A fast run on a well tried car.
There are a great many people who are frightened to buy a sports car on the grounds that any high speed machinery is bound to wear out quickly and as they cannot afford continual replacements, they stick to a touring car. The other view is that as a sports car has to be capable of giving a high performance it must be strongly built and such a car should give better service over a long period than a touring car driven at its limit all the time.
The latter view is the one we have always held and we were therefore interested in the idea of taking out a Schneider saloon which was offered to us for a day’s run to the Midlands, as this particular car had already seen 50,000 miles of service.
Taking a completely strange car over in the midst of London traffic, does not give much chance to get used to the controls, and it is therefore hardly surprising that we were taken unawares by the astonishing power of the brakes. In fact the first time we somewhat thoughtlessly applied them we nearly went through the windscreen, and felt extremely glad that no other vehicle was following immediately behind. Once in the open, and moving at a reasonable speed, the brakes were quite efficient, and though only a light pressure was required to operate them, they were not really fierce. However at low speeds we must confess that they did not come up to our idea of sensitiveness, and were too liable to come on fully whether we wanted to brake hard or not.
It may not be fair to criticise a car of this date, when the latest models have been improved in many ways, but we like to speak of things as we find them, and we will therefore deal with. the few points on this car which we did not like before going on to tell of those features which we did, which as there are more of them, will take longer.
The car we were driving had an altered gear change lever as it had been lengthened considerably. We would personally have preferred the standard short lever as with the long lever, when changing from second to third gear, the left wrist is brought sharply into contact with the rim of the steering wheel, which by the end of the day made the said wrist quite sore ! A small point it is true, but these little things are liable to cause evil language before long. The present model differs in points of detail from this chassis, which was two years old, and the new car has a light plate clutch and improved gear change, which is certainly a good point, as we found the gear change rather heavy. The heavy cone clutch took some time to slow down, and in consequence upward gear changes were rather slow.
As we were in a hurry, we did not spare the engine once we were clear of town, and continuous full throttle in all gears was the order of the day. This appeared to have absolutely no effect on the performance of the engine except that when well warmed up it went rather better than at the start. We cannot honestly call this a fast car, but as it was fitted with a fairly heavy saloon body, a maximum speed of just on 70 m.p.h. is by no means bad going for a 2-litre engine.
The speedometer needle went round to 70 m.p.h. very quickly, but we somehow could not and still do not believe that this represented more than an actual 65 m.p.h. It was only on “waiting for it” a bit longer and getting the needle a little further round that we really felt we could give the actual speed at 70 m.p.h. This suspicion was later checked by comparing our cruising speed with the milestones and our watch. The four speed gearbox enables a very fair average to be maintained, as third is usefully high, and simply asks to be used. The engine gave us the feeling the whole time that no amount of full bore on indirect gears would ever break anything, and although the only engine overhauls besides decarbonising had been to change to a different type of piston, earlier in its life, there was practically no mechanical noise at any speed. This is a wonderful tribute to the lubrication system, and shows that the bearing sizes must be very adequate indeed.
The acceleration was of course somewhat reduced by the weight of the saloon body which made the car feel slightly overgeared. Once a good cruising speed had been attained hills made little difference, as it would take main road hills faster in third than most cars in top gear, and there is no point in a close ratio gear box unless it is used consistently.
Steering is quite accurate and self-centering, if anything, too much so, as it is rather on the heavy side as a result. The gear box was quiet in all gears in spite of a big mileage, though first gear was only used on one or two occasions when manoeuvring the car, as normally second gear was used for starting, and judging from its performance in this gear it would be a very tough proposition in the way of gradients that would require the lowest ratio. The feeling of strength about the engine was manifest throughout the whole car, and we feel sure that anyone purchasing a 13-55 h.p. Schneider will have his work cut out to wear it out !