Sporting Cars on Road & Track
Cars on Road &Track
By Open Throflic)"
The Super-Sports Austin Seven.
WHEN the ordinary model of the Austin Seven made its appearance in the year 1923, few motorists had the slightest idea that it was destined to reach the high position it occupies to-day in the esteem of the sporting motorist, and the present" Brooklands " Super-Sports model certainly opens up possibilities for many a keen owner to whom the ownership of a really fast car had previously been a cherished ambition.
If the successes of this model have caused astonishment among racing men in our own country, its remarkable feats on the Continent have created something in the nature of complete bewilderment to the followers of road and track events across the channel, where it has literally swept the board in competition with ultralight cars of long-standing reputation.
I had long looked forward to an opportunity of trying one of the latest models over my own pet testing ground, to see whether the little Austin, in racing trim, possessed roadworthy qualities comparable with its track performance, and the car used for the purpose was taken straight from the stock of Messrs. George England, Ltd., who are responsible for the various modifications of this particular model, the chassis being, of course, supplied by The Austin Motor Company, Ltd.
Observations as a Passenger.
In accordance with my usual testing practice, I decided to travel for the first few miles in the passenger's seat, in order to observe points about the car which one is liable to overlook when taking the wheel immediately. The first thing that impressed me was the amount of room for a passenger of average dimensions, and that no sensation of being cramped exists. The pneumatic upholstery is quite delightful and the riding position gives one the impression of being part of the car, which is increased by the correct angle of the squab and the foot-rest, the latter providing a housing for the accumulator.
The first hill was approached by a blind right hand bend, and though the driver had no previous knowledge of the somewhat tricky turn, his quick manipulation of the gear showed that the Austin is certainly very handy to control. In fact, at this early stage of the test, it appeared as if there was at least 20 h.p. available under the bonnet, instead of a modest "Seven." Part of the course included some long straight stretches, with a very rough surface, and this provided an excellent test for the suspension system when travelling at high speed. On one occasion the rear springs " bottomed " over a double pot-hole, but as
the combined weight of the passengers amounted to well over 23 stone, this could not be wondered at. Subsequently I discovered that the rear shock absorbers were adjusted rather too tightly, which undoubtedly had some influence on the suspension generally.
Hedsor Hill is somewhat deceptive as a brake testing gradient, for the sharp turn half way down necessitates the sudden application of the brakes, but the car was kept well in control by the use of the front and rear wheel brakes alternatively, even when making a very fast descent. On this particular car, it appeared that the brakes were a little fierce in action, probably due to want of a good run in, but otherwise I could make no adverse comments.
Hill Climbing Tests.
I took over the wheel at Bisham and being well acquainted with the hard climb through the woods to Winter Hill, wondered if the Austin would require a spell of bottom gear. At the foot of this hill I dropped into second gear and the rev, counter immediately went up to 3,500, which dropped slightly on rounding the hairpin bend. At first it seemed as if bottom gear would be needed, but I had underestimated the Austin acceleration, for on getting into the straight again, on the next part of the climb, the revolutions rose to just over 4,000, thus enabling me to use top gear before the summit was reached.
The greasy surface at the hairpin bend seemed to present great opportunities for a first-class skid, but though I actually tried one, the little car kept to its even course and refused to oblige even with the slightest suspicion of tail-wag.
Though the car is not obviously intended for colonial conditions, I could not resist the temptation of .trying it at a " stunt " hill in the neighbourhood. I think this particular hill is very little known at present. It boasts of a very greasy limestone surface, crossed by two deep water courses and a maximum gradient of between i in 3 and I in 4. The severity of the hill may be judged by the fact of a notice board stating : "Motor Vehicles Not Allowed Through Here," it having been discovered last year when attempting to find a gradient which an Alvis Sports would not climb. Perhaps I was guilty of attempting the first part of the climb at too high a speed, as unfortunately one of the wheels slipped into a water course, which pulled the car up with a jerk. As this occurred at the very steepest part of the climb, it was intended to run down and try again ; but on making an attempt to get away,
I found to my surprise, that with the aid of the 14.5 to r bottom gear, the car pulled itself out with ease and finished the climb on top without the least signs of distress.
On concluding the test for hill climbing, the return journey was made over good roads, which gave the opportunity of judging how the car would behave under ordinary fast touring conditions. At a speed of 5o miles an hour, it seemed as if one could keep on driving for ever without fatigue, though naturally one has to become accustomed to the difference between driving a miniature car and one of the ordinary dimensions.
Whilst it holds the road admirably, the Austin Sports is distinctly lively, but gives no suggestion of the "pea on a drum" effect, of which it is sometimes unjustly accused.
The engine gets on with its business in a contented kind of way and the careful selection of gear ratios never gives rise to an undue screaming, if the gear change is manipulated properly. The exhaust has a pleasant note and the careful tuning to which all models of this type are subjected results in a rhythmical roar, free of all spluttering or other irregularities at all engine speeds.
At the finish of the test, the Boyce motor-meter, fitted to the radiator cap, proved that the engine was remarkably cool, even after the long spells of second speed gear work in which we indulged. I can truthfully use the word "indulged," as the second gear is so delightful,
that it was called upon on many occasions for the purpose of getting up a good speed on the level, as well as for surmounting steep gradients.
On second gear there is no difficulty in attaining 4,000 revolutions per minute, and at no opening of the throttle can any trace of a "fiat spot" be detected. Two Zenith carburettors of the 30 H.K. type are employed, these being mounted on two induction pipes arranged between the three exhaust pipes leading to the manifold.
A casual examination of the engine rev* eals very few departures from the standard lay-out, but consist in a high compression cylinder head, a high lift camshaft, and special pistons and timing gear. To permit of the high engine speeds, light Celerity valves are used in conjunction with double springs and specially designed tappets. Particular care has been paid to the lubrication system, which is effected by forced feed to the big-ends through the drilled crankshaft.
The gear box is quiet in action and by the use of a special crown wheel and pinion, in the rear axle, the following ratios are provided : First speed, 14.5 to 1. Second speed, 8.17 to 1. Top speed, 4.09 to I.
In its general construction and dimensions the chassis is standard, which is a tribute to the design of the original Austin Seven, but the body work is of a patent construction, framed in three ply and white wood, with aluminium panelling. To aid in securing a perfect streamline effect, a special undershield is fitted and both front and rear axle are " faired " in accordance with racing practice. Normally, the bucket seats are staggered to the extent of nine inches ; but can, if so desired, be made to suit the requirements of individual purchasers.
The equipment includes Hartford shock absorbers, specially adapted to the springs, C.A.V. electric lighting and an A.T. revolution counter, calibrated to show miles per hour on top gear.
A Boyce motor-meter is included as standard and the spare wheel is carried in a very ingenious manner in the tail, being readily accessible by the removal of the streamlined cover which projects a few inches above the top of the body. Plenty of luggage room is available behind the seat squabs' and another feature of the body construction is four sliding panels, giving access to the brake adjustment and regulators for shock absorbers.
NORTH LONDON M.C.C.
Prof. A. M. Low presided over the fifth annual dinner, a large party of members and guests were present.
Professor Low spoke of the amenities of club life and the excellent record of the club in particular. He quoted as an example the London rally of motorists, held each Whit Monday, which attracted over 1,200 enthusiasts to the Alexandra Palace last June.
Mr. Alan W. Day, the hon. secretary, stated that the 1924 season had been spoiled to a great extent by the continued bad weather, and that several of the more important events had been cancelled. He dwelt upon the inadvisability of the formation of numerous local clubs, a direction in which there has been considerable activity in the past few months, and pointed out that the best interests of the sport as a whole were not served by a multitude of small organisations who could never run events on a large scale and who rarely survived beyond their first season. During the past three years no fewer than eight local clubs have been formed in North and North West London, seven of which are now defunct.
The various trophies and awards secured during the season were distributed, and special mention was made of the handsome Ivison Cup, presented each year by Mr. A. J. M. Ivison, vice-president, and of the Cuffe Cup, giVen annually by Mr. G. E. Cuffe, the late trials organiser, who is now in Assam.
The engine capacity being only 747.5 cubic centimetres, qualifies the car for all sporting events in the 750 c.c. category, and as each example is sold with a " Brooklands " certificate of 75 miles per hour, it may be taken that there is every reason for expectir g a track speed of at least 80 miles per hour after the necessary amount of running in.
The price of the machine in racing trim is £265, and a hood screen and wings can be fitted as extras if desired, though these take nearly To m.p.h. off the maximum speed.
The Bentley Range of Models.
As the Bentley Speed Model has achieved a worldwide reputation, one is rather too ready to think of the name in connection with sporting machines alone. The Bentley range of models includes all types, such as the two-seater, the four-five seater tourer and saloons, these various models being suitable for motorists other than the racing and sporting owner.
We have received from James Walmsley & Co. (Preston), Ltd., Frank Street, Preston, an interesting booklet giving full details of the 350 c.c. overhead-valve Bradshaw engine. We understand that readers desirous of obtaining a copy can do so if they apply to Walmsleys, mentioning The BROOKLANDS GAZETTE, and enclosing stamps for postage.
The Motor Cycling Club is issuing an artistically designed Souvenir to past and present members of the Club who have gained Gold Medals in any LondonEdinburgh Run. It is 2 in. in diameter, enamelled in two colours, and costs Io /—,
Application for the Souvenir should be made to the Captain of the Club, Mr. W. H. Wells, Moss Hall Lodge, North Finchley, N. 12.