THE PACKARD TWIN SIX
A TWELVE CYLINDER AUTOMOBILE POSSESSING EXCEPTIONAL SMOOTHNESS, ACCELERATION, AND QUIET SPEED.
THE name of Packard has for many years been linked in the minds of European motoring enthusiasts with all that is finest in Transatlantic design and workmanship. For this reason we were especially glad to avail ourselves of the opportunity of putting one of the latest Twin-Six models through the usual MOTOR SPORT tests with regard to acceleration, braking, and maximum speed, in addition to its behaviour on main and secondary roads.
The particular car in question was the property of an American reader of Mc-mon SPORT, Mr. Cunningham, who visited this country in the autumn and brought his Packard Twin-Six with him for the purpose of touring the British Isles.
i leaving our offices in Victoria Street we took things fairly quietly, for the car was fitted with left-hand drive, and the necessary vision to pass a large vehicle ahead had to be supplied by the passenger. As it was, we were greatly impressed by the quiet engine, which was well-nigh inaudible, and the smooth dutch with which it was impossible to make a bad getaway, even when starting in top gear. A lazy driver could stay in top gear all day with the Packard, driving right through Central London. Second is the usual gear for starting, the only purpose of low being for getting away on steep mountain gradients. The business of starting reminds us of the ingenious method of ” choking ” the engine when cold. The accelerator pedal is fully depressed, thereby closing the choke. As soon as the engine fires the pedal can be released, leaving the choke in operation. Then, by means of a thermostat, it is gradually opened as the engine warms up. A minimum amount of ” choking” is therefore used, so that the cylinder walls do not get washed with petrol as is so often the case with a hand
strangler, causing piston and cylinder wear.
Brooklands was our destination, and the Kingston By-Pass gave us an opportunity of discovering the wonderful topgear acceleration of the Packard. Corners taken fast revealed the need for shock absorbers, which were tightened as we drove by means of a lever on the dashboard. And so we arrived at the Track. Our first procedure was to time the car over a standing half mile, and this was carried out in 35.2 secs. Then followed the usual acceleration figures from a steady 10 m.p.h. and the excellence of the Packard
in this respect can be judged by a close examination of the accompanying graph.
The accelerator pedal was then fully depressed, the windows were wound up in order to improve the streamlining of the car, and we set off to see what she would do over a flying half mile. We were then at the Aeroplane Sheds, so the car hardly had a chance to get to its maximum before the long up-grade of the Members’ Banking was reached. Our speed on this occasion was 85, which did not satisfy Mr. Cunningham, so without lifting our foot we continued for another whole lap, and this time the speed for the half mile worked out at 87.3 m.p.h.
Carry on,” said Mr. Cunningham, and so we obeyed, -although not without a certain amount of diffidence, for we knew that he had to be at Southampton at 3 o’clock that afterroon in order to catch the” Aquitania.” Round we went again, and ” A7.3 ” said the stop-watch man in the back, which had to satisfy even the hard-hearted Mr. Cunninehatn, who expected a slightly higher maximum.
In actual tact, hov ever, we were doing 91 m.p.h. past the Fork, whi h was near enDugh to the stated maximum of 93 m.p.h.— es.-ecially as the car had not been touched after a three months tour of Great B-itain.
In spite of the appalling surface of 13rooklands Track, the Packard was as steady as a rock, even on the stretch from the Members’ Banking to the Railway Straight. The steering had been criticised on the way down owing to its low ratio, but no trouble at all was experienced at high speed. A low booming sound was all that could be heard from the engine when flat-out and the impression was given that the car would run at its maximum all day without overheating or showing signs of distress. The reason for this can be found in the accompanying photograph of the Packard Proving ground, where stock cars are made to run at their maximum indefinitely, until something cracks under the
strain. This part is then strengthened, and the process is repeated. The fact that aeroplane engines are also made at the factory accounts for a good deal of the Packard’s proverbial reliability. One point cannot be stressed too much. American cars are notorious, in many
people’s minds, for fast speedometers. It is true that this evil practise was initiated by Transatlantic factories, to be copied whole heartedly by European manufacturers. The Packard, however, actually possesses a speedometer which gives a reading slower than the real speed of the car. Over the timed half mile at 37.3 m.p.h. the needle registered a steady 84 m.p.h.!
The brakes pulled the car up from 40 m.p.h. in 65 feet, without a trace of deviation. Our only criticisms of the car were firstly, that the steering is too low geared. Sharp corners can be taken quite quickly providing one is ready to wind the wheel several times, but wet roads and a skid would probably cause considerable difficulty. The second criticism is that the car rolled when cornered fast, even with the ride control in operation, but this could be remedied by additional shock absorbers.
Altogether the Packard Twin Six is a most interesting car. It is fast, amazingly smooth, and silent. It handles easily and positively. A finer car for really long journeys or extensive tours would be difficult to find.
The concessionaires for the Packard in England are Messrs. Leonard Williams, Ltd., Berkeley Street, London, W.1, who have a full range of models on view both at their showroom and at the service works on the Great West Road.