THE ABBEY “TROPHY” HORNET SPECIAL
A BEAUTIFULLY FINISHED CAR AT THE MODERATE PRICE OF €275
WHEN we first drove a Wolseley Hornet saloon, in its original form, we were immediately impressed by its lively performance, and wondered how long it would be before coachbuilders realised what an excellent basis this chassis would make for a small sports car. We had not long to wait, and soon the Hornet was one of the most popular little cars on the road. In comparison to the standard saloons, the sports 3/4 seaters were a great improvement—but the manufacturers were still not satisfied, and produced the Hornet ” Special ” chassis, to be supplied in chassis form to coachbuilders only at the low price of 2175.
They have made a thorough job of it. To begin with the track is now 3 inches narrower at the back than in front; giving greatly enhanced road holding characteristics, then the induction and exhaust systems have been completely re-designed, twin S.U. carburettors now being fitted to twin inlet-manifolds, while on the exhaust side, three pipes lead to a single pipe, and so to the silencer. In the May issue of MOTOR SPORT we published an account of a short test of the Hornet Special, and we recently had an opportunity of putting the car through its paces more thoroughly. The model placed at our disposal for a week-end by Messrs. E. C. Stearns & Co., of Fulham Road, S.W., was an Abbey “Trophy,”
a very neat and beautifully finished four-seater, which incorporates several ingenious and ultra modern ideas. Good features in the body design are an 8-gallon rear petrol tank, Stearns-Layton remote gear control, and a folding windscreen fitted with safety-glass. And now about performance. First of all, it would be difficult to imagine a more easy car to drive than this Hornet Special. The clutch is smooth and light in operation ; the gear change is simple, but at the same time has plenty of ” feel ” about it ; and the steering, although extremely light, is quite positive in action,
so that the car can be placed accurately at high speeds.
In getting clear of the London traffic we soon found that the acceleration in second gear was extremely useful—the time taken to reach 30 m.p.h. from 10 m.p.h. being 5 seconds. The engine is delightfully smooth right up to the safe maximum on the gears, 5,200 r.p.m. and we found that a comfortable cruising speed is in the neighbourhood of 60 m.p.h., at which speed the engine is turning over at about 3,700 r.p.m.
Our destination to begin with was in the Tring district, and the run down the Watford by-pass gave us a very good idea of the maximum speed. We had the speedometer registering a steady 80 m.p.h. for a considerable time, which was later proved by timing to be an actual 75 m.p.h. Wonderful going for a smooth, quiet and flexible engine of only 1,271 c.c. ! At this speed the cal was perfectly steady, and after tightening the shock absorbers all round, we found that corners could be taken very fast indeed without any tendency to roll. The brakes have been improved enormously. When we first took the car over the shock absorbers were slackened off for town work, and violent application of the brakes produced front wheel judder. This was quickly remedied by tightening the shock absorbers, and the brakes were then smooth and extremely efficient
in action. The actual stopping distance from 40 m.p.h. was 55 feet.
Summing up, we found the ” Abbey ” Hornet Special a most delightful little car. Definitely good acceleration, a high maximum speed, and powerful brakes combine to make the car equally suitable for main roads, traffic, and country lanes. Added to this, the first class workmanship and finish of the body left nothing to be desired, and at £275 it is an outstandingexample of the wonderful value made possible by the popularity of this type of sports car.