SPORTING CARS ON TEST.
THE 2-LITRE LAGONDA SPEED MODEL.
By THE EDITOR.
T},c,,,G. it is not generally realised, the firm of Lagonda, Ltd. is one of the oldest automobile manufacturing concerns in this country. Twentyfive years ago the Lagonda Tricars were famous, while in the years just before and just after the war, the firm’s light cars earned a reputation for solid and unostentatious worth.
It Came as a great surprise, therefore, when, in 1925, Lagonda, Ltd., changed their policy completely and began to market an extremely modern design of 2-litre car, a variation of which is the subject of these notes.
We are indebted to Messrs. Gaffikin, Wilkinson & Co., Ltd., of Hanover Square, for the loan of a speed model Lagonda during a recent week-end, the particular car tested being their own demonstrator, which, according to the speedometer, had covered some 6,000 miles. Before describing our impressions of the car on the
road, we feel that the whole chassis demands attention from the enthusiast, so bristling is it with ingenious and useful features. A glance at the engine reveals the presence of two overhead cam-shafts, operating inclined overhead valves in hemispherical combustion heads. This glance, however, does not reveal the fact that the heads and
ports are polished and machined wherever possible, nor that the crankshaft is carried on five large bearings, thus minimising whips and vibration.
The camshafts are driven by inverted tooth chains and a skew gear from the left hand (or inlet) one drives the magneto which is set at right angles to the engine in a remarkably accessible position. The dynamo and the thermostatically controlled water pump ate also arranged in easily ” get-at-able” places and driven by shafts from the camshaft drive. The cylinder-head, complete with valve rockers,
can be removed without disturbing the camshafts or the timing, a feature which should appeal to the ownerdriver and which justifies the use of two camshafts, instead of the more usual one.
Other interesting features are, central disposition of the grease-gun nipples for the more inaccessible parts of the chassis (the nipples are grouped midway along the chassis members on either side), and the easy adjustment of all the pedkl positions, apart from the actual method of taking up the fully-compensated brake gear.
‘So much for the main features of the car, and after registering a mild thrill of admiration for the lean and sporting lines of the Lagonda, we settled ourselves into the pneumatic upholstery and set out.
For once, first impressions were almost absent ; maybe, we are becoming blasé ; maybe, the car was one which did its work without demanding much concentration on the part of the driver, but whatever the cause our passage of several miles of particularly clogging traffic, in growing dusk, was performed without any one feature of the car thrusting itself before our notice.
Speed on Brockley Hill.
Naturally, as it was someone else’s, and a strange car, we performed no fireworks in London traffic, so that no violent braking or sudden acceleration was demanded. In short, we burbled gently and sedately through the Northern suburbs until at last Edgware was behind us and the sharp rise of Brockley Hill in front. Here a certain depression occuried in the neighbourhood of the accelerator pedal and sundry needles moved round dials to positions not usually occupied by similar needles on the cars of law-abiding citizens,
Descending to actual figures, a drop to third-gear on the steep portion of the hill allowed us to maintain a speed of about 53 m.p.h. over the summit, when an omnibus caused a moment of embarassment, easily banished when the power of the F.W.B.’s was experienced. No high-speeds were indulged in until the following day, but during the evening we had ample Opportunity of learning some of the good points of the car, the dipping headlights proving a particularly intriguing toy. We think, however, that the position of the lever might be improved, as, when dipped, its head comes very near the gear lever ; as a gear-changing device the lamp dipper was not quite so effective as it might have been.
86 miles per hour.
On the following day a few speed-trials were carried out on a new arterial road and some interesting data were obtained. All the speeds were recorded by speedometer only, but, for reasons which will be disclosed later, we did not doubt the accuracy of this instrument.
The highest speed actually recorded was 86 m.p.h., m working up to which 52 m.p.h. and 72 m.p.h. were attained on 2nd gear (8.25 to r) and 3rd gear (5.28 to r), respectively. These speeds were accomplished on a very slightly falling gradient and the run in the less favourable direction, when the start was distinctly slow, failed to produce more than 70 m.p.h. on top gear, though this figure could also be attained on 3rd.
It will be seen, therefore, that the mean speed resulting from these runs was approximately 78 m.p.h., which is just about the maximum to be expected from a car of this size and type.
However, on a later occasion, with three people aboard, we achieved 82 m.p.h. and held over So m.p.h. for several miles of undtlating road, so that a maximum of four times the legal limit is definitely within the powers of this car.
During the above incident, we unwittingly traversed a stretch of badly corrugated road at very high speed— we say unwittingly, because at the time the car certainly did not betray any sign of the state of the road and only the passengers remarked its true condition. However, on accelerating, a severe attack of wheel-wobble occurred at about Co m.p.h. and only ceased when the speed dropped to 40 m.p.h. Thereafter we found it impossible to exceed 60 m.p.h. without the wobble recurring, so, thinking something must have been shaken loose, we stopped, and proceeded to wander vaguely round with a spanner in the *ay that motorists do when puzzled.
• The faintest suspicion of looseness was detected and remedied in the steering-box attachment to the chassis, and the front Hartfords were taken up a whole turn. Without any real confidence, we then proceeded on our way, and lo! the trouble had completely vanished and we were at liberty to indulge in maximum speed again. After this we were careful to notice the conditions of the road surface—not because we wished to spare the car in any way, but simply because we found it so hard to believe our eyes. The Lagonda definitely ignored all irregularities of the road, and, in our opinion, must be one of the best sprung cars on the market. It was possible to drive all out over the most potholey ” roads and to be absolutely unaware that the road was anything but smooth concrete, only incidents like that described above being capable of opening our eyes to what was really happening.
Steering at all speeds was extremely light, and the car betrayed no inclination to wander from the intended route, but for negotiating twisty roads we should have preferred a somewhat higher gear ratio between the steering wheel and the road wheels. Probably this would involve the sacrifice of some of the lightness, but the existing arrangement required too much winding of the wheel and changing of hands on S-bends and hairpins.
On the only occasion when a skid was provoked (by running on to a totally unexpected and startling piece of ice covered road) the low-geared steering rendered correction rather uncertain.
On corners the car was distinctly good, especially as we were often deceived into taking them rather faster than we intended, but there was a very slight tendency to roll, which just took the very smallest morsel of pleasure from the driving.
Apart from the three points so far mentioned, there was absolutely nothing to criticise on the I,agonda, and one of these points is only a matter of personal taste.
It is impossible to speak too highly of the brakes, which proved equal to the wildest emergency, could be applied hard on any surface or corner, and enabled the most phenomenal average to be maintained over twisty roads. In spite of this, they were paragons of smoothness and required practically no effort to operate. Perhaps it is because, in the ordinary way, we parade the country in a vehicle that is to all intents brakeless —but every up-to-date car we try seems to possess the most superlative brakes. However, although we have made the remark so often before, we have never tried better brakes than those of the Lagonda, and no servo business either! The hand brake, working on the rear wheels only,
is fitted with an unusual and excellent ratchet which only ” sprags ” the brake ” on ” when a button is pressed in the ordinary way it flies “off” when released—the opposite to the usual ratchet lever and very convenient for fast driving.
A Car for High Averages.
During a week-end we covered almost exactly 5oo miles, mostly at high speed, but the petrol consumption was never worse than 20 m.p.g. and usually seemed in the neighbourhood of 24 m.p.g. The car was extremely easy and pleasant to handle at all speeds—it could hum along at an effortless 6o in the most restful manner, but if exuberance prevailed, full use had to be made of the gearbox to secure any real liveliness in accelerating from corners or checks. In this respect, the Lagonda is very similar to a well-known 3-litre car which it resembles also to a certain extent in outward appearance. If full use is made of brakes and gears, a high average is possible, as we proved, by covering the distance of 44 miles between King’s Lynn and Cambridge in exactly an hour, over decidedly tortuous roads. The Lagonda can, therefore, be thoroughly recommended as a charming dual personality car—for
rapid laziness” or as a real hogbus,” and it was with many regrets that we returned it to Messrs. Gaffikin, Wilkinson and Co.
The price of the chassis is 53(:1 and of the complete car 4;675, neither of which sums are in any way exorbitant.
The makers are Lagonda, Ltd., Staines, Middlesex, and we understand that any reader applying to Staines and mentioning .1/ttor Sport will be provided with a full range of literature and facilities for a trial run.