A Great Campaign since the German teams ran in this country for the first time, feeling has been running high that this country should put a team of Formula cars into action. Suggestions as to how best this could be accomplished have appeared in print, and when the new Formula, now operative, was announced E.R.A. actually decided to produce a 2i-litre car for 1938 Formula races. The new E.R.A. never came off the drawing board and now Bourne says it never will. In any case, it appears that only 3-litre blown bolides, and a team at that, can gain success under the Formula which remains in force for two more seasons. In this field Auto-Unions and Mercedes-Benz stand quite untroubled by the 3-litre Alfas and Bugatti and 44-litre unblown Delahayes, if a trifle stirred up on occasions by the 3-litre Maseratis. So far as Britain’s part is concerned, it has been suggested that E.R.A. be subsidised by the British Motor Industry to put a real G.P. team in the field, a scheme advocated both in the B.R.A. Club magazine and by “Grand Prix” in this paper last month. “The Motor” has recently commenced a great campaign for a British team of Formula cars financed by both industry and Government subsidy, and to be built in a factory erected, equipped and staffed expressly for the purpose. High lights of a leading article which appeared in the issue of November 8th, and which every enthusiast should read, were the estimation of the cost as one million pounds, spread over a five-year programme, equivalent to only twenty bombing aeroplanes or one 5,000-ton naval vessel, and a commendably clear statement of the sales value of racing to Germany, notably in respect of the South African market. It was suggested that Capt. G. E. T. Eyston would make a very able full-time general manager of a National racing-car factory. We wish profoundly that such a scheme would materialise. Having become quite pro-German after witnessing the skill, efficiency and enthusiasm of the German mechanics and engineers who tended the Auto-Unions and Mercedes-Benz at Donington in 1937, we testify to the vast National prestige which success in racing can bestow. And we believe that racing opens up markets and increases car sales, if only because race-keen engineers and designers usually produce highly commendable bread-and-butter cars. But of the value of modern road-racing to technical progress under the existing Formula, we are not so sure. Granted front-wheel brakes, reliable tyres, o.h.v. engines, low frames, aluminium pistons and hosts of other invaluable features have been handed on from racing to utility motoring. But mostly it was the pre-War era which was thuswise beneficial. After the War racing-cars became so specialised as to raise a query as to what benefits they could hand on to you and me. Aeronautical requirements furthered metallurgical research, and engineering progress attributable to the racing-car was only applicable to small-production specialised sports-cars. Even so, lots of British makers then entered for competitions, not necessarily races—Bentley, Sunbeam, Vauxhall, A.C., AstonMartin, Alvis, G.N., Austin, Calthorpes, Straker
Squire, Wolseley, Leyland, etc. Even those firms which competed but seldom, perhaps building only one racing-car, must have learnt quite a lot about how their particular design liked delivering a high output. These lessons may not have combined to benefit the Industry at large, but to individual firms they must have been invaluable, not merely when it came to supplying a super-performance job to a favoured client, but in improving the model in future years. Now, if you agree that one Grand Prix winning motor car can materially add to a great nation’s industrial and political prestige, surely you must concede that a ” dud ” marque selling in a foreign market can do incalculable harm to the country from which it originates ? Modern cars are very very good, but, now that even our Government officials are ceasing from frowning at three-figure speeds on our highways, a universal call will soon come for more and yet more performance from all types and sizes of utility cars. Those who believe that racing is essential to teach manufacturers just how engines which are very happy now will behave when fed so that their horses are induced to grow really hairy legs can only feel alarmed that, of our big manufacturers, only Sir Herbert Austin now supports racing, and that he races very non-standard cars. So, while hoping
that one day we may send a team. of British cars successfully into Formula racing, let us not neglect ordinary racing in this country. Rather, let us hope that the B.M.R.O.A. will, by ” swelling ” our gates, induce British firms to take an active part in competition motoring of one kind or another.
Reverting to the possibilities of a British G.P. team, the ” Motor” emphasises that we have the necessary alloy steels, the necessary knowledge of high pressure supercharging, the necessary brake-linings and brake mechanism and the necessary ability to make reliable plain bearings, etc. We have engineers and technicians of high enough ability. After Major Gardner’s 187 m.p.h. records with the 1,100 c.c. M.G. the whole world should have no argument on this score. Capt. Eyston has been suggested as manager of the team and works probably because he has concentrated on the technical side of high-speed motoring for some years with outstanding success, while having had valuable experience as a driver. If he could not consider the position there are other British engineers able to fill it. Reid Railton or Capt. Irving, for example. We agree that an entirely new organisation should be formed to promote the work, because there is no existing racing-car organisation in this country which could tackle the task as it stands. Some people would like to see the subsidy paid to Rolls-Royce, under Government instructions to build the team, and they could unquestionably make as fine a job of the task as any existing organisation. As to drivers, everyone would wish Dick Seaman and Arthur Dobson to be in the team. As to a name for the cars, British Union sounds as well as any if a separate, new concern were to construct the cars, otherwise the cars should bear the name of the company called upon to produce them, as marque prestige would be richly deserved ; Auto-Union and Mercedes carry the colours of Germany, Maserati and Alfa-Romeo those of Italy, Bugatti and Delahaye those of France. Some people believe a National subsidy will end ordinary participation in racing as we now know it. Personally, we hope and believe that there is scope for both. Buy British Perhaps we should do better to praise British cars more and have less to say about foreign sports-carsat all events, a story has come to hand of an enthusiastic young man who placed an order for a Continental coupe costing in the region of 0,300. He placed an order for the chassis at Earl’s Court in 1937 and got delivery in June 1938, during which time the firm of British coachbuilders had finished the body. Entering as soon as the car was run in for a classic trial abroad, the owner got as far as Paris and could not start the engine. The makers were just not interested. The magneto maker took the mag. away, put it back un changed and messed up the timing. After much persuasion the works retimed the ignition the next day in two hours, after demanding two days in which to do the job. The front shock-absorbers had ceased to function and at the makers it was gently explained that only two people could adjust them, one of whom was on holiday and that, anyway, the engine would have to be removed before the shockers could be repaired—a two days’ job. Incidentally, the interior of the car filled with oil in less than 2,500 miles motoring. Moreover, the engine pinked badly on 80 octane fuel, although the makers said it should not. Owing to the lack of adhesion under braking the car was. beaten in. a speed hill. climb which formed one of the tests by a V12 Lagonda, and both this Lagonda and an_ H. R.G. excelled it on final placings. So let us enthuse over our own great British marques such as the 4f-litre Bentley, .V12 Lagonda, and 4.3-litre Alvis. These cars are essentially reliable and do sell in commercially worthwhile numbers. The Bentley now has a safe maximum of 107 m.p.h., by reason of its new over-drive top gear, and from experience of our John o’Groats run in one of the earlier cars without this overdrive we feet sure that this higher maximum will be found invaluable not only for fast touring abroad, but for
serious motoring in this country—in spite of pessimists there is a lot of British highway on which it is perfectly safe and reasonable to cruise faster than at the 75 to 80 m.p.h. recommended as a safe limit by Bentley’s for the 41-litre before they introduced the overdrive ; that is, in a car of Bentley calibre. Tyre Topics Some interesting matters came to light in the course of a paper on “Tyre Requirements for Modern Transport,” read to the I.A.E. by C. D. Law, Manager of the Product Performance Division of the Dunlop Rubber Co. Ltd. There are ten important factors in tyre design, viz. :—tread wear ; safety ; riding comfort; cornering power ; heat resistance ; silence ; weight ; balance ; power consumption ; and electrical conductivity—beauty of tread appearance was not mentioned. Tyre life cannot be prolonged indefinitely by piling on more and more tread rubber, because there comes a stage beyond which additional tread shortens life. Improved car performance, rough ” top-dressing ” of roads, the use of smaller wheels and extra-low-pressure tyres and the development of independent suspension, were mentioned as negativing a fair comparison between tyre life to-day and five years ago. Sometimes a thick-tread tyre which outlasts a thin-tread tyre in the matter of internal break-up is regarded as the inferior tyre by an owner who keeps no mileage records and judges the tyre’s life by the appearance of its tread when it has to be scrapped. Dunlop technicians have a method of examining cars in public car-parks and, by noting tyre condition in the case Of modern cars fitted with their original tyres and the speedometer readings, of obtaining useful data relating to tread wear on different types of cars. Wear on 1938 cars seems to range from 10,500 miles for a 35 cwt. car of 25 11.p. to 20,000 miles for an 8 11.p. car weighing 15 cwt. Tread wear slows down proportionately as the wear gets worse. Wheel sizes have diminished considerably. In 1933 39 per cent. of the cars on the market had 19 in. wheels and 34 per cent. had 18 in. wheels, but this year 45 per cent. used 16 in. wheels and 17 in. and 18 in. wheels jointly figured on 41 per cent. Generally speaking, on ice or wet wood blocks the absence of tread has very little effect on the tendency or otherwise of a car to slide, but on wet polished asphalt, as frequently encountered in city areas, smooth tyres can double the stopping distance as against that possible with new tyres. Ribbed treads wear evenly and in consequence have a greater resistance to skidding than broken-pattern treads that have worn in ” stepped ” or ” heel and toe” fashion. The ribbed tread is likely to be slightly less efficient when new, but has an advantage over the broken tread for about 90 per cent. of its life. Transverse grooves can achieve equally good results from the ribbed tread even when it is new, but if these grooves are in the wrong positions, wrongly spaced, or too coarse or close, equally rapid and irregular wear will result. Pressure rather than construction governs riding comfort. Increased cushioning capacity is most easily obtained by a decrease in pressure, but as this involves increased deflection for a given load a bigger section is essential to avoid casing fatigue. Comfort is improved by increasing load on tyres and springs and to a much smaller extent by a reduction in tyre pressure. Either method increases the running deflection of the tyres and consequently the rate of tread wear. If pushed too far casing fatigue will
set in. A large increase of flexibility by reducing tyre pressure will have a much smaller effect on comfort than a relatively small increase in spring flexibility. Hence supple springs on 1938 cars and low-pressure and ” E.L.P.” covers, to improve riding comfort. Bigger tyre sections follow, that increase of running deflection will not result in failure of the tyre structure. Dunlop have been into the matter of silencing treads, necessary when Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Daimler sold truly silent cars. Now the Autobahn is showing how racing research is likely to benefit ordinary users in the tyre department. Eyston’s tyres had hardly any tread, a very heavy casing, reinforced_ beads and rubber compounds of low heat-generation type. Tests with 7 in. x 17 in. Dunlops at 50 to 100 m.p.h. on German roads show Dunlop that like features may be needed for ordinary driving at over 80 m.p.h. on the Autobahn. Ask Mr. Lycett ! The pioneers thanked Mr. Dunlop for tyres ; the modern motorist has to thank the same gentleman for remarkable tyres Odd Spots
The Type 57C Bugatti has supercharger blowing at 9-10 lb., and the twin o.h.c. straight-eight 3.3-litre engine. With normal saloon body it is capable of over 100 m.p.h., revs. to 5,000 r.p.m., runs down to 7 to 8 m.p.h. in top and does not pink on straight petrol.
The saloon is priced at L:1,010.
The Bugatti works employ about 1,600 persons. The compression ratio of the Type 57S Bugatti is 8.7 to 1.
C. W. P. Hampton is disposing of his rebuilt litre 95 m.p.h. Targa Florio Mercedes-Benz and his Lancia saloon. We recently examined a Rolls-Royce ” Wraith ” chassis at the premises of the Southern Motor Co. So supple is the independent front suspension that with the car stationary the frame can easily be moved up
and down by light hand pressure. Yet at speed automatic and driver-control of the springing gives perfect stability. A wonderful ride results.