THE HUDSON TERRAPLANE SPORTS FOUR-SEATER] AMAZING ACCELERATION AND POWERFUL BRAKES. A SPEED OF OVER 100 MILES AN HOUR.
THE days when one considered all cars of transatlantic design as sluggish, unstable and lacking in character are past, and fast motorists in this country are willing if not forced to treat them with respect. The light and lively Terraplane models evolved by the engineers of the Hudson-Essex Company have played a large part in bringing about this change of outlook. The results are obtained in the good old way, a powerful engine in a light chassis, but there is naturally more in it than that.
In the first place the engine, though fitted with side valves, is extremely efficient, and with a high-compression aluminium head is claimed to produce 120 horse-power. Skilful casting in the cylinder block and the extensive use of high-duty steels in the other parts makes it possible to produce a power unit of very moderate weight. In the same way, by reason of the fine material used in the chassis and the rigid bracing of the all-steel floor, unnecessary weight is here again avoided and the car complete with a light but strongly constructed four-seater body turns the scales at 23 cwt. The springs on the open car have been stiffened up slightly to give the firmness of cornering which the sports car owner expects to find, and thanks to the clean sweeping lines of the body a speed of over too m.p.h. can be obtained when the engine is in good fettle. The day appointed for the road-test was anything but favourable. A strong wind
was blowing, and rain was evidently not far away. Determined to try the car at Brooklands before the weather broke, we swept silently out of Town, much impressed by the smoothness and easy riding of the car. Just as we reached the Kingston by-pass rain started to fall, but our companion put from the chart they were very striking indeed, especially those of i 1/5 seconds for to to 20 m.p.h., and 2 4/5 up to 30 m.p.h. It was interesting to find that there was no sign of wheel-spin, though the track was wet. No doubt the large area of contact of the 16 by 6.75-inch Goodyear
his foot firmly down and we sizzled along at 75. After various experiments it has been found possible to set the windscreen so as to throw the rain right over the heads of the occupants, and not a drop came in until we got held up in a traffic block at Esher.
tyres, which were nevertheless inflated to 3olbs, had something to do with this. Unfortunately the wind was blowing directly up the Railway Straight, and actually the highest speed recorded was past the Vickers sheds. An even go m.p.h. over a flying half-mile was the highest we
After waiting at the track until rain was not actually falling we started in to get some acceleration figures. As will be seen
achieved on this occasion, much to Mr. Strang’s disappointment and this sluggishness, if a 90 m.p.h. can be so called, was traced afterwards to a defective coil. Trying the car at a later date 102 m.p.h. was repeatedly obtained over the halfmile and the acceleration figures would naturally be further improved over those shown on the chart.
The new type of compensated Bendix brakes fitted to the Hudson were powerful without any tendency to snatch, and applied with full force on the wet concrete brought the car to rest in 63 feet from 4o m.p.h. On a dry road we should imagine the stopping distance would be reduced by some to feet. After completing the tests at the Track, we made our way by devious roads to the open country, finding it difficult to keep below the statutory 30 m.p.h. with this lively car, though actually it runs down to walking pace on the high top gear without snatch. Once out of the ” devastated area” however, we trod firmly on the accelerator pedal and can truthfully say that we can never recall feeling such a surge of power on anything but a highlytuned semi-racing car. On top gear the effect was like that of second or third on an ordinary sports car, only of course without the noise, and to be able to go up to eighty or so without a pause on any straight stretch of road was quite a new sensation. A cruising speed of 75 m.p.h. was therefore easily maintained, and the average speeds which can be put up on this
can up on Hudson are only limited by trallic conditions.
The technique of driving a largeengined car, particularly one as light as the Hudson takes a little time to acquire, but soon one learns that the gears need not be used nearly as much as on the smaller types of sports car. Apart from saving petrol by making a sparing use of the gear-lever, the performance is good enough for most purposes for, without doing so, the four-litre side-valve engine has a powerful torque almost down to stalling point. At the same time, if maximum performance is desired, there is no reason why the gears should not be used, speeds of 37 and 57 m.p.h. being obtained at 4,000 r.p.m. The engine will however, turn at a much higher rate than this, and the owner of the car, ) Mr. Robert Strang, who was accompanying us, quite cheerfully changed down at 70 m.p.h., which is about 5,000 r.p.m., and had also used
these revs most of the way up Shelsley. Not bad for a production four-litre engine ! He also informed us that the Hudson Company hold the five-hour second gear record which is recognised in America for
stock cars, at a speed of 72 m.p.h., which seems to us almost cruelty to dumb animals.
The gear-change is quick, with some use of force, instantaneous, at full revs., and the gear-lever is conveniently situated and does not whip. The clutch is smooth but rather heavy, and needs to be fully depressed to give a clean change. The two indirect gears run silently, but are not fitted with any form of synchronising device.
The road-holding was satisfactory, and the car could be cornered at high speed with confidence. The springing is firm and free from roll, and the car can be driven round Brooklands almost hands off even when the track is wet. The steering is geared a little low but has a useful self-centring action, and the Axle-flex independent springing for the front wheels definitely cuts out all trace of steering-wheel kick on uneven roads. The driving position did not suit us too well. With the seat correctly placed in relation to the pedals, the steering wheel came too far into the lap, making it difficult to ” throw the car about when cornering fast, and the cut-away at the side of the body might with advantage have been deeper. The brake-lever was short and out of reach. but this will be altered on later
cars, while the position of the steering wheel and the pedals had been specially altered from standard and on the production mOdels will be restored to their original position. The angle Of the seat and the position of the windscreen are wellplanned. The bonnet on the car we were trying, which was the first of the Z935 open four-seaters, was rather high, and made it difficult to see the near side wing. On later cars the scuttle will be flat and two inches lower. With the front seats in their nor mai position, two full-sized passengers can be
accommodated in the back scats, with their tegs against the padded front seats and their feet in deep wells. A further inch of leg room and two inches of width is given on the revised bodies. The sides of the body offer adequate protection, and in fact the car may reasonably be termed a full four-seater. The hood drops out of sight in a well at the rear of the body. It is easily erected and can be stowed again with little more trouble. Reverting to the mechanical side of the car, the engine is a side-valve straight
eight unit with a five-bearing crank-shaft. A single downdraught carburetter is used, and is fitted as standard with an air-cleaner and silencer. This had been removed on the car we drove, and at high speeds the air rushing in made quite an exhilarating roar. The exhaust note is subdued, and by replacing the air-silencer the car regains a gliding silence which makes its speed all the more deceptive. The carburetter is supplied by means of an engine-driven pump from the 15 gallon rear tank. The petrol consumption we were unable to check exactly, as the guage was only marked rather vaguely with ” “
” quarter,” ” half,” and ” threequarters ” full, but we understand that it works: out at 15 m.p.g. at fast touring speeds. The car is fitted with a high-compression head giving a compression ratio of 7 to 1, so Esso Ethyl is indicated, but for ordinary touring any No. 1 spirit may be used. The head itself is interesting, being cast in two sections in order to make sure the water passages are correctly formed. 14 mm. plugs are used, with coil ignition, and a steel cylinder-head gasket has been found necessary.
The gear-box is built in unit with the engine and a .single dry-plate clutch is used. The gear-box has three forward gears, second being a silent running constant-mesh ratio. The transmission is then through an open propellor shaft with two universal joints to the spiral-bevel back axle. The chassis is strengthened amidship with the usual pressed steel X-member, and is further tied together by the steel floor,
which locks together the rear part of the frame. The front wheels are independently sprung, though normal half elliptic springs are used. The axle is in three sections, with two central links which are hinged in the form of a parallelogram to the axle ends which carry the wheels. The springs are bolted to the axle ends. When one wheel rises the links hinge up without disturbing the other side.
The brakes are the new type Bendix cable operated type, which are compensated by means of swinging links and are most efficient in use. Both axles are fitted with telecontrol friction shock-absorbers which can be adjusted by means of the usual control knob on the steering column. The body has been specially designed and built for the Hudson by Bertellis of
Feltham and is a light yet strongly constructed job. The original Hudson radiator has been retained as part of the design, and the lines remind one pleasantly of those efficient-looking all-enclosed monoplanes which have almost completely replaced the untidy-looking “kites” of yesterday. The new Hudson may be summed up as an attractive car of exceptional performance selling at a reasonable price, a combination of virtues not so easy to find even with the wealth of motor cars now on the market
to-day. The car was lent to us through the courtesy of Messrs. Shaw & Kilburn of Great Portland Street, who are the London Agents, and road-tests can be arranged by applying to this address.