Rumblings, February 1962

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THE SIMCA 1000

It may not have been Gallic logic that prompted Simca to advertise in America that the only place for the engine is at the front of the car and then introduce its rear-engined Simca 1000. But, this apart, a great deal more is likely to be heard of the small Simca, which created quite a stir when it was introduced, although it was not at the last Earls Court Show.

Simca claim to have tested the new model for three years before introducing it. The 5-bearing engine revolves counter-clockwise to combat torque, has the centrifugal oil filter introduced by Fiat, inlet and exhaust manifolds on opposite sides of the block. and this over-square 944-c.c. engine, producing 45 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m. in standard form, should tune-as readily as readily as small Fiat power units.

The gearbox has synchromesh on all four forward ratios. New factory methods have been introduced for manufacturing the Simca 1000. These include new machining lines for component parts, two big roundabouts on which the power units are tested, a new body assembly line and new overhead upholstery and coachwork finishing lines.

Incidentally, when the Simca 1000 was almost ready for release its makers considered how it should he named—Arielle, Monate, Aile, Beauregard, Condor, Belle, Jeunesse, S, Senlis, Senart, Sylvia, S950 ? In the end the simple designation of Simca 1000 was chosen.

RADIO IN CARS

Car radio is generally regarded as one of the more essential items of extra equipment. However, although the car-radio industry supplies many and excellent sets, of which the ultimate is the self-selecting type, there is a strong case for a portable radio in certain circumstances.

If more than one car is owned by the same family it may not be deemed prudent to buy, and have to license, a set for every car. It may be that a person uses staff cars or similar vehicles not every one of which has a radio. It may even be that regular listening while motoring isn’t desired, yet at times, when on holiday or when a particular programme must not be missed, it is essential to have radio in the car.

The solution is a good, compact portable with provision for a plug-in aerial lead. The writer has been using with every satisfaction a Pye Transistor Q6. It gives excellent tone, is easy to tune, with a 2-way knob for long or short-wave reception, pulls in Luxembourg and other faraway stations, and is usefully rugged and compact. Modern transistor portables run off one battery for some six months, replacements being a matter of shillings, and there is the advantage that a separate licence is not required if the owner has another radio or a television set licensed for home use.

Belling & Lee Ltd. make a useful suction-fitted aerial for portable and car radios, which is heavily chromium plated, and extends from 13 in. to 3 ft. with a smooth telescopic action. Suitable for both A.M. and V.H.F./F.M. radio transmissions; it costs 22.s. 6d. with Cable and plug. It is distributed to the motor trade by the Enfield Tyre Co., 123/5., Baker Street, Enfield, Middx.

THE A40 MK. II

The first car that presented itself for road-test in 1962 was the Austin A40 in improved Mk. II Countryman form.

The original A40 made its debut late in 1958, being the first of B.M.C.’s range of Farina-styled cars. The A4o, with its square lines, conditioned the public for the subsequent arrival of those other “square-rigged ” B.M.C. products, the lssigonis-designed minicars that by this means pack so much into such compact dimensions.

The A40 is not a handsome car, being, like the oft-lamented Triumph Mayflower, in the writer’s opinion, one of the ” shunting engines of the road.” But it is a very handy ” large small car,” as witness the numbers in use. The Mk. II version has 3 more net b.h.p. than its predecessor, obtained by using an HS2. S.U. carburetter, with Cooper paper-element air cleaner previously found only on Export models. Interior trim, facia and seating have been altered for the better (although the front seats are not by any moans comfortable, the cushions being hard and the squabs reclining too much and having badly located padding), and the openable rear panel and window are retained so that as the rear seat folds away this is almost a miniature estate-car.

To give more room for back-seat occupants the wheelbase has been extended by nearly four inches; access would be easier if the front seats were self-propping. Externally there is a new full-width radiator grille in specially-treated light alloy and de luxe A40s have stainless steel screen and window surrounds and waist mouldings, while on this version the rear side windows open on catches, and there are useful items of additional equipment.

New also is the larger fuel tank, which gives.an absolute range of 235 1/2 miles, although the steady electric gauge shows empty some 30 miles earlier, so most owners would refuel after 205 miles. Feed is now by an S.U. electric pump, which makes considerable noise. After 160 miles disturbing fuel starvation set in for a few miles but the cure was automatic; the engine idled very roughly and frequently stalled.

The B.M.C. A-series 9.48-c.c. engine, developing 40 gross b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m., gives reasonable performance allied to a petrol consumption that worked out to 37.4 m.p.g. A pint of oil was consumed in 545 miles.

The facia incorporates a good speedometer, with which are combined fuel gauge and water thermometer, and a splendidly large but not lockable cubby-hole recessed to accommodate a camera; there is also a full-width under-facia shelf, slightly obscured by some untidy wiring. Flick-switches, rather high set, control panel lighting, heater blower and wipers. The test car had a .good, but not push-button, Radiomobile radio which interfered with the horn note; and a very effective heater. All lights controls are incorporated very conveniently in a right-hand rotatable stalk-switch, and the indicators are operated by a left-hand stalk.

The A40 now has a front anti-roll bar and it corners well for a car of this kind, remaining level, while the ride is comfortable.

Altogether this is a handy car, the remote floor gear-change rendering driving a pleasure even if the synchromesh is beatable by ambitious movements of the rigid little lever. It is, however, a rather narrow car, so that there is none of that welcome elbow-room with which Issigonis has endowed the B.M.C. minicars, no room to rest your clutch foot save under the pedal, and the quarter-lights foul the steering wheel when fully open, while the screen pillars are too thick and the noise level considerable. After a Mini Minor handling the A40 feels akin to walking a tight-wire and, while you cannot expect near-perfection and usefulness combined for a mere £657 (£716 in de luxe Countryman form, as tested), the Austin A40 is now in its fifth year and must soon, one feels, be superseded by some of those new B.M.C. models about which the Sunday Express wrote last year.