ALL -WEATHER TOURING
SPECIAL SIX RENAULT FITTED WITH DROP. HEAD BODY GIVES SPORTING PERFORMANCE.
ENGLAND, in spite of its climate, has become the home of the open sports car, and now we are entering what seems to be a second season of really hot weather, the open-car enthusiast is gaining the full benefit from his vehicle. Continental body-builders have, however, gone one better, and have spent the past few years in perfecting the convertible body, neat as a tourer when opened, but affording full protection when the top is raised. The Special Six Renault which we tested recently is a typical example of this development. At first sight there was nothing to reveal the presence of the ” fullyfashioned roof,” if we may be allowed to call it so. A handsome-looking touring car with rather high sides, the rear end of the body is rounded off to form a boat-shaped tail, and a canvas cover neatly conceals the hood-well. Threatening skies came up suddenly in the course of the afternoon’s run, but in three minutes the top was completely erected and secured in position, and we drove
Engine : 6 cylinders, 80 mm. bore, 120 mm. stroke, capacity 3,620 c.c. Tax £24. Side-by-side valves. Coil ignition. Down-draught carburetter. Coil ignition.
Gearbox : Three speeds and reverse. Silent second gear. Synchro-mesh. Ratios 3.9, 6.9, 11.6 to I. Central change.
Dimensions : Wheelbase 9ft. 8in., track 4f1. gin., weight 31 cwt.
Price, with four-sealer drop-head coupe: £395.
comfortably through the downpour which followed. Actually, of course, the normal open-car hood would have served equally well during the case mentioned, but the coupe head has important advantages in winter, when freedom from draughts is a sine qua non. The hood has two folding side-members and when these have been clicked into position, the whole structure is pulled
forward and hooked on to the screen in the usual way. The rear panel has zipp fasteners on either side and so can be removed and rolled up to give a through draught when the hood is raised, while the glass windows can be raised or lowered with the hood up or down.
The drop-head body, which is manufactured in France and finished in England, is little heavier than a four-seater sports body of the same dimensions, and thanks to an efficient 3i-litre engine, the Special Six accelerates up to 60 m.p.h. in excellent style. This characteristic is particularly useful as the car excels at fast touring between 50 and 60 m.p.h. Timed over a flying half-mile at Brooklands, the maximum speed was found to be just over 73 m.p.h., so the car can be kept at well over 65 or so without feeling hard pushed, but the springing, road-holding and general silence seem to be at their best around 55, so that was the figure usually maintained.
We drove the car for some hundred miles over all types of roads, winding narrow ones amongst the South Downs and the fast straights on the by-passes and the Portsmouth road. It seemed preeminently a machine which would never tire its driver, with a liveliness which made driving as interesting at the end of the journey as at the start. The engine is rubber-mounted, which prevents vibration from reaching the driver, while the only sound to be heard is the hiss of the exhaust when reflected back from the walls of narrow lanes. After 60 miles of hard driving with the hood up on a wet and muggy afternoon, the front compartment became rather warm, but a large ventilator on the scuttle is provided for such contingencies.
As befits a car primarily intended for touring, the Renault ran smoothly down to walking-pace on top gear. Gearchanging was simple, second gear provides a useful maximum of 50 m.p.h. and runs quietly, while 25 m.p.h. can be reached on bottom. The engine was pleasantly flexible and the absence of a fourth ratio was not seriously felt, while it retained the characteristic Renault pulling-power, and showed no sign of being over-geared on the top-gear ratio of 3.9. The suspension, as is usual on Continental cars, was flexible without any tendency to roll, and in spite of only being fitted with hydraulic shockabsorbers, could be cornered fast enough to make the tyres scream. Fast cornering
on acute bends was somewhat limited by the low-geared steering, though there was an appreciable self-centering action. At full speed on the straight it was easy to hold a definite course.
The brakes were quite satisfactory for touring purposes, but limited the cars average speed when driving fast. From 40 m.p.h. 75 feet was a usual stopping distance, and considerable force was called for to get the full effect. The other controls worked smoothly and with the minimum of effort, and the accelerator pedal, which had an unusually long leverage, at first called for care in operation owing to the liveliness of the car at low speeds. Leather upholstery is used for the seats, and both back and front ones were comfortable, with good support for the thighs and back. Small details such as the lay-out of the dash-board were well thought out and we liked the Jaeger speedometer and clock with their large dials. Petrol and oil gauges and the ammeter were carried within the dial
of the latter. The ignition and lighting switches appear as a row of knobs in the centre panel together with the advance control, which is usually left in the midway position. On the other side was a large cubby hole with an interior light which switched on when the door was opened.
The engine is a six-cylinder side-valve engine of straightforward design, with detachable head and sump. The crankshaft runs in four bearings. A Stromberg down-draught carburetter is fed by an A.C. petrol pump from an 18-ga1lon rear tank. Coil ignition is used, and the dynamo and fan are belt-driven from the front of the engine. A three-speed gearbox is mounted in unit with the engine and has synchro-mesh second and top gears and a silent-second. The transmission passes through a torque-tube to a bevel-driven rear axle. The chassis is normal in type, upswept at front and rear. An unusual feature about Renault cars is the great range of colours which may
be supplied without extra charge. The car we tested had a dark-blue bonnet and a cream-coloured body, which proved an effective combination. The Special Six had a shield-shaped radiator and allenclosing front wings, inseparable features of present-day cars, but they were carried out with unusual thoroughness and there was none of those excrescences which often spoil the modern simplicity of line. From the side the bonnet treatment was pleasing and with the sloping radiator cowling reminded one of the days when this was an almost exclusive feature of Renault cars.
As a fast touring car of good appearance the Special Six has much to commend it, while the sturdily-constructed slow-speed engine should spell long service with a minimum of attention. The cars are, of course, manufactured near Paris, but the makers have a large and well-equipped factory and service station in London. The address is Renault Ltd., Seagrave Road, London, S.W. 6.