SPORTING CARS ON TEST: THE ” TWO-LITRE ” BALLOT. By RICHARD TWELVETREES.
THE fact that the Two-Litre Ballot, I tested recently is fitted with a very smart Weymann saloon body, does not in any way detract from its quali
ties as a really sporting vehicle ; in fact, with the uncertainties of our climate, many people are taking to this type of bodywork in preference to those of the allweather class and in these days one must not imagine that every closed car encountered on the road must necessarily be easy prey for the driver who must pass everything he sees. From my impressions at the end of a long day’s run
with the Ballot illustrated herewith, the car is capable of a very good turn of speed, whilst its general characteristics enable the driver to put up exceedingly good averages over give and take roads, besides getting about very quickly even in the thickest of London traffic. I am afraid that hitherto, with a very few exceptions,
I have been somewhat neglectful of the claims of the sporting saloon class of car, but since trying the Ballot have very strong sympathies with the people who favour it in preference to the open sports car, which they regard, perhaps rightly, as a fine weather machine.
Mr. George Newman, with whom I had recently discussed the merits and demerits of open and closed cars, suggested that a trial of the Ballot would serve to impress me as to the advantages of the saloon, and needless to say, I readily acquiesced with his proposal.
Immediately the car turned up for the test, I found that it was indeed a most handsome machine, both mechanically and from the coachbuilder’s point of view, and I think the camera will show this to be the case. Unlike many of the continental saloons, one finds plenty of room in the Ballot, whilst the degree of travelling comfort must be actually experienced before it can be fully realised. Driving away from home over a notoriously bumpy
piece of road, the splendid suspension called for my first remark of approval, for whereas most cars I have tried over this piece of road assumed a very irregular mode of progression, the Ballot sailed over the rough places with hardly a shock to the passengers, four of whom were carried during the series of tests. It did not take long to discover that this car is the outcome of a very large amount of practical road experience, and one settled down to the driving position as if the chassis and bodywork had been made to measure,
a point which makes all the difference in the world, when handling any car with a good turn of speed.
As may be expected in a car that owes its development largely to the racing experience of its makers, the Ballot possesses remarkably good road holding qualities and after various attempts to induce it to skid, I came to the conclusion that any success in that direction could only occur on an ice covered surface, which did not happen to be available at the time.
Another point which came to light during the journey through traffic, was the excellent lock, which is in no way impeded by the front wheel brake mechanism. The car can be swung round sharp corners in a way that excites the envy of taxi drivers and, moreover, the steering is so light and accurate that it renders driving a real pleasure at all times.
One minor criticism relates to the slight hesitation of the engine to pick up after the vacuum brakes have been applied, but this I found, was easily obviated as soon as one became accustomed to the control and did not really constitute any real inconvenience. I do not think the right kind of sparking plugs were fitted at the time of the test, for after spells of fast travelling, the engine was inclined to splutter now and then.
Leaving town via Putney and Wimbledon, a few tests for speed were made along the Sutton by-pass road, where in spite of the uneven surface 60 m.p.h. was touched on third gear and 75 m.p.h. on top. On all the indirect gears the transmission is very silky, due no doubt to the accuracy with which the teeth of the gears are ground and however fast the car is driven, there is no period of vibration.
Over Banstead downs towards Burgh Heath, the car sailed along very comfortably and maintained an effortless sixty for the greater part of the way. Even when travelling faster still, one did not really appreciate the pace, neither was there any effort to slow down when a gentle pressure was applied to the brakes.
At the risk of appearing eulogistic about the Ballot, I must give it credit for having one of the easiest gear changes I have ever handled and unless one is extremely awkward, it is impossible to make any noise as the gears are engaged. The third gear ratio is very useful and allows for quite quick acceleration, though if one wants to be particularly nippy, the second gear gives a refreshingly smart getaway. Using third gear alone, Reigate Hill was stir
mounted without dropping below 48 m.p.h. and most of the other hills on the run were taken on top gear, nothing severe in the way of colonial sections being tackled.
The Ballot is a car which one can travel indefinitely in the greatest comfort and gives saloon luxury with a sporting performance. In my opinion, it is about the best four cylinder car of its capacity on the road and would, I think, give a very good account of itself if tried against a great many makes with greater engine capacity.
Glancing over the principal mechanical features, we find a very high degree of workmanship throughout, for the makers, Etablissement Ballot, of Paris are engineers of world-wide reputation in marine and industrial circles.
As our illustration shows, the power unit is arranged with every care for accessibility, whilst the unit construction gives a very compact lay-out. The engine, rated at 12.1 h.p. is capable of turning over at 3,500 r.p.m. without any trouble and differs from the touring engine in that the overhead valves are inclined and operated from the overhead camshaft by rockers. The cylinder head is hemispherical and both the inlet and exhaust manifold are of large diameter.
The oiling system includes two oil pumps, one feeding the crank-shaft and the other the valve gear and all the oil has to pass through two large filters, thus preventing any possibility of the oil conduits becoming choked. There is a large combined oil filler, filter and breather
on the off side, the two above mentioned filters being located alongside in a very accessible position.
Up to about 30 m.p.h. the advance and retard of the ignition is automatic, after which it can be controlled by hand from a lever mounted above the steering wheel.
The absence of drumming and general dashboard noises is accounted for by the careful design of the aluminium dashboard, upon which all the instruments and fittings are rigidly mounted.
Built into the flywheel is a single plate clutch, in the design of which care has been taken to provide for heat dissipation, so that being smooth in operation, it is not likely to slip unintentionally. As mentioned previously, the gears are all ground and the following ratios are provided. First, 18.59 to 1 ; second, 12.08 to 1; third, 6.98 to 1; top, 4.72 to 1.