A DAY OUT WITH A GRAND SPORTS “SALMSON.”
With Some Notes on the London—Gloucester Reliability Trial.
AS the date on which we were due to test the Grand Sports ” Salmson ” coincided with that of the London —Gloucester Trial, it was thought that our readers would be interested in an account of the performance of the famous 1,100 c.c. car over this particular route, as the car is essentially a sports machine.
The model referred to in the following notes was perfectly standard in all respects and had no preparation for the particular test, which turned out to be of an exceptionally searching character, a fact which will be admitted by all who participated as competitors.
Our first impressions of the Salmson were not altogether favourable, not exactly because there were any faults to find, but owing to the fact that it takes a little while to become accustomed to a machine of this type. This fact is recorded to show that although starting out with a bias against the car, it completely vindicated itself by the marvellous performance it put up during the day.
In accordance with our usual custom we will begin by noting a few criticisms which are as follows :—The steering at low speeds is not quite so easy as that of some cars we have tried and the absence of a differential gear is noticeable in traffic driving. One must become acquainted with the gear box to make quick and silent changes, but after a little experience, no difficulty is encountered in manipulating the gears with speed and certainty. The side brake is somewhat flimsy, but has been altered on later models. When travelling over bad roads the suspension is a trifle harsh, but this is compensated by the smoothness of the car at speed. There are two suggestions we would put forward as the result of our trial, the first being that security bolts should be adopted as standard for sporty drivers ; and secondly, a dash lamp would be welcome for reading route cards at night.
An Early Start for Slough.
As the zero hour at Slough was 7,1 a.m., we were up betimes on Saturday, December 12th, and during the trip across town were able to see how the Salmson would go along the quiet streets. It was when cornering at a good pace that the off-side front tyre was shed, but security bolts would have prevented this slight inconvenience. Happily the spare wheel and jack and wheel spanner were accessibly arranged in the tail and so little delay was caused, and we arrived at the departure point in time to see the motor-cycle contingent on their way. Leaving the Depot a few minutes later we made for Quarry Hill to observe the ascent of the cycles and three-wheelers, incidentally making the climb ourselves without any trouble whatever though no chains were fitted.
The Salmson has only three speeds but the ratios are excellently chosen, which gives a driver a good chance of going over any sort of hill and reach high road speeds as well. Quarry Hill was rough, wet and leaf-strewn, which made no difference to the Salmson, but the first competitor’s car attempting the ascent got hopelessly bogged.
Over Rough Country.
After the next climb, Beacon Hill, some very rough country was traversed where for high average speed it was necessary to use the four-wheel brakes to some effect. The lanes were very narrow and winding with sudden dips and rises, but the brakes and steering when going really fast, gave the greatest confidence, for one can literally throw the little machine round corners without getting into bad skids. By a clever arrangement of brake compensation the inner brake comes slightly into action when taking a corner which materially assists the steering, and the general balance of the car calls for the highest praise.
The nature of the going called for plenty of indirect gear work and on some occasions long distances were covered on first, but never did the engine show the slightest signs of distress, and, indeed, throughout the whole trial less than a pint of water was evaporated. Another pleasant thing to record is the regularity of the o.h.v. engine which, though severely ” pasted ” during the trial, did not miss once or oil up a single plug. One always remembers the clocklike regularity of the Salmsons in the 200 Miles Races, but, as our experience proves, they are capable of equally good performance under a twelve-hour road test where the conditions are even more severe. By this time the observed hills on the route were being climbed with almost monotonous regularity, the Salmson
being so good that one lost some of that pleasureable anxiety as to whether a proper climb could be made ; the matter became one of dead certainty.
Ease of Manipulating.
On arriving at Oxford we drove quietly through the city on top gear, without the noise and fuss which is too common with ultra-sports models. Even the eagle eyes of the constable on point duty at Carfax did not glare at the Salmson as it purred under his arms waiting till the road was clear. Clear of the city we came to some good roads for a while, and then came the opportunity of testing the “flat out” speed. Conclusions were tried with a well-driven 12/50 sports car and when we stopped till it came up again it was found that both speedometers had been flickering
round the 73 mark. The claims for a road speed of 75 m.p.h. for a Salmson are absolutely correct, not mere advertising “guff,” and it will certainly hold its own with a bit to spare against the average 1,500 c.c. car in respect to acceleration, hill climbing and maximum speed, whilst in its own class there are practically no rivals. At Cattswood the steep descent of a greasy lane called for more braking and then Stancombe Hill loomed ahead, the longest hill of the whole trial. At one point we found a suspicion of wheel spin, but the car was travelling up the incline fast enough to carry on by its own momentum until the wheels bit again and the non-stop climb was accomplished at a good speed. A few more woods and downs brought us to the Gloucester main road, and,
on reaching the city, a short stop was made, before setting off on the return journey with the motor-cyclists.
Over 30 m.p.h. up Birdlip.
The well-known ascent of Birdlip, a few miles out of Gloucester, on the main road, was taken on second gear and revving the engine up the little car flew round the left hand bend at 32 m.p.h. passing several combinations on the climb. On the homeward journey the conditions were less severe, including no observed hills, and only one innocuous watersplash. Passing Oxford again and on through Dorchester, we picked up with a motor-cyclist who was 20 minutes late and having but a feeble light could not make up time. Therefore, we used the Salmson as a kind of pacemaker, and, aided by our headlamps, the belated
competitor was able to get on at a good speed, though his machine dropped far behind when we trod on the gas.
A stop for a drop of oil and a cup of coffee made a short interval which brought the cars along, and for the rest of the trip we contented ourselves with a comfortable jaunt into Slough, where we arrived fairly fresh and comfortable after 200 odd miles of hard travelling.
Climbing Leith Hill.
After such a trip as the London-Gloucester, when one is driving as a free lance with a risk of getting caught by a secret check, it is quite reasonable to expect various adjustments, but nothing whatever was necessary on the Salmson, and on the following morning we set out for Leith Hill. The famous trial lane was in a sloppy condition at the bottom and we were warned by some motor-cyclists who had been up that the hill was impassable for a four-wheeler. However, by a quick dart through the slush, the Salmson fought its way up over the rough with plenty of revs in hand, though the gulleys and bumps provided a severe test for the suspension and frame.
Later in the morning, Pebblecombe was climbed on second gear at 33 m.p.h. from a standing start. Thus we have no misgivings about stating a definite opinion as to the splendid performance of this little car which exceeded our expectation in every way.
Finally, we may remind our readers that the Salmson holds the world’s record for the flying kilometre at 113.6 m.p.h. and the flying mile at 110.5 m.p.h. A short while ago the Salmson was timed unofficially at 121 m.p.h. on the Montlhery track, but this has not yet been confirmed by the F.I.C.M.
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