THE ROVER SPEED FOURTEEN
COMFORTABLE RIDING AND BRISK ACCELERATION ARE THE OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF AN EFFICIENT 1,577 c.c. CAR
NE way of dividing cars into the sheep and the goats is to decide whether they invite you to “
cane” them or not. Many otherwise excellent vehicles give the sensitive driver definite hints of disapproval if he ventures to keep close to the maximum speed on an arterial road, growl unpleasantly if he changes down to third before every corner, and lurch sideways if he endeavours to round the said corner at anything approaching skidding-point.
Others, and these are not so frequently met with as their more sedate brothers, aid and abet every effort of the driver to emulate Tazio .Nuvolari. A car of this genus will develop a satisfied purr on a fast by-pass road, clings tenaciously to the road on every curve, and is never so happy as when it is sweeping up a hill in third, passing a long string of less active vehicles in a joyous rush.
Such a car is the Rover Speed Fourteen. The model we tried was a saloon, or more correctly a close-coupled coupe named the ” Hastings.” It certainly looked a good car when we arrived at Henly House to take it over. The bonnet-line is just tlu. right height, the radiator is well proportioned, its cooling area not haying been sacrificed for the sake of appearance, and above all this Hastings coupe looked nicely slung within its wheelbase.
Traffic driving proved very easy, for the gear change is wholly delightful. Using the gearbox as a normal unit, without the free wheel, changes can be made with positive accuracy and add greatly to the enjoyment of handling the car. On our particular mount there were warning lines on the speedometer at 35 and 50 m.p.h., and so we refrained from exceeding these limits on second and third gears respectively. Both provide good acceleration, and a quick gear change maintains an even rate of progression.
With regard to free wheeling, this is definitely a matter of taste. Undoubtedly it saves petrol—but at the expense of brake-linings. Providing one is not in a hurry it is certainly very pleasant to coast down long gradients. For ourselves, however, we rather prefer fixedwheeling, especially if one is driving last. The absence of the retarding effect of the engine on the overrun—especially when approaching a corner on 4 lower gear, makes driving a little hectic, in our view. This must not be taken as a criticism of the Rover Speed Fourteen. It is the reverse, for the simple knob-control of free or fixed wheeling on the dashboard enables one to satisfy one’s every mood. For two days we &dire the Rover fast
over main-roads and lanes, and it came through with flying colours. It was not spared for a moment, and at the end the speedometer showed us a mileage of over 500 miles. On both days the car carried its full complement of four, and a more comfortable body we have seldom travelled in. The driver has been most carefully provided with a position from which all the controls can be reached with a minimum of movement, and his seat is such that a 250 miles run leaves him without a trace of stiffness. The passengers are equally fortunate, and the finish of coachwork and upholstery is of the finest throughout. We had two minor criticisms of the body, one easily remedied and the other a fundamental drawback of the modern high waist line and low seating. The first fault we found was that the passenger in the front seat sat so low that his eyes were only just a little above the scuttle—but a cushion soon alters this. The second is that with bodies of this type the driver has difficulty in reversing with any degree of accuracy, for he cannot look backwards along his side of the car.
The suspension of the Rover Speed Fourteen is quite above the average. No matter what road surface is encountered, the car floats serenely on its way. And the suspension is extraordinarily adaptable,. for with the same shock absorber adjustment the passengers are completely free from movement both at low and high speeds. On corners the car never rolls, and altogether we were most impressed with this steadiness and comfort.
From our own point of view the steering was rather too low-geared. A winding road which could be negotiated quite safely—so far as roadholding was concerned—at over 50 m.p.h., necessitated a good deal of work with the steering wheel. Fortunately the steering has a strong self-centering action, so that control can be maintained without difficulty. At all speeds the steering is accurate. Before returning the Rover to Messrs. Henlys’ magnificent showroom in Euston Road, we drove down to Brooklands and submitted it to our usual acceleration,
braking and timed speed tests. In addition to the acceleration figures shown in the accompanying graph, we found
that the car covered a standing half-mile in 39 2/5 seconds. Timed over the half mile with a flying start the stop watch showed a speed of 74.4 m.p.h. As the car came off the Members’ Banking the speedometer was registering 80 m.p.h. but down the Railway Straight the needle pointed at 79 m.p.h.
Then we drove to the Braking Area, where we did our best to break our passengers’ nose on the windscreen. From an actual speed of 40 m.p.h. the car stopped in 53 feet, a first class figure, and even with this violent application the steering was in no way affected.
The price of the Rover Speed Fourteen, in either open or closed form, is £395. For this sum of money one can acquire a car which, although of only 1,577 c.c. capacity and tax, can put up a performance on the road on a level with cars of much greater size and price. Add to this, genuine comfort for four passengers and lavish equipment and you get some
idea of the value of this delightful motorcar.