SOME NOTES ON STREAMLINED SALOON BODYWORK
A Review of Recent Examples I There is a general suggestion, backed by many authorities, that after the war there will be widespread adoption of streamlined closed coachwork for fast cars. In the February issue of MOTOR SPORT Cecil Clutton reviewed the history of streamlined bodywork for racing cars and suggested a formula for assessing the comparative merit of streamlining. In this article Flying Officer W. Scafe, R.A.F., reviews recent designs of closed streamlined fast cars and discusses probable future trends. His remarks will be of especial interest to those who attended Laurence Pomeroy’s lecture at the I.A.E. on March 8th.—Ed.]
FROM 1936 up to the present time there has been a strong tendency, particularly on the Continent, towards streamlined coachwork on sports cars, both in open and closed form. The advantages conferred by this type of body were most striking, figures for both maximum speed and fuel consumption showing a very marked improvement over similar chassis not thus equipped, and it is hard at first to believe that this improvement was solely due to a different body. Speeds that previously were only attainable by cars with highly-tuned or supercharged engines with a high fuel consumption were now possible with untuned engines of quite normal and moderate power outputs. Higher gear ratiOs could be used, giving very economical fuel consumption. Furthermore, the first cost of producing such cars is not excessive, and they are therefore likely to be a sound business proposition for
their manufacturers. Indeed, it seems likely that the aerodynamically streamlined saloon is to prove the sports car of the future, as sports car races just prior to the war showed us. There are, of course, certain drawbacks to streamlining as with most things in this world. First, there is the difficulty of codling brakes and tyres adequately when they are encased in fairings. Inaccessibility of engine and chassis is bound to be increased and the type of body, which extends to the full width of the car, taking in the wheels, and which has a long tail, is very liable to dents, scratches and similar damage, a factor which leads to raised insurance premiums. Many of these problems can and will be overcome, and the bodies of this type already built have been highly successful and are of great interest. One of the first examples of the true aerodynamic saloon was the German Adler. One of these broke International long-distance records in 1935, and in the following years they competed successfully in Continental sports car races, including in their list of successes first place for the Rudge Whitworth Cup at Le Mans in 1938 after a display of very consistent running. The cars were 2-seater coupes with the body extending to the full width of the car, taking in the wheels. In 1938, too, Sommer drove a saloon Alfa-Romeo—a 2.9-litre—at Le Mans and led the race for a considerable time. The body was Italian-built and resembled that of the Adler in its general lines. In 1939 Sommer again drove an aerodynamic Alfa-Romeo at Le Mans, this time a 2.3-litre six-cylinder car. He was troubled by excessive heat and an electric fan as fitted to cope with this. In 1938 N. S. Embiricos, the Greek E.R.A. driver, had a special streamlined body built for his 41-litre Bentley. The wind-tunnel testing was carried out by Rolls Royce, Ltd., while the construction was by Paulin, the French coach builder. Early in 1939 the car was tested in Germany, over the Autobahn. Maximum speed proved to be in the region of 118 m.p.h., while phenomenally low fuel consumption figures were obtained. At the end. of July of the same year the car covered 114.84 m.p.h. at Brooklands, driven by Capt. G. E. T. Eyston—the fastest ” hour “yet by a fully equipped” sports” car. This car was a 4-seater, two-door saloon, with the wheels outside the body in streamlined wings. A team of open streamlined Lancia ” Aprilias ” came to Donington for the 1938 Tourist Trophy. They were quite fast and led the 11-litre class for about half the race, but were most alarming to watch on the corners. Eventually they all retired with brakes inoperative, due to the fact that the drums were enclosed in the bodywork and were thus out of the airstream. In August the streamlined 1,500-c.c. Fiat saloon was tested by Gordon Wilkins of • The Motor. This car was one of the most striking examples of what can be done in
this direction. Nlaximum speed NVaS over 90 m.p.h.. ,.vhile consumption was :data 40 at.p.(.. at GO ’tilde The car cost around 4350. Soon after this came the War, putting a stop to things of this kind. but not before a streamlitwd V12 Lagonda had b:.en completed for the intrpose or bettering the Bentley’s hour •’ record.’flic body was by Lzuwelield and was similar to that of tlw Bentley in general outline. The war, of cool’sc. Pfc”‘”1″1 the Lagonda f .rom .-diowing what it eoldd In 19-10 the Aston-Alart II voncern made an experimental model. The framework of the body was tubular and was integral with the chassis. The car could not he called fully streamlined : its lines were a compromisl. het veer) the Oh l style of body and the streamlined type. Ti ii wheels were outside the hody, which was a fourdoor saloon. It was howevrr. who Produced Vhat Was probably the best example of sire:unlined saloon design. In 1939 a Type 324 B.NIAV., with an It:_dian body constracted of electron, finished fourth at I .0 at :in average speed of 82.1 in III spite of the fact that Germany was at Nvar this car and another of similar type. but with rather improved lines. ran in the Brescia Grand Prix of April, 1910. the event which replaced the late-lamented Mille Mighia. The newer car won the rare with the greatest of (1-kiSV frOl II a fleet or Alfallomeos. and demonstrated its superiority over the Italians throughout the race. Its maximum speed was about 130 m.p.h. The engine output was around 130 leh.p.. an amazing figure for an unblown 2-litre. Bugatti ran 3.3-lit re ears with tank-like bodies in sports car events ttetween 193O and 11139• A ii unsuperchare-ed example won the Frenelt Grand Prix in 1936 and tlw Grand Prix d’Endurance at Lc Mans in I931’. while a supercharged edition won the latter event in 1989 at a record average speed.
‘rhesus examples ()I some of the more outstanding ears prod:wed form interesting. pointers for future development. It SCUITIs likely that future vehicles of this type will have the wheels enclosed in the bodywork, kvhich will extend to the run Avidth of the car, as in the .‘dler, 14-1m ,ziod
Such all arrangement will allow seating accomiffirdation for three in the fr(int and ample luggage space behind. Headroom for rear seat passengers need not be unduly eramped if the body is designed carefully. Extensive research and tests will lw needed to determine t he best forms. wartime aircraft research probably being of great value in this respeet. ‘I’lw question as to whether or not an undertrav should be fitted will arise. This is considered unnecessary by some if the
wfwels are enclosed. If they are not enehtsed, the fitting of an undershield will result in a most marked improvement. For instance, that most superb of machines, Mr. 1.,..,Tett’s 8-litre Bentley, -gave two more m.p.g. after such a shield had been incorporated. The ((round clearance at tiis.. rear end should ha greater than at the front, to prevent an aerofoil effect at high speeds. W h id) would result in the front end losing adhesion.
Light weight is obviously an essential, as the modern sports car must be light,and ears built on Sydney Harbour Bridge lines will not he tolerated in an (we hope) enlightened post-war world. Alloy constrnetion is an obvious way to achieve lightness, but is extremely expensive, a factor which would rule it out, except in the more expensive Sports ears. Electron and durahintill WCIV used in the Ilweitti and 13.M AV. A V-snaped windscreen will probably lie universal, as a curved one is extremely trying to look through for long erriods, the road ahead appearing to eottie towards one in a erofiked limo ! Screen and windows kvill probably be made of safety glass. as Perspex becomes badly scratehed and discoloured with use. To ensure a smooth exterior, pull-out door handles. as used on Latwia and Fiat, would be empl()yed, as well as aircraft-type fairing fasteners, while it goes without saying that headlamps. horns and number plates Will be built-in. The position of the radiator is dillieult to decide upon, as at first sight it appears a pity to build a nice streamlined body and then to go and cut a big hole in the front to let, in air. In practice, however, there are marry advantages in the conventional position,
and it is likely to Wit h a slot to admit the air placed low down, with allOt her behind the radiator to allow it to c.scape. The difficulties and drawbacks, too, ‘lave to he overcome. First, comes coolingof tyres and brakes. Wind scoops, I irecting a stream of air on to brake drums and tyres, worked effectively in the ” 3.3 ” Bugatli. Alloy wheels with
finned spokes might also be necessary on the faster cars. With a full-width body engine accessibility is likely to be impaired. Detachable side panels, held as its companion before coming to rest. These facts seem to indicate the necessity of a form of air brake for the faster
speed, so some form of air conditioning will be needed. An advantage of a properly streamlined body will be to eliminate the wind
down on sponge rubber with aircraft screw button fasteners, should go a long way to improve this. Clean lines are likely to retard the process of deceleration and normal brakes will be hard put to slow such a car down from high speeds. This difficulty was experienced by Major Gardner during his record runs on the M.G. During tests at Brooklands the streamlined Fiat and a standard unstreamlined car of the same marque were driven level at the same
eliminate the wind
noises, so apparent in fast saloon cars with bodies of normal design. The streamlined saloon is very definitely the car of the future, and the sports car of the future in particular, as that Brescia Grand Prix of 1940 showed. This is hard in some ways to those of us who love the vintage machine, but that it will come is as certain as was the replacement of the old fabric, stick and wire biplane by the stressed-skin metal monoplane in the
aviation world. us at the same speed. The engines were switched off simultaneously and the streamlined car was found to roll about half as far again machines. In a high-speed saloon it will be extremely draughty and unpleasant to open a window at or near maximum Even so, let us hope that we shall still see well-preserved Bentleys, ” 30/98 ” Vauxhalls and similar
things motoring in 1900.