HOLIDAY, BUSMAN'S, EDITIOR FOR THE USE OF

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Holiday, Busman’s, Editor, for the Use of

BY which unwieldy title regular readers will be aware that, for my own satisfaction and your posSilile pleasure, I am about to discourse on a further variety of vehicles that I have driven during brief and not so brief spells of exchanging pen for steering wheel.

First, then, was it modern Morris Oxford saloon, taken over one humid Friday in July from a Nuffield agent in Reading. I knew before calling for it that this outwardly modest motor car was in for a busy time and that I would know, long before I returned it to its maker, whether it ranked as good, bad Or merely indifferent. Most motor cars arc. like the curate’s egg, good in parts; but it is which particular bits are bad that decides whether or not the driver’s pleasure is diminished or altogether negatived. Very NO011 this Oxford proved that its had bits didn’t really matter and that it was a very pleasant companion when many miles had to be packed into few minutes.

By way of proving that a side-valve 11-litre engine is. in 1951, no bar to hurrying, it proceeded to put the first 15 miles into just about 20 minutes, over secondary roads. After that it had a bit of a rest, preparatory to going fast from lIampshire to Essex for the Boreham Meeting, faster still, coping very ably with the post-race congestion, to the photographer’s home (the photographer driving) also in L’;titieX. At an indecently early hour on the Sunday morning it was driven as fast as possibile to Croydon aerodrome, where it. awaited our return, per Consul, front Rheims, then very rapidly bad:: to my home in liampshire (self at helm again) for much needed sustenance and sleep. Tlw next morning this Nuffield product was pushed along hard all the -way to Malvern Link via Oxford. Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, only getting there late because the good champagne of Rheims had defeated the best endeavours of the :thrum clock that dawn.

At Malvern the Editor was bundled out and an impatient photographer had the Morris Oxford refuelled and proceeded to hurtle it back non-stop to theMetropolis. More pottering in London’s traffic maelstrom followed before 1 demanded the car back and, on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, obeying a sudden whim, took it from the Moron Sewer offices down to Brooklands Track. just as if I were fifteen years younger and Ifitler had never hit the headlines. It was one of those heady summer days when anything could happen. In it sense it did, for parked in Great Queen Street .1 entnC upon the cream Kissel roadster I thought I had spotted in Oxford Street. some months before (so it really data exist–it looks entirely original and if its owner sees this perhaps he will tell me more about. t his very rare American vintage sports car). Proeeeding along the Embankment, its far bank gaily Festiealised in contrast to the drab tugs steaming down river, under the plane trees where XI: 120s rub noses

with just-not-vintage Rolls-Royees, saw another rare American, in the form of a supercharged Auburn two-seater. And so through Putney high Street. where a determined girl in a 2-litre M.G. was getting a move on. no doubt. bound for f,’iratiledon Tennis, right-handed to NViIIIbled011 Conumin, down past the K.L.G. plug factory and onto the Kingston By-pass, through Esher, 1Valtori and Weybridge to the sad, scarred, historic Track, into which I motored on the excuse of a chat about aged aeroplanes with R. G. J. Nash. On the way down pause was made to talk with a lady in a 1926 o.lt.e. 509 Fiat two-seater and she told the usual tale of the vintage earuser—of reliable startiog, detandable running, good fuel consumption and accurate steering, a happy episode. You might think this was enough for a while, but that evening my wife expressed a desire to sample the Morris Oxford. So putting two other people in the back of a body that seats six in comfort, we set out again. The plot Was to look at a route around Dorking and Newlands Corner Which I thought might prove useful for testing some of the older ears that come toy way in eonneetion with t he ” Vintage Veerings ” section of this paper. more partitatlarly as it was in this part of Surrey that the MOTOR SPORT testers of 25 years ago used to deport themselves in the primitive but exciting sports cars of the period. We didn’t exactly follow the by-ways I had intended to follow, because my wife likes to hold an Ordnanee Survey map tittside down and even then gets lost on it. But we did see some very perfect country on that cloudless summer evening and we did

get the Oxford into predicaments in which we could appreciate its wheelgrip, the indestructibility of its clutch and suspension, and its strong climbing Powers.

Finally. the Morris Oxford went. off to Abingdon so that I could add to those of other Press men my good wishes to ” Goldie Gardner on his forthcoming attack with the M.G. on 11-litre records, including the magic ” hour ” and, quite incidentally of course, imbibe the drinks and buffet Mayhem) that. Mr. Bishop had tholightfully provided. All this long preamble is by way of saying that in five days I and colleagues had pushed the Oxford hard for over 700 miles. In that distance it had needed no water and, as the oil gauge showed the same 60 lb./sq. in. at the end as it had in the beginning, presumably no lubricant. The very nice 2L5 Lockheed brakes had scarcely weakened and I had lifted the bonnet only out of professional curiosity. noting, when I did so, that the Nuffield Organisation makes modern ears the engines of which really are accessible. Incidentally, perhaps it was as well that no oil was required for the filler cap bore the inscription ” Castrol, Essolithe, Energol, Ditekham’s, On second thoughts, however, perhaps there is no need to add a little of each every time you top up People ask the Morris Oxford user : ” Dow does it compare with the great liltle Minor Answer—it does not handle in quite the smite brilliant fashion, but the difference isn’t great, and as if to COMPCHStite for a slight diminuendo in the subtler aspects of control, there is much more ” steam.” The speedometer needle will go beyond “70,” will stick at

” 00″ for miles, and t excellent steering, roll-free suspension and the aforementioned Lockheed brakes (as I IlaVe said all very reminiscent of the Minor) render this Oxford not only fast, but fun to conduct fast, from A to If All who tried it were agreed about that. The rack-and-pinion steering asks three turns full-tiller to full opposite tiller yet contrives to seem higher geared. It transmits it bit of shake at. the wheel but 110 return motion, and is very one to wind about in spite of castor action that is but modest. The suspension (torsion-bar i.f.s.) is the opposite of ” siek-making ” ; indeed, it transmits rather sharp up-and-down movements at times, but is a g?iod comprtanise he

keeping mother-in-law’s teeth in her mouth and going round cor»ers more than briskly. During the hitter escapade the 5.50 by 15 Dmilops scarcely murmur. The general tendency is over-steer, and what words cannot easily convey a fast drive ill art Oxford will. YInl. enjOy playing Fangio in this inexpensive famiiy saloon. Moreover, it gives the feeling of !wing perfectly happy, driven thus. In an Editorial last month on the (as it turned out unfortunate) R.A.C. Rally. I remarked that there are some ears Odell even tired 1/11Sillt•SS men would pick as offering restful, safe, fast travel under trying emulitions. even if no XF: 120. On account or its aforementioned good-handling qualities and the liveliness of its engine on a 4.87 to 1 top gear, I would put the present-day Morris Oxford in this eitteffory. which, for a car costing basically only 4:4444, is em..eptional. I felt mildly !natty about neglecting 1.11e fluids (even the petrol tank needed only infrequent topping-up, especially as it has the sensible capacity of nine gallons, giving a range of circa :300 miles) and of not checking the tool-kit in 700 miles I ut, elmatting with. Geoffrey Ashton of Ike Nuffield Organisation after returning the car. I heard that. a journalist from a national daily newspaper recetttly did 4,500 Miles On the 0/III merit in an Oxford

with similar immunity front pother and la,ther. Ile didn’t even experience a puncture-and neither, for that matter, did I. I make no excuse for diseussing sonic of the detail features of this car because the better modern family saloons are sufficiently brisk and hatalle so well that they constitute good company even for rabid enthusiasts, and are in great demand in all manner of places about the globe, in Emmet Wally all of which Merlin SPORT is read. The Oxford has twiny virtues, also some vices. To off-set lack of door pockets there is a spavious umler-facia shelf and a generous cubby hole with push-button release for its lid. :IS On the Minor. The rear-view mirror is excelh•nt, the old-style biwk-window blind, whose cord you hook on to a knob on the roof, adequate. The front seat cushion rather pinches one’s tail and the

squab might polish the clothes of the front-seat occupants. (” Simple, my dear Watson, the Sheen of his coat-tails discloses that he drives an Oxford. . . “) The front seat. adjusts simply and easily but II are are no centre arm-rests. The body is not too well proofed, so that the tyres sing songs that vary With changes of road surface arid stones hitting lime floor startle t he occupants quite somewhat ; time doors shut a bit ” Tlw instruments arc good, with a fullsize clewk. The handbrake just, held on hills. The body rattled in the near-side rear corner on bad roads, Ind its windows and luggage boot are of got xl size. I didn’t like the single pull-out switch for side and lawn:mins ; it workell well enou.gh-but will it two years from now ? The shorl-stroke 41 h.h.p. 1,470-e.c. engine

started witll a of choke, suffered only totalled pinking and that only mender real duress, and was quiet and fume-free. The rather •’ metallic ” steering-column gear-change has its low gear positions uppermost and third was reluctant to go in wIten changittg swiftly from second ; the general impression was of perhaps-worn synchromesh internals. There was also some gear noise. Ihmt. there was ample pull in top and 50 m.p.h. mine up in the 7.4 to I third gear, so overmuch changing wasn’t necessary ; the

accelerated rather than braked, albeit there is no denying the excellence of the 21,S Girling hydraulic. ” stoppers.” Although it dill not voncern me on this °erasion I notieed that the side screens have been improved ; the dimming arrangement is now in the headhunps, with separate fog lamp, and the single en bby hole is amply deep. The stirring performative of Peter Morgan’s and NV ..1. Goodall’s Plus Fours in t he Production Car Race and the R.A.C. Rally seemed to have been remembered, too, judging by the interest the Plus Four created as it poodled through towns and villages.

Writing of villages reminds me that after clearing congested Cheltenham I felt fed up with A40, along which you see big boards proclaiming (in effect) that plain clothes police patrols are watching the Criminal Motorist, as other, but uniformed, police shadow suspected criminals of other kinds. SO beyond Burford I took a convenient right turn and wimp on, by way of many road diversions, to Faringdon, to %Vantage, where another trim blue Morgan stood in the square, and over the Downs to Streatley, where one mingles again with the ” heavies” on the beautiful runt beside the river through Basildon and Pangbourne, to Reading. This is a very nice route, devoid of heavy traffic and a change from the usual London -Oxford-Clteltentunu road and I mention it because some of you may care to go this way to Prescott and Slielsley Walsh.

This new Morgan is -certainly a most intriguing proposition, for a big engine ill a light chassis always has been a .good fornoda, at ul Itere you have A Slightly 111011i lied 2,088-c.e. 68 b.h.p. Vanguard power unit in it car which turned the local weighbridge at exactly 161 cwt., with twin spare wheels and about a gallon of petrol aboard.

Next I went, onto something very different for a brief spell. It was a 193.5 Burney St reamline, which Pahner’s Garage in Hemling lend for sale. You may recall that OW present Duke of’ Windsor when he was Prince of Wales had one for a I one, whieh got in the news beCAnSe la• knocked dONVI1 a girl with it. and again because he called frcqinently to enquire how she was progressing. The car I examined had a 2-litre 16-1e.p. six cylinder o.h..v. Crossley engine, with. dOWIldrallght earburetter and dual exhaust system, perehed out under a big lid at tlw back. This rather imposing power plant., which liad a %V co magneto bat ran on it Mil, drove forward to a Wilson self-change gearl ox. which was coupled to a final drive unit on the frame. Rear suspension was independent, by 4-eriiptics and swinging half-axles, of pronouneed crab track, and there was i.f.s., hy a transverse leaf spring at Ii tug tubular wishbones. The four-door saloon body by Crossley was vaguely strearitlined and a vast, circular container built onto

the inside of the near-side rear door housed the spare wheel, this protrusion into the leather-upholstered interior being matched by an elaborate cocktail cabinet in the Opposite door. A tall Crossley radiator formed the prow, behind which a welllouvred bonnet, like a short snout, lifted to reveal the battery, a big tool chest. and grouped lubrieation nipples. From the bueket driving seat visibility was good, yet not a trace of the eyele-type front mudguards could be seen. Indeed, the Maretial headlamps that, inconspicuously broke the streamline of the ensemble only just showed.

The Wilson cpeadrant was on Ow right of the steering colinnin, the steering lock was ininnense, Ilk(‘ ride level mid coinfort al de. This Burney had obviously seen better days, for its brakes were all but non-existent C• Thank St. Christopher,” I thought, ” for the self-change box,” as I had some t hue earlier when trying to retard an almost equally brakeless Standard Big Nine with this same transmission !) its engine, even in its remote location, mechanically noisy, the gear bands apt to judder arid make the long chassis wish to arch its back. Vet there were traces of refinement buried deep in the soul of this odd machine, suggesting that, in its prime, it had possessed good pick-up. excellent suspension, a degree of refinement to add allure to a decidedly advanced, even futuristic. specitieation. Quite how the complicated linkage to the Wilson selectors worked I never discovered, but certainly wear had rendered the action somewhat vague ; a cable coupled accelerator to throttle. Today this Burney has Ford 5.25 by 17 wheels, hut semis otherwise original ; an interesting car. The garage proprietor’s son showed inc his own triple-carburetter Riley Six two-seater, also with selfswapping cogs, before I left.

After the I3urney I craved something fast, and found it when Leslie Hawthorn let me drive his ” 2.3 ” ” he Mans ” AlfaRomeo when I was at the T.T. Garage getting the story on the Hawthorn Rileys which appears elsewhere in this issue.

off side of the steering column, and you must swop cogs quickly, and .equally so up again, to get them in.

The view over the bonnet, not .seeming so long as when you stand beside the car, is greatly enhanced by the shapely fallaway of the radiator and the delightful ” whoosh ” of blower noise as you accelerate is both typical of the marque and thoroughly delightful. Time did not permit of taking any performance figures, but front a crawl to 3,000 r.p.m. this long four-seater with its vast fuel tank gathered speed with animal ferocity Beyond about 60 m.p.h. I could not go, holiday traffic being what, it is, and that pace felt like a crawl to this car which so nearly won at Le Mans. Pausing at the Hog’s Back Hotel before turning, I noted with deep satisfaction the Bosch switch panel, the big knob for tightening the Siata shock-absorbers, Le Nivex indicating litres d’essenee and a tiny knob sliding in a quadrant marked Estate at the Op and Pizrtenztz at its base

—the choke, of course. In sight, in sound. in its comfortable but lively ‘manner of riding, this ” 2.3 ” Alfa-Romeo palled to go. Had it been mine it -could have taken use to the ends of the earth and I should still have been in love with it.

A NEW DELLOW

The Mark II Dellow two,seater is now in production. It has a new design of tubular chassis; with coil spring rear suspension incorporating Girling dampers. The body has been modified to provide a lower bonnet line and lower seating position, and is provided with doors. For trials this Model is also available without doors where maximum rigidity and body strength is at a premium. Fitted carpets are included.

The Ford power-unit remains the same, with the addition of a water pump. Twin carburetters and supercharging equipment. rent Lin available, as -before. The Mark II DalloW is sold-at present at the Mark I price of £97 (plus purchase tax).

A NEW CAR RADIO

Oeko-Remy-Hyatt, of Grosvenor Road, S.W.1 .(Victoria 6242) have introduced a new car radio, Model 342 Tritriatie, which is a far cry front the sets which one of the early Editors of MO-rots SPoRT used in his Bean cars, circa 1923. It is a four valve stiperheterodyne with continuous tuning by three dial drums and a selector knob for any one of three pre-set stations. The set measures 7 in. by 9 in. by 14 in., speaker 7 sq. ft. and 31. in., and wekfli,, 9 lb. 10 oz., speaker 2 lb. It is available for ti or 12 volt circuits and costs £27 15,. 3d wit h purchase tax.

NEW APPOINTMENT

Apart from being Sole ( ‘oneessionaires for Lago-Talbot, Paris, Carrosserie de Luxe, Saoutchik, Paris, and Veritas, Germany, Connaught Engineering have now been appointed Sole Concessionaires in the United Kingdom, Fire, Australia and New Zealand for SalmSon CM’S, of Paris. living not far from Farnham I see this Alfa-Romeo frequently, and always say to myself, ” What a car ” whenever I do so. I said this a good deal more vehemently after having driven it ! It is the car which, in 1933. owned by Chinetti, was driven at Le Mans by M. Heide and I I. Stolid!. It seems they were leading when their pit slowed them too much and the IfindmarsIt/Fontes 41-litre Lagonda passed into the lead, to win at 77.85 m.p.h. The blue Alfa was second, 54. miles behind. In 1938 ” Buddy ” Featherstonehaugh bought it in Paris and sold it to the M.G. racer. E. G. Russel-Roberts, who. posted to Italy. took it. with hint, as the

ai!eciiiipanying photograph .Al fit’s told him it had cost. about £3,000 to Imild and had been first, licensed in the autumn of 1938. Caine the war, and to save it, from rusting away in a shed at Dartford, Ilawthorn took over this beautiful motor car. It is the 63 by 88 nun, straight-eight, 8C 2,300 long-wIteelbase eltiessis with single blower, reputed to develop 164

Wk.!). at 5,100 ‘nut axle ratio is 12 : 49, the gearbox ratios 0.525 to I on second, 0.76. to 1 on third. The front wheels have 6.00 by 19 tyres, the rear wheels 6.50 by 19. I was interested to find no weaving or other handling vices about the car. Indeed, slung round corners, you forgot all about the 10 ft. 2 in. wheelbase, and the Ferodo-linied brakes killed speed without, apparent effort or much pedalpushing, with a nice harsh noise. Tin, steering was typically Alfa-Romeo. rigid wheel with central ignition lever juddering excitingly in one’s hands. The clutch was very typically Alfa-in-or-out. The central gear-lever contrived to be low without being in the least whippy and it moved with precision about its ample gate, each position indexed with a Roman niumend. The length of tle.• lever is apt. to mislead, for. this is no American-style change ; a dab on the throttle and up go the revs., indicated on a compact little Jaeger counter clamped to the Continued on page 394

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