To Goodwood in a Galaxie

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THE B.A.R.C. explained that its Festival of Motoring at Goodwood on July 14th was intended as a day of relaxation, so I arranged to drive down in a Ford Galaxie 500 “Fodor” sedan, which, on account of space, pace and all things smoothly automatic, provides a very restful form of motoring.

MOTOR SPORT has long preached the gospel of a garden-party at Goodwood, but only in this Jubilee year of the one-time Cyclecar Club has this come about. It was the greatest fun and I hope it will be repeated.

At noon some 40 veterans, from the 1896 Arnold to powerful Edwardians, paraded, for all the world like the Opening Day at Brooklands. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon drove Stanley Sedgwick’s 1910 45/50 Mercedes shaft-drive limousine. Grossmark’s 1907 7.7-litre 6-cylinder racing Napier really got a move on. Trotman’s Type T 1910 Hotchkiss sporting 2-seater ran beautifully, Sammy Davis had his Leon Bollee, but perhaps the most “period” ensemble was the 1904 Gardner-Serpollet double phaeton with its owner, Milligen, dressed as a humble chauffeur in white dust-coat, driving an exceedingly elegant Tim Nicholson in morning coat, cravat and top-hat and Miss Susan Wilkinson in long period dress and with frilly parasol. Most of the occupants wore period costume; no doubt the V.C.C. will in due course recover!

Driving tests down by Woodcote proved how handy Sprites are at skid-turns, Mrs. Davidson being as dashing as the mere males, although in mid-test she observed the woman’s privilege of changing her mind, as to the route to be taken.

The early afternoon was devoted to a Concours d’Elegance mit ladies, under such headings as “motoring in grandfather’s day,” “the roaring ‘twenties,” “an afternoon by the sea” (beachwear but alas, no bikinis), “a day at the races,” and “shopping in town.” Mrs. Lopez wore an Edwardian bathing dress, inappropriate, however, to the Austin 7 Swallow saloon in which she arrived. “The ‘twenties” stole the show, especially Mrs. Dixon’s very short white frock worn with long beads in which she emerged from her husband’s Rolls-Royce, another very period abbreviated frock worn by Mrs. Tapley (Harper Bean), and a simply splendid sack dress and cloche hat almost concealing the eyes, not to forget the long cigarette holder, of Miss Sylvia Adams, who had to step over the shallow doors of her Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost sports tourer. There was also the pleasure of seeing Stanley Sedgwick in top hat and breeches and Lightfoot’s 1902 Mercedes aiding a “welshing” bookie.

Donald Campbell demonstrated the re-built Bluebird with its 4,000 b.h.p. Bristol “Proteus” free-turbine engine, the gas-turbine Rover T4 saloon committed silent lappery, Sydney Allard made one lap in his dragster before running out of methanol, and Lord Montagu bravely drove the 350-h.p. V12 Sunbeam through a front-wheel wobble to complete a fast lap. To endorse the “period” atmosphere three Tiger Moths, a couple of Turbulents and a 1930 sole-surviving Arrow Active biplane took-off for an air-race – but never appeared to return.

Finally, there was a parade of some 60 historic cars and two Dennis fire-engines. As this was a Cyclecar Club Jubilee it was splendid to see a 1912/13 belt-drive G.N., a 2-cylinder G.W.K. Barry Clarke’s belt-drive V-twin racing cyclecar “El Pampero” which wore a J.C.C. badge, a 1919 Stellite, Riddle’s splendid 1921 i.o.e. G.N., Craddock’s 200-Mile Race G.N., Barker’s 660-c.c. Peugeot Quadrilette and Gosnells flat-twin, two-stroke 1926 Sims-Violet in action. And H. R. Godfrey (the “G” of G.N.) was there to watch these cyclecars perform, impish as ever at the age of 75.

Gordon England drove a very nice Cup-model Austin 7, Eyre the sort of “blood orange” Austin in which the Duke of Richmond once won a B.R.D.C. 500-Mile Race with S.C.H. Davis, Gahagan’s E.R.A. recalled the later Brooklands days, as did the “works” s.v. racing Austin Seven, while Derrington ran his Salmson. The “heavy-metal,” like the Land Speed Record cars displayed in the Paddock, seemed out of keeping with J.C.C. memories, although the fun fair was reminiscent of those the Club used to arrange to relieve the monotony of the “Double Twelve ” races.

This Festival of Motoring was the greatest fun and a considerable social occasion. Although the Jaguar E-type which parked beside the Ford Galaxie appeared to arouse greater emotion in B.A.R.C. breasts, I can speak highly of this effortless, comfortable and very accelerative American car for the transport of six, even eight, people.

This Ford is one of the least flamboyant of the big American cars, the 1962 version having no tail-fins and only a modicum of chrome embellishment. It is, nevertheless, thoroughly up to the minute, with dual headlamps, “winkers” recessed in the girder-like front bumpers, and power-assisted steering and braking.

Control is simplicity itself, for there is fully-automatic cruise-O-Matic transmission with conventional selection by a r.h. stalk-lever which, with vacuum-control, gives the smoothest selection of upward and downward gremlin-inspired ratio shifts I have experienced. The power-assisted steering is naturally extremely light at all times and has full, but gentle, castor return action to overcome the four turns needed from lock-to-lock. No shock is transmitted; indeed there is very little “feel,” which is a penalty of this super-light steering.

Americans often have sadly inadequate brakes. In the Galaxie, I could put the passengers into the screen from normal speeds by sharply applying the pedal labelled POWER BRAKE, the only criticism being that this powerful swift-sure retardation is difficult to apply progressively and is hardly convincing for emergency anchorage above 90 m.p.h. The suspension is naturally quite supple, enabling this extremely spacious car to float over vile surfaces in comfort, but roll is surprisingly well controlled, so that fast cornering can be enjoyed on a level keel. The Galaxie is a very wide car yet I soon felt at home, two “pawn-broker’s” gold balls incorporated in the front-wing motifs providing a width-sighting line. Although in English by-ways the driver of such an imposingly large automobile tends to go softly, I found that the Ford’s average speed, Goodwood to home via S. Harting Hill, was equal to my fastest runs in furiously-driven Mini and highly responsive sports cars, with none of the exertion.

Indeed, the charm of this Ford Galaxie is its effortless running. You occupy comfortable bench seats, the upholstery of which holds you securely. Matching the lever for the automatic transmission is a precise l.h. stalk controlling the winkers. The liberally crash-padded facia incorporates a clear 120-m.p.h. speedometer, a 100% accurate clock, fuel-gauge, temperature-gauge, and the usual warning lights. Well-arranged knobs, their functions listed in the speedometer dial above, operate lights (foot-dipper), fresh-air supply, efficient variable wipers-cum-washers and cigar igniter. A pull-out handbrake is well located for the right hand.

The four doors have sill interior locks, there is a 1/2-horn-ring on the steering wheel, and the lockable cubby-hole swallows a camera comfortably. Otherwise interior stowage isn’t provided for, apart from coat-hooks and rear shelf. But the self-locking luggage boot is simply enormous, the semi-whitewall Firestone shod spare wheel therein looking quite forlorn! The fittings in this huge car are all of a practical nature—good ash-trays, neat heater controls between the Motorola radio and the instrument panel, reversing lights, good door handles and locks, adequate ventilation, etc. The tyres were 8.00 x 14 Firestone tubeless de luxe Champion. Criticism can be confined to the rather erratic braking, a tendency to stall on full-lock when parking and a few minor rattles.

I need hardly discourse on performance, except to remark that anyone who craves more speed, or more impressive acceleration, than the lazily efficient 5,769 c.c. 220 b.h.p. Thunderbird 352 Special V8 engine provides is more courageous than I am. Kickdown on the treadle accelerator and sports-car pick-up is obtained instantly with a satisfying lack of noise or fuss. There is an automatic choke that gives instant starting and normal fuel suffices with the 8.9-to-1 compression-ratio. The range is 240 miles.

I enjoyed going to Goodwood in a Galaxie so much that on the Monday I drove into Wales and back. This extremely comfortable Ford put an average speed under difficult road and traffic conditions that would not shame a compact sports car, without the driver giving it a thought, returned fractionally under 15 m.p.g. and after 690 miles a quart of oil sufficed to restore the level in the 5-qts. lubrication system. Driving but one or two such cars every year, it is impossible to draw comparisons between rival U.S. makes but no doubt one of our intelligent readers “across the pond” will be glad to oblige. I rate the Ford Galaxie a very fine example of American (or Canadian) automobile, which I would be glad to have in my dream-fleet of a dozen, or so diverse cars. Lincoln Cars Ltd., Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex, can supply one, as tested, for £2,623 8s. 4d., all taxes and duties paid. – W. B.