THE 31-LITRE SIX-CYLINDER BROUGH-SUPERIOR SALOON
George BrOugh has long been known as the producer of the very best big-twin motor-cycles that money can buy, and consequently his entry into the sports-car market was an event of outstanding interest, especially when it became known that he was using as a basis of his BroughSuperior car that high-performance chassis, the Hudson, and was asking the aid of Fred W. Dixon in its modification to British requirements. We had our first experience of the Brough-Superior car during a long weekend last month, covering nearly 600 miles under a variety of conditions that embraced town, main-road, by-way and offthe-beaten-track motoring by night and day, in warm sunshine, heavy rain, mist,
snow, Sleet, hail and ice. So that the impressions that follow were gleaned after more than a casual test run in the car.
Starting our test in the rush-hour period of London’s traffic we appreciated the ease and security with which this by no means small motor-car can he handled in town traffic.
Although one sits behind a long expanse of flat-top bonnet with the near-side wing invisible, the excellent driving position and wide single panel screen Are effective palliatives, though until one is quite used to the car the roof pillars seem rather thick when negotiating round-abouts or turning in restricted places. The driver’s seat adjusts close up to the wheel, which is itself close to the screen. The remote gear-lever is very conveniently placed when one is sufficiently acquainted with the car to drop the right: hand directly on to it, the hand-brake necessitates stooping to apply and release but is not really badly positioned, and the pedals are closely spaced, with the brake pedal a trifle higher set than the righthand treadle accelerator, though it was only very occasionally that this resulted in slight inconvenience, and there was never the slightest anxiety about applying both simultaneously. The horn-button, ivory finished, is in the centre of the wheel, with a high-tone control on the ‘facia, rather blanked by the wheel spokes, and the direction indicators, of non-cancelling pattern, are on the extreme right of the dash, within easy reach of the right hand. Ignition control is automatic and the foregoing features, allied to a reserve of power that calls only for second gear of the three-speed box down to crawling pace and a synchro-mesh gear-shift, render the Brough a pleasant car in congested areas. After a short experience of it in builtLip areas we embarked on an all-night run down to the West Country with the
utmost confidence and in anticipation of a fast and satisfactory journey. At speeds up to 30 m.p.h. the car runs in absolute silence, all surface irregularities smoothed out by the suspension system. On extending it there is some noise from the region of the engine and with the driver’s window lowered a hiss of air is heard entering the carburetter during acceleration, and Over certain surfaces an up-and-down motion is imparted, reminiscent of a racing-type of sportscar at lower speeds. However, along the deserted Watford By-Pass we discovered that 60 m.p.h. is a very effortless cruising speed, at which the engine becomes quite silent and remains absolutely smooth, so that only the Storm noise round the
bodywork indicates the pace. This -storm noise is more pronounced than usual, but not unpleasant. Although a speedometer speed of 60 m.p.h. seems to represent the Brough’s best gait on ordinary roads, we went up to 70 Inithout any mechanical protest on every short straight stretch available. By the time the narrow winding roads leading to Aylesbury were readied we had had time to appreciate the rapid clean pick-up of the car, undeterred by vibration periods or any trace of ” flatspots,” and had found the Lockheed brakes vastly reassuring. The Lucas P170 headlamps gave about the best driving vision we have ever experienced at night and the dipper, conveniently positioned for the right toe, commanded the respect of approaching travellers, cutting out the off headlamp and dimming the other. We particularly appreciated the arrangement of the lamp switch, which has the ” off ” position remote from “sides only,” so that in well-lit areas it was possible to extinguish the headlamps without anxiety lest all lamps had been inadvertently turned out–which has several times happened to us in the past. But the dashboard lighting seems rather dim, though the concealed lighting of both cubby-holes obviates annoying fumbling When small objects are wanted
in a hurry, and the interior lighting, controlled from the facia, is entirely adequate. The inset clock in the central driving mirror might well have a separate switch, as it distracts the driver’s attention somewhat and comes on with the instrument lighting, which is frequently used in this Belisha regime.
The B rough is definitely a silent car, for, apart from storm noise and a certain presence of engine roar at around 30 to 40 m.p.h., nothing disturbs the going, and there is virtually no pronounced exhaust note. Save for a slight squeak, and some vibration from the vicinity of the dashboard approaching maximum revs, on the indirect ratios, the bodywork is completely unprotesting and its Silent Travel doorlocks are in keeping. We spent long periods in the driving seat, and found Connolly covered Dunlopillo to contribute vastly to Our lack of fatigue, though the back squab position did not seem absolutely correct. The rear seat has a wide disappearing central arm-rest, takes three if required, and there are deep footwells for the rear passenger’s feet. Head-room is a trifle limited by the sliding roof arrangements. The doors are hinged to the central pillar and entry and exit would be facilitated if their movement was a little more generous.
The clutch is extremely good, taking up the drive smoothly over a small range of the pedal movement, standing any amount of abuse without weakening, and feeling positive, while the spring pressure was only a little greater than in a small car, asking no real effort. The Brough starts on first gear, though a test start on top would pass unnoticed except for a certain judder of the engine on its rubber cushions, transmitted through the gear-lever. Once under way most of the running is done in the highest ratio, and the performance up appreciable secondary road gradients, even when slowed to a crawl, is particularly praiseworthy.
Second gear provides very brisk acceleration and this is continued in top gear, so that excessive engine speeds are never called for in ordinary driving. However, the engine appears to enjoy turning over fast and the acceleration seems to improve from 65 to 70 m.p.h. in top. If a racing get-away is the order of the day changes at about 23 m.p.h. on first and 45 to 50 ni.p.h. on second produce speed in the seventies in a very short distance. The gear change has synchro-mesh on second and top gears. On account of the remote Control the lever movement is unusual, bottom being forward left, second back, right, and top forward, left. Reverse is consequently in the usual first-gear position for a three-speed box, that is, back, left. No reverse catch is fitted, however. The gear lever is very short and rigid. At low speeds it was inclined to stick in position but with the pinions turning over faster this was less pronounced. Rapid changes call for double-declutching both up: and down, when the lever will go through rapidly without especial judgment. Otherwise a pause in neutral is necessary to prevent the synchro-mesh from crunching, though a brutal driver might get a fast change with single clutch movements if he disregarded this. Actually, we are of
the opinion that the svnchro-mesh on the Brough is not abnormally slow but rather it is the rigid lever and short movements that amplify the need for pauses in neutral if one wishes to make full use of the simplified change. This pause is also necessary in going from first to second gear, but downward changes into first are a matter of quite normal doubledeclutching. First gear emits a quite high pitch hum, which personally we liked. Second gear gave a much less pronounced hum on the overrun only. The transmission feels pleasantly taut on the overrun and there is no noise from the final drive. A driver whose judgment we value was particularly enthusiastic over this aspect of the Brough, but we are inclined to agree with him that the engine suits a four-speed gearbox, and this would probably result in faster gear changes using only the synchro-mesh, unassisted by
double-declutching. At least, it would be an interesting experiment.
to lock, and the lock is generous. The action is light, without being finger light,. there is full and rapid castor action, and the Brough can be steered accurately at all speeds. Under heavy braking and on certain surfaces the action of the road wheels returned in the form of light high-frequency kicks, but as there was. considerable lost motion in the steering gear of the car we had for teat, this may have been responsible. After long spells. in the driving seat we felt no fatigue and taken all round it was generally satisfactory steering. The Brough-Superior feels essentially safe and stable at all speeds. It goes into. open bends at high speed with certainty, but there was pronounced tail swing oa coming out of such corners, necessitating considerable work at the wheel. At first we were inclined to put this down to. nose-heaviness, but later we found that the car was adversely affected by dry tram-lines and that the steering was. pulling to the left, so that adjustment of
The Lockheed brakes, which have an automatic hook-up to prevent embarrassment in the unlikely event of a pipe-line breakage, are really excellent. They work with a light pedal pressure, are progressive, even in action and entirely positive. They are extremely powerful and at the end of the test had not noticeably weakened and if a squeak had developed it was so slight and occasional that we merely record it as an impression and certainly not as a criticism. On a dry tarmac surface we pulled up from 40 m.p.h. in approximately 63 feet at the first attempt and in approximately 57 feet at the second attempt, using only the foot-brake. The slightly spongy feel as the hand -brake is released, peculiar to hydraulic operation, is in no wise inconvenient for
restarting on a gradient. The pushbutton release was apt to jamb badly if the lever was fully applied, which was not necessary for holding the car in the ordinary way. During the tests the wheels locked equally for about half the distance. The steering is not quite high enough geared to make control a matter of wrist movement alone on twisty going, but 21, turns take the wheels from lock tyre-pressures would doubtless have obviated this floating tendency. That the Brough is more than usually safe on bad surfaces was strikingly demonstrated when we struck an unexpected patch of
ice at 70 m.p.h. The car ahead of us. overturned in the ditch and we ourselves went into a nasty slide on applying the brakes. The headlamps picked out ‘other crashed cars and people frantically waving us to a standstill. We took off the brakes and the Brough corrected normally and was brought safely to rest, leaving its three occupants with a high respect for its road-holding abilities. Attempts to provoke tail slides on ordinary wet surfaces had to be very determined to achieve the desired result and when achieved could be instantly corrected. The car does not roll on fast corners, and no cornering noise is emitted by the Goodyear ” G.3″ tyres. The suspension leaves a very good impression, for the Brough is an outstandingly comfortable car without employing springs supple enough to result in fore and aft dipping and rising under racing starts or heavy braking. All kinds of surface irregularities are effectively damped out at all speeds, and pitching is never pronounced. There
is a slight sense of a very rigid frame giving rise to a feeling of “deadness,” but this is a controversial impression, and probably dependent upon the car’s being driven immediately previous to the test: The tyres are sensitive to changes of surface and the wheel discs may accentuate such noises.
The front end of the car has a thoroughbred rigidity, the wings being firmly cross-braced and the radiator shell exhibiting no trace of tumatural movement. The headlamps were subject to high-frequency vibrations. The steering column is well supported ; the dashboard absolutely rigid. The Brough-Superior not only handles extremely well, and performs refreshingly, but it is also very well appointed and equipped and imparts a sense
of high quality. The bodywork, we have said, is silent, its windows do not rattle, and draughts do not enter the car. The gearlever, brake-lever and minor controls were taut and the sliding roof, which opens over both compartments. functions well. After a strenuous week-end’s driving we headed for Brooklands, ha ving no hesitation in putting the cruising speed up to 80 m.p.h. On open deserted roads. The engine, which starts very easily with the temperature at below freezing point on using the choke with the throttle half open, warms tip instantly and is ready to pull without any previous rum iing. In hard driving the water thermometer remained at 65 to 75′ C. and it was at this temperature when we commenced the track
tests. The acceleration figures given in the graph were obtained three up, as straightforward attempts, R. G. J. Nash being at the wheel at the time. From a standstill we reached 50 m.p.h. ill 1:1l, sees. No rev-counter is fitted so we cannot quote the maximum r.p.m. on the gears, but in terms of road speed, the maximum on 1st gear is 40 m.p.h. and on 2nd gear 60 m.p.h. The engine does not become unduly distressed until these speeds are reached. Owing to the annual track repairs we were hampered in obtaining maximum speed readings, and no timed tests were made, but a speedometer reading of 86 m.p.h. was achieved at the end of a short run, at which speed the Brough rode steadily and effortlessly. The instrument was 31 m.p.h. fast at 60 m.p.h. After fast driving on Brooklands the temperature rose momentarily to 90C., but we attribute the increase to water Stirge as the needle returned instantly to the normal position. Some water was added. No oil was added in 580 miles ; no pressure gauge is fitted, but there is a warning light if loss of pressure becomes serious. The dynamo just balanced the output at cruising speed with all lamps, save the interior lights, in use. The Brough was prone to pinking on No. 1 petrol and we ran On benzoic or ethyl fuels. The consumption worked out at 16-17 m.p.g.,
including town work, hard driving, getting unbogged from a muddy lane, all warming-up and the Brooklands tests. The fuel gauge was optimistic, but there is a reserve Supply controlled by a tap beneath a trap in the lugeage locker. The radiator has an external liller-cap, the dip-stick is easily operated, and the fuel filler has a quick-opcning action. The range is approximately 200 miles. We attempted Kineton Hid after the Gloucester trial competitors had reduced the surface to a morass and would undoubtedly have got up had we not stopped in awe of some unpleasant boulders strewn in our path, when restarting proved to be just impossible. Subsequently the Brough made a very fine and rapid ascent of Beachylees Hill ill Kent, in spite ot having live people
aboard, the Goodyears defeating the very tricky surface of chalk and wet leaves. The single-pane screen opens up horizontally with the bonnet ; a valuable feature in foe or snow. A bulkhead between the engine and front compartment i effective in abolishing fumes and the Brough is a very snug car, though as no window louvres are used a window setting that suits the front-seat occupants is sometimes annoying to those at the rear. The windows open or close easily, though their operating bandies are just a shade low-geared and transcribe a rather wide arc. The central interior mirror is rather limited in vision by the down slope of the roof, but the large rear window offers excellent vision for reversing. The blind is effective, but required assistance from the rear-seat passengers to persuade it to respond to its control cord. The twin electric screen wipers coped admirably with anew, rain and .sleet, working fast and silently. ‘Fhe instrument panel and interior decoration is tastefully carried out in real burr walnut. The instruments, etc., grouped in an oval, are as follows : left to right : fuel gauge ; water thermometer of dial type ; dynamo ” window ” light below it ; switch for interior lights ; speedometer with Lig dial, reading to 100 m.p.h. with inset total and trip readings ; annneter ; switch for dash lighting below it ; lamp and ignition switch ; oil warning light below it. On the extreme right, below the cubby hole balancing the .cubby hole on the left, the following :–starter button, high-note horn button, ivoryfinished choke, and direction indicator switch. The doors have deep pockets. Both Lucas wind horns have a pleasantly
musical note. There is ample leg apace in the front compartment, with no need to rest one’s foot on the clutch pedal. The front adjustable bucket seats have foldforward backs and are of very ” arm-chair ” dimensions. The latirC steering-wheel is of spring spoke pattern. Three outstanding item of equipment are the fourwheel jacking, the automatic chassis lubrication, and the master battery switch on the floor beneath the passengers front seat. The steering wheel partially obscured the 30 m.p.h, section of the speedometer. There are push-in ash-trays for the rear-seat passengers. The bonnet has push-down (lips that work well. The tools are a( cornmodated beneath the bonnet in a well, concealed by lift-up aluminium panels. We could not ascertain the tow-speed running on top gear as the engine tick-over corresponded to a road-speed Of 12 m.p.h., and there is no handthrottle, but second gear sufficed for crawling down to 5 m.p.h., from wWeli speed the pick-tip was clean and rapid. Outwardly the Brough has very good lines. The radiator shell has a big diameter, flat cap and imitation honeycomb, the bonnet has horizontal waist-line louvres, and the tail incorporates a roomy luggage locker, behind which is mounted the gaSed spare wheel. Plain, rather light bumpers are fitted, with weighted ends. The wheels have Ace-avion discs held by knock-On imitation hub-Caps. We had a rear disc rattle towards the end of the test and discovered that the nuts are finger-tight and daily adjustment is advised. The rear number-plate is highset and keeps clean. Incorporated with it is a big rear light and a reversing light operated automatically by the gear lever. Beneath the bonnet on the near side is a big drum-type air cleaner, connected by a long flexible tube to the carburetter on the off side, the beltdriven dynamo, and the dip-stick. On the off side is the automatic carburetter, and the neatly polished manifolding. Over the cylinder-head is a polished domed imitation o.h. valve cover, held down by two knurled nuts, though the illusion
only holds good When viewed from the sides, as the ends of the cover are open. The fuses are accessibly placed by the tool well, including the trafficators’ fuse and horn relay. Anti-dazzle fold-down flaps are fitted inside the screen, the passenger’s having an inset mirror, which appeals to the fair sex. Turning to the mechanical aspect, the chassis is basically Hudson. The sixcylinder engine has a bore and stroke of 76.2 min. x 127 min. giving a swept volume of 3,455 and an1Z_.A.C. rating of 21.0 lap., and it is claimed to develop 100 b.h.p. at 3,300 r.p.m. The valves are side by side and an aluminium cylinder-head is used, the -compression ratio being approximatelv 7 to I. The crankshaft is balanced, the weights being integrally forged, and it carries a Lanchester vibration damper at the forward cud. Alloy pistons on steel connectingrods are used. The clutch and gearbox are in unit with the engine and threepoint mounting on rubber cushions damps out vibration and torque reaction. A single down-draught carburetter is used, with fully automatic mixture regulation throughout the temperature range and an automatic choke to ensure prompt starting. An air-cleaner on the opposite side of the engine is connected to it by a long flexible tube. Intake and exhaust manifolds are bolted together, on the off side of the block. The radiator area is considerable and a cased-in fan is beltdriven from the crankshaft. Thermostatic control limits the water temperature rise to 86T. The engine is isolated by a bulkhead from the bodywork, special louvres relieving under-bonnet air
pressure. The belt-driven 12-volt dynamo has automatic voltage control and the battery has a capacity ot 120 amp. hr. The starter works quite silently and it was advisable to operate the accelerator to get an instant response.
The dutch is a single-plate type, oilcushioned, with heat-treated cork inserts. The gearbox gives three speeds and reverse with synchro-mesh on top and second gears, and the remote control tunnel is lengthy, but compact and well placed. The semi-floating rear axle has spiral bevel drive. The box-girder frame has central cruciform bracing, angular bracing at the front and further stiffening in the form of a pressed-steel undertray. Suspension is by long half-elliptic springs encased in gaiters and controlled by Luvax hydraulic oversize shockabsorbers. The front springs are shackled at both ends, as all axle movement and braking torque is resisted by If-section radius arms pivoted to brackets beneath the main frame-members and swivel mounted on the axle-beam. Silent bloc taishes are employed at the pivots. The brakes have Lockheed hydraulic application to all four wheels, with a master-cylinder beside_ the engine, and there is a mechanical connection to safe
guard against pipe-line breakage. The hand-lever operates mechanically. The Steering is of worm type. The fourwheel jacking system i of the Smith’s Jack all hydraulic type, which completely raises the car in two minutes and lowers it in five seconds, controlled from the driving compartment. The chassis lubrication is looked .after by engine suction, the Bijur layout being used. The exhaust pipe terminates in a cast
fan-tail. The 16″ x 6.00″ wheels carry Ace discs and ” G.3″ Goodyear covers. The wheelbase measures 10 ft., and the track 4 ft. Di in. The saloon tested is priced at L005. The guarantee is valid for six months. A drop-head dual purpose four-seater is offered at 065, and the open four-seater ” Alpine Grand Sports.” for which 110 m.p.h. is claimed, at 4,845. The latter car has a Centric supercharger driven by triple belts, and the drop-head model is available with this addition for 177.3. The saloon is only available as tested. There is also a range of straighteight Brough-Superiors, available blown and unblown, the ” eight ” having been put on the market before the ” six ” was announced.
The Brough is available in black, or nine colours, with upholstery in grey, green or brown to choice. The ” Alpine Grand Sports ” model is finding a ready market in the -U.S.A. Suninting up, the Brough-Superior is a responsive car that goes about its work easily and unobtrusively, in a manner that belies its out of the ordinary per
formance. It appeals particularly to those who seek an individual car that does all that one has come to expect ot a good American automobile with considerably more charm, and possessed of bodywork and equipment in keeping with those of high-class British productions.
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