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NOW that the much-discussed R.A.C. Rally is over we can consider the results and see what they mean. The first and most obvious point is that in future, cars with normal transmission need not apply as far as awards are concerned, and it will be interesting to see what effect this will have on sports cars. For the moment, I should say, precious little, partly because of the widespread attitude among such owners that they would rather continue to operate a mechanism that calls for some skill, and— much more important, the weight of preselective gear boxes definitely goes against performance.
A Wise Decision.
On the other hand the R.A.C. are to be congratulated on refraining from restricting the type of transmission, as it has been proved that the new developments are really reliable and practical, and for many motorists highly desirable. Most sports car owners like a car on which the gear box has to be used to get the best results, but this does not mean they like a gear box which is difficult to use. Most normal gear changes today are fairly easy, but there are still one or two high-class sports cars on which it is the reverse.
The skill in using a gear box should be as far as possible confined to knowing when and how to use engine revs, to the best advantage, and not so much to the actual engaging of the cogs ! The ideal for sports cars, and for all road vehicles for that matter, is the perfect, automatic, infinitely variable gear which will adjust the engine revolutions exactly to correspond with power requirements,
so that normally the gear will remain as high as consistent with maintaining the speed reached at the throttle opening in use, but which when full throttle is given will immediately reach the maximum power r.p.m. and maintain this until the car has reached the maximum possible road speed under the prevailing wind and gradient conditions.
How such a car would simplify driving at an event like Shelsley Walsh, or in a road race, where only the throttle and brakes would be used, and the acceleration would be far better than at present, owing to the fact that maximum power output would be constantly available.
As yet, such a system is no more than a dream, as those torque converters as have appeared have not been capable of dealing with the order of power required, and have also been too cumbersome for practical use. However, more difficult things than this have been accomplished in engineering, and if the internal combustion engine retains its present character, which seems likely at present, the perfect transmission should follow. The results of the R.A.C. Rally show that makers are no longer slaves to the conventional transmission, and this will give increased encouragement to inventors.
To return to more immediate interests, those who braved the bleakness of the elements, and waited till the Oxford club had decided to start their recent speed trials, optimistically termed a hill-climb, had some apt comments to make on the event. An account of this affair appears on another page, and I hope the organisers (sic !) will pull their socks up if they elect to attempt any
further events. here are few enough speed trials in this country now, and they have always been one of the greatest attractions to the amateur driver, the cheerful atmosphere of the varsity everits making them, _specially pleasant.
All the same, the line has got tolbe drawn somewhere, and the delightful informality can easily develop into complete chaos. The general idea of the last event is well illustrated by the experience of a friend of mine, not a very particular person himself who, knowing these events, did not enter but turned up with his motor during the proceedings. After a stroll of inspection he located someone who appeared to have an interest in the event, and requested of him a number. Having murmured his name, he was presented with some numbers which he duly affixed.
After a spot of work on his steed he observed that the motors gathered at the starting line included a few of his own size, so he proceeded thereto and said “What ho ! when is it ? ” to which someone replied “When you like,” or words to that effect, and he went.
After a spot more adjustment, finding the air biting chill, he varied the monotony by drifting down and helping himself to another run, and so on. Apparently all were welcome to run, provided they took the initiative, and he was not worried who missed anything as he duly won —well we won’t say what or someone might locate him and suggest an entry fee ! However, if you get me, that is the sort of event, and taken all round it seems just a little too vague.
Racing Cars Again.
Among more serious items of news islthe more than welcome fact that some of our manufacturers are at last awaking to the idea, so long harped on in this journal, that the building of real racing cars is really a good idea, and plans for this season show that we should soon be able to put something worth while into Continental racing. As this is not in most cases run on handicap, successful applicants must be able to travel indecently quickly irrespective of size, and several makes have interesting models simmering in the pot.
The M.G. Company, following their astounding performances on small cars are planning larger metal. In addition to the 1100 c.c. racing Magnas, which although they will not have reached the production stage this season, will probably appear in events where the types are not restricted, there is a real unlimited racer on the board. This will be about 2J litres and intended to attack the Italians at their own game. Good luck to them !
Rileys are also producing a team of 1 litre sixes, which are rather like larger ” Brooklands ” nines. They uphold the Riley policy of not using superchargers, and it will be interesting to see how they perform. Judging by the speeds obtained last season from their 1100 c.c. cars the latest effort should be very useful.
130 m.p.h. is glibly mentioned in connection with the new car, but— well, we can only wait and see.
The new Rolls-Bentley or whatever the car is to be called, is hardly likely to see active service for another season, for there is much to be done in building such a car, and Rolls-Royce are not the sort of people to let anything go out till they have got it right. When it is released we can be sure that it will be a remarkable vehicle.
No official announcements as to its design are yet available, but I gather that it will be a 2i litre straight-eight supercharged racer, and as the firm already have evidence of the value of racing in the aircraft world, it is more than likely that official entries for the classic events will materialise. Here again, however, we must possess ourselves in patience and hope for the best.
Some particulars of the new small Crossley racers appeared in our last issue, and if Vernon Balls’ enthusiasm is any criterion they should do well, and all honour to them for entering the racing field, and so helping to give a lead to less enterprising firms.
New Season Experiments.
The high efficiency of the modern motorcycle has been giving motor-car designers something to think about, and A. F. Ashby of Riley fame has been making a close study of this. As a result, he has made some very
interesting modifications to the induction system of his car. He has also been trying the new Bowden double float-chamber carburettors, which are beautifully finished, with the thinnest possible butterfly valves, giving an almost unobstructed flow of gas, and he says he is quite satisfied with results, thank you.
In addition Ashby has made various other special parts for his engine including a new design of tappet. When I visited his premises some time ago he was also busy with a new form of crankshaft—a massive and beautifully finished piece of work.