the engine was giving out quite a musical note. It is always helpful, however, to have the opinion of other people on such matters, if this can be obtained without exorbitant cost. We do not know yet how much we are to be charged for a police constable’s opinion about the Alvis exhaust, but he certainly failed to agree with us as to the quality of the note. We did not argue the point, but possibly the quality may have been satisfactory, and only the volume distasteful to his sensitive hearing ; but for the information of all concerned it is advisable to use a fish-tail at the end of the exhaust pipe, especially in the neighbourhood of Weybridge.
Things we like about the “Alvis.”
With the exceptions faithfully recorded above, the Alvis is an ideal sports car. It is fitted out with most things the fast driver desires, and certainly includes everything that can be expected for £55o. A revolution counter would be a useful accessory, fitted, of course, as an extra ; possibly a Boyce motor meter would be more useful than the perky little Wilfred on the radiator cap ; and the side brake lever could be a little more accessible with advantage. In the matter of engine accessibility there is nothing to be desired, though it is best to effect carburettor adjustments when the outside exhaust pipe is cool. The brake adjustments are conveniently located, and the driving position is extremely well arranged. The designers are to be complimented for retaining the
separate gear box, which gives a far more sensible distribution of chassis weight than is possible with the average unit construction. It is evident that considerable care has been paid to balancing all parts of the chassis as well as the engine, the entire absence of periodical vibrations being one of the outstanding features of the Super-Sports Alvis.
To put the matter in a nutshell, we started out expecting to find something approaching perfection in the Alvis, and were more than satisfied to discover that our expectations were exceeded in every way.
In conclusion, it may be stated that Messrs. Henlys, Ltd., fully understand what the sporting motorist requires, and the Alvis Company could not have entrusted the distribution of their excellent products to better hands, whether in respect of sales, service or satisfaction.
All keen motorists, sporting and otherwise, will be glad to learn that the finance of the Alvis Company is now on a sound basis, and a successful business programme is anticipated by the directors.