SPORTING CARS ON TEST.
THE 1927 GRAND SPORTS AMILCAR.
By the Editor.
FULL SIDE VIEW OF TEM AMILCAR-NOTE THE OIL SUMP BENEATH TELE ENGINE AND THE” CLOSE-UP” WINGS. LAST year, a review of the current model Amilcar appeared in these pages, and faithful readers, who keep their copies will be able to remind themselves that as a result of its excellent behaviour in the Surbiton Grand Cup Trial, it endeared itself to the writer of the article in no uncertain manner. We were recently in vited by Mr. Ellis of Boon & Porter, Ltd., to try the 1927 edition of this fascinating little car, which, while mainly similar to the earlier model yet embodies several desirable improvements. Engine and gear details remain much as before, but the whole chassis is considerably lower and neater, doubtless as a result of lessons learnt in road
racing. Indeed the 1927 standard model is very similar in appearance to the wonderful supercharged six cylinder cars which so thoroughly” cleaned up” the 1100.c.c. class in last year’s 200 mile race. Before giving our impressions of the Amilcar we owe it to all concerned to state a few facts concerning the particular vehicle placed at our disposal. Briefly, the car was a demonstration model, which had done several thousand miles. It was entered in the Essex Club’s
Six Hour Race by Bob Porter, for which event it was fitted with a high compression overhead valve head. Two days before the race however, the officials decided that this alteration was not to be allowed, and a hurried change had to be made, back to the standard Ricardotype of head and side by side valves.
As a result of this last minute upset, the car did not behave at all well on race day, and a certain amount of damage was caused to the .engine through being run in an unprepared state. Vernon Balls, however, gave an indication of the true capabilities of the Amilcar, as witnesses of the race will remember. The car driven by Porter was overhauled before being handed over to us, and among other things new pistons
were fitted. We naturally remarked, on being told this that we should have to drive carefully for a while, but Mr. Ellis assured us that we could do no damage, however hard our foot was depressed, but that we should find the car somewhat lacking in maximum speed. After the usual preliminaries we left the premises of Boon & Porter, Ltd., where incidentally there seems to be an incredible number of Amilcars of every sort, and facilities for dealing with any branch of service or repair work likely to be required by Amilcar owners.
Our route led through the heart of London and the behaviour of the car in traffic was admirable except for one slight criticism. The engine would run slowly and propel the car smoothly at the merest crawl, but at the same time, when traffic conditions demanded a sudden stop, the engine itself often stopped in sympathy. It was not inability to tick over, as we mentioned above, nor was it carelessness on our part. It is a trouble we have experienced on other cars, and our own pet theory is that owing to the float chamber being either in front of or behind the mixing chamber, the sudden pull up causes the petrol to surge forward, thus upsetting the level in the jet, and either choking or starving the engine according to the position of the float.
This little habit can be counteracted if a ready foot is kept on the accelerator pedal and use is made of the handbrake. Unfortunately on the Amilcar the ratchet of the handbrake was rather sticky and we spent several “hot and bothered” seconds trying to release the brake to the accompaniment of raucous hoots from the traffic behind ! The new Amilcar, as mentioned before, is very much lower than its predecessor, and has considerably less ground clearance ; it is therefore not suitable for” motor cycle” trials, involving the passage of boulder strewn
ruts and mud, but is much improved as a fast road vehicle. We soon realised on reaching the open road, what a delightfully nippy little projectile we were handling and any little shortcomings we had noticed in London streets were speedily forgotten in an exhilarating ” zoom ” over some 60 miles of fast roads. The foremost impression left on our mind after this run, during which we found it quite impossible to average less than forty m.p.h., was one of the remarkable, or rather almost absurd safety of the vehicle. At the highest speeds of which the car was capable, on good, bad and indifferent surfaces, one finger was sufficient to control the steering. Corners required no effort on the part of the driver, and only a little care, when some particularly venomous bump caused a slight deviation from the originally intended course. The other factor of safety is brakes, and we can honestly say that we have never seen or tried or heard of better brakes than those
fitted to the Amilcar. From 50 m.p.h. on a slightly downhill section of smooth, dry road, the brakes ‘brought the car to a dead stop in 34 yards, smoothly and without locking any wheels. Either foot or hand application produced the same results, since both were connected to the same set of shoes. Since trying the Amilcar we have hunted up road tests of cars in all the motor papers and have failed to find any braking figures to equal these, and our experience goes to back up the impression of wonderful braking that was given by the victorious Amilcars in the J .C.C. 200 miles race.
Pneumatic upholstery was fitted to our Amilcar and after letting out some air, to allow ourselves to sink in more, and to prevent rolling, we found that the car was extremely comfortable, provided ” sporting ” speeds were indulged in, even over rough roads. At low speeds, as is expected with sports cars, the springing is a little hard, but less so, than with most of the breed.
The photographs show that rolling, or any tendency to overturn is quite out of the question with the Amilcar, owing to its extremely rigid low built chassis and lightweight body.
These qualities allow extremely fast average speeds to be maintained over curly roads with a feeling of great security, and although it is possible to provoke spectacular skids on loose corners, the likelihood of an involuntary side slip seems very remote. A revolution counter was fitted to the Amilcar and in conjunction with a speedometer proved a very interesting gadget. The speedometer was reputed to be slightly slow, and on our first day’s run we failed to register a higher speed than 62 m.p.h. though the car seemed willing to maintain 55-60 m.p.h. for so long as conditions allowed. At 60 m.p.h. the engine was turning over at about 3,500 r.p.m. while on second gear this figure could be easily increased to something like 4,500 r.p.m.
Between 45-50 m.p.h. was possible on second gear and about 30 m.p.h. on bottom, at which speeds the engine was undoubtedly buzzing, but was not showing any signs of vibration or distress. We had been warned not to expect very great maximum speed, but later in our test the speedometer was several times observed to register 66 m.p.h. and there seems no reason to doubt the makers’ claim of 75 m.p.h. given everything fully run in and in the best of tune. The apparent lack of maximum speed, however, did not prevent us from putting up averages of over 40 m.p.h. on 50-mile runs, as we have previously mentioned, and clock-distance calculations seemed to indicate that the speedometer really was slow. It was with a genuine pang of regret that we returned the neat little blue Amilcar to its owners after a few days, —it had proved a thoroughly game little friend, ever ready for a frolic, and what is still more important on the
croc‘ded roads of to-day—ever ready to stop frolicing and become a sober citizen at a moment’s notice ; in short, if there is a safer car on the. road to day—lead us to it !
We understand that a few of the 6-cylinder super charged models will be disposed of in this country, to certain favoured parties, for racing purposes, but for the sportsman who requires something less ambitious, but yet something faster than standard, supercharged 6-cylinder Grand Sports models can be supplied at a very reasonable price.
The sole concessionaires for Amilcar in this country are Boon & Porter, Ltd., Castelnau, .Barnes, and the Grand Sport model is marketed at 4285.