SPORTING CARS ON ROAD AND TRACK. THE 16/55 DAIMLER SPORTS MODEL.
By RICHARD TWELVETREES.
S0ML.’ little time before the Olympia Show, I had
the opportunity of witnessing some interesting bench tests of the new Daimler engines fitted with light steel sleeves and also had some short runs of different cars of the Daimler range.
The performance of the new engine was so remarkable that I was constrained to inquire if the Company intended to enter the field of sporting cars, but was informed that their main intention was to develop fast touring and luxury models, rather than those built specially for the requirements of the sporting driver.
I must say that this gave rise to a little disappointment, which soon disappeared however, with the arrival of the Two-seater Sports model displayed on the Daimler stand.
This particular car, which owes its origin to Messrs. Stratton-Instone, Ltd., the special Daimler Agents, is the subject of the present article dealing with a fairly exhaustive series of road tests. It is not proposed to enter into a long discussion as to the relative advantages of sleeve v. poppet valve engines at the moment, but a few remarks concerning the principal characteristics of the Daimler engine should be included in my notes.
Perhaps from the user’s point of view, the chief virtue of the sleeve engine is its absolute freedom from valve trouble, and not only is wear and tear reduced to a minimum, but the Daimler engine has the advantage of possessing a pocketless combustion chamber of symmetrical form, calculated to give the highest theoretical and practical efficiency.
By the use of the new steel sleeves, with improved designs for the ports, the 16 /55 Daimler engine, in common with the larger models, enables perfect balance to be sustained at speeds up to 4,000 r.p.m., a rate of revolution greatly in excess of anything hitherto attained with this make of engine in the past. By virtue of these and other technical details too numerous to mention in a review of this nature, the new Daimler engine ranks with many of the high efficiency
poppet valve engines, used in modern sporting cars, though, as a matter of fact, it was not designed specifically for this class of work.
The Sports Model Daimler was developed as a natural sequence of improved engine efficiency, for, when Messrs. Stratton-Insthne took delivery if the first 16/55 touring model, it occurred to them that here was a chassis possessing most of the characteristics of a sporting car and they thereupon proceeded to equip it as such.
Acquiring the ” Daimler” Habit.
According to my usual practice when testing a new model, I allowed the Daimler to proceed as it chose, for it is no use trying to make any car do what it does not like, if its inherent features are to be discovered during a short test. On leaving Pall Mall, the car glided gracefully along, as if it were actually conscious of the admiration it excited, for as may be judged from the accompanying photographs, it is truly a beautiful car. There was no doubt that the engine had very good acceleration, but it aroused no desire to dash about on the indirect gears as with the Bugatti or cars of that type.
Indeed, the progression seemed so ” demned ” luxurious, that I felt almost disinclined to go fast at all. The curious thing, however, is that the speed develops unconsciously, and without looking at the speedometer, one only knows how fast one is travelling in traffic when a sudden emergency calls for the use of the brakes.
The best way I can describe the model under review is a Sporting car with. the “Daimler habit,” and those who are accustomed to the pleasures of long trips on a touring Daimler will know what that means.
On the ” M.S.” Colonial Section.
Well, for a little while I allowed the car to have its own way, and, after it had taken me comfortably through the town traffic, without any second gear work at all,
I began to realise my responsibilities and set out for a nice quiet district where one can put a car over a real “colonial section” without causing too much excitement.
Once in the open country, the Daimler seemed to wake up considerably. “Come now, this is a different thing altogether,” it seemed to say, and off we went. In second gear, the engine revved up until a speed of 45 m.p.h. was reached, then a quick change up soon sent the needle over to 65 and with a little further pushing 70 was touched, but I think 65 m.p.h.. is its best speed, at any rate until the engine has done a couple of weeks work.
On a second gear, it takes just 8 seconds to accelerate from ro to 35 m.p.h. as recorded by the Accuraspeed watch, and, thanks to the four-wheel brakes, the car can be slowed down speedily and without any roughness. On very steep slopes, one can negotiate the car in a remarkable way because of the power developed at
too quick for a car possessing a good turn of speed. It is nice and light and the wheels castor admirably, but I understand the Company have already decided to make a modification in the direction suggested.
At first I thought the side brake an impossible affair altogether, and, acting on the transmission, it is certainly a wee bit jerky at very low speeds, but when travelling fast it becomes quite smooth and effective. The brake lever pushes on, which enables the driver to use the door on his side of the body ; but, for fast road work, it might be desirable to have a one-door body and arrange the side brake with a pull-on action.
The 16 /55 model has a three-speed gear-box, which is apt to cramp one’s style in making extra quick getaways, though at the same time the car, even with its three speeds, is the reverse from sluggish. In my humble opinion, too, the makers have not been too generous with regard to dashboard equipment, for on a car at its price one expects a clock, whilst
extremely low engine speeds, so there is no necessity to accelerate suddenly to the extent which almost invariably produces wheel-spin.
Thanks to the method of mounting the body in a frame of its own the coachwork suffers practically no distortion, even when the chassis is twisted by extremely rough ground, and this, I should imagine, gives complete immunity from such troubles as rattling doors and creaky body members.
The suspension is so good that the car seems to crawl over bad surfaces like a snake, instead of bounding from lump to lump after the manner of many sporting cars.
A Few Criticisms. One feels almost impertinent in offering any criticisms at all about such a car as the Daimler, but as “fools dash in, etc.,” here goes. The steering at present is much
the all-weather comfort of the body in wet weather is discounted by the absence of an automatic windscreen wiper. No doubt these details will receive due attention on subsequent models, for this particular example was finished off at lightning speed to include in the Show exhibit.
Notes on Performance.
Having spent a part of the test in a critical frame of mind, as one is obliged to do if a review justifies its existence, I proceeded to enjoy a long run to study the general performance of this delightful car. Once clear of Town, we made for Broelcley Hill, which usually calls for a change down when nearing the top, but the Daimler. sailed smoothly over the summit at a good 45, without the slightest effort. The use of the economy lever, controlling the amount of petrol flowing from the float chamber to the jets, is most
entertaining, for the variation of the supply in this way enables the driver to adapt the mixture to suit prevailing conditions, such as those for hill climbing and high speeds on the level.
Making a detour to Princes Risbprough, Kop Hill was tackled, and though the first climb was actually made without changing gear, the second test left no doubt as to the speed of the car on second gear, which over the steepest portion was 38 m.p.h. The descent of this hill also provided a very good brake test and though, compared with the average sports car, the brake drums are rather on the small side, the four-wheel brakes are extremely effective and release properly when cornering on full lock. One very noticeable feature of the engine is the entire absence of overheating, for even when driving for about three miles on the rough country shown in the photographs, the Boyce motormeter could not be persuaded to excite itself in the least degree.
The petrol consumption, over the week-end trip, averaged out at 30 miles to the gallon ; which, all things considered, is remarkably good.
Reference has already been made to the beauty of the Daimler Two-seater Sports Model, which is further emphasised by our illustrations, but appearance is not the only quality of this particular bodywork. The low driving position and the high back to the seats give a wonderful degree of comfort and one can drive all day without experiencing the slightest traces of fatigue. With the hood and side curtains erected, night travelling is luxurious, though, as mentioned before, a windscreen wiper would be a very useful addition. Ample luggage accommodation is provided at the rear of the front seats and access to the luggage space
is obtained by tilting the squab. A comfortable dickey seat for one person is also arranged at the rear, proper steps being fitted so that the wings or panels are not damaged as the rear passenger gets in and out. The car illustrated is painted in cream white with red wings and mouldings, the upholstery and hood being in red leather, thus making a particularly good combination of colours.
In conclusion, it is interesting to observe how the standard Daimler production offers so remarkable a performance, and a Daimler chassis produced specially for sporting owners would be an interesting proposition.