SPORTING CARS ON TEST.
THE FRAZER NASH SPORTS-TOURER. By RICHARD TWELNETREES.
TO many motorists the term of ” sports” as applied to a car conjures up one of two things, either a small, speedy and somewhat uncomfortable machine, or a highly expensive model capable of great acceleration, high maximum speed and a reasonable amount of body accommodation ; but the advantages of the latter are seldom to be found in cars within the purchasing powers of the man of moderate means.
Like many another motorist, my own leanings are in the direction of a car with an attractive turn of speed, reliability of the M.C.C. order and such regularity of performance that will ensure road service for seven days a week. When one has a small amount of cash available, there are many nippy little cars waiting to be bought, mostly of the two and three seater class. There are also machines of the ultra-sporting category which make constant demands upon one’s time and purse in order to maintain the maximum efficiency and sometimes to keep in roadworthy condition at all ; but directly a selection is directed towards any real combination of speed and service, it becomes obvious that this can only be secured for a relatively high initial cost. In looking round for a car to fulfil the above requirements, my choice fluctuated between the delightfully mischievous I3ugatti, the Amilcar, the Salmson and the Senechal. The first was rejected because of its need for more attention than my lazy disposition permits and the others owing to the limited body space available in the fast models. Having had but little experience of the Frazer Nash car, I classed it as an admirable machine for competition work but regarded it somewhat as a ” bag of nails unsuited to hard work for ordinary purposes. In this I was wrong, for though like other cars the Frazer Nash has its faults, some 7,000 miles hard work in the last three months has increased my respect with regard to its general reliability. Having had this experience, I could of course give far more details than has been possible with other makes dealt with previously in this journal, but the review must be treated in the
same way as the others, where the observations have been made during ordinary test runs.
My first run on a Frazer Nash four seater was made in October last, when it occurred to me that a slight increase in the size of the body would be an improvement from my point of view. On mentioning this to Capt. Frazer Nash he immediately offered to build a special body and fit a wider rear axle to give the necessary clearance. Even the request to design a special facia board equipped with a goodly array of instruments did not dismay him and what is more to the point he promised delivery and completed the car within three weeks of receiving the order. Most other makers were willing to add my name to a long waiting list, but could only supply standard models in all respects, none of which quite filled the bill.
As there may be readers who require a sports-cumutility car I will give a few details of the special Frazer Nash illustrated by the accompanying photographs.
The chassis is a standard super-sports model with an Anzani engine and a 4.1 to 1 top gear ratio on account of the extra weight of the body and equipment, the various late improvements including a modified clutch, special road springs, front wheel brakes, a new mounting for the radiator and a sturdy arrangement for the support of the front wings and lamps. Ample leg room is provided in the front seats, which with their pneumatic upholstery and sliding adjustments are extremely comfortable. Two adults can travel with comfort in the rear seats if they are not addicted to sprawling their legs and if the driver and his front passenger are not too fat, extra room can be afforded to those at the rear by sliding the seats well forward. The large single door on the near side gives easy access to all seats and also permits of a very rigidly constructed
engine temperature, for the radiator is actually too efficient and the cooling water seldom reaches 70 deg. centigrade. By the combination of a Benjamin radiator shutter and a Boyce motormeter, however, it is easy to keep the engine nicely warm, which makes a decided improvement both as to efficiency and fuel economy. This form of shutter, which incidentally is the least expensive on the market, is free from rattles and works admirably in all respects.
To guard against possibilities of cylinder wear, reported to be one of the weak points in the Anzani engine, a ” Protectomotor ” air filter was fitted, which supported from the carburettor by a neat aluminium cast pipe, makes a very workmanlike job ; but, of course, its true worth will not be discovered until the rain gives place to dusty roads.
body, the bodywork of a the Frazer Nash car having previously been somewhat on the flimsy side, according to my information. The new lines of this four-seater body are distinctly pleasing as the ” hump” between the end of the bonnet and the windscreen has been avoided, thus giving a very graceful appearance. It was originally intended to fit a flat double windscreen as illustrated on the model described in an earlier issue, but at the risk of sacrificing a little comfort for appearance the Vee screen shown was finally decided upon.
As a matter of fact this screen is entirely satisfactory and keeps out all but a few drops of rain in the worst showers. The low hood and side curtains turn the open sports car into a very cosy little all weather car, which if a little warm when closed up, certainly excludes all draughts and rain. Running the car during the winter months convinced me as to the desirability of maintaining the correct
As the capabilities of the Frazer Nash are well known to our readers it is unnecessary for me to dwell at any length on the subject, especially as with this particular car the highest ultimate speed has been sacrificed to general utility. But, nevertheless, it can travel quite fast and recently in a twenty-four mile ” all out” rtm, with four aboard, the car showed a clean rear number plate to the two occupants of a more ekpensive supersports two-seater of known performance and touched an accurate 73 m.p.h. on several parts of the trip. At this speed it ran dead steady, steered without effort, took corners fast and could be slowed down, giving a feeling of the greatest security. Though remarkably steady on greasy surfaces, the car possesses the pleasing peculiarity of skidding when required to turn sharp corners, but always straightens up at the will of the driver at the correct instant required, which makes quick cornering a most fascinating manceuvre.
With a little pactice, gear changing can be done without using the clutch, and the dogs will engage so smoothly that passengers suspect friction drive, which is excusable owing to the entire absence of transmission disturbances on all ratios. Some attention, however, must be given to the accurate adjustment and lubrication of the clutch operating mechanism as failure of the clutch shaft to stop causes damage to the corners of the first gear dogs on engagement. Thus the slight rounding of the dogs causes the first gear to jump out of mesh when the engine runs fast—a very disconcerting thing when hill-climbing at high speeds on first gear. Correct chain adjustment is, of course, very important, but in regulating the tension of the chains a compromise has to be effected, as usually the second gear chain is rather on the tight side, unless the others are left a little slack. This, apparently, is due to some slight inaccuracy of the chain centres, which, however, is not of any serious magnitude.
The lining of the brakes has good wearing properties but emits a peculiar smell when long application is made, but on the whole the brake mechanism is entirely satisfactory.
One of the mechanical peculiarities of the Frazer Nash transmission is that the feathers, or keys, on the countershaft carrying the driving sprockets must fit loosely as otherwise the act of gear changing is said to create burrs which will cause the sliding dogs to stick, Theoretically there is no reason for such an argument, but one must be guided by the experience of the manufacturers, though personally I should like to try properly proportioned splined shafts in place of those hitherto fitted. My experience of the chain transmission has been entirely satisfactory and given proper attention to lubrication there seems no reason why the chains should not give very great mileage before any replacements become necessary.
Petrol and Oil Consumption.
In the matter of fuel consumption the Vrazer Nash is quite satisfactory and as fitted with a mixture to give the maximum speed and acceleration, using the car largely for town as well as long distance work, an average of nearly 30 m.p.g. to obtained. This can be increased to 35 or 40 m.p.g. if one is content with a less powerful kick on starting and a maximum speed of about 60-65 m.p.h.
When supplied the oil pressure was set at about 801bs. per square inch, but as soon as the first 1,000 miles was covered, a weaker spring on the pump reduced it to 301bs. per square inch and since then the oil consumption has been quite normal, i.e., about 1,000 m.p.g. This is very good for a Frazer Nash car and is probably due to the care taken during the running in process and frequent renewals of oil in the base chamber.
The ultra-rapid acceleration coupled with the absence of a differential is apt to create rather excessive wear on the treads of the rear tyres, but with reasonable luck, one should get about 10,000 miles from a set of covers.
Advantages of Aluminium Finish.
On the question of finish for the bodywork, some people are averse to aluminium, firstly on the score of the trouble in keeping the metal clean and, secondly, because it is supposed to attract unwelcome attentions from the police. Agreed, that aluminium for the wings is somewhat of a mixed blessing owing to the possibility of cracks developing, the use of the metal generally unadorned with paint has many advantages. It is easy to wash and requires far less attention than paint and varnish, though more elbow grease is required. Even through the muddy season an all-aluminium car is, in my experience, easier to keep clean than any other, and certainly nothing looks quite as smart.
(Coniinnect on page 242).