SPORTING CARS ON ROAD AND TRACK.
THE 45 H.P. RENAULT SPORTS.
ABRIDGED SPECIFICATION •
Engine : Six cylinder x Io mm. x i6o mm., side valves. Clutch : Dry disc, single plate.
Gear Box : Separate unit three speed and reverse, side control. Cardan Shaft : Enclosed, with torque member.
Suspension : Semi-elliptic front ; full oblique cantilever with shock absorbers at rear.
Maximum Speed : 93 in.p.h. at 2,600 r.p.m.
Brakes : Renault patent ” Servo ” Ferodo lined, internal expanding shoes. WHEN attempting to write a review upon such a
superb masterpiece of engineering as the 45 h.p. Six-cylinder Renault sports car, it is difficult to restrain one’s desire to indulge in dealing with the various Characteristics of the chassis from a technical point of view ; but as our articles are intended to describe performance rather than to wander off into technicalities, w. e will pass what, to a few, might be the more interesting line to take, and give our impression of this wonderful Renault production “on the road and track.”
Messrs. Renault, Ltd., placed one of the latest 45. h.p. sports models at our disposal recently from Friday to Tuesday, which provided an ample opportunity not only of becoming thoroughly accustomed to the chassis, but also of putting it through an exacting series of tests and of recording personal experiences.
Recent Renault Records.
Before going any further it may interest our readers to know that the chassis we tested was of the identical type which, on May rith last, broke four World’s Records for all classes, at Montlhery, and has since broken nine additional World’s Records. Messrs. Garfield and Plessier handling the car in all cases. Space does not
permit a record of all the times here, but we may mention that the speed for the twelve and twenty-four hours runs averaged out at 97.55 m.p.h. and 87.61 m.p.h. respectively. For 500 miles the same car averaged 103.6 m.p.h. The latter times were accomplished on an absolutely standard 45 13..p. Renault chassis.
Traffic Driving Impressions.
As the outstanding feature of the modern sports car is its comparatively small overall dimensions and its nippiness—to employ a colloquialism—we had some slight misgivings as to how the huge Renault would behave when being piloted through the congested traffic of the West End of London. The distance between the driver and the front of the bonnet is apt to be a little disconcerting at first, but the car is so very docile and manageable, that one soon loses the sense of its immense size. In fact, after an hour’s driving, it appears to take up but very little more room on the road than a chassis of normal dimensions. This impression is no doubt created by the ease of the steering, the delicate response of the engine to the slightest touch of the accelerator, and to the marvellous action of the Servo brakes, which, of course, operate simultaneously on all four wheels. At 50 m.p.h., which can be easily attained in town driving with the Renault, the car can be brought to a standstill in a few lengths, but it is necessary to warn one’s passengers of the action of the brakes, as otherwise they might be shot suddenly through the windscreens. The steering lock permits of the car being manceuvred in comparatively small spaces, and though it appears impossible at the first attempt, the Renault can be driven
through gaps in the traffic such as open out in front of an ordinary sized vehicle.
Another interesting thing noticed with the Renault, is that one can accelerate fast and drive at a really high speed without attracting unwelcome attentions from the police, who are very much on the qui vive just now, should an ultra sporty car come within their range of vision. Speed plus stateliness as combined on the Renault pass unnoticed, as contrasted with the police intolerance of the roar of the average sports car..
In town traffic the Sports Renault is a delightful machine to handle, and contrary to what might be expected, can be driven well by a person of quite ordinary skill, furthermore, in spite of the most impressivelooking machinery installed beneath the bonnet, it is a most agreeably docile leviathan.
The First Day’s Run.
The route selected for the first day’s run lay from London to Maidstone, through Ashford, Hythe, Dymchurch, Rye, Canterbury and back, a total distance of some i8o miles. On winding roads one could not help envying the continental motorist the long straight stretches where a real motor car could be allowed its head, but nevertheless, at several places a speed of over eighty was touched, one of the greatest attractions
of the Renault being the rapidity with which it gathered speed and slowed down, so steadily that one lost the impression of the high. speeds indulged in. The few hills encountered on this run were absolutely gobbled up in the stride of the car as it hummed from village to village, overtaking everything on its way. At one place a gentleman in a small sports car, entirely outclassed where speed was concerned, endeavoured to demonstrate the art of getting through traffic in a lively fashion. He was a stout-hearted driver and his little car could go, but, in traffic as at speed, the Renault was too good for him, so he was deprived of a good look at the front part of our car.
The excellent manner in which the tool kit is arranged was one of the things we discovered during a wayside halt, two concealed lockers are located on each running board, and there contained drawers shaped out to receive all the spanners, etc., likely to be needed for making any adjustments. The method of fitting the floorboards is also worthy of special comment, the aluminium boards being dovetailed and dowelled in position with flat springs to prevent rattling ; these and similar refinements proving that the Renault designers believe in giving their customers real value, down to the smallest possible detail.
At the end of the first day’s run, notwithstanding the tropical heat which prevailed, there was no suggestion of driving fatigue, but the habit of driving with the right arm resting over the body produced a slight soreness of the wrist ; this no doubt being due to not finding the right place to serve as an arm rest.
The Speed Trial at Brooklands.
Arriving at Brooklands early on Sunday morning, we were fortunate in finding the track unoccupied, and proceeded to run the Renault all out for a dozen laps. By checking the lap times the speedometer proved to be very nearly accurate—Which most of these instruments are not— and it was interesting to observe that one had to go higher up the banking than is the case with the majority of cars one tests. The best lap was covered at close upon 87 m.p.h., and at this speed the car made no fuss, behaving in every way like a well-mannered
touring machine. One of the useful dashboard instruments is an oil temperature gauge, and the lubricating system includes an oil purifier as well as an oil cooler, located between the front dumb irons and protected by wire meshing. According to specification, the engine develops 140 b h.p. at 2,700 r.p.xn., and as the revolution counter went well up to 2,300 we at least had the benefit of” plenty of horses ” as the racing men say.
The standard sports Renault is supposed to be capable of 93 m.p.h., and probably when the car we tested has had a little more running it would be able to reach this speed, though being quite new and only shop-tuned it was at somewhat of a disadvantage when asked to show its paces.
As for the suspension system, when tested over the familiar bumps on the track, this was found to be as near perfect as one could wish. The driver and passengers, of whom three were carried, felt no bouncing whatever, even when passing at speed i’over the worst part of the surface. A curious feature of the rear suspension is that only five leaves are used for each of the cantilever springs, but they are neither harsh nor too flexible in action. After quite a hard spell of speed work on the track, the engine showed no trace of overheating, neither had the level of oil in the base dropped in any perceptible degree. Following this, several fast ascents of the Brooklands lest Hill, and after a further examination of the inecha,nical features, we proceeded to Box Hill, where the Zig Gag provides a good test for the manmuvring of a car on hairpin bends. The hill happened to be very crowded, and it was interesting to observe how three of the large cars on the way up failed to negotiate the second bend on
a single lock, but the big Renault went round quite comfortably, with plenty of room to spare.
On the way home, we turned off the new DorkingRedhill Road and made for Pebblecombe, a favourite test hill in the neighbourhood, and nearly got up on top gear with four up. As the ratio for the top gear is 3 to 1, it was not out of the way to expect a touch of second (5.15 to i) would be necessary, and on this gear the car sailed over the top in excess of 25 m.p.h. One of the principal charms of the big Renault is the way it responds to the throttle without any fuss or effort. For example, it is possible to slow down to four miles per hour, and proceed in absolute silence, then a pressure on the accelerator awakens the engine to its maximum
number of revs, in a very few seconds in the same dignified and effortless fashion. Some savants have criticised the Renault as being somewhat harsh, but considering the power and the very rapid acceleration we should not find the least fault in this direction.
Four Hundred Miles in One Day.
To give some idea as to the comfort of driving the big Renault, we have pleasure in recording a run of 400 miles in one ordinary day’s trip. We used the car to take members of our staff to the Skegness races on the 8th ult., and with detours on the return journey the 400 miles was made up. On the Great North Road more high speeds were attained, and on the winding Lincolnshire roads showed how high speed cornering should be done. With due respect, however, for real sporty driving, a four-speed box would be desirable, together with a slightly lower top gear ratio. At present the high 3-1 gear seems to stifle the engine, which
therefore labours under a disadvantage. We had several tussles with small fast sports cars on tortuous road, and with four up always came off best, but a good indirect third gear would have been rather an improvement.
The only car that passed us at any time was another 45 Renault, which took us unawares at night on a dark and unfamiliar by-road. We regained our amour propre, however, by catching and passing it on the next corner, and signalled our approval of his speed by an appropriate roar from the open cut-out.
Some of the accompanying illustrations show how easily the car can be manceuvred, as well as the ascent of Alms Hill. On the latter gradient the speed was so great that the redoubtable Cannons were not noticed at all; this probably being the largest car ever tried up the famous test hill. In conclusion, the design and finish of the bodywork calls for special mention as it is difficult to associate the comfort provided with the usual interpretation of a
sports car. The upholstery is luxuriously padded, and the decked-in cover for the rear passengers is delightful. As will be seen from the accompanying illustration the car is most handsome, and backed by the twenty-seven years experience of Renault Freres is a production of the highest possible quality in every respect.