WE TRY THE ASTON MARTIN INTERNATIONAL FOURSEATER
DURING the last year or so Aston Martin cars have been developing from one general purpose sports model into two categories, the sports tourer and the semi-racing two seater.
, The 1932 programme therefore comprises two models, the International four seater, and the Le Mans two-seater. Both models use the engine and chassis described in our columns last month, but the two-seater has a higher compression ratio and a close-ratio gear-box, and except for a slightly wider body is identical with the cars which were so successful this year at Le Mans.
Having these two models at their disposal, the makers have concentrated on making one car definitely a tourer with sporting characteristics, while the Le Mans model is able to have a racing performance without worrying too much about slow running or the other refinements which one expects in a car intended for every-day use in town and country.
The car we tested was the first International four-seater produced, and has been used amongst other things as the team tender at Le Mans, where it arrived carrying more luggage, tools, and spares than one would have believed possible for a car of its dimensions. . It is safe to say that this car has had a life considerably more strenuous than the average private owner would give it, and has received no attention beyond filling with petrol and oil. Its condition was therefore all the more interesting. The first thing required of a touring car is that it should be comfortable. On taking over the Aston Martin, one is at once struck with the erect driving position, which allows a clear view of the road and one’s front wings, and the way in which the steering wheel comes in
just flip right place. The gearlever can be manipulated without stretching, and the pneumatic upholstery supports back and thigh in the places where fatigue is usually felt. The back seats are comfortable and have ample leg-room.
The suspension is one of the best points about the car, the standard road setting being equally suited to travel at high speeds on the track, and to crawling along the corrugated surface of a crowded suburban street. Even when the shockabsorbers were tightened up to their full extent, the car was not unduly bumpy at low speeds, and the suspension is altogether one of the best we have come across on a sports car. At this point one should mention the accessibility of the Hartford shock-absorbers, a point which is neglected on quite a number of modern cars.
So much for the touring side of the car’s capabilities ; now to deal with its performance.
The engine, as one would expect on an Aston-Martin, is vibrationless throughout its speed range, and pulls evenly down to 7 m.p.h. on top gear. There is very little mechanical noise, and the exhaust is well silenced. The gear-box is fitted with silent second and third gears, a unique feature on a sports car, and are of course engaged by sliding dogs. They are not, as a matter of fact, remarkably silent, but the fact that they are engaged by dogs facilitates gear changing. The remote control gear-lever is a great improvement on the old pattern, which seemed to be too far back, while the clutch drag which we had experienced on some of the older models which have done a fair mileage has been overcome.
The gear ratios are quite widely spaced, and two or three seconds is lost on each change if one waits the correct time. Things can be speeded up considerably by depressing the clutch pedal very fully, as though to engage a clutch stop, in which case the dogs engage quite quickly with nothing worse than a slight grunt. Second allows a speed of 36 -m.p.h., and nearly 60 can be reached in third without going over 43500 r.p.m. Aston Martin brakes have always been remarkably good. and have lost none of their efficiency through being cable operated. From 40 miles an hour the car was brought to rest in 51 feet, without any tendency to deviate from the straight. No compensating gear is used, each brake
being independently adjusted by a simple wingnut arrangement. The hand-racing-type-lever operates all
four brakes, the rachet being engaged by lifting a projecting rim at the top of the lever. The Steering. is very light
and without backlash, but is lower geared and has less caster than one usually finds on sports cars. The considerable movement required is balanced by the accuracy with which the car can be placed, and we amused ourselves by going into corners at what seemed quite excessive speeds and sweeping round at Undiminished speed’1 ith the inside wheel just Six inches from the kerb. The most striking characteristic of the International “is its toughness. After
testing it at Brooklands, we set off to the West along .devious routes with the firm intention of seeing if it was possible to blow it up. 4,000 to 4,500 in all gears, cornering as fast as the road allowed, up and down the box, nothing affected it, the comparatively touring Type 13 Champions showing no sign of overheating. 60-65 on all main roads and 70when this was possible have a way of showing up weaknesses, but the car seemed willing to stand this indefinitely. The stamina of the engine is largely due -to the adequate cooling and to the dry sump lubrication system, which holds 2i gallons of oil. The car’s fastest speed on the level Was a genuine 70 Miles an hour. As has been said, the car which we tried was the first of this year’s Internationals, and had covered a mileage of over 13.000 without being decarbonised, 13,( )00 miles represents more than a vet r’s running for
the ordinary owner, so this report gives some idea of what may be expected after that time. The engine had only dropped about 2 m.p.h. from the intended maximum of 72 m.p.h., so that when decarbonised, one is safe in calling the International a genuine 70 rn.p.h. car. The gear-box and transmission showed no sign of wear, and the brakes were entirely satisfactory. The coachwork did not rattle or squeak, and the cellulose was in first class condition.
The results of this test proclaim the International Aston Martin as a fast touring car with race-bred nicety of control, which may be relied to keep its tune and condition over long periods with the minimum of upkeep. It accomplishes adequately the makers’ claims of sturdiness and fast travel.
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