Any car which finishes the Mille Miglia race can be considered a pretty good automobile. And that Bracco's saloon Lancia came in second to Villoresi's 4.1-litre Ferrari in this year's event was nothing less than sensational. This latest Gran Turismo version of the Aurelia is of outstanding technical interest and the following is what Raffaele Sansome of Genoa said about it in a recent interview :-
The new Lancia has a length of 14 feet, a width of 5 ft., a height of 4 ft. 7 inches, a ground clearance of 5.85 inches, a minimum turning radius of 16 feet 3 inches, weighs empty, with accessories and the spare wheel, about 19 1/2 cwt. The normal consumption of high octane fuel is 25 m.p.g.
The body frame has a reduced transversal section, and a longitudinal profile. There are two doors, with outer handles for opening outwards and interior rotation handles for closing inwards. By opening the driver's door internal illumination is applied automatically. There is an exterior lock for closing the driver's door. The window glasses on the doer can be completely lowered, and have water-drop eliminators. Two very comfortable seats are fitted in front and one at the back on the luggage recess; which replaces the usual rear seat. The windscreen is of curved glass, and there is a means of introducing warm air in the interior, and for defogging and defreezing. A double oriental sun protector is furnished. The rear window is also curved and has curtains opened or closed through an arrangement under the roof.
The B 20 six-cylinder engine is similar to that of the standard Amelia saloon but of 72 by 81.5 mm., 1,991 c.c. The compression ratio is approximately 8.4 to 1, and there are two separate Weber 32DR7SP carburetters in place of a double one. The maximum output is 75 b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m., 5,000 r.p.m. being safe if required. The engine weight, without water or oil, is 330 lb.
The clutch-gearbox-propeller shaft unit is the same as that of the Amelia saloon and, naturally, the suspension is independent on the four wheels. Michelin X or Pirelli Supers.port 165 by 400 tyres are fitted. The wheelbase is 8 feet 9 inches, the front track 4 ft. 2 inches, the rear track 4 feet 3 1/2 inches.
No doubt we shall be deemed Fearless Journalists in returning to the subject of "hot-rods," as American hotted-up automobiles are dubbed. But this time it isn't the fantastic timed speeds of these vehicles that we want to write about. All we want to do is to say that if you imagine the most dangerous motoring situation in which you could find yourself to be getting amongst Farina, Fangio, Villoresi, Ascari and Co., when the Alfas and Ferraris are duelling, or trying to heal John Cobb's 400-m.p.h. Land Speed Record, we have found something that make these pursuits seem about as safe as a job on the National Coal Board. Yes sir! Just try a few laps in company with the Heyward Rod Benderettes.
The Benderettes, about as puzzling a name as the Zephyrettes that Alistair Cooke explained for us in one of his splendid "Letter From America" broadcasts some time back, are girls who decided that they must hot-rod. So, clad in purple and white jackets, they had their first "Cheese Cake Derby" at Culver City Stadium on July 15th last year. The first all-girl programme was staged at Carrell Speedway, California, soon afterwards, and this season monthly "all-girlers" have taken place at Bakersfield.
Rusty O'Dale, Publicity Manager to the Cheese Cake Derby Club, tells us all about it in that bright, specialised magazine, Hot-Rod.
The cars are stock machines with their doors welded shut, roofs removed, tops safety-braced and equipped with "nerfing bars" and high-built front bumpers for barging a way through the field. They carry advertising matter on their sides and regulation aircraft seats with safety-belts are compulsory. All glass, upholstery and lamps are removed, and the races are driven entirely in second gear, the lever locked therein by a hook welded to the dash.
The girls have to wear slacks, boots and long-sleeve jackets while dicing, to protect them from boiling water and oil, also face masks and goggles to protect them from flying clods and rocks. But in the pictures accompanying Rusty's article they are seen in abbreviated white shorts, contrasting unhappily with their heavy driving boots. Speed is 50-60 m.p.h.
But it is the action pictures that would make Ascari and Farina feel faint. One shows Penny Perault's coupe "taking the fence out" at Bakersfield—we should call it high jumping the rails! Another shows Rusty's coupe standing on its radiator grille with bonnet-less. roof-less cars piling up all round it .
What's that—you thought you could drive and not be easily frightened? So did we! Whatever else America is, she's an amazing country. Hats off to the Benderettes. You prefer Silverstone and Goodwood . . . . ?
In England you find out for yourself how to make any given car go faster than its maker intended—unless, that is, you own an M.G. and make use of the excellent data contained in Abingdon's tuning manual. In the States you tell the speed-shop how much you can spend on special parts and they tell you how much speed you can buy for your Hot-Rod.
We were interested to see in the June issue of Hot-Rod some figures for a typical example of what America knows as a "hopped-up roadster." The car, which Editor Wally Parks and Motor Trend Editor Walter Woron, tested, was a Rocket-powered "A," owned by Dave Mitchell of Mitchell's Muffler Shop. To translate, a model-A Ford with 1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 engine, Hydramatic transmission and 1950 Oldsmobile back axle, of 3.23 to 1 ratio, wheels, brakes, coil springs, stabiliser bar, torque arms, shock-absorbers and propeller shaft, etc. The engine, reported not fully run-in or adjusted, had 0.05 in. milled from its head, cleaned up ports and a Weber semi-race carburetter.
With a sort of truck body and no mudguards, the following figures were obtained : 0-30 m.p.h. in 3.04 sec.; 0-60 m.p.h. in 9.7 sec.; s.s. mile in 17.44 sec.; 30-0 m.p.h. in 38 feet, 45-0 m.p.h. in 98 feet. The automatic transmission shifted from third to top about 50 ft. from the end of the 1/4-mile; water temperature kept at 160 degrees F. They do seem to make their specials move, t'other side of the Atlantic. Why doesn't someone import one and givem the XK 120s a run? But if he has a chance of trying it, your Editor will not wear a jersey inscribed in large letters "Motor Sport Magazine" during the dice!
The motorist who knows his car and how to look after it is making a vital contribution to road safety. This is especially true when the model is—to put it politely—of near-vintage type. Fortunately, most motorists these days are maintenance conscious, the number of cars still running safely and efficiently years after their makers expected is a tribute to the care of their owners and to the service facilities provided these days by the garage trade.
Apropos of all this, we have just seen the latest list of lubrication charts published by the Castrol oil people. Over 900 models are covered, from the Austin Seven of 1928 to the very latest post-war car. The Castrol library is impressive—over a quarter of a million charts are in stock—and a copy will be sent to any motorist who writes to C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd., 46, Grosvenor Street, London, W.1, mentioning Motor Sport, and stating the make, model and year of his car. As a further aid in keeping the wheels turning this Castrol service is invaluable.