POST-WAR SPORTS CAR DESIGN DISCUSSED AT THE REMBRANDT MEETING

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POST-WAR SPORTS CAR DESIGN DISCUSSED AT THE REMBRANDT MEETING

ANoT„1li vast ly successful gat heriug of enthusiasts WIAS held at the ” Rembrandt.in LInalon. on December -12th., and Wati a great credit to the organising trio, Rivers-Fletcher. Peter Clark and Bill Capon. Attendance was limited to 100 and profits went to the Royal Armoured Corps Comforts Fund. Everyone vim is anyone in lair world was present if he or she possiblv could be. and a full list would be invidions, but we noticed George Alonklumsc. Anthony Ilea,. F/0. Quiggin, F.,(1, Matlock. Lient. Marcus Chambers. Si: Clive Edwards. Bart., Graham Dix. Leonard Potter and his lady, all the way from the Midlands, Lowrey, Kleinardaski, Douglas Tubbs, Mrs. Arid l Clark, Mrs. Heal, Cresswell. John (ooper. Banality (earnestly tilling a large mid professionallooking notehook). Julian Fall, ()debar and Mrs. Orlebar. Grosseurth. Ifolland Bit-kelt, Fawcett, and the rest ()I those hyper-keen folk (Inc expeets to sec al these meetings. 1.ord Brahazon of Tara took the chair at lunch, and said how happy he was to be “will; people Mai looked upon motoring as a sport. Ile recalled the ” good old (lays Nvhen he took a more active part in the Sport. file drove a Minerva to victory in the 11107 Circuit des Ardennes and handled an Austin in tbc t4.818 Fren(7h G.1′.1 Lord Bmbazon thea paid a well-deserved tribute to Laurence Pomeroyfor his articles in The Alator. which, he said, did so much to keep the sporting spirit alive, and he went on to say that he felt these meetings had a mission. The R.A.C. was crying out for new. younger blood On its committee. and enthusiasts should aim to get their representatives on this body and also on the Competitions Committee of the R.A.C. 1We are glad Lord Brabazon emphasised the (lesirability of keeping faith with the R.A.C. We consider that Rivers-Fletcher would make a likely and eminently snitable

candidatc. it’ and when we have an Enthusiasts General Election.1 Lord Brabazon then toasted the organisers. to which Peter Clark retdied. After lunch the promised disetissain oil the ” ideal production p1I51 -war sports car took place, with Laurence Pomeroy, Technical Editor of ph( in the chair. Peter Berthon, who largek designed the E.R.A. ears : Cecil IXimber. late Managing Dircetor of the M.G. Car Company. Ltd.. largest sports oar neoni nteturers in the world John Bolster. of sprint-course fame and as a !milder of ” specials which worked : 11. H. Godfrey, xylio, with Capt. Frazer-Nash, conceived the immortal G.N. and, min+ more recently. designed the : and Peter NIonk lii iuse, wlio has t nought. raced and commercially built and doctored raciog cars ever since he left Cambridge, commenced and carried the argument. NVe report their findings hereafter. %%Ali editorial eimina•nt within square brackets. We apologise to our readers for not including all the engine!Hinds, as the diseussitai opened rather ahead of schedule, before we had arrived. .111(1 we apologise to anv member of flue brains-141’011p whom We may have misreported, tlw discussion not being. taken

? lown ‘erbatiiui, and the following matter having to be drastically eouilensed.

. Cecil kimber advocated t lesigning the engine as a racing_ unit and then de-tuning it and offering it in three forms 7 (a) titihlow’ii, but wit iiproper provision for supereharging. (6) with hewpressure boost and mimed compression ratio. to give good acceleration, and (t ) with high-1,ressure supercharge and lowered conipression ratio, for racinee lie had NW it car with low boost for a year and found it verv satisfactory. Peter Berthon laisieally agreed, but said to achieve a high len, per litre was expensive, and remonled Kinlher of the y.400 price limit. lie thought that using such engines in dc-tuncd form would put up the cost rather unneeessarilv.

13aNic Type of (ay.-Pomeroy asked, was it to be like t lit converted Fords which used to rush up Simms. or like the 11-litre Adler which did 100 m.p.h.. but was no good for negotiating 6-in. banks ? Monkhouse said you couldn’t combine all these abilities in one design, and he would sooner see the car designed from the racing angle and used its a fast tourer than used for ferocious trials. Such a car could be easily used for sports-car racing. Godfrey agreed that to encompass too many aims was to come unstuck. fie agreed with Iliad:house, and liked Bolster’s reference to an agricultural sort of engine. A car built for racing and asked to suit all jobs wouldn’t do anything very well, and the aim should be a car that would go from A to B over normal rough roads in the shortest possible time. Streamlined types tended to inaccessibility. Bolster said he agreed absolutely with Godfrey, and thought preparation for any form of competition would ruin the car for fast road use, Concours d’Elegance especially Pomeroy said that, nevertheless, Kimber had made very successful sports cars with engines as raced, and, in reply, Kimber said it was possible to sell fast sporting unblown cars for under /300. He once had such a car himself, which, with mild boost, would do 104 m.p.h. in closed form. Its engine used standard rods, crankcase and pistons, etc. In the case of Major Gardner’s 200 m.p.h. M.G., standard valve-gear was used, and rods, cylinder head and valves were standard in all but materials, and the sodium cooling for the exhaust valves. He believed that it was best to start off with the right engine design, as it was then possible to vary it to suit all requirements ; chassis and body would, of course, require major changes to keep pace with improved performance. Pomeroy recalled similar views held and practised by Riley, and called for Monkhouse’s views, as he should know how standard engines stood up when raced. Monkhouse said obviously a racing engine used for touring was reliable and required the minimum of servicing, but not if used for unsuitable work, i.e., trials. Bugatti, Alfa-Romeo, etc., sold touring cars based on their racing jobs. Pomeroy summed up by saying that not everyone could afford

the expense of having a complicated racing-type engine decarbonised, and he thought a simple 2-litre engine attaining 80-90 b.h.p. and capable of considerable development was called for. Bodywork.—Pomeroy asked whether the panel would want more than one body type, and felt that the carriage-work should be a really well-engineered job. Monkhouse suggested a 2-seater shortchassis car, a 4-seater long-chassis, and just a chassis—on which clients could have bodies built. He also felt a drophead coupe would be acceptable, especially on the blown chassis, but thought the average body of this type worse than an open car with good hood and side screens, unless it was a continental. Kimber agreed about the short 2-seater and long 4-seater, and also wanted a saloon, streamlined or otherwise, and a drophead. Godfrey said the body-builder just wouldn’t save weight. He recalled the Lancia ” Lambda ” detachable top. Bolster liked the sort of drophead in which the head went down beneath the tail when folded. His ideal would be this sort of body with the head fully streanilined when erect. He objected to a super, super short-chassis job on the grounds that it wouldn’t suit many people, but that hundreds would buy it to avoid taunts of, “Oh, you have only got the long-chassis job ! ” Berthon thought these bodies were all too “pre-war,” and wanted ” in-designed ” bodies in one with the chassis. He called for modern

methods and modern materials, possibly plastics. The drophead was most difficult on a light chassis, and if a shortchassis car were offered it should be a light, open 2-seater. Pomeroy said it would be rather sad when the open 2-seater was passed by a streamlined saloon with the radio playing, which is what would happen [Lord Brabazon’s very desirable streamlined 1,100 c.c. Fiat saloon stood without as if to bear him out]. It would not be much consolation then to say, “This is one of the team cars, old boy ! ” He reminded us that the two lightest cars per foot of wheelbase were the Citroen and D.K.W., one one-piece, the other of separate chassis/body construction. Kimber disliked the ” one-piece ” doctrine and thought the chassis should be made stiff enough to take any body. Godfrey agreed that there Kimber had a very strong point. Monkhouse thought the conventional looking car would sell, whereas the public was hardly, yet, educated to streamlining.

Weight.—Berthon aimed at 22 cwt. for a 4-seater saloon and thought the open short 2-seater might come out at 17-18 cwt. Modern materials will not influence things much for some time yet, but the greater use of aluminium might give a further 10 per cent. reduction. Kimber agreed about modern materials. He felt that the 22-cwt. figure would be very, very difficult to attain, but not necessarily impossible—the Lancia ” Aprilia,” a 1i-litre [1.9-litre] weighed 18 cwt. Pomeroy called for Godfrey’s Opinions, as he once made ears weighing about one quarter of a ton ! Godfrey said in those days you listed Oil lamps, hood and screen as an extra, and if you had seine trees and a supply of iran-alloy you could always make a motor-car. Accessories .put up the weight. Bodies must not be too frail, as you push the car about by them. He would aim at 100 lb. per I of) c.c. to ensure re-asonable urge, but felt that lieht alloys represent only a small proportion Of the total of materials, and that not much weight can, therefore, be saved by using them. lie would expect the iz-litre closed car to weigh not much more than 20 cwt.—the 2-litre B.M.W. saloon weighed 19 ewt. approximatelyand a 1.1-litre can be got down to is cwt. Bolster, who, Pomeroy reminded us, built 4-engined car weighing half a ton, thought one ton for a car excessive. The E-tyee ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall, the Light Sports ” Railtori, and various • American clad Falai, ais built by his friends

had 4-litre engines [the Vauxhall -litre] and weighed only a ton. Monkhouse thought 18 cwt. should be possible, using light alloys. Pomeroy deci(ied. the car should weigh 17 cwt. as a fairly robust open job, and 21: cwt. (or to per cent. less) in closed form. lie ret narked that in 2-litre form the ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall would not have weighed much less than a ton. The original ” 30/98” chassis was designed for a 3-litre engine with a gearbox-life of one minute, and was actually lightened for the 41-litre engine-some of these ears run a bit longer than that even now !

(;r6obox.—Bolster thought a .Cotal quite the best box. Kimber greatly admired the Cotal box, but wide ratios, expense, weight of big-capacity batteries, etc., were against it. He had a 2-litre M.G. with a total box, and in traffic acceleration was vastly improved. The German 7.1? box with electric synchromesh was even better. A tas0 prise limit might rule out such gearboxes, so he suggested good synchromesh, with a short, remote .gear-lever rather than an American joystick. With electric boxes a safety governor was desirable in case the driver selected the wrong ratio, or reverse, at 80 to a . [Why nota norn1;11 safety catch for reverse-position as well ?-1 13erthon agreed the total was a lovely box, but. price, wide ratios and weight were against it. lie advocated, therefore, a straightforward racing-type box, and synchromesh, with which Monkhouse ;Treed. Overdrive.—Monklumse was not in favour of overdrive. The principle was sound, but actuation was usually unreliable. [Our road-test experiertees rather confirm this.] He preferred a change of ratio behind the ?’sea rl ttt ‘.. Bert lam thought overdrive very desirable, but not of much use in England, where

an ordinary top gear with an indirect overdrive was more useful. Otherwise ” low top ” would be used mostly. [We agree. When guilty about fuel conservation when testing the Mk. V Bentley in 1.940, we used indirect overdrive for appreciable distances over English main roads. There was a latent desire to use the direct lower top gear, but, actually, performa.nee on overdrive, oven tip mainroad gradients and when in a hurry, was perfectly adequate.] Bolster disliked automatically selected overdrives, which

change up just as you go to pass another car. If self-selecting they are good, and a total box with overdrive is very pleasant. Kimber recalled using •a form of overdrive in 1 9 1 5 , but had not had much experience of American practice. However, lie had driven a Big Four Riley with Warner 2-speed gear and found it very, very pleasant indeed. He insisted on driver-selection. Rear Suspension.—Pomeroy said the de Dion axle reduces wheel spin. A mild snag was the possibility of the wheels being driven into ruts by the springs. Monkhouse objected to the need to use universal joints needing lubricating and subject to wear. He preferred a rigid rear axle with torsion-bars inside a tubular frame. Kimber said the chief advantage of De-Dion layout was reduction of unsprung weight. Having the drive on the frame was liable to result in body noise. He craved torsion-bar or coilspring suspension. Bert hon believed noise from de Dion layout, could be overcome ; it cost more than a normal axle, but it was money well spent. Godfrey, Pomeroy said, doesn’t believe in springing., so his views were especially welcome He said De Dion axles were ideal in theory,. but with narrow track the universals became a problem. I3olster said he was prejudiced against chain drive (!) and liked a De Dion axle if the noise bugbear could be eradicated. A friend told him there were always sounds of whirling machinery beneath the hack seat of the ” Grosser ‘ Merce&s, which is probably why Hitler always stands up. Pomeroy

replied that the 1-lurch is t. noisy in that respect. Leaf-springing must go, and he advocated a De Dion axle, or, as an alternative, a light .edition of orthodox axle. He reminded us that torsion-bars and coil-springs are one and the same thing.

The discussion was now thrown open, and the first_ query was, should a highspeed or a ” woolly ” engine be employed in the ideal sports car ? Pomeroy said a 2-litre of the h.p. specified should be reliable and was chosen as more desirable than a lt-litre. Next query : Why not the layout as agreed tipOn but with front-wheel drive ? I3erthon said he would prefer a rear engine, and Kimber thought castor-action difficulties would be encountered with le:W.0. He reminded us that the sportscar owner is conservative and will not buy an unconventional car. Pomeroy said he would hope that the ideal design would make so imich money for its sponsors that he would be able to buy a frontdrive car of another make for himself. [He runs a D.K.W.] Anthony heal then arose, and very ably more than saved the vintage situation 1 He criticised the proposed post-war sports car as not nearly fast enough. Fifteen-year-Old ears could do equally well—he was thinking of the Vauxhall and Bentley of 1924-5. Surely some improvement from the users’ point of view might be expected after 15 or more years ? He felt that eheap. American ears could equal the speed aimed at in this 4:400 design, and he doubted whether the acceleration would be any better than that of the Americans, either. He felt a sports car should present an obvious Advantage to the owner over offthe-line productions. lie would be willing to sacrifice pansy bits, radio and even the lid, to gain 20 m.p.h. over the Yanks, together with reliability and greater acceleration. His 1924 car has better acceleration than a Ford V8, and a 100 m.p.h. maximum, and unless he could be sure of 15 per cent. or 20 per • cent. better performance from a postwar car he would remnant faithful to the vintage types. Pomeroy commented that Hears ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall, to-day, represents an investment of £2,000. If the proposed ideal car’s price could be 20 per cent. above this figure they could guarantee Heal his required performance. Vintage car owners who pay £150 for a car are apt to forget that this is only possible because some muggins paid £1,500 for the car 10 years before. [It’s still very nice for the vintagent—the vintage car nearly always wins these arguments if the matter of financial outlay is brought in.] The proposed 2-litre would oiler superior economy of running as compared to an American car. You had to be so brave to get quickly from A to B in an American—and Pomeroy said he’d tried them nearly all, except the V16 Cadillac. He could never guarantee to cover 200 miles in less than five hours in any of them, and rain made it worse from the feeling-of-security aspect. You couldn’t see where you were going in these ears, but this was just as well, as you would be so unhappy if you eOuld 1 [But, we have put over 47 miles into an hour in a Yank of which we had had no prior experience—admittedly bating most minutes of it. And certainly you can see everything before, around, and above you from Hears Vauxhall, and feel very safe withal.]

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