THE 1936 V8 FORD A TOURING CAR WITH OUTSTANDING ACCELERATION AND CAPABLE OF SUSTAINED HIGH SPEED
Figures, though they never give the whole story, often sum up the situation
in a striking way. When trying the six-seater V8 Ford, which costs £250, we obtained a speed of nearly 84 m.p.h. with acceleration to match, and, though the .sporting motorist expects a good deal more from his car than mere speed, as will later be seen the car reaches a standard in other directions comparable with cars of several times the price. We took over the car in the heart of London, and soon were threading our way towards the Kingston By-Pass and Brooklands, moving along in almost uncanny silence. Top gear is employed in all but the thickest traffic, with touches of first and second, which have silent-running helical gears, when dart
ing away from traffic lights. Driving the Ford is a little like being at the wheel of a silent motor-boat, for one only sees the tip of the radiator, pointing ahead like the prow of a boat. Instinct has long since taught us how much to allow for invisible wings, and in half-a-mile, thanks to the upright driving position and good field of view, we had gauged to a nicety the width of this , spacious three-abreast saloon.
The V8 is now built entirely at the great factory in Dagenham, on the Thames estuary, but follows the design of its American prototype. We were, therefore, prepared for soft and somewhat unstable springing, and were pleasantly surprised to find that at 70 m.p.h., along the By-Pass, the car required no special attention to keep it on a steady path. High speed on the open road, and brisk acceleration up to 30 m.p.h., on the small, restricted roads leading to Brooklands, brought us down to the track with less effort and in a shorter time than we have recorded for several months. Trying the car round the outer circuit, we averaged each time over a flying half-mile 83.7 m.p.h., the car running at 85 m.p.h. almost all the way round. As an experiment we started the car on one occasion from in front of the Vickers Sheds, which meant that it had a run of less than a mile, with a gradient of 1 in 15 to start with. Once
again we recorded the same speed. The acceleration necessary to get up to 83 m.p.h. under these conditions means that the full speed range of the car is available for use on any reasonably straight— road, with consequent high cruising speed, while a fast touring
speed of 50 m.p.h. is reached in 9i seconds from 10 m.p.h. The gears, as has been said, are quiet
running. 32 m.p.h. is about the maximum on bottom gear arid 53 m.p.h. on second. The engine speed is approximately 4,200 r.p.m., and at 80 m.p.h., on top, 3,950 r.p.m. The gear change presents no difficulties, and the lever can be pulled across almost instantaneously if desired. Synchromesh mechanism is fitted to second and top, and offers a certain resistance if not
allowed to complete the synchronisation lacessary for a silent change.
The braking distance from 40 m.p.h. was 57 feet, but the car pulled round badly even on dry concrete. Correctly adjusted, 60 feet should be an average
figure. The brakes were progressive in action and slowed the car well with a moderate pedal pressure. Encouraged by the Brooklands figures, we set off to try out the, V8 as a car for long, fast journeys. The first part of the run lay over fast, wide main roads and here the car distinguished itself. Inaudible and dead smooth up to 50 m.p.h„ it is not hard to understand the popularity of the car with the ordinary motorist. Everything can be carried out on top gear, and there is still a surge of power which recalls
third gear performance on many a less ambitious sports car.
Roughness from the engine made the range between 50 to 58 m.p.h., speeds which often fit in with one’s mood of fast motoring, less pleasant than above or below. From 60 m.p.h. onwards, the engine regains its sweet running, and, indeed, 75 m.p.h. along a good stretch of road is as effortless as 25 m.p.h. through the Park. Exhaust and mechanical noises have been almost entirely banished from the Ford, even at the highest speeds, and one needs to keep a sharp look-out when approaching rural areas, in order to avoid shooting along at 45 m.p.h. where 30 is the legal limit. The transverse springing proved quite satisfactory on straight roads, speed can be maintained well on fast bends, but on sharp corners the car rolls to some extent. One gets round smoothly without much loss of time at 30 m.p.h., and can then rely on the car’s acceleration, with or without the use of the second gear, to bring the speed quickly back to 60 60 or 65 m.p.h. That is obviously the way the car is intended to be driven, even if it does not appeal too strongly to the sporting driver, and some astonishingly rapid cross-country runs can be made when one gets accustomed to the feel of the car. One’s impression
is that with friction shock-absorbers this tendency could be easily overcome, and friends who have had their Fords so fitted have confirmed this.
The steering is light but rigid, with a small amount of castor action, and there is no difficulty in maintaining full control at speed. The steering ratio is low, needing live turns from lock to lock, and therefore inconvenient when mancpuvring in the garage or taking sharp bends. A higher ratio could be obtained without much difficulty by fitting a longer droparm on the steering box, and such an alteration seems well worth while if one intended to make full use of the Ford’s speed and acceleration. The six-seater body fitted to the car we tested was practical and well suited for continuous and prolonged .service. The seats were upholstered in leather, shaped so as to give good support to legs and back, and the driving seat gives an excellent field of view. Except for the hand-brake, which lies rather far forward, the controls are placed within comfortable reach and the steering wheel comfortably into the lap. The accelerator pedal has a long lever and a strong pull-off spring, and there is no fear either of giving too much gas to the lively engine or of getting cramp from excessive pressure on the pedal when driving long journeys. There is ample leg room in the rear seats, and the floor behind the front seats is free from projections other than a shaft tunnel an inch high. All windows wind .down, and the front ones can be kept
wide open without causing draught. At the rear of this particular model a large luggage trunk is provided.
The V8 chassis has many points of mechanical interest. Aluminium cylinder heads are used on the latest models, and each bank of four cylinders is fed from its own choke in the double carburetter. Only one float chamber is used, and the petrol is fed from the 11-gallon rear tank by means of a mechanical petrol pump. The engine runs without pinking on No. 3 spirit, and the petrol consumption at normal fast cruising speeds is about 16 m.p.g.
The camshaft lies between the two banks of cylinders, which are inclined at 90 degrees to one another. It would be difficult to make the tappets accessible for adjustment on a side-valve engine, in such a confined space, and so solid tappets of large section are used. The valve clearances are adjusted by grinding the stems of the valves. A separate water pump is used for each block Of cylinders, and a thermostat is located in each of the outlet pipes. A four-bladed fan completes the cooling arrangements. The crankshaft runs in three plain bearings. The cylinder bores in the two blocks are staggered, and the big-ends fit in pairs on to the split and floating white metal bushes, which in turn encircle the crankpins. An accessible oil-filler is placed at the rear end of the engine, and is closed normally by a gauze-covered scoop, which forces ce ol air
into the crankcase. The dipstick is handy at the near-side of the engine. The clutch is of the single dry-plate type. The pedal pressure required is quite small, since light springs are employed, but this pressure is supplemented when the engine is running fast by centrifugal force acting on weighted clutch
fingers. The gear-box has all silent gears, with synchro-mesh on second and -top. The braking and driving torque from the back axle is taken partly by the Torque tube which surrounds the propeller shaft and partly by
radius arms running to the centre of the chassis. Back and front axles are sprung on transverse leaf springs, with hydraulic shock-absorbers. The front axle has a ” hairpin ” torque member to resist braking and steering torque. The brakes
are cable-operated without compensation. The chassis is braced by a large crossmember running from the rear end of the engine to points just in front of the rear axle, and the engine is now mounted well forward in the chassis, the
front cylinders actually coming over the axle. The side-members are upswept front and rear to obtain a low centre of .gravity. The V8 has clone more than any other car of recent years to bring luxury and good performance into the moderate juice field, and constant improvements have made the latest models amazing
value for money. It is not surprising that those cars have taken a firm hold on the affections of the ordinary motorist and the sporting driver alike.