SPORTING CARS ON ROAD AND TRACK. THE SIX-CYLINDER O.M.
By the ASSISTANT EDITOR.
BY the courtesy of Messrs. L. C. Rawlence and Co., we recently had the opportunity of a run on one of the latest model 6-cylinder 0.M.’s, for which cars this concern are the sole agents in the British Isles. In company with Mr. Gerrish we left Victoria Street and began threading our way through the south-western traffic streams en route for Brooklands. The Weybridge track was chosen as our objective for three reasons, firstly, to transact some personal business with a pair of wizards who sell ” potted speed “to most Brooklands habitués, secondly, to watch the preparations for the Production Car race on the following day, and finally, because the track itself proves an excellent testing ground on which to try out the capabilities of a fast car.
Behaviour in Traffic.
The first few miles of traffic showed that the possessed very good acceleration at the lower end the scale, and what is just as important, very deceleration too. A characteristic swish on the brakes betrayed the presence of cast iron on all four wheels ; the standard arrangement, to our guide, being cast iron on the back and Ferodo the front. The cast iron shoes, while perhaps for a slightly stronger pressure on the pedal, have advantage of added smoothness and longevity. smooth are the brakes indeed, that one feels that they must be weak until one is faced with one of those emergencies which are so common in these days of infested roads and new drivers ; on such occasions one pulls up with yards to spare and without a suspicion of skidding even on a wet road. To return to the matter of acceleration, four speeds are provided, operated by a centrally disposed lever, and the ratios are such that frequent recourse to the indirect gears is a genuine pleasure owing to the immediate response of the engine on the lower ratios. No clutch stop is fitted, but extremely rapid changes up can be made even when a high speed is attained on the lower gear. The clutch is reasonably smooth and once engaged is absolutely positive in its
grip. These features combine to give the car a really lively performance and make it a real pleasure to drive. At the first suspicion of a semi-clear road the accelerator was firmly depressed in 3rd gear from about 25 m.p.h., and passing ev erything in a flash we breasted Putney Hill at 42 m.p.h. still in 3rd gear. On top gear the slight bum from the gearbox vanished and 40 m.p.h. felt far more like 20 m.p.h., so quiet and smooth is the side-valve engine. Later, a speed of 55 m.p.h. was attained on 3rd gear, and Mr. Gerrish told us that actually 6o m.p.h. can be reached on this gear. Even
at this speed only a slight pause is necessary when engaging top gear.
The springing of the car with three people on board seemed a trifle harsh at very low speeds, but was admirably adjusted for fast road work, which of course is quite right on a car of this nature. We hope one day to see a car on which the degree of damping on the springs can be instantly adjusted from the driving seat, to meet varying road conditions. On the 0.M., the springing, as stated above, was adjusted for speeds in the 40-60 m.p.h. range ; for higher speeds it proved a trifle too flexible, but by no means unsafe or uncomfortable. On corners a very slight roll was experienced, but was due entirely to the medium pressure balloon tyres fitted ; with the ordinary high pressure tyres, corners can be negotiated really fast without rolling or skidding.
On arrival at Brooklands we proceeded at once to try the car for genuine maximum speed. On the first lap, 68 m.p.h. was held down the Railway Straight and 6566 m.p.h. for most of the lap. On the second lap the run down off the Members’ Banking enabled a speed of 72 m.p.h. to be attained, which speed was easily maintained down the straight and round the Byfleet banking. At this speed the steering seemed every bit as easy and positive as at 20 m.p.h., two fingers on the steering wheel being quite sufficient to preserve any desired direction. Mr. Gerrish, who has long experience of this and other cars, emphasised this point particularly, impressing upon us how by its high steering and general ease of handling it is a car on which high averages can be maintained on long runs with a minimum of fatigue to the driver. A neat straight-forward 4-seater body, with reasonably Sporting lines and red leather upholstery, proved remarkably comfortable at all speeds and should ensure equal comfort to the passengers as to the driver, who is often too preoccupied to be aware of physical discomfort until the run is over
The 1,500 c.c. O.M.
During the afternoon we were introduced to Major R. F. Oates, who was driving a 1,500 c.c. O.M. in the Production Car race. The car driven by Major Oates was standard, even to the 4-seater body, and carried ballast equal to three passengers, yet with ourselves and the driver, a steady 72 m.p.h. was maintained for most of the lap, on several of which we accompanied Major Oates, who was practising for the race. A slight carburettor adjustment improved matters even more and 75 m.p.h.. was held for quite an appreciable distance. Acceleration after the hairpin bends was fair, considering the load carried and the generally touring nature of the whole outfit, while the braking seemed even better than that of the larger model. It will be realised then that the makers can produce a car which is capable of being “hatted up” by the owner without much difficulty and without sacrificing any of its docility, so that it can hold its own with most cars on the road, though in view of its comparative weight it might be beaten on hills by some of the nippier and less comfortable sports cars.
However, the rapidly increasing number of O.M. cars seen on the road is the surest criterion of their excellence and of the excellence of Messrs. Rawlence’s service, so that anyone who fancies the car need have any hesitation in disbursing the reasonable sum of £695 which is all that is asked for the 2-litre 6-cylinder model.