ONE of the most fascinating aspects of motoring sports indeed, the factor which makes our game so different from other pastimes, is the variety embraced, both in respect of scene and material. There are so many different approaches to the sport. On the principle that, these days, it may be better to look to the future than to dwell on the present or past, some of us fell to discussing motoring undertakings with which we would like to be associated when better times return. Here are some of the things that came up. To obtain a touring G.N., fit an "Akela" or "Mowgli" racing G.N. engine, and rouse the modern 1,100 c.c. sports cars in the sports or super-sports classes, at Lewes. To attempt to get a "bronze" in a Land's End trial with a car no younger and not a lot bigger than Boddy's Gwynne Eight. To try for a Triple Award of the M.C.C. thrice over by running a team of "Chummy" Austin Sevens endowed with 4-speed gear-boxes, down-draught carburetters and identical appearances. To spend the summer visiting every notable Continental race, in a car of Type 575 Bugatti calibre. To establish a Class A Brooklands Mountain-circuit record with some old car and insist that the B.A.R.C. duly inscribed your name on the record-lap plaque on the Clubhouse wall. To do at least one trial during one's honeymoon in the security of a "Jabberwock" Type V8 Ford coupe. To put a Rolls-Royce "Falcon" aero-engine into a modified 3-litre Bentley chassis and lap Brooklands on non-race days at Napier-Railton speeds for a tenth of the cost. To pack kit and six gallons of petrol into a "Nippy" Austin Seven, leave one's office on a fine Friday evening and just motor fast for 200 miles before looking for accommodation for the night with no particular objective in view. To take "Sedan Fairy" through an Experts Trial on a pouring wet day in the passenger's seat of Hutchison's V 12 Allard-Special—the one without a hood. To seriously use a small Edwardian as a war-time hack, because it is the surest way of making your petrol ration last as long as possible. To overcome chain troubles in a Shelsley-Special by exploiting the A.B.C. To tax an Austin Seven for less than a Fiat "Mouse" by installing a Scott engine. To be a R.A.F. Pilot Officer and use a G.P. Bugatti for a 150-mile drive home every time you went on leave. To . . . . Time, gentleman, please! Laughing? Well, what are your pipe-dreams?
Some time ago we suggested that readers might have interesting ideals of their own on the subject of sports cars for celebrating the peace. That experienced motorist, Sir Clive Edwards, Bart., now in H.M. Forces, has spent some of his off-duty time looking into his requirements in this direction. This is what he writes:—
The super-small car never seems to have obtained the popularity reached by the various "eights" and "tens." Indeed, it is doubtful whether for a family man, who wishes to have four persons in his car, an "eight" is more economic than a "ten" in running costs. But for those who appreciate their motoring and yet have to use the car for business, thereby demanding an economic proposition, may we hope for something appetising, with the following suggestion.
With regard to the chassis, the first consideration should be a good power to weight ratio, a side-valve engine, developing the power low down, and a horse-power not below eight, preferably ten, the front end suspended by a wishbone and coil spring layout, the rear, I should suggest, by fairly long cantilevers, a soft and comfortable arrangement, but at the same time hard enough to prevent the swaying motion sometimes prevalent with I.F.S.; a 3-speed gear-box, mounted separately in a sub-frame, wheel-base, say, 8 ft. and a 4-ft. 6-in. track; disc wheels for labour-saving. The layout of the engine I should prefer to leave to someone with the correct qualifications; suffice it to say that everything, inclusive of the tappet adjustment (unless automatic) should be entirely accessible, without the necessity for special tools or contortionist efforts to reach the required part.
The body must be entirely devoid of frills and seat five persons, or four with ease. That the body should be well and truly streamlined goes without saying, but headroom behind, and front visibility of wings (or of the equivalent breadth of the car) would be required. In order to confine the design to the best streamline shape, put three persons on the front seat and two only behind. This is easily done by placing the gear lever on the dash or steering column extension. The driving position should be carefully considered, as making for greater safety in driving. The various accessories could be chosen as considered suitable, but the whole should not be sold at a price exceeding £200, which should not be difficult for a 2-door saloon, preferably of the ¾ coupe type (folding head).
For those who require something larger, more powerful, and faster, but selling in the medium-priced range (say, £550 for a coupe or £525 in open form) I should not be alone in welcoming a really fast and silent car, with all the characteristics formerly associated with the sports car; roadholding, cornering and braking, and complete reliability. To save production costs I suppose a side-valve engine would have to be used, although naturally twin o.h. camshafts would be preferable. However, presuming the engine to be side by side for cheapness, let us proceed.
Engine capacity 3 or 3½ litres. Eight cylinders in line, for no "six" can ever equal an "eight" for smoothness—rather reminiscent of a clockwork movement. Tremendous attention should be paid to lubrication and cooling, even to valves, and an oil radiator. Twin carburetters or even a mild blower; a reasonable finish to the engine would be appreciated; dual ignition, and two separate types of feed for the petrol, e.g. twin electric pumps and pressure-feed as a reserve, the last two items ensuring that one could always get home. For suspension, I think the rear, as the small car above, should be cantilever, whilst at the front a wishbone layout, with transverse spring, and not the coil, as a transverse spring would help to take some of the extra strain imposed by the bigger car. A similar gearbox, but with a direct third gear, and an overdrive top, to give 70 m.p.h. at around 2,500 r.p.m. The brakes, I consider, should be hydraulic, with the hand-brakes working separately on the back shoes. Adjustable shockers, with preferably a 50 per cent. greater force on the rear adjustment over the front, but the reverse idea as regards the braking. Added to these items, certain refinements, such as a dipstick for the gear-box, an accessible rear-axle filler, and a quick method of removing the floor-boards, which in many cases takes hours.
When the body question arises, I should apply the same specification as above, and would favour a wheelbase of nearly the same length, say, 9 ft. or 9 ft. 6 in., track 4 ft. 8in. Included in the instruments would be, amongst the usual sports equipment, the all too rare oil temperature gauge.
Some people might argue that two such cars had been produced, or very nearly. Certainly, one or two Continental manufacturers have moved in this direction, but a combination of all the included factors has not been undertaken. In conclusion, for the benefit of the insurance companies, publish a complete price list of all spare parts. And perhaps it would not be a bad move to advertise the small car by an exhibition at some large stores, such as Selfridges or Marks & Spencers, but the last has very little to do with the original point of this article.] [It would please Mr. People's Car Pomeroy.—Ed.]
Doubtless aircraft experience will enhance the use of light metals and plastics. It is, however, important that suspension should receive attention, as this has lacked the attention given to it by Continental firms. Such a car design as suggested would hardly seem suitable for serious competition work; but in my opinion, I hardly think it likely that racing will again attain the same proportions it did during the last post-war era, or of the era before this war. Unless, of course, the accessory firms go crazy and reintroduce really big bags of "boni."
But nevertheless the design for the larger car should result in a very fast point-to-point vehicle, for which there is always a good demand; a car which would be able to fill more than one duty, moreover.
Sound, well-tried principles of construction cannot be beaten; it is probable that various queer designs will spring up after the war as a result of the general upheaval; but it will always be very pleasant to read descriptions of a new thoroughbred.