Sporting cars on the road
porting rs on the _P.a.’
THE 4A LITRE INVICTA.
BY THE EDITOR.
THERE is always a special interest in a run on a car which has some particular performance to its credit, and we were therefore very glad to have the opportunity of trying out the actual car on which Miss Violet Cordery recently completed 30,000 miles in less than the same number of minutes, thereby gaining the coveted Dewar Trophy.
The only points in which this car differed from standard was in the fact that the top gear ratio was 3.6 to l instead of 3.9 as in the open 4-seater Invicta, and that it had slightly larger wheels. One of the great points that the makers claim for this car is its ability to go everywhere in top gear in a perfectly smooth manner, as well as to behave like a sports car should, when the gear box is used. They appeared to be apprehensive lest the high gear ratio on the car we tried would detract from this property and so give us a wrong impression. We can only say that if anyone is not satisfied with the top gear performance of this car they will never be satisfied with anything, and it is hard to believe that the standard job can be better, though we are assured that it is. This model is
a definite proof that in a car of this class it is possible to combine the qualities of a lively “live in the gear box” type of exhilarating sports chassis with those of a smooth and quiet town carriage. By really careful chassis design involving the use of special alloys throughout, it has been possible to keep a most remarkable power-weight ratio without turning the engine to a point where it becomes rough to drive. This is certainly a much more desirable state of affairs than producing the type of engine which is great fun while it lasts, but is continually requiring attention to keep it at concert pitch.
The only work which had been done on the engine since its remarkable run on Brooklands, at about 70 m.p.h. the whole time, was decarbonising, which most engines require much oftener than 30,000 miles, even at touring speeds. No chassis replacements of any kind had been carried out, yet the whole car was absolutely silent mechanically and felt like a new car when driving it. The run out to the north of London from Albemarle Street demonstrated very adequately how pleasant it is
to be able to remain in top gear, and the getaway on this gear was so good that for ordinary traffic work the extra acceleration provided by the use of a lower ratio is not required. Standing starts can be made quite comfortably in top, a line of action not usually recommended on a sports model. By taking a particularly devious route out of town we tiled several of the formidable gradients in the Hampstead district, and whatever method of driving was adopted, whether fast or slow, it was never necessary to drop from top gear, even when pulling hard at a little over walking pace, and there was never a sign of complaint from the engine.
Once out in the open country we began to see the other personality of the Invicta, and found that it was not made to go about in top gear because its performance was not sufficient on the other ratios, but rather in spite of it. The gear change was very light to handle and extremely easy, though owing to the fact that Miss Cordery and the writer differ somewhat in point of size, we did not find there was much room to drive.
Although the shock absorbers had been left rather slack, to increase the comfort at low speeds, there was no necessity to tighten them up at all for faster travelling. The acceleration, with or without the gears, was remarkable, and a 70 m.p.h. cruising speed could be reached in a few seconds and maintained on a very small thottle opening, this being a very pleasant speed, and gave the feeling that it would never tire of it, which fact, of course, has been already proved on the track. However, the acceleration after this speed was not quite so good, and although we attained a genuine 85 m.p.h. on several occasions without difficulty, there seems little
doubt that, except for a special case like a long distance record, the standard 3.9 to 1 top gear would be a considerable improvement, as it would remove the overgeared feeling at high speeds, which was slightly apparent in this case. The Marles steering was very light and positive, and the road-holding at all speeds of which the car was capable left nothing to be desired. The biakes on this car had, unfortunately, been adjusted in rather a hurry, so that the rear brakes came on more than the front and thus spoiled the full braking effect. The larger wheels also decreased the braking leverage available, and it was therefore necessary to apply fairly considerable pressure to the pedal to produce the desired effect. As, however, this was due to the fact that the car was not standard in this respect, it would hardly be fair to class this as a fault, and from what we have heard from various Invicta owners, the brakes are, as a rule, an exceptionally bright feature of the car.
We have come across various people who, whenever they find a car with a particularly good power-weight ratio, invariably accuse the said model of being too light and therefore liable to fall to pieces. If anyone should be inclined to think that this applies to the Invicta, we can only advise them to go and examine the chassis in the showrooms at 11, Albemarle Street, when they will have to admit that it is a very massive, and extremely cleverly thought out job of work. Many features, such as the reserve petrol and oil tanks, would certainly be an extra on most cars, and would as extras be impossible to fit so neatly as has been done in this case.
Anyone considering paying in the region of 1,000 for a car naturally expects a good deal for his money, but the 4 litre Invicta has proved its prowess without doubt, and seems to us to provide excellent value.