RUMBLINGS, December 1948




The Earls Court Exhibition was a success in every way, and 562,954 people attended—a record. As so much has been written about it, we will content ourselves with a review from the enthusiast’s angle. Without a doubt, the entirely new 3i-litre XK120 Jaguar sports two-seater stole the Show. It reini med a surprise until the opening day and attracted enormous attention. The story behind it seems to be that Jaguar agreed to let ” Goldie ” Gardner have one of their new 2-litre twin-o.h.c. sports engines for his Class E record attempt and kept their promise, with what a splendid degree of success we all know. They tried at one time to dissuade Gardner from having the new engine, as they did not anticipate getting it into production until 1950. However, it was found possible to display the new XK120 car, an XK120 engine and a 2-litre XK100 engine at Earls Court, although the secret was kept until the opening day. The XK100 engine on show was the one actually used by Gardner for his 176-m.p.h. records, the largerthan-standard twin S.U. carburetters and Lucas magneto being retained, although starter, dynamo, fan and the Tecalemit filter that couldn’t be squeezed into the record-breaker had been fitted.

The new Jaguar was seen to be a most sleek and attractive two-seater, as our photographs show. The faired-in, but not sunken, headlamps offer scope for fast night driving, and the interior is simple and comfortable, while the boot offers ample luggage space. The pleasing remote gear-lever is retained and the facia carries 6,000 r.p.m. rev.-counter and 120-m.p.h. speedometer. Extra glass sidescreens normally occupy a zipfastened cricket bag in the boot. The fuel filler is inside the boot, on the near side. The new engine has chain-driven twin o.h. camshafts and is available iq 2or 3i-litre forms, giving, respectively, 95 and 160 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m. on a 7-to-1 compressionratio. Either engine can be had in the new car, which follows normal Jaguar practice, except that it has an 8 ft. 6 in. wheelbase and a slight crab-track. Speeds of well over 100 m.p.h. are anticipated from the 3i-litre, which has gear-ratios as high as 3.643, 4.98, 7.23 and 12.8-to-I. The weight is about 22 cwt., dry. Over 80 m.p.h. should be possible in third gear, and 80-m.p.h. cruising a normal accomplishment. The price of this so desirable newcomer is 1988, or £1,263 8s. 11d. with British purchase tax added.

Another very fine example of high-performance car was the new “Spa Replica” 2-litre push-rod Aston-Martin. It was beautifully finished and has easily-detachable blade-type wings in place of the faired wings used at Spa, but is otherwise very similar to the race-winner. Very neat were the twin exhaust pipes, emerging one above the other from the off side of the well-louvred bonnet, the tiny chromium bead adjacent to each sidelamp on the wings, and the inset, quick-action bonnet straps. The facia had a row of small switches before the passenger, reminiscent of the ” Ulster ” Aston-Martin, aril carried a 6,000-r.pan. rev.-counter and 110-m.p.h. speedometer. The Spa three-sided driver’s screen was retained, with a normal sports screen extending from it. The shapely tail has a lift-up locker lid and carries two quick-action fuel fillers. This is another most intriguing 95-b.h.p., 100-m.p.h. car, priced at £3,109 10s., inclusive of purchase tax. Earls Court

The third exhibit to tickle the enthusiast’s palate was the compact Frazer-Nash High Speed ” Competition ” two-seater. The tubular-frame chassis was shown suspended from a Salter spring-balance that revealed its weight as a mere 101 cwt., in spite of the big 20-gallon tank and three-carburetter Bristol power unit. Everything was apparently in position (the throttle pedal was absent, but only because ft is hinged from the body), even to the ” one-shot ” chassis lubricator pedal. The steeringwheel was a fine wood-rimmed affair with drilled alloy spokes, against the normal sprung” wheel. Newton, not Bristol, shock-absorbers were fitted, incidentally. Features of the complete car were a grab-rail before the passenger, “powerbulge “on the bonnet top to accommodate the triple carburetters, big quick-action fuel filler on the tail, two external exhaust pipes, a single strap securing the hinge-forward bonnet, the spare wheel accommodated neatly on the near side, clear of the cockpit and retained by snap-off mountings, the Perspex screen for the driver and none for the passenger, and neat black-dial 6,000r.p.m. rev.-counter and 200-k.p.h. speedometer. A real competition car this, although it lacks the door required to meet A.I. regulations and the in-built lamps will need raising to comply with the law. 120 b.h.p. is claimed on a 9.5-to-1 compressionratio (that of the Spa Replica” Aston-Martin is 7.25-to-1), and the car costs £3,073 14s. 5d. nit purchase tax. It should be a very rapid motor car.

The Healey “Mule Miglia ” roadster, by the Westland Motor Co., of Hereford, was another of the really fast sports cars, while the lean Aston-Martin two-three-seater was greatly admired, its features including an ingenious means of opening the bonnet panels, spare wheel and battery and tools cleverly acconunodated beneath panels in the front wings, on off side and near side respectively, a shapely hood, mottled facia, but rather small fuel fillers. Incidentally, a parcels-shelf replaced cubby-holes on this Healey and the tubular body-frame construction was visible beneath the facia. Riley showed the 2i-litre ” 100 ” sports three-abreast model, which belied its speed capabilities of not far short of 100 m.p.h. Faired, not sunk, headlamps were backed by twin Lucas spotlamps, the steeringwheel was set very close to the near side to give passengerroom, the single-piece front seat had the comfortable yet notably shallow cushion found also in the Wolseley and Morris saloons, the luggage accommodation in the tail locker could hardly have been more generous, and there was a grab-handle for the middle occupant. The Lea-Francis was another attractive but not futuristic sports two-seater. After these three outstanding and genuine sports cars the rest of the exhibits seemed rather tame. In actual fact plenty of open cars were displayed, both truly open twoand four-seaters and many neat ” convertibles ” which were virtually open cars when their ” tops ” were down and concealed. In the former category were the twoand four-seater Allards, which, like the coupd, and the new saloon models, had steering-column gearchange, the ” TC ” and I i-litre M.G.s, Singer Nine “Roadster,” etc., while Bristol showed a very neat convertible,” as did Studebaker and Sunbeam-Talbot. Alvis showed the Belgianbodied sports two-seater that was at the Brussels Show. Its frontal aspect reminded us of. Ian Metcalfe’s rehashed I3arnato

Hassan Bentley, only with lamps and horns behind the grille, the bulbous front wings carried plated headings and Alvis badges and the facia was replete with a big mirror which concealed—a Coty compact I We were told the car did a timed 96.4 m.p.h. on the Ostend motor road, which seems very fast considering that, although the engine has two carburetters, we should not expect it to give much more than 75 b.h.p. The other Alvis Fourteens were fine, sober cars with handsome engines, a lonely oil-can occupying the polished under-bonnet bulkhead of one of them.

Besides the open cars and “convertibles,” Healey showed the “Mille Miglia ” saloon. The saloon which recently did 101.7 m.p.h for an hour at Montlhery was said to have been perfectly standard even in respect of axle-ratio, but naturally used Dunlop racing tyres-6.00-16 at the rear, 5.75-15 at the front. The stand was decorated with immense photographs by Klemantaski of Healeys at speed, beautifully coloured by Conrad Nockolds.

The new 24-litre Daimler “Special Sports” drophead coupe was a truly fine exhibit, rightly standing alone in all its glory. Again, faired, not sunk, headlamps were favoured, the dummy radiator cap continued the Daimler fluted motif, the facia was exceptionally attractive, and the bench-type seat truly inviting. A most dignified car, yet one which should make good use of its 85 b.h.p.

These cars apart, the Show abounded with new and newerlook automobiles. Some, notably the Americans, shocked the more conservative-minded visitors. Yet it has to be accepted that the old style in motor cars has given place to the new, if not universally, certainly with very few exceptions. It is, perhaps, worth recalling how the Big Six have responded to the changed stylings. Austin retains the old ideas in the A125 ” Sheerline,” adopts a halfway house with the A40 and A70, but goes the whole hog in the brilliant new A90 “Atlantic.” The first-named displayed the slogan “Austin of England” in tiny but proud letters on its luggage boot ; the A90 revolved very slowly on a turntable before the gaze of the multitudes. Ford has eschewed the futuristic and the V8 ” Pilot ” has quite old-fashioned, but very handsome, lines. Curiously, it has perfectly normal headlamps, whereas those of the ” Prefect ” are built-in. Rootes have cleaned-up the Humber “Super Snipe” and “Pullman,” even used bulbous sides on the “Hawk,” have adopted a new but somehow attractive outline for the Sunbeam-Talbot, and have applied a rather successful streanastyle to the Hillman “Minx Magnificent.” Nuffield does a bit of everything—real motor car with his M.G. and Riley, the newer look allied to a radiator shape with his Wolseley, while with Morris he has gone quite a bit of the way with the Six, while retaining a normal grille, and has given the new Minor and Oxford the complete New Look. The Standard ” Vanguard ” has a distinctly selfconscious and bulbous New Look, and the Vauxhall ” 1Vyvern ” and ” Velox ” are also styled in the modern manner.

It is all a matter of opinion which you prefer, but please don’t deceive yourself that these new-look cars, the Healey excepted, are streamlined, because they are not. The Jowett Javelin gets nearer the mark and real streamlining, whether you liked it or not, was portrayed by the little 610-c.c. Panhard ” Dynavia ” saloon. In addition, its instruments were sunk at 45 degrees in a vast facia-shelf, the headlamp was in a cave at the nose of the car and all wheels were enclosed. After which the other French exhibits were a real relief ! Particularly the sober Hotchkiss saloons, with normal radiators unashamedly exposed and even carrying the crossed-cannons badge, and quite normal but shapely luggage boots containing fitted suitcases. Two of the cars had Cotal 0e:11•1)oxes, their tiny gates neater than those on the Delahaye, ar1 tlu I yres were

Dunlop ” Super Basse Pression ” 6.50-16. Considering that these elegant saloons are said to do not so much short of the century and now have i.f.s., they can hardly be called old-fashioned, and we were not in the least surprised to hear that one of them had been sold on the first day of the Show.

Delahaye, too, showed cars that lost nothing by their oldlook appearance—old by this year’s styling only, that is. The nice facia layout and the ” spun ” disc wheels on one model took the eye, but access to the rear seat of the coupe would seem likely to be easier had forward-hinged doors been used. Here again faired headlamps were used and one car had partially-spatted rear wheels. Romac radio was fitted. In contrast, the AlfaRomeos, although obviously fine cars, disappointed by their Americanised outline, facia treatment and two-spoke steering wheels. Untidy, too, were the exposed electric cables beside the propeller shaft tunnel. The angle of the rear wheels drew attention to the coil-spring independent rear suspension.

Many exhibitors showed stripped chassis, notably Jaguar, Healey, Singer, M.G., Daimler, Lanchester, Humber, Riley, etc., while that of the Standard ” Vanguard ” was boxed up in a transparent replica of an export crate—all ready for the guard’s van, as a wag expressed it I Other attractions for the technicallyminded were Jowett’s expertly sectioned examples of their clever car and engine, the transparent “Ghost Minx,” said to have cost 15,000, Vauxhall’s sectioned ” Velox ” engine, Wolseley’s working demonstration of their new torsion-bar i.f.s. and Renault’s demonstration of the steering and suspension of an entire 760-c.c. Renault car. The new Issigonis-designed Morris exhibits, secret until the Show opened, comprised the newly-styled i.f.s. Minor with last year’s 8-11.p. s.v. engine, successor to the still-born flat-four “Mosquito,” the new s.v. 14-litre Oxford and the new 2.2-litre o.h.c. “Six.” The pressed-steel bumper of the “Minor,” attached by frail-looking but doubtless deceptively-strong pressed brackets, was noted, and all these 1949 Morris cars drew dense crowds on their own account. Here we would say that two exhibitors were omitted from last month’s Show Number of MOTOR SPORT because the S.M.M.T. did not notify us of them. They were Rovin and Kaiser-Frazer. The former was a 425-c.c. minicar reminiscent of a Rytacraft scooter car—unlike our Lloyd and the small Renault and Panhard, which contrive to be real cars in spite of their modest capacity. As to the latter, if you like modernistic American ” land-cruisers ” you doubtless liked the KaiserFrazers. We also had no news of the Wolseley programme, but it transpires that the new ” 4/50 ” and ” 6/80 ” replace the former models. The Eight is thus discontinued, leaving the Ford ” Anglia ” and Morris ” Minor ” as the only British 8-h.p. cars.

We feel that the boats and caravans and coachwork had much of their thunder stolen by the car exhibits. But nothing could subdue the Hooper Daimler drop-head, with its vast, curved screen swept by triple wipers, press-button control of windows and head, a dozen knobs on the facia, ivory plastic steering wheel, and Lucas head and pass lamps buried behind moulded Perspex windows in the front wings, each window topped by the Daimler fluted motif. But what occurs when a wave of mud obscures these windows so that even Mr. Lucas’ beams don’t stand an earthly ? Perhaps Messrs. Hoopers themselves are a trifle dubious, for headlamps of the entirely old-fashioned kind and location figured on their other Daintier exhibit. It was interesting to find boats at the price of a good pre-war secondhand car.

That must conclude this necessarily brief review of a great Exhibition, at which the major exhibits from the enthusiast’s point of view were the ‘X. -K120 Jaguar, the ” Spa Replica” Aston-Martin and the high-speed Frazer-Nash ” Competition ” two-seater.