THE DEARTH OF SMALL SPORTS CARS
THE small, inexpensive sports-car has flourished exceedingly in this country, particularly the class of car which has a moderately high output engine capable of holding its own over long periods of hard service and pulling low gears that enable it to perform well under slime-storming conditions. In the past there has been a quite excellent range from which to make a choice. The Wolseley Hornet, M.G. Magnas and Magnettes represented excellent cars in which was portrayed the efficiency of a really small modern six-cylinder engine, but they were discontinued. Similarly, Singer Motors Ltd. did very well with the four-cylinder Le Mans model and their 1i-litre Six, later augmented by the IA-litre four-cylinder based on the T.T. cars, a type making its debut in the last R.A.C. Rally. Fiat presented the light straightforward Balilla two-seater which also did well in trials. Riley (Coventry) Ltd. offered their famous Nine in a variety of forms well suited to trials work, as well as the 1 flitre ” Imp ” sports model. M.G. Midgets, of course, were legion, and the
A DECLINING TYPE’
Gloria and Vitesse Triumphs, Aero Hillman Minx, Austin Seven ‘ 65.” AvonStandard and other marques existed to appease the appetite of the not-extremelyrich enthusiast who required a sports-car suited to competition work and everyday driving alike, not too expensive to purchase and maintain. Now the position
has altered very considerably. Many makers who formerly offered inexpensive small sports-cars now list only touring models, mostly with closed bodywork, perhaps with a spasm of enthusiasm for netting Export markets. Listen to any gathering of trials drivers and you will appreciate how narrow the field is now. M.G. of course offer the very excellent T-model Midget, a proven trials car, well finished, and fast into the bargain. Adler and B.S.A. suffer somewhat from the slime-storming point of view by reason of front-wheel drive. We believe that the Austin Motor Co. Ltd. has withdrawn sports versions of the famous ” Seven,” listing only the standard ,£112 two-seater. The sports-type Balilla Fiat has given way to a rather different type with closed bodywork only. The Ford Ten is available as an open four-seater at £162 10s., but its bottom gear-ratio, we are told, is rather unsuited to restart-tests of the sort imposed in present-day trials, unless the engine is hotted up or supercharged, while the capacity is 72 c.c. over the 1,100 c.c. classification limit. The Hillman Minx is definitely no longer a sports-car, and Riley now only offers one two-seater—
the “Sprite ” at £450. Singer and Triumph have turned to a closedmodels-only policy and the Talbot Ten is not available in two-seater form, though the open four-seater at £248 comes within the class we have in mind. There remains only the 414 Morgan two-seater at £210, which would seem to have excellent prospects if it shows up as well at real trials work as it has done In the M.C.C. classics. We are, of course, perfectly well aware that there is a number of British, and one Continental, cars of thoroughbred conception in the light car category, that are not only quite as well, if not better, Continued on page 526 suited to speed and fast road work as the foregoing, cars, but which can also more than hold their own in trials, in spite of high gear-ratios and other divergent
items of specification. Unfortunately these cars come into a considerably higher price class, besides being rather more costly to run and, in some cases, demanding more maintenance attention and rather more expert everyday handling. Some of them, indeed, would not be altogether suited to continual trafficdriving or overmuch trials work. Consequently. we urge British manu facturers who have had extended experience of producing high-efficiency small engines and lightweight frames and bodies to turn their attention to the E,200-000 sports class. Trials are immensely popular, and one of our biggest small sports-car manufacturers once told. us that trials competitors, in reality, represent only a small proportion of their total sales, so the market should be well Worth re-cultivating. Artificial beauty is not required, and designers need not worry over providing racing-car stamina at the price, because if owners race such cars any troubles that develop they must expect to bear on their own shoulders. What is wantal is an honest, wellequipped little car that is cheap to tax and to run, easy to keep in tune, that handles amusingly and does 75 to 80 m.p.h. And, with trials as they are now, a .good ground-clearance, rigid wings, really low bottom and second gearratios and plenty of weight over the
driving wheels are essentials. MOTOR SPORT will be glad to =lour ce adequately any new models which conform with this now neglected market.