VARIETY - II

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VARIETY II

The Editor Continues to Sample a Diversity of Motor-Cars

FIRST of all we continued to pile up the miles in the Villiers-engihed 197-e.e. Bond three-wlweler. Certain bothers intruded, it is true, yet, as each one occurred, it was dealt with, and we went on using the little car in traffic, on the open road (why ” open ” ?) and for all manner of errands with great satisfaction. In considering the troubles encountered it has to be remembered that a far bigger mileage was covered in the Bond than other manufacturers of far more expensive ears felt it wise or are able to alhow us. A front, wheel collapsed and broke up. Tlw engine tightened-up, finally to seize, but, only because someone had weakened the mixture—this seizure had 110 effect on stability, nor did Mr. Villiers display any after-effects. The K.L.G. 1″70 plug O dell CalliC wit h the car eventually burnt. out. but a Lodge Sintox RI. 53 with which I replaced it. stood up well, needing cleaning only once. The brakes grew rather weak, so that applying them was like squeezing an orange, and the shoes in the near-side one seemed to be fouling the drum pernutnently. The Perspex screen grew more opaque under the action of’ the wiper, so tlatt motoring in rain or after dark was like driving in a perpetual mist. One wet morning we had to deal with. the office correspondence standing mo mid then go home for a change of clothes-but that was not altogether the Bond’s fault., because the hood is perfectly adequate (and delightfully easy to erect) and the rain merely blew in at. the sides and made a puddle on the seat. I should have erected the side curtains, although even these are not able to keep out. torrential rain. I understand they were CU mrly pattern, since improved.

The worst fault. by far was failure of the flywheel-magneto, and this took only minutes and a slender soldering iron to put right, once the broken connection to /1 coil had been located. Moreover, a meelutiiie eiinte down

front Preston specially to repair the thing

• -and that is service! the Bond owner shares with those NOW buy It Holls-Royee Incidentally, he came in a 122-cc’. Bond giving some 100 m.p.g. !

With the mixture id correct strength the remarkable et.47110Tily returned and t he little Mk. 6E engine would idle indefinitely without stalling or overheating in trallic; essenthiliii London, where iarns of ten inimit es duration are becoming COMMOII, although more luld more motorist 5 11( AV crowd the Underground. 1;tater such etaiditiims the extreme lightness of the clutch was a decided asset. Away from such milgestion 40-45 m.p.h. showed on the speedometer habitually, and if you wanted to chasige looks of mirth and scorn to bewilderment, you let the engine-revs. go on up and up in a smooth surge of’ two-stroke pow -r. resulting in quite exciting acceleration. I win still Woodconscious, after prolonged experienee of Otis amusing little vehicle that at times reminds me of a dodgem car ” or one of those boats children used to manipulate on Lcmdon’s ponds.

However, as Etlitor of a sporting motor paper I was politely but firmly told I hilltith’t spend all my driving hours thus, so I went off (in the llond) to Ilarry Lesterls garage at Thatelutm. lb-ithis own 1,087-e.e. -the one 10. raves at Gimodwood, Silverstone and elsewhere. –WaS :Wait hig

It is a motor-car very much in the modern tradition–excel lent_ poweriweight ratio, soft suspension, and negligilde frontal area. Basically it is M.G., but with a chassis frame of Lester’s own conception, built. up of 16 gauge 3 in.!-diameter steel tube, with a wheelbase of 7 ft. 6 in„ a front track of 3 ft.. 111 in. and a rear track of 3 ft. 10 in. ; 11-litre M.G. is used, modified to sonw extent and with Woodhead Monroe dampers built in. Naturally, the springs used with it are specially

prepared. The steering geometry anti mechanism ha-s Ewen ntost. carefully worked out, by Cam Gears, Ltd., and uses a, splittrack-rod rather like that on the Austin A40.

The engine is a “TC ” M.G. unit linered down to C2-0ma bore, with special pistons giving a 9.2 to 1 vompres.sion-ratio. Crankshaft and rods are standard TC. normal I+ in. twin SA’. carburetters are retained, although they now feed direct ly into the siantesed inlet ports ; no bakuWe pipe is neeessaly, incidentally. The exhaust system is special, coutprising four separate, sqoare-svetion outlet pipes. The. standard TC gearbox is retained, lout the. axle rat ios of 4.8, 4.9 or 3.125 to 1 are avaaable. 13olt.-on Morris Ten wheels carry 5.00-16 Dunlop tyres.

The very light tWo-scater racing body. was built at Lester’s garage and is pleasing both to the girl-friend’s eye and the technician’s mind. It wastes no power by way of unnecessary protubentnees that would catch the wind. It. is so low that the caps of’ the S.U.s protrude through holes in the bonnet top-panel, which has a ” power bulge ” to clear the valve cover. Tlw coekpit is compactlet us leave it at that !–although sit easily detaeliable sl eering wheel faeildates entry and egress for the driver. On the facia a small Jaeger rev.-etamter, water thermometer and oil gauge confront him, the eveli-snutller speeilometer and an ammeter being placed for the passenger’s edification. This Lester-M.G., then, is very [ankh the real thing. I wrote some time ago about a ” training car ” tloat would lit its driver like a glove, handle impeecItbly, and enable would-be racing drivers (you van see them almost any day in the MoToa Srowr waiting-essan !) really to get the hang of things. If it wasn’t that Lester’s car is itself a sport siraeing car of 110 repute I should say ” this is it.” Certainly the Grand Prix driver wishing to keep Ids hand in wiaddn’t be wasting his time by taking a crisp drive in one of these ears and I know of few which are faster fre tin plaCe (.0 place. The fact that you ” wear the car ” rather than sit in a seal results in 100 per cent. visibility (you have only to lean out ” that. much ” to sec the front suspension units at. work mid the front wlioxds are always visible beneath their just-adequate front wings). The brakes work as brakes Amid& and here is soft suspension properly applied, an engine that revels in 11 igh crankshaft speeds. The steering, too, is finger-light at all speeds and front full lock to full lock (two turns), enabling corners to be taken and slides corrected wit Ii zero effort. The driver does ;Ha need ), indeed, must. not, steer consciously : there is 3 deg. of castor action MO 110 kick-baCk 1)1′ Chlthral wows. There is the additional point that the soft susiwnsion gives a very comfortable ride, yet roadholding and cornering are of’ a very high order. In short., this is a

car that experienced racing drivers could enjoy-and at the back of their minds would be the thought. that a light car built round proprietary components is a sensibly economic proposition, for Inexpensive spares are readily available and Lester gets a regular 34 M.p.g. On faster-than-most road journeys and an overall consumption, inclusive of races at Goodwood, of 25 m.p.g. The weight, you see, is 10i cwt.

This ” recipe ” for a sportsfracing car is obviously appreciated, for I.ester has supplied a surprising number of these Lester-M.G.s, and is preparing a team of three at the present time. The one that is in my mind particularly at, the moment. is J. C. C. Mayers’, bemuse as I write it heads the Mcrroit Srquer 13rooklands Memorial Tropliy contest. Whereas Lester goes in for 1,100-e.e. racing—and (merles why so few 1,100-c.c. events have been held this season !–Mayers prefers the 1 i-litre class and his engine is of 1,474 c.c., which no doubt entails boring oversize, alterations to the crank, and things of that sort.

I have written sufficient to indicate that I enjoyed my drive in Lester’s car. I ” wore it. ” rather too literally, for its owner is shorter than I, and so the steering wheel pressed on my right leg and I found it difficult to put on the brakes ! This didn’t matter a lot, because the merest touch on the pedal brought the car to heel. A.s soon as the oil-pressure had climbed to its customary 60-70 lb./sq. in I opened up and Wil.53 surprised at, the revs, the engine would sustain. Indeed, at first 1 felt, for the gear-lever to assure myself I wasn’t in third gear ; 0,000 r.p.m. comes up very quickly in the indirects and 5,500 r.p.m. is a perfectly natural gait. in top gear, which, with the 4.9 to I axle-ratio I was using, represents 88 m.p.h. The indirect maxima at 6,000 r.p.m. equal 49 m.p.h, in second (10.73 to 1) and 70 m.p.h. in third (8.)4 to 1)-exhilarating ! The car’s manner of going is exhilarating, too. The exhaust note is loud by the time 3,000 r.p.m. is reached, and rises thereafter to something that. would have shatered the Brooklands’ authorities. Lift your foot, and delightful pistol-shot reports punctuate your retardation. Before you is that adequate view of the road, enabling the front wheels to be ” placed with absolute accuracy. The caps of the S.U.s wobble mildly in their apertures and a scent of benzoic (we were on 50/50) drifts back. Then there is the subdued noise of the valve gear above the wind-roar, for lightweight bonnets and bulkheads aren’t intended as sound-dampers. At speed, of course, the exhaust noise blankets all else.

Not only is the engine willing to rev., but it pays to keep the speed well up, for things do not begin to happen until 3,500 r.p.m. is attained. The power-curve is humoured by the delightful ‘1’1! gear-change, Which enables downward changes to be effected rapidly and pleasantly. Acceleration was as elan as a whistle from a crawl to nutsimum. Yes. a very real little motor-car this, yet &wile in towns and impeccable in its general behaviour. Alt sough we let the engine idle disgracefully slowly at times, the not -very-” hard ” Lodge plugs refused to oil-up and only prolonged crawling in traffic put the water temperature anywhere near boiling point, the normal figure being minus or plus 00 degrees C. according to speed. As to maximum, Lester gets 6,200 r.p.m. along the. longest of the not-so-long Goodwood straights, and I, less experienced, achieved 6,100 r.p.m., or nearly 07 m.p.h., on the road, passenger’s screen fiat, but the mica driver’s shield in place—and as this gives extremely good protection, it must set up quite a bit of drag. Nearly as much fun as tucking yourself away behind the screen to see those exceptional revs. come up in top-gear was had by accelerating to the sante engine-speed in the indireets or by storming the long hills of the A 30 road to the West Country at 5,000 r.p.m. (80 m.p.h.) in top. All good things come to an end and late that evening we drove hack, my wife now an enthusiastic passenger in this car that she found ” so well-sprung for a racing car.” The day had been instructive as showing how effective is a cur in which engine, steering and brakes have been properly prepared, soft suspension correctly applied, for fast driving. We talked of motor-racing with I.Iarry and Barbara Lester in their flat over their garage until a late hour. And we left with the (inn impression that M.G. enthusiasts need look no further than Thatcharn, whether for service or ” specials “building, for Lester has been at it since the .12 days and knows what he is about. His workshop has seen, and will see, many interesting developments and it contained some famous M.G.s in for overhaul or the adding of urge, Rivers Fletcher’s Magnate single-seater amongst them. (N.B.–The Bond took us home innwecably on a quarter-of-a-gallon for 20 miles.) Additional entertainment came when I volunteered to deliver a 1926 ” 74/40 ” Sunbeam. saloon a distance. of some 135 miles, front Hampshire to a farm in Suffolk. The old car was very much an ” unknown quantity,” with over 00,000 miles on its odometer, but, reassured by the somalness of its 815 by 105 tyres, two Dunlop and hen by Spencer n01111X)11, I agreed to go. The traffic on t hat lovely July Saturday was thick, fait we bowled along merrily enough, the Sunbeam deciding that, 43 m.p.h., indicated with notable accuracy on an expensive-looking Jaeger speedometer, was its happiest speed. so that we passed quite a number of modern ears, for the average week-end driver still proceeds at around 35 m.p.h. in spite of the derationing of petrol. London loomed up. we turned away from it up the North Circular

noticed a picturesque cricket watch taking place with Hendon’s Welsh harp as a background. and it wasn’t until we had negotiated tile whit the of this loop road (not, by the way, too well sign-posted in places) that the first, involuntary stop occurred, to re-seer re the throttle-linkage. The joy of the thing lay in the dignity of this vintage motoring. You sat high. up, both the broad front wings in view. In motoring it. is pleasant to sit either very low, as in a” Brooklands ” Riley or Lester-M.G., or very high, but ma anywhere in between, as you do in most modern saloon ears. The gear-change was effeeted by a right-hand lever that

would have been at home in a signal-box and engagement of the cogs couldn’t be hurried. The wide spacing of a mere three-speeds I found a thought tedious.

The engine very reasonably quiet, the cantilever rear springs didn’t produce over-much roll, the clutch was fierce, but not impossibly so, the brakes adequate, but the outstanding feature of this Sunbeam was the steering—high-geared, accurate, yet light at all speeds, which was a combination of good qualities a skilleil designer could achieve in the days of high-pressure tyres.

As afternoon wore into evening I pressed on into quiet farmland and through sleepy villages that, impaired by an ” Air Display headache,” seemed to exist more as in a dream than in reality. Returning, as dusk closed in, the way I had come, but now in the TD M.G. Midget. which I used for the remainder of that week-end, I found it hard to believe that I had really travelled so far in the staid old Sunbeam.

The TD proved to be very good fun and a great improvement front the handling point of view over its predecessor, the TC Midget. There is the same smooth-running, willing 1,250-c.c. 54blip. engine. The same delightful gearchange controlled by a little rigid remote lever. But the new independent, front suspension, by wishbones and coil springs, provides a high degree of comfort and has increased out of all conception the cornering powers of the car.

The ‘I’-type MG. was an excellent sporting two-seater, offering very good performance, a reasonable degree of economy, and selling for the modest price, pre-war, of £222. Unfortunately, during the war a certain somebody wrote a lot of rubbish about cruising speeds of 90 m.p.h. and maximums approaching 100 m.p.h., which a certain paper published. The M.G. Car Company was equally to blame, bemuse it ordered reprints of this nonsense and distributed it. as advertising matter. In consequence. the ‘l’-type began to be regarded as a Very Fast Car, which it wasn’t, and the subsequent. debunking by owners of genuinely-rapid sports-cars didn’t. do it, or M.G. in gemieral, any sort of good at all. So don’t, let its commit the same mistake hi connection with the present TD Midget.. Personally, I didn’t take lierforinance figures for it. A colleague told me he tinned it over it standing quarter-mile in 24.6 see, and over a flying quarter-mile at approximately 77 m.p.h. I saw 6,30(1 r.p.m. come up in the indirect gears (although I have known rev.-counters to be as optimistic as SPCednineterS) anal I cruised at ” mile-a-mimite ” pace. Figures apart.. the TI) M.G. is a very quick A-to-I3 car and one, moreover, that gives sports-car advantages with t hat touch of the velvet glove which is so sensible for everyday motoring. The enthusiast -wishing to impress his girl-friend, the long-distance traveller in a hurry, the American who delights in making his countrymen’s vast. saloons hurry and still get. his dust, all these people are going to lind the ‘I’D very muchi their cup of tea. It puts up good average sliceils without tiring its occupants. It isn’t. noisy, 1 he gearbox is a delight, to use, the well-behated 0-in. Lockheed

brakes kill speed with only a shade more than light pressure on the pedal, and, above all, the new i.f.s. and rack-andpinion steering give comfortable riding, very fast cornering, and a most pleasing accuracy of control. The car is softly sprung, feels a bit like a boat as you (ling it along twisty lanes, but it does remain glued to the road. The accent on over-steer is of the faintest and the steering is so light, even at low speeds, that the car is delightfully responsive for tratlic-threading, cross-country dieing, and driving-tests. I found this effortless speed well suited to my mood, for I was somewhat played-out when I took over the TI). Just how tired you can guess when I confess I drove rapidly along the North Circular with the lamps off and got quite rattled when the driver of a Vanguard sought to tell me I was proceeding ” unlit ” (if he sees this, my humble apologies !). Later, after midnight. on home territory along A 30, I held but failed to pass a black SunbeamTalbot saloon, whose driver waved cheerily as he turned off into Bagshot. Yet, weary as I felt, I was al home in the Ti) from the very lirst mile. And over 40 miles went by in the first hour, which 84ane very winding lanes front Cavendish to lIraintree and traffic

infested roads from there to Chelmsford and beyond. The bench-seat is very comfortable. both squab cushions and steering column are adjustable over a wide range, and the weather-protecthm, equipment, and detail are all first-elass. Moreover, this M.G. feels as if it. will tic really long-wearing. Various drivers indulged in a sort, of minor motor-race with it for ;MTV! 700 miles and, apart from the loss of some lubricant front the ncar-side front hub (a nasty mess on an otherwise smart disc wheel), the need for some engiia. oil and water, and perhaps some loss of braking power, nothing about the TO became hot or bothered Innler these Severe conditions. Oil pressure remained at around 50 11)./sq. in. in the torrid heat ; the engine pinked somewhat on wlud is regarded in 1050 as pet rob and ” ” badly. It Muffed it lit le around 5,000 r.1 ).m., but as I have said, would show over 6,000 on the rev.-counter, although I thought 4,500 r.p.m. a nicer rate at which to change-up (31 in 2nd and 47 in 3rd gear). The engine peaks at 5,500 r.p.m. (38 in 2nd, 57,I in 3rd), in any case. Twice a hump-back bridge was taken too fast, resulting in decidedly air

borne forward progression for some feet, followed by a heavy erash-landing, but the suspension didn’t seem to suffer in the least.

In brief, the ‘(‘1) M.G. is a well-planned, pleasant-to-drive sporting motor car for two persons. Some people will deplore the eltange Irian ktaiek -our wire to bolt-on disc wheels, the slightly greater weight, and changes in certain details. Two corresp(mdents to Mirralt SPORT, 01IC in Alrikrien, Ha, Oilier in Australia, have already said as much. Others will decide that. disc wheels are easier to clean and can’t be seen from inside the car anyway and so good are modern tyres that the pleasure of using a copper-clouter comes only once in two years or thereabouts. They will say that a little additional avoirdupois doesn’t matter on a car Butt isn’t a racing car and doesn’t. or shouldn’t pretend to be a high-perhirmance sportsear. Well, Pm not taking sides, but I (1in going to emphasise that this TI) handles far better and is far more comfortable than the TC or any of the earlier series of M.G. Midgets. Indeed the roadholding, steering and cornering are except tonal by any standards.

Some things I didn’t like particularly. The central horn button-cum-dimwr control can be reached with a linger, ha theory, but I found I ltad to fumble for it at night. My right hand tended to blank the speedometer. ‘lie former hand-brake lever was far better positioned than the present, press-button, betweenseats lever. although a passenger wearing nylons may not agree ! The little 5.50-15 E.L.P. tyres Itowled mildly on certain slow corners lint only mildly. The ,’en( rid mirror created rather a blindspot to forward vision, although giving a tine view rearwards. Full marks, how’ e’er. for the deep, lidded eubby-hole, fold-flat screen. Liwas screen de-frosters.

excellent tiller caps, lead-light socket on faeia, rigid adequate imidguarding, ease of entry and egress, the useful door pockets, 121-gallon slab fuel tank with warning light for reserve, and a windier of other things. This Ti) is a comfortable, convenient car which. I enjoyed driving. It is as nuteh fun for pottering as for speeding, for it. has impeccable manners. Incidentally, why ” Midget.” ? It is not a minicar ! The lassie price, by the way, is £445, and if you consider that too much for a

two-seater Otere is the 1 t re M.G. tourer, with h the same wet t ried engine, i.f.s, and boxed-in. tul pular I iriteed chassis, priced at .):525. Alter my experience of the TD, I look forward to trying one.

That. disgustingly-wet Saturd:ty of Judy rd ii I journeyed from Basingstoke trisI iii in the snug comfort. of Barker’s t 909 Napier, and in it travelled round the route of the Bristol M.C. & L.C.C. Edwardian Trial, a 150-mile exercise which the old car, starting easily after a fortnight’s idleness, took very mush in its stride. I drove home in a Ford V8 Pilot. ‘[‘his is a sensible car, of ample power and proportions. You really can seat six on its leather-upholstered seats, and I he famous 77.8 by 95.25 nun., 3,622-(•.e. V8/30 engine—which has so suceessfully powered all Manner of peacetime and military Na.hiples–provides all the acceleration and practically all the speed any t raveller could wish for. I I W11111C-NVUdIV ” of twin exhaust systems. wlii,hc was a notable feature of pre-strife V8s as you accelerated front a crawl into the sixties, for the present-day versiim has !Wen quietened emisideratily, so much so, in fact, that the power-roar front the earl uretter as you accelerate seems quite obtrusive. Nor did I think the performance quite so great as of ()Id, altImugh. as I have Said, there was speed and power aplenty, lice car seldom coming off top gear and seeond gear pri)viding effort less, exhilarating aeeelerat ion. With out a thought the speedoineb•r needle went to 60 and was maintained there by this capacity to pick up speed briskly

from it crawl, no matter what the load. The almormai conditions under which I tried the car were against it and it fell, a bit uncontrollable at times. the trans

verse non-independent suspension softer than Was: Once OW CaSe, judging by tIme wlwel-olovement over rippled sin-faces, and the steering still Very low-geared. Tail slides oceurreil at times for which it seemed pi-intent to be prepared ; probably the fact that. a good deal nn ire power is being put I ltroogh the rear wheels than usual accounted for thiS tendency. rather than an inherent. instability as suet). I was further embarrassed by it certain lack of visibility, dile to Misting of Ow inside of lice WitRitivreen mid smearingof the outsi(h• with whieh the suction wipers, in spite I really frenz.ied net couldn’t altogether cope. Consequod ly, I seas relieved to Cold that the brakes pulled the car up all square when applied hard on the swimming roads ; you had to lift the right. foot up rat her it long way from aceelerator to brake-pedal, however. There was no deriying time sltock-absorbing qualities of the suspeosion, tlw comfort of In’ bench-seat s and the all-round convenience of I his frill-free Ford.

I had with me Kent Karslake and littold Inc he owned three Ford Vtis in succession before and during the war, because he had decided that his pleasure motoring lay between veteran events and Continental touring. and for the latter lie regarded a Ford as indispensable, prhteipally uto account. of the excellent sertieing facilities availaltle almost everywhere. More and 1110re people are liecoining aware of these reassuring and inexpensive faeilities, and many will consider no tAlter car than a Ford for this reason alone. Over and above this, in Ow short time I handled. the Pilot I eame to appreciate I 1w ravel-restfulness of a car of this site Will eagerness, and its many practical features which Inca the requirements of a large proportion of home and 0VCVSeati 11101.0riAS Wit() ean afford the petrol bill–driving both fast and slowly in about equal proportions the consumption came out at approxinuttely 15 m.p.g. ‘Mere is a well-stocked, if rattler ” fussy,” facia’, a full-width parcels-shelf, radio. a heater, effeetive seat-adjustment.. a modern pull-out hand-brake, and the gear-lever, rather a bent-wire affair, has transferred itself to a convenient position no the steering-Column. The

eering lock is retained–whicli is excellent providing you don’t switch off and ttneket the key 1W7 par:0.01’y to a hint-like swoop in neutral down it twisting drive, as I once did, naturally going straight. on at the very first eitrner. owner wouldn’t make that mistake, of course-not twit-e, anyway ! The horn is operated by a steering-wheel ring. quicker to find in an emergency than a centml button, bat needing quite it prod. The bonnet panders not at all Co present day views anent good visibility for the driver but does eonform to the iwaisewort Ity plot, whereby, in appearance, Illy Pilot. prodimt Him al 1-13rit ish 1 lagenliam faetory, is the least ” Anterieaniscd ” of any ‘• Ameriettn-1,ase ” Oar. This Ford in its 1950 form. !hem romains whai it always was. a brisk perh water, ragged. toothy (notably so. in view of thecompact

9 ft. Of in. wheelbase), and sensible ; a car intended to go, and keep on going, anywhere in the world where anyt king approaching a road exists.–NV. R.

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