GOES LIKE A GUN
THE 31-LITRE HOTCHKISS
GUNS are in the news nowadays, and the famous French Hotchkiss, whose badge is two crossed cannons, Is the product of a big ordnance factory. It is thus both built like a gun, and certainly the Grand Sports saloon, or fourseater fixed head coupe, goes like a gun as well.
It will always be a source of lasting regret to the representative of MOTOR SPORT who carried out this test that owing to exigencies of time he was not able to have a longer run on the 8k-litre Hotchkiss. This was not the fault of Messrs. H. M. Bentley and Partners, of Hanover Street, W.1, the British concessionaires for the Hotchkiss, but time simply did not permit more than one day in the car. This was amply sufficient, however, to
appreciate its high qualities. Indeed, some inkling of these could be gathered just by a short run “round the block.” Few cars assimilate themselves to the driver so quickly in thick traffic, especially when they have a high top gear and a performance of close on 100 m.p.h. Part of the day in the Hotchkiss had to be spent journeying hurriedly about London, but this was really no disadvantage, for one was able to appreciate the great flexibility and handy steering. Even to one used to handling many different types of cars, there is often a feeling when taking over a new and expensive car in the thickest traffic that London can provide that one “must not
scratch the wings.” From natural caution one refrains from taking all the opportunities that one might take in. one’s own car, the width and performance of which one knows to the last fraction.
The Hotchkiss gave no such feeling, and one was at once at home, holding one’s own with the most determined “thrusters.” It was possible to forget about the gear change altogether, since one found automatically that one had changed down or up without thinking about it. This the enthusiast does on his own car, but he does not always find the same facility on someone else’s, even if the change be easy. All the gears can be used with freedom
in traffic, for even on bottom gear one can, if one likes, attain 80 m.p.h., while the high top of 3.3 to 1 is not too high for trickling along when one desires. The two intermediate ratios are naturally the ones which one uses most, and gives all the acceleration that one could wish for. Third and top have a synchromesh engagement, and all the gears slip in quite easily. There is just one point that one has to be careful about, and that is braking. The brakes are of the duo servo selfwrapping type, and when you put them on something really does happen. If one is not prepared for such sudden cessation of travel, one might bump one’s nose on the windscreen! One just has to get used to the power of self-wrapping brakes, until you learn how to caress the pedal for a gentle stop at low speeds You may as well say here that this tendency for a ” complete and absolute stop” (to quote the international racing regulations, when a red flag is shown) disappears at high speeds, unless of course one wishes to stop very suddenly. On the open road you can use the brake pedal as you like, obtaining gentle deceleration or fierce stopping power
without any difficulty. Those brakes would get one out of many a nasty situation with ease.
The same remark would apply to the acceleration, and thus the Hotchkiss, with its light, positive steering as an additional help, must be one of the safest cars on the road in good hands. This is just as a sport?-car should be.
In traffic the car was quite happy; but it was just asking for the first derestriction sign. In practically no time (later proved to be just over 18 secs. from a standstill) one was up to 70 m.p.h and down again to less than 80 ru.p.h. for a roundabout with the same ease. The Hotchkiss is certainly “grand sport.” At Brooklands there was first of all something of a disappointment, for it seemed difficult to push the speedometer post 00 m.p.h. However, this seemed very curious, as the scen2ry was going by at
a great rate, and a racing car on a warming up lap had been absolutely left standing. Racing cars usually travel fairly fast even when they are warming up.
Out came a stop-watch, and, as expected, the speedometer was proved to be slow at high speeds. Again and again a timed speed of 97.83 m.p.h. was registered !or the flying quarter mile. The driver had been told that the Hotchkiss would “take it,” and wanted to knock off that elusive sec. which would have given it 100 ni.p,h. But after nearly 98 m.p.h. had been registered four times, one had to realise that this was the best that could be done, that day, at any rate.
It is understood that in favourable conditions it is in fact possible to exceed the three-figure mark, while 104 m.p.h. would represent only 4,000 r.p.m. On this occasion there was no wind at all to help, and the car was practically as fast all the way round the track, except on the slope of the Members’ Hill.
The car was quite comfortable at this speed, but tighter shock-absorbers would have been an advantage. The machine tested was actually not quite of the latest type, which now has adjustable Houdaille shock-absorbers. The only other differences, it is understood, are leather upholstery instead of cloth, and screenwipers mounted at the bottom of the screen instead of at the top. A slightly more rigid steering box mounting has also been provided, though in this test no criticisms of the steering are offered, except for a certain absence of selfcentering action on fast bends.
It was a real pleasure trying to get some acceleration figures with the responsive engine and the beautiful gear change, albeit it was hard not to make a slight clash with a quick change from bottom to second. It was interesting, too, to note how much scope there was for nice judgment in the amount of revs, and the manner of letting in the clutch. Too much zeal in this could result in wheelspin even on dry concrete, causing loss of time. It would have been hard to ” muff ” the getaway altogether, but it is pleasant on -a good car to have something left to
individual skill. Not much practice is necessary, but with practice one Can certainly improve. A hand ignition lever is provided, mounted on the steering column, and use of this, too, can make a la of difference in getting the best results. If the driver had been able to concentrate on these features without having to operate several stop watches at the same time, even better results might have been obtained. The acceleration figures from a standstill were :—
…. „ „
On first gear the car would reach 30 m.p.h., on second gear 50 m.p.h., and, on third gear a little over 70 m.p.h. These speeds are nicely spaced, and the performance on third gear of 5.12 to 1 is particularly useful on the road, both in picking up from corners, and in passing other vehicles. The fuel tank holds 18 gallons. There was not an opportunity to check the petrol consumption accurately, but it is understood that this varies from 16-20 mpg. according to methods Of driving, the lower figure being possible even after
sustained high speed work. Thus one has a very useful mileage which can be covered without filling up.
As has been mentioned, the closed body is termed a four-seater Fixed-head coupe, on the ground that with the short wheelbase of 9 ft. 2 in. (track 4 ft. 8 in.) On the Grand Sport model, the car is not a full four seater saloon, having only two doors. Nevertheless, passengers placed in the rear seats would not have much to grumble at, unless they were of exceptional size, while headroom in the front seats is excellent. The driving position and the view ahead ate both good, with a nice, thin-rimmed steering wheel. Just below the steering wheel two arms provide the mounting for the dipper switch and the horn switch, both conveniently placed for the right hand. The dipping arrangement is clever, for if one is driving in town with the side-lights only, movement of the dipper switch immediately brings the headlights into operation, their beam
appropriately lowered; .without recourse to the actual headlamp switch.
The instrument panel is nicely laid out. The di als.are grouped, but are exceptionally clear to read. No rev, counter is provided. On each side of the dashboard is a cubby hole, and pockets in the side of the car are also provided for front and rear passengers. In the doors the front half of the winding windows can be swivelled independently, a useful feature. The spare wheel is mounted horizontally in the tail, with a space for tools beside it. The floor of the luggage compartment is so arranged that it should be possible to get the tools out without dis
turbing the luggage. Incidentally the battery is carried in the dash, and on each side of it further spaces are provided where tools or spare parts would be carried. One expects a good performance from the Hotchkiss, with its formidable list of successes in the Monte Carlo Rally and other competitions, but one has a feeling of pleasant surprise on noting the price of the 34-litre Grand -Sports model. It is only .4675, which is by no means excessive for a car of such qualities, capable of close on the 100 m.p.h. mark,
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