LONDON SCOTLAND LONDON.
A FAST DAY S RUN ON THE S-CYL. SPORTS DELAGE.
THE idea of a long day’s run as a good test was primarily inspired by a wish to check accurately the reading of the speedometer, as after the first run in the Delage we got the idea that it was not a particularly fast motor car. For one thing, the speedometer was incorrectly geared and read low, how much we did not know. For another thing, the car is so quiet and comfortable that speed is deceptive.
At the end of the first day we motored home quite quietly, and happened to notice the time taken over a journey which we have made many hundreds of times in many different vehicles. After a second look to make sure that our watch had not stopped during the run, we decided that the Delage was anything but slow !
The same evening the subject of the speedometer cropped up again, and we decided that it would be interesting to check it over a route of known mileage. (It might be as well to mention that the rear axle ratio had been changed without a corresponding change in the speedometer drive, and that inaccurate speedometers are not a feature of this model.) Someone suggested that various places in the North of England were not only a known distance from London, but were far enough off to make the checking of the speedometer really accurate.
“Why not have lunch in Scotland ? ” was the next suggestion. The only party which might have queried this was the Delage, and this, as always, preserved a discreet silence. This little matter being settled, we turned in, and next morning, after an early breakfast, a crew of three, complete with A.A. books, maps, and three watches stepped into the comfortable saloon. The watches were synchronised, the speedometer set at zero, and with hearts full of confidence and a tank full of B.P. the starter pedal was depressed and the Delage purred gently away from the outskirts of London towards the North. B
Ten miles to Hatfield and we were on the Great North Road, and settled down to a pleasant fast cruising speed which reeled off the miles in an amazing manner. This property of continuous, effortless speed is certainly the outstanding feature of this car. Its ability to cruise along, mile after mile, at over 70 m.p.h., with no sound but the hum of the tyres on the tarmac, and with a braking power as plod as many cars at 40 m.p.h., make it one of the safest vehicles we have ever handled. The maximum speed is a genuine 85 m.p.h. on the level, while on more than one occasion when a suitable stretch of road presented itself we reached 90 m.p.h., slightly aided by the force of gravity ; at this speed control was excellent, and in view of the considerable weight of the car, is remarkably light. Wonderful as these speeds are with a big saloon body, the best part of the speed range is in the “70’s,” and it is this that makes an average speed, which in most cars would be uncomfortable and none too safe, quite a novel performance for the Delage. The acceleration to 70 m.p.h. and over is so quick that we several times unconsciously felt for the gear lever to change up, to find that we had been in top gear all the time. The gear change is as nearly fool-proof as any we have tried, and third gear is really silent ; 60 m.p.h. can be comfortably exceeded on this gear. Real acceleration is the one quality which makes high average speeds safely possible. During our journey we came across several examples of the type of motorist who holds that high averages are dangerous, and yet has little regard for the circumstances under which it is accomplished. When entering a town we would come up with some car which, by leaving us behind through the town, would seem to be in a hurry. After slipping gently through the populated area, we again overtook the other car, only to find that its speed in the open country was precisely the same as it was in the town ! The hill climbing of the Delage is remarkable, and on
the climb over the Yorkshire moors before dropping down again to Penrith it maintained between 60 and 70 m.p.h. in absolutely tireless fashion on the long gradient ; on the level in open country it would run for mile after mile at over 80 .m.p.h. without the least fuss, while the passengers could converse in ordinary tones with as much comfort as in a Pullman car on the railway.
No better idea of the performance of the car can be given than by the fact that the run of 300 miles occupied exactly s hours, and was achieved without risk or inconvenience to anybody.
After a most excellent and reasonable lunch at the Union Jack Hotel at Gretna Green, we set out for home, and arrived in good time, though naturally at a slightly lower speed when night fell. The Marchal head lamps give a really excellent driving light, and the dimming device, for which the switch is mounted so that it can be operated by one finger without releasing the wheel, is typical of the care in details which is characteristic of the whole car. The two-note horn is similarly operated, and the position of every control is situated in such a manner as to make for the maximum convenience when driving. As already mentioned, the vacuum servooperated brakes are extremely powerful and light to apply.
The very luxurious body, which has a special silent bloc mounting, is absolutely free from noise, the driving position is just right for control, and the comfort may be gauged from the fact that although driven single-handed for the 600 mile trip, no more fatigue was experienced than after a normal day’s motoring of, say, 200 miles.
During the period of our test, petrol was the only replenishment required, and the consumption was just over 14 miles to the gallon, which means that under normal touring conditions 16 to 17 m.p.g. should be easily obtained. The oil pressure remained constant all the time the car was running, while the water temperature, after rising commendably quickly to the right point from cold, remained there without variation. There are some people who on hearing of M. Senechal’s remarkable performance on one of these models, when he covered 600 miles a day steadily for a week over every sort of road in Europe, have thought that it was a freak performance of a specially prepared car. We can assure them, however, that such was not the case, and though not suggesting for a moment that ordinary mortals like ourselves could approach his performance,
as far as the car itself is concerned, it would repeat the test without difficulty.
J. Smith & Co., Ltd., of 28, Albemarle Street, W.1., who showed their confidence in the car by giving us the opportunity of a full test, had no idea what form it was to take, and had no opportunity of preparing the car for us in any way, as it was in constant use.
Such a car, which is at one time a really high grade town carriage, and one of the finest fast long distance cars made to-day, might be expected to be expensive. The price, however, is as remarkable as the performance. At any figure, it is a wonderful car and shows the value of its makers’ great racing experience, but at 2650 for the chassis it is a miracle of modern production.
BOOK REVIEWS, March 1990, March 1990
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