Yesterday's 'Cars of Today'

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

By 15, I was reading all the motor mags when I discovered that ‘Auntie’ Times,/em>, one of the world’s most respected newspapers, published Cars of Today, a book reproducing its road test reports, which included descriptions of design and construction, and information about maintenance, such as whether you could replace water pump glands without removing the pump, or how the valve gear was lubricated, etc.

The road tests were by The Times’ anonymous Motoring Correspondent. He always used a short route, taking in Amersham (1-in-9) and Dashwood (1-in-11) hills, on which speeds were observed.

This 1928 book cost 2/-(10p) and covered 104 tests. It opened with the 7hp Austin, “comfortable and has nothing of the cyclecar about it”, minimum speed on Dashwood being about 20mph. Sportscars included 3-litre Bentley, 22-90 Alfa Romeo (“Winning the last European GP means efficiency throughout”), a 15-45 OM, a supercharged 33-180 Mercedes, 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam saloon, 31-100 super-sports Excelsior, and OE 30/98 Vauxhall.

Confusingly, these reports were undated, but footnotes outlined later changes. The Dashwood speeds are difficult to quote as ascents were made in different circumstances. But the Mercedes was doing 60mph at the summit, in spite of a plug-lead coming off, the 30/98, believed to have duralumin pushrods and rockers, attained 56, and the Sunbeam, hampered by bouncing back wheels, 50.

These and a touring 12/50 Alvis (42mph) were mixed with all the American cars, several versions of Ansaldo, Bianchi and Donnet-Zedel, and rarities such as Brocklebank, Franklin, Imperia, Steyr, Voisin, Vulcan and Waverley. It is surprising that, with a 20mph speed limit, The Times published these speeds, as Dashwood was a public-road hill.

The tester described a long-wheelbase open Bentley as “running as a whole, truly delightfully”; it cleared Dashwood at 39mph in third gear. A Speed Model 3-litre Bentley topped the hill at 45 in second gear. The 7.3litre Isotta-Fraschini was described as “not without faults” but “did 80mph without unpleasantness”, and 57 in the hill test. The Renault 45 just made it up Dashwood in top gear. The new Daimler Double-Six impressed the tester, who by his expressions “under the collar” and “road sticky”, etc, may have been a pioneer motorist. It could be started in top and would soon reach a speedometer 80mph. It was “delightfully easy to handle even on narrow, twisty roads.”

The Cadillac V8 was said to do 20, 40 and 75mph “before noise”. Rolls-Royce got off lightly, the new four-speed Twenty described as “highly refined, silence its greatest merit; on top at about 60mph one hears only the tyres, and at over 40 in the gears there is the least possible hum, and the engine makes no sort of complaint”.

Of the R-R Phantom I The Times wrote: “When I am not travelling in a Phantom Rolls-Royce I seldom feel it worth the money; when I am driving one I invariably feel that it is. This Hooper tourer did 35 and 55 in second and third before any marked valve clatter was heard, and 75 on top gear should not push the car too hard.” The engine did not pick up so smoothly as on the previous Phantom tried, but would no doubt improve.

Later I got back numbers of Cars of Today, to 1935, and the first (1923). Does anyone remember it, and who its industrious tester was?

You may also like

Related products