SPORTING CARS ON TEST: THE SAFETY STUTZ.
By The Rook.
T0 the average sporting motorist the mention of an American car conjures up visions of a large, cheap motorcar with a huge and very woolly motor, summed up in the words of a certain cynic as “a lot of iron for your money.”
We must also admit that, though we had a considerable respect for the American car, for certain sorts of motoring, we had not previously even remotely connected with the U.S.A. the idea of a genuine fast motor, as sought after by the real enthusiast.
It was, therefore, without any great expectations that we set off for a day in a Stutz, kindly supplied for the purpose by Warwick Wright, Ltd., to see how its performance compared with its undoubtedly magnificent appearance.
The first impression we gained was that never has any car been so aptly named as the Safety Stutz. Immediately on taking over the car we felt absolutely at home, so perfectly balanced is every feature of the control. Sponsors of the light car always hold that one of its greatest assets is the high average speed that can be made through traffic as a result of its small size and ease of control. However, after driving the Stutz, we very much doubt if any small car could put up an equal average through town, and, if it did, it would certainly not be with an equal degree of safety, both from accident and from the unwelcome attentions of the representatives of the Law. Control is so positive and the steering so light that all opportunities can be instantly seized and a speed of 40 m.p.h. or so is attained so quickly and with such a complete absence of fuss, that this sort of pace can be indulged in through traffic conditions which would make it really dangerous on most cars. The brakes are hydraulically operated, and they are definitely the best brakes that we have ever tried. We have used some which will apply full power with slightly less effort, and so give the impression of being more powerful, but these have usually suffered from the effect of being inclined to come on with a jerk and of requiring a certain delicacy of application to get smooth braking. In this case, however, the control was so graduated that without any
care at all we could obtain just the stopping power required for the occasion.
When driving normally, a gentle pressure on the pedal produced instant and smooth response and braking was absolutely proportional to the pressure applied, up to a point when the passengers were deposited on the floor by the fierce deceleration, though even this did not produce a skid.
So far, although we were convinced enough that we were in a very delightful machine, we had not had any proof that it was a real 100% fast motor as opposed to a pleasant town carriage ; so we proceeded out of London by way of one of the arterial roads until we came to a section which was free of cross roads and other obstructions, where, in spite of the fact that the speedometer showed less than 600 miles and the car was, therefore, not run in, we depressed the loud pedal and kept it there. The response was immediate and from a pleasant cruising speed of 55-60 miles per hour the car jumped to 80 and then more gradually to 85-87, which speed it held on the level, and although on a slightly falling gradient this was improved upon, the figures above may be fairly taken to represent the normal maximum unaided by gravity or the winds that blow. In view of the fact that the car was, as mentioned above, a new one and not even a demonstration car, the speed obtained was distinctly creditable. The carburettor setting was the standard fitted by the makers, and
we are informed that for the benefit of those who consider that their motor is not functioning as it should, an altered setting employing slightly larger choke and jets can be fitted which gives a marked increase without materially affecting the petrol consumption. From this it will be seen that when fully run in and with the carburettor set for maximum power, he must indeed be in a hurry who is not satisfied with the performance. After trying the maximum speed we left the main roads for a space and tried some narrow winding secondary roads to see if the impression of handiness we had gained in town would be confirmed. We were pleased, therefore, to find that the car handled every bit as well on twisty, greasy lanes as it had done all out on the straight. In view of the conditions of the road surface and the fact that we were taking liberties, with the corners we unnecessary fitting ; top gear is all that is required on any normal journey. We already hear cries of” shame” from readers to whom half the joy of driving is” sorting out” the gears. The only answer to such as these is that we previously held exactly similar views, and although we are still convinced that many cars would not be worth driving if it were not for their gearboxes, we think the Stutz would still be a perfectly adequate motorcar if the gearbox were omitted altogether. When we started driving, we used the gears in the way in which we were used, and the only criticism we had was that second gear was inclined to be too low, as the maximum on this gear was some 50 m.p.h. After a short while it was suggested that we were making unnecessary and unprofitable use of the gears, so we stopped using them to see what would happen. We soon found that the
should not have been the least bit surprised to find the tail sliding about a bit on bends, but we had no sign of a skid the whole day, and although at times we tried to see if one could be produced we were forced to the conclusion that short of being really dangerous, such a thing could not be done on any normally greasy surface. We now come to the one feature of the car which kept reminding us that it was an American, and that is the gearbox. That is to say that it kept reminding us till we learnt to forget all about it and drive without it. Not that there is anything wrong with the gearbox, on the contrary it is well up to the standard of the rest of the car, but the point is that it appears to be an almost
performance was in no way impaired, since no nursing of the controls was required to get instant response from any speed, and the 5-litre straight eight motor gave effortless and silent acceleration which was quite the equal of most cars using all the gears they had.
The makers have evidently decided, and rightly so, that the gearbox is an anachronism except for emergency use, and have set out to produce a completely flexible engine. How nearly they have approached their ideal can only be realized by driving the car, the behaviour of the engine being only comparable to that of a series wound electric motor, so great is the power at low speeds and so high the maximum revolutions attainable. During the course of our test we traversed every variety of road, and every possible condition of traffic, and in every circumstance thc Stutz was absolutely at home, showing in more and more convincing manner the
truth of the maker’s slogan “Safety “, and we heartily recommend anyone who can afford round about £1,350 for a car, to go round to Warwick Wright, Ltd., and have a run in a Safety Stutz.