50 m.p.g. at 42 m.p.h. for 1,000 miles in 24 hours
Although our oft-expressed ideal of 60 m.p.h./60 m.p.g. seems as much wishful thinking as ever, the recent performance of a Citroen Dyane is certainly commendable. It was driven 1,016 miles in 24 hours on a congested route in Britain which took it over all types of roads in most of the English counties. A fellow and a girl started off from Total’s London headquarters, headed for Bournemouth, into heavy holiday traffic, went over to Bristol, then to Shrewsbury, Preston, Lancaster, Brough, Barnard Castle, across country to Whitby, to Scarborough, and then back via York, Peterborough, Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds, Diss and down to Ipswich. After that it was into more heavy traffic at Colchester, Braintree, Bishops Stortford and Stevenage, to finish up at Silverstone. Although they stopped for meals, the drivers averaged 42.3 m.p.h. in this scarcely run-in 435-c.c, air-cooled flat-twin, which, running on Total 3-star petrol, gave an overall consumption of 50.53.m.p.g., and 750 m.p.p. of Altigrade GT 20/50 oil.
Considering how one has to press-on to average more than 40 m.p.h. in larger-engined cars, this seems a decent performance. Moreover, we were glad to receive this proof that Total are still interested in selling petrol, because in the writer’s home town the Total service station has been closed for months, although still proclaiming “Double Pink Stamps”, “Free Tyre Safety Checks”, “Pay by Cheque” and “Barclaycard Welcome Here”, whereas in the area you can fill up with Amoco, Burmah, Cleveland (two stations), Cerfew, Esso (two stations), National (two stations) and Shell (two stations) . . .
The photographs of the Porsche 908/3 cars in the Targa Florio prompted a reader to write in suggesting that we had gone the full circle, for he thought they resembled the 2-litre “tank” Bugattis that raced at Tours in 1923. Oddly enough, while standing in the Sicilian sunshine with John Wyer, before the Targa Florio, he made exactly the same observation. Our own thoughts were that the aerodynamic thinking was similar to Jim Hall’s Chaparral, in which the object was to prevent any air passing under the car and force it all upwards and over, whereupon the Chaparral movable aerofoil took charge of the air flow and used it for a variety of purposes. When Eric Broadley first saw the Chaparral come out of its trailer without the aerofoil mounted on the tail, he remarked that the car had the aerodynamics of a brick, and when we mentioned this Wyer told us that he had recently spent an interesting morning with the chief aerodynamacist of a large aircraft firm and had taken along the wind-tunnel drag figures for a Porsche 917. On looking at the figures this man had made the same remark as Broadley, saying that from an aircraft point of view the Porsche 917 was as streamlined as a house-brick. During the Targa Florio the “Mickey Mouse” Porsches were reaching 175 m.p.h. along the coastal straight with complete stability, rather indicating that aerodynamics and racing cars are a lot of eye-wash, and that stability comes from mechanical design, not the addition of gimmicks. If you cannot design your car to look like a “Concorde” you might just as well make it like a “tank” Bugatti of 1923.
Before the Le Mans race Wyer put out some interesting facts regarding the 5-litre Porsche 917 cars, which obviously stemmed from his aerodynamic and wind tunnel studies. He indicated that the top speed of the Gulf-Porsches would be in the region of 212 m.p.h. and discounted “drivers’ tales” of 230 m.p.h. (a figure that increased to 240 m.p.h. during the practice week). During the race the fastest 917 was timed at 205 m.p.h., so Wyer was not too far out. It was estimated that an increase of 68 b.h.p. at the rear wheels was needed to raise the speed of a 917 Porsche from 200 to 210 m.p.h., and that power was used merely to overcome air resistance, it did not take into account rolling resistance from tyres or transmission losses at the higher speeds. He went on to say that a further 74 b.h.p. would be needed at the rear wheels to increase the top speed from 210 to 220 m.p.h. As the 5-litre Porsche engine was giving about 50 b.h.p. more than the 4 1/2-litre Porsche engine, he did not bother to go on into the realms of 230 and 240 m.p.h. All this makes the quotes by Vic Elford last year, and this year, rather suspect. Shall we just leave it that he is very enthusiastic about the Porsche 917 and even more enthusiastic about the 5-litre version. There is nothing wrong with being over-enthusiastic about the cars you race; in fact, it is quite refreshing.
Birthday Party for Rolls-Royce
It was a nice gesture on the part of Jimmy and Dulcie Skinner to hold a birthday party at their Basingstoke home to celebrate the diamond jubilee of their Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost tourer, “Olwen”. Apart from the birthday of this beautiful white 1910 Rolls-Royce, the party on the lawn was a get-together of those who formed the British team in the 1954 Anglo-American vintage car rally.
So, drinks in hand and toasting the car in champagne, we mingled with the Wolseley-Siddeley (all the way from Sheringham), 12/16 Sunbeam, 38 h.p. Lanchester (all Edwardians), 12/50 Alvis, Anzani Frazer Nash and twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam, which Fitzpatrick, Denne, Hutton-Stott, Clarke, Pugh and Heal drove in the rally. Drawn up together these cars looked no older for their ordeal of 16 years ago and were overshadowed only by the magnificent Rolls-Royce which, with its engine running, condescended to accept a glass of champagne and a 3d.-piece-on-edge on its radiator without spilling a drop or dropping the coin.
Supporting cars at this pleasant garden-party included two vintage Bentleys, a 501 Fiat, Barker’s Bebe Peugeot, Philip Mann’s Bentley Continental, Clutton’s Type 46 Bugatti saloon and many fine pre-war and post-war Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars; unfortunately the ex-Barry Dove Sunbeam 16 had run a bearing en route. In Mr. Skinner’s garage we saw his splendid Rolls-Royce Phantom gentleman’s carriage, his Rolls-Royce Twenty tourer, his pre-historic Daimlers, and a recent Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, etc., not forgetting the Austin 12/4 two-seater on which he learned to drive. In a speech to his friends Jimmy said most of us were now old (Cecil Clutton strongly denied this!) and had had our fun. But he strongly recommended youngsters of 30 or so to get an old car at once, even if it means mortgaging the house, because soon it will be later than they realise and he is certain things are going to get far worse from the viewpoint of owning a vintage and veteran car. That over, it was all smiles and champers again, at this unusual and informal tribute to a fine Edwardian motor car.
Not that there is anything new about birthday parties for motor cars—Anthony Heal, who was present, had one for his 1919 5-litre racing Ballot when it was 21 years old, and we described a Ferrari OC party last month . . .
The Ad. Man’s Language
It’s a sober thought that America, once the land of all-alike dreary black tourers and later of flamboyant wallowing bigsters, today looks on cars as personal possessions perhaps more than Europeans do and not only that, but buys them on firm sporting grounds, if the ad. men are to be believed. Certainly American automobile advertising is more blunt, knocking and punch-line than ours.
Flicking through an American auto magazine, what do you find? Well, Lincoln-Mercury presenting our Ford Capri as “The first sexy European under 2,300 dollars”, for a start. The imports from Europe battle it out, Alfa Romeo telling the customers that “There’s only one sedan anywhere with fuel injection, twin-overhead-cam engine, 4-wheel disc brakes and a 5-speed gearbox”, which Citroen counter with the comment that “If you ever wanted to pass in a Porsche, see a Citroen dealer”, the inference being that the Citroen takes only 9/10’s of a second longer than a Porsche 912 to accelerate from 50 to 60 m.p.h.—which is a nice free ad. for Porsche, and Citroen rather spoil it for themselves by adding that a s.s. 1/4-mile takes two seconds longer in their car than in the Porsche. But they try to cover up by adding that a Citroen has the braking power of a Ferrari and the gas economy of a VW bug.
Renault also adopt make-comparisons in their American advertising, saying of the Renault 16 that its ride can only be compared to that of the Mercedes, Rolls or Citroen, its doctor-designed seats to those in a Rolls, reminding you that Chapman uses the Renault 16 engine in his Europa and that Stirling Moss has written “… I think that each British motor-car manufacturer would do well to purchase one just to see how it is put together”. The Renault 16 happily consents to offering a course in the Renault 16, adds this advertisement.
Mercedes-Benz play on the unflashy aspect of the 280SL, saying it “does not resemble a rocket-ship or a fugitive from a race track”. Rover picture their “Baby” V8 against the outline of a comparably-priced “one of Their’s” (a monster of a sedan); remarking snidely that “The unwieldiness of big vehicles is something you have to put up with in moving vans, of course, but we don’t understand the idea of hanging it out over the sides, front and rear end of a passenger car to no earthly purpose and then bragging about it”, challenging the reader to write and tell British Leyland Motors Inc. of New Jersey if he finds anything lacking in the Rover V8 that the biggest car in the world has, short of TV sets, stock tickers and atrocious gas mileage. . . . Jaguar pictures an E-type wearing a big Union Jack, comparing it in a table with the performance of a Maserati Ghibli, Mercedes-Benz 280SL and Porsche 911E, saying that “With comparable equipment, the Jaguar costs less than any other great sports car. . . .” Volvo draw attention to their fuel injection with the punch line: “It Goes Faster Without the Carburetters”, Lotus, rather surprisingly, picture the Elan as a prestige carriage for opening elite doors, Buick say don’t only read about the Buick Opel GT, drive it, and Saab comment that “Until now, you just wanted our body . . . but now we’ve added a mind”, referring to the computerised fuel-injection engine in the Saab 99. Datsun rely on racing domination to sell the 1600 and 2000, saying “The Datsun Track Star swamped the field at Daytona”, which looks decidedly weak against Porsche’s listing of 49 wins in major events, many of them SCCA sponsored since I960, and their claim to have won more than 1,000 major races in 21 years but saying that even when they lose they learn something. MG advertise the Midget as they do here, with a girl and boy theme, only the girl has less on and the boy bigger muscles, in the USA.
It is interesting how American makers counter this powerful performance of the ad. men. Dodge, it is true, tries to explain a price reduction for the Dodge Super Bee by explaining how they have used a 3-speed all-synchro, gearbox instead of last year’s more costly 4-speed box. But Chevrolet say some cars need handling with kid gloves but not so the Corvette, Chrysler compare the Daniel S. Gurney All-American racer with which, “Yessiree, race fans”, they are going Trans-Am racing this year, with a standard AAR ‘Cudo, saying that Gurney’s car costs some 18,000-dollars and there wiII be only four or five, whereas they can offer a limited number of Plymouth Barracudas for under 4,000-dollars each. GM illustrate in colour the driving compartment of a Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, describing its technicalities luridly under the heading: “Any licensed driver is eligible to participate… we take the fun of driving seriously”.
Looking at these ads., the thing that strikes is that they are all based on a sporting theme. You may not take such reading seriously, or at least you may couple them with what the more reliable motor papers say. But at least it livens up the non-editorial pages to have this kind of advertising, so perhaps we should welcome British Leyland’s forceful challenge to Mercedes-Benz and Alfa Romeo in its announcement of the Triumph Stag.
Incidentally, another interesting thing is that in the magazine we picked up, Volkswagen, the most successful of all importers of foreign cars into the USA, wasn’t advertising. …