Letters From Readers, August 1952

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64

N.B.– Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them—Ed.

The Citroen — An American Appreciation.

Sir,

Several articles and letters have appeared in Motor Sport recently in praise of the Citroen car, but they have failed, I think, to give sufficient credit to the genius of the designer of this car. He did not invent the advanced features of the design—the frameless construction, the adjustable torsion springs, the wet-linered engine, the indirect gearbox, the rack-and-pinion steering, and the front-wheel drive—but he designed them so well that they all work and keep on working in really marvellous fashion. The proof that they do is the fact that his design has been manufactured practically unchanged for nearly 20 years. And now Ford is copying not the clever features of the design, but the piano pedals!

Making the front-wheel drive work as well as it does was a triumph, for it is not a good arrangement. Its only advantage is that the floor of the car can be as low as desired and is entirely unobstructed. That is something but the disadvantages are great. It limits the turning radius, necessitates a complicated system of levers and rods for the gear change, and, with its six universal joints, it has so many places to develop play that it is about as rigid as a chain.

It would require more than genius to overcome these drawbacks. But every time I drive my 13-year-old Citroen I mentally take off my hat to the man who could make such complicated machinery work so astoundingly well.

I am, Your’s, etc, Elsworth Goldsmith, Wilton, Conn.

The Citroen — Mods. by a Dutch Owner.

Sir,

I refer to Mr. George Blagdon’s letter concerning the four-cylinder Citroen. I have done a good deal of experimenting with this marque until I was able to establish an hour record with a closed Citroen on the circuit of Zandvoort at 103 km. (Grand Prix with formula I racing cars won last year by Rosier at 127 km. per hour).

Perhaps Mr. Blagdon will be interested in some of my experiments. I took 4 mm. off the cylinder head and found it unsatisfactory. Best behaviour came from 2 mm. less than standard (using Champion L.10S plugs). Oversize valves and polished manifold with two Solex B.I.C. gave better acceleration, but top speed above 4,000 r.p.m. causes failures in various parts. Piston speeds are too high in Citroen for real high speeds. This car can only achieve performance by fast acceleration plus its unusual road-holding in corners, and for this Koni double-acting telescopic shock-absorbers must be fitted. These are adjustable and can he set hard for circuit driving. Rear suspension will never bottom with these.

I used them with success on my Alfa-Romeo, and I understand Manzon and Behra had them on the Gordini at Le Mans.

The torsion “set” should never be increased, because it kills the steadiness in corners. Leave same at factory standard, 275 mm. front and 274 mm. rear.

A Reda four-speed gearbox is essential for averaging 60/70, m.p.h. over long distances. It is only synchronised on 3rd and 4th, but 4th is 10 m.p.h. faster than the old top gear and 3rd is between the old 2nd and 3rd, which is just right on average hills.

I tried a supercharger like Constantin used on the Peugeot last month at Le Mans, but it caused overheating and had to be discarded.

Excessive wind noise which is usually caused by the bad fit of the leading edge of the front doors can be eliminated by glueing a thin strip of sponge rubber all round the door moulding, so that the closed door leaves no gap.

I am, Yours, etc., W. Adams, Rotterdam.

Peugeot.

Sir,

I very much enjoyed reading Mr. R. C. Symondson’s article on the cars he has owned.

In this article, he mentioned a Panhard as being of almost identical design to his 1924 sleeve-valve Peugeot, the two cars having originated on the drawing board of the same designer. This is not quite correct, as it is the four-cylinder “18 CV” Voisin which was almost identical to the Peugeot, the designer having, in fact, been in both cases P. Dufresne who has remained with Peugeot to this day as chief engineer. Incidentally, the Voisin had bore and stroke dimensions of 90 by 140 mm. compared with the Peugeot’s 95 by 135 mm.

The Peugeot depicted is almost identical with the car which won the Spa 24-Hour Race in 1926, driven by Andre Boillot arid Louis Rigal, which was the first motor race I ever saw. And as life has its strange—sometimes incredible—coincidences, it was in South Bend, Indiana, that I got first-hand information on that car’s further history. I spent only two days there, but one evening I was invited to a small private party by an executive of the Studebaker factory. And there was an Hungarian girl whose father had bought the car after its Spa victory and used it as a private car, in Budapest, up to the outbreak of the war, when it had, very reluctantly, to be left behind. She too spoke of the car with great enthusiasm, saying that it had the legs of anything on the road in Hungary.

I am, Yours, etc., Paul Frere, Brussels.

Biggest Ever?

Sir,

After dinner, last night, about the time of the second bottle of port, conversation veered to the Bugatti “Royale,” a motor car which, during a violent attack of white elephantiasis, I once nearly bought.

Everyone present, about half a dozen of us, had heard the rumour that, in the late nineteen-twenties, an even larger private car had been built, certainly larger in size if not in engine capacity. But it was like the Indian Rope Trick in so much that all of us “knew somebody who knew somebody,” but no one had any authentic details.

As a youth, I remember a Macfarlane which, if my memory serves me right, looked as big as a “Royale,” and someone else said he had heard tell of a Fageol of similarly heroic proportions. But I don’t think that either of these were bigger in size or cubic capacity.

As Motor Sport has a large transatlantic circulation, perhaps someone can tell us if there is any truth in the widely held superstition that in the U.S.A. a Behemoth even more monstrous than the “Royale” ever got beyond the drawing board stage.

I am, Yours, etc., David Scott-Moncrieff, Forfar. 

[The Bugatti “Royale,” rated at 77.8 h.p,, had a capacity of 12,760 c.c. and a wheelbase of 14 ft. 2 in. Our correspondent is possibly thinking of the Fageol which appeared in 1917, but while it had a capacity of 13,529 c.c. (six-cylinder Hall-Scott aero engine), the wheelbase of the longest model was only 12 ft. 1 in. Its rated horsepower was 50. The biggest McFarlan we can trace is the TV142 model, current from 1920-1926 but, although its maker’s rating of 120 h.p. suggested an enormous car, it actually had the more modest rating of’ 48,6 h.p. and six cylinders of 4½ in. by 6 in. So the “Royale” would seem to win in a canter! Incidentally, a McFarlan sometimes used to be parked a short distance from our offices up to a year or so ago—presumably one of these 48.6-h.p. cars.—Ed.]

Allard Data.

Sir, .

Further your article on the “Evolution of the Allard,” I was lucky enough to come across Allard No. 6 (EXP 469) in Mercury Motors, and bought it in due course. As stated in your article, it is a two-seater with knock-on wheels, but it has a V-shaped radiator grille and stoneguards: previous owner, G. L. Hancock, who-fitted a Mercury engine.

Originally fitted with a Columbia two-speed axle, which has been discarded. When I purchased the car the rev.-counter and shockers were only ornaments, but thanks to Messrs. Andre and Cooper Stewarts everything now works!

I am the third owner the car has had and the speedo reading (genuine) 22,000 odd.

Although only a subscriber to Motor Sport since January, 1950, many thanks for the monthly enjoyment you provide.

I am, Yours, etc., B. Osborne, Wembley.