P.V.WIV.,WNOV.,10WV/VVaWril SPORTING CARS ON TEST: The “Salmson” Grand Sports.
By RICHARD TWELVETREES. Wev4V.r-t…..e•e.”.”1″.r.01″..-e1″.rMedUe/1″,roUrA”r01″4-A”riVeNS
ABOUT this time last year I was able to record some impressions of the Grand Sports ” Salmson ” gathered during the London-Gloucester Reliability Trial, and also took the same machine through the Colmore Cup Trial as was duly recorded in our issue of March last. On both these occasions the performance of the car, though excellent, was somewhat eclipsed by the interest in the proceedings, for as is well known when driving in Trials there is but little time to make very close observations as to what is going on, apart from trying to keep up with the conditions of the competition.
Therefore, when asked for my views of this famous make, I have only been able to give general impressions, which, though satisfying to some extent, lacked the detail that one should be able to describe on such occasions. Happening to mention this matter to Mr. George Newman, he promptly suggested that I should take one of the new Grand Sports models out on trial, an offer which I readily accepted ; though unfortunately the weather recently has not been such as enables one really to enjoy the best from an essentially sporting car.
Weather or No.
Had it not been for my previous experiences with the Salmson, when on both occasions there was plenteous rain and mud, I might have been rather diffident about making a road test at the time, for the possibility of skidding on a more or less unfamiliar machine at about 70 to 8o m.p.h. is apt to be a little disconcerting, but as was discovered later, though a certain amount of skidding is unavoidable, the kind of gyrations indulged in by this nippy little car are of a distinctly controllable nature and do not produce anything terrific in the way of ” elevated wind.”
If time and tide wait for no man, it is certain that our recent November storms are no less considerate, so after two attempts at trial runs (with the printers ‘phoning every day for December copy), it was a case of a few more pages of Fill-ups or a wetting, so the latter was chosen. The Grand Sports ” Salmson ” duly turned up in the pouring rain in charge of Mr. Martin, and in view of the lack of accommodation in the two-seater racing body, our photographer followed part of the test run
in his Morgan. Without any disrespect to the latter machine, it had rather a difficulty in keeping up with us on the wet and greasy road. When we stopped for photographs, there was a slight delay, and our camera man eventually hove in sight, with his front wheels looking very sorry for themselves, having come into contact with some obstacle in avoiding another vehicle. I hope to goodness nothing serious happened to his camera at the time !
Unfortunately, our first test was not satisfactory, simply because the weather was too perfectly awful to make any observations at all, save of the remarkably good road-holding qualities of the machine under extremely adverse conditions. We therefore had to abandon the attempt, though on the second occasion we found ourselves but very little better off.
On the following Saturday, despite the pouring rain, we set off ensheathed in Stormguard suits, and in defiance of the elements proceeded to put the” Salmson ” through its paces.
Leaving town via the Croydon by-pass road, we had the opportunity of carrying out a fairly good test, though wheel-spin marred the acceleration tests, which, therefore, were not timed, as figures of this kind are of little use unless dead accuracy is ensured. When taking the car over, I found that several improvements had been effected, though as far as one could see there had been no modification of chassis details. For instance, the steering was very much better, and it was only at dead slow speeds that one noticed the absence of a differential.
Better Mud guarding.
Having vivid recollections of the mud-throwing proclivities of last year’s model, I was quite prepared for a good plastering on this occasion, but was pleased to find that the new type of close-fitting mudguards gave a protection, almost comparable with that of a touring car, only a little mud being thrown up when rounding curves at high speed. If one is content with touring changes of gear—which the sporting driver never is—changes of speed can be effected in silence, but a certain amount of clashing is unavoidable when quick changes are made. Perhaps ” clashing ” is not quite the right word, but one just has to pull the lever definitely and unhesitatingly into place, regardless of what happens. As a matter of fact, the gears will stand this sort of treatment, as may be
gathered from the fact that on the racing machines the same gear boxes have been used for three seasons without any renewals whatever.
The brakes are very much better in this model, and except over very rough ground the suspension calls for no criticism, and, of course, one expects to sacrifice a little in the way of sheer comfort in a car primarily intended for sporting purposes.
Gear Ratios and Car Speeds.
With the four-speed gear-box the following ratios are provided, which, as will be seen, are admirably selected for sporting use. The first gear gives a ratio of IA to I, the second 7i to 1, third is 4 to 1, and top 3/ to I. Actual tests of the maximum road speeds on each gear gave the following results, the speedometer inci
dentally registering kilometres. On first speed, the engine would rev, up quickly and keep going indefinitely to give a speed of 30 m.p.h. Taking Mr. Martin at his word about the capability of the engine to turn over without distress at high speeds, I kept the car going for at least a quarter of a mile at well over 4,500 r.p.m., with no ill effects, and then with a sharp little tug at the gear lever and the lightest possible touch on the clutch lever, got into second without any difficulty. On this gear the speed immediately shot up to 49 m.p.h., which increased to 65 m.p.h. almost directly the third gear was introduced. An opportunity for trying the all-out speed came a little later, when under very unfavourable conditions a speed of 84.12 m.p.h. was reached and maintained for half a mile, when traffic conditions called for a reduced
rate of travel. Then I discovered that the brakes were really effective and the car was brought back to its touring behaviour with commendable ease.
The ” Salmson ” is one of those cars Which tends to convince one that road safety is often increased where high speeds, combined with really good acceleration, are available. If one is limited to a maidmum of about 55 m.p.h. there is always the chance of getting impeded by coveys of Morris, Clyno and other ‘popular types, which, travelling flat out in endeavouring to pass each other, occupy the greater part of the road. With a nippy car, however, one can streak past easily and then have a clear stretch of road, unobstructed by the somewhat dangerous driving indulged in by owners, who take grave risks in speeding on cars which were never intended for the job.
A Fast Hill Climb.
From Caterham Valley to Upper Warlingham there is an excellent test hill, known as Succomb, which about three-quarters of a mile in length has a very rough surface, two acute bends and a maximum gradient of 1 in 3. Not having seen its condition for some time, we toured up gently and noted the state of the gulleys, observed the rushing stream which crossed it at one point, then descended to make a timed trial. Starting from the post at the bottom, which says “Impracticable for motor vehicles,” we made a standing start against one of Mr. Spikins’ stop watches. Getting away on first to overcome the initial wheel-spin, second gear was introduced after about one hundred yards and the speed increased to about 48 m.p.h., which was
maintained without diminution until nearing the hairpin at the steepest gradient. Then a drop into first was accomplished, and to avoid the retarding effect of the resulting skid the near side wheels were directed into the gulley. The ” Salmson,” nevertheless, held to its course admirably and finished the climb at a good thirty on first gear, the actual time occupied by the ascent being 60 seconds dead, which by comparison with other makes of sports cars on the same test was remarkably good.
Incidentally, we may mention that Succomb Hill is very convenient as a testing place in preparing cars and motor-cycles for the London-Exeter and similar trials, especially as it is within easy reach of the South of London.
” Salmson ” Durability.
Now, with regard to the question of durability in a car so lightly constructed as the Salmson, the unladen weight of which is only 10 cwt. It is obviously impossible to make any definite statement in this connection, as the outcome of a few short trial runs, even though these include participation in two classic reliability trials of the “Chassis Bending” category, but as far as my observations go, I should have no hesitation in describing this car as a very sound and sturdy little engineering job. The actual example I tested had been hammered about on all sorts of demonstrations, besides having been used for practising by various members of the Salmson racing team, so that its early days were by no means spent in pampered luxury. Nevertheless, it showed no traces of wear, either in the engine, frame or transmission, and I am inclined to the view that had it been treated to the careful running-in usually given by a purchaser, it would have put up an even better performance than that recorded above.
RUMBLINGS, February 1939
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