A HAND-MADE “FIFTEEN HUNDRED”
APEW years ago the 1,500 c.c. class provided the widest range of sports cars of any, and this category was always assured of abundant support in competition events. The greatly increased speeds of ” eleven-hundreds ” and ” seven fifties,” however, had a natural reaction, and one and a half litre sports cars declined in popularity.
But now there are signs of the type coming into its own again. Many motorists appreciate the extra accommodation provided in a 12 h.p. car, especially if it is desired to carry a complement of four occasionally, to say nothing of the comfort provided, by a longer wheelbase.
A most interesting newcomer to the class is the British Salmson, and we recently had the opportunity of inspecting and having a short run in one of the first 12/70 h.p. cars to be completed. Actually there are two models, the standard 12/55 h.p. and the sports 12/70 h.p.It is the latter with which we are concerned in this article. One’s first impression on raising the bonnet is the extraordinarily high degree of finish given to the engine and its components. Wherever possible the parts have
been chromium plated, including all the carburetter and ignition control rods, and the whole power unit bears the untuistakeable stamp of its origin in an aero-engine factory.
The engine is a four-cylinder unit, with a bore of 69 mm. and a stroke of 98 tam, giving a total cubic capacity of 1,470 c.c. The pistons are made of a special aluminium alloy,
and are provided with three normal rings and one scraper. Great attention has been paid to the cylinder block and bores, and the combined assembly of pistons and cylinders is guaranteed to give a mileage of at least 40,000 before re-boring and new pistons are required, and at the same time keep the oil consumption down to 2,000 miles per gallon. The connecting rods are of H section, nickel chrome being used. The main and big end, and also the little end bearings are of white metal. The three bearing crankshaft and all reciprocating parts are statically ° and dynamically balanced throughout. As in the case of the old Salmson sports cars, the head
is hemispherical, so that the maximum efficiency is obtained from the engine. The 18 mm. plugs, one per cylinder, are pocketed. The compression ratio is fli to 1.
The overhead valves are set at an angle in the head, and are operated by means of twin overhead camshafts. A vertical drive from the rear of the crankshaft is used, and the camshafts are carried in three phosphor bronze bearings. An interesting feature is that they are provided with vibration dampers in the centre.
Starting handle lock.
A large dynamotor is driven off the front end of the crankshaft, and projects through the radiator. Ingenuity has been displayed in the socket for the starting handle. This socket is protected from dust and mud by a flap, which, when lifted to its fullest extent, automatically prevents the starting handle slipping out beyond a certain point. There is no danger of forgetting to push the flap right back, for the handle cannot be turned until it is in the locked position. Two Solex self-starting carburetters are fitted, and the fuel
is fed to them from the 10 galion rear tank by means of an S.U. pressure pump. Ignition is by one of the famous Scintilla magnetos which have been favoured by racing car designers for many years. This instrument is driven from the vertical shaft of the camshaft drive. The radiator gives a really ample cooling area, and it has not been deemed necessary to fit a water pump. The radiator shutters are
operated by an unusual method, namely by oilpressure. The great advantage of this system over thermostat-control is that the shutters are fully closed in less than a minute after the enginehas stopped, thereby maintaining the water temperature as long as possible. The reverse applies when starting from cold, however, for the oil pressure opens the shutters wide immediately, so that the , two systems are more or less equal in merit. The engine is rubber mounted at four points and the clutch is a Borg and Beck single dry plate unit of normal design. The gear box provides four forward speeds, and is synchromesh from second to
third and from third to top gear. The shift lever is right to the driver’s hand, and works by means of a remote-control shaft and gate.
The transmission consists of a torque tube and a Gleason spiral bevel final drive. The rear axle ratio is 4.5 to 1.
The chassis is a well-braced frame of normal design. Suspension is elected by means of semi-elliptic springs in front and quarter-elliptics at the rear, and it is typical of the thorough equipment of the car that their action is controlled by Andre Hydro-telecontrol shock absorbers operated from the dash board. Spring gaiters are fitted as standard.
The steering is of the Manes-Weller pattern, and the wheel is raked at exactly the right angle. The brakes, in a cursory examination of the car, strike one as being inadequate owing to the small size of the drums. In practice, however, this has been found correct for the weight and size of the car, and at slow speeds at any rate, the car pulls up with great suddenness, as we can personally testify. They are of the Beudix self-energising two-shoe type. The chassis lubrication nipples are grouped, four under the bonnet and two on the back axle, and easy maintenance
is assisted by four-wheel permanent jacks, which are a standard fitment.
The electrical equipment of the British Salmson has been carefully designed to ensure unfailing reliability. The battery is 12 volts 70 amperes, and all the wiring is heavily armoured. In addition, separate fuses for all electrical accessories are fitted in a box on the scuttle bulkhead, and no trouble should be experienced from this part of the car’s equipmmt for many years. A master switch is provided in an accessible but unlikely position.
The whole chassis has been designed with the single aim of perfection, and every nut and bolt, used in its construction is made of high tensile steel. The model we inspected was fitted with an open 4 seater sports body, and was equipped with the usual folding windscreen, large dial revolution counter incorporating a clock, large-dial speedometer, petrol gauge, ammeter, oil gauge and water thermometer. T he dimensions of the car ar,t as follow :
Wheelbase, 9′ 21″.
Track, 4′ 21″.
Ground clearance, 7.
Turning circle, 35″.
Weight of chassis, 12 cwt.
Weight of 4 seater sports, 16 cwt. The price of the chassis i £365 and of the sports tourer £445, for which sum one receives a motor car which has been designed with great care and assembled with precise accuracy by men who are accustomed to the unhurried construction of aeroplane engines—a job where in
accuracy or bad workmanship can easily spell death. In the course of a brief run through the West End on a car which had only travelled 300 miles we gained a fa N ourable impression of the new British Salmson. It accel.-:rated briskly, although being
held down to 2,500 r.p.m., and had that taut feel which characterises the handmade sports car. When run in, a maximum speed of 80 m.p.h. is obtainable, and we are looking forward to a full road test of the car at an early date.
The address of the manufacturers is British Salmson Aero-Engines Ltd., Raynes Park, London, S.W.20. The London Distributors are Shrimpton Motors, Ltd., 38/39, Berkeley Street, London, W.1, at whose showrooms the car is on view.
Vintage Postbag, August 1962
Sir, Your reference to 'buses prompts me to recall a few interesting vehicles. Memory recalls a 14-seat Reo operating between Buckfastleigh and Holne (Devon). The interior was divided into front…
The confidence game
Why Jackie Stewart believes David Coufthard's miserable season may not be such a bad thing Having chosen not to retain the 1992 and '93 World Champions, and seen Damon Hill…