Rumblings, July 1952

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It is now possible to publish details about that exciting British high-performance car, the Aston-Martin DB3. The first version of this 21/2-litre all-enveloping two-seater competition car appeared as long ago as last September, when Lance Macklin drove the prototype in the RAC Dundrod TT, retiring, after a fast run, with a split exhaust manifold. Since then these cars have performed well in a number of races, notably during the Daily Express meeting at Silverstone, when they proved capable of vanquishing all the XK120C Jaguars save Stirling Moss’, in spite of giving away a litre to the Coventry car. Further interest has been lent by Geoff Duke’s proficient essay at four-wheeler racing in one of these Aston-Martins.

Aston-Martin Ltd. have decided to build a batch of 25 DB3s and have recently revealed the mysteries that lie beneath the aerodynamic bodywork of their latest production. The saloon DB2 is so well known that the easiest way of introducing the new Aston-Martin is to state in what way the two models differ. In the first place the DB3 has an entirely new, very rigid tubular frame, with single side members, as distinct from the rather complicated structure of the DB2. This frame is the work of Prof Dr Ing Eberan von Eberhorst, so, like the Jupiter, the DB3 owes much to Teutonic engineering knowledge. The saute, well-tried 21/2-litre, six-cylinder twin ohc engine is used, but with triple 36 DCF 5 Weber carburetters and 8.16 to 1 compression-ratio, it gives 140 bhp at 5,500 rpm. A large ribbed magnesium-alloy sump contains three gallons of oil, which is circulated through an oil-radiator forming 1/5th of the area of the water radiator. The latter is pressurised and set very low, with separate header tank. In unit with the engine is a David Brown gearbox which weighs the same as the DB2 four-speed box, but which provides an over-drive fifth speed. A layshaft driven oil pump feeds the free-running pinions and there is Borg Warner synchromesh for all save bottom gear.

Suspension is similar to that on the DB2, de Dion at the back, trailing-link ifs at the front, but with torsion bars in place of coil springs. Armstrong AT 7 telescopic dampers are used at the back, Armstrong IS 10 piston-type at the front. There are, of course, Rudge centre-lock wire wheels, shod with 6.00-16 Dunlop tyres. The brakes are Girling (2LS on the front wheels) with truly vast  Al-fin drums, 13-in dia at the front, 11-in dia inboard at the back. The total friction area is 212 sq in, with 65 per cent, of the effort normally on the front wheels. Steering is rack and pinion. The wheelbase of the DB3 is 7 ft 9 in, with a track of 4 ft 3 in and a ground clearance of 5 in The open body has a frontal area of 13 sq ft, 5 sq ft less than that of the DB2. Equipment on this fine competition machine includes KLG 10 mm L 80 plugs, dual SU fuel pumps feeding from a 32-gallon tail tank, 9-in Borg & Beck clutch, Hardy Spicer prop shaft, Lockheed brake cylinders and a Purolator full flow oil filter. Neat small instruments are used.

What manner of performance should the DB3 have ? Well, the maker’s quote a dry-weight of under 17 cwt, which represents approximately 140 bhp/ton in running trim. The gear ratios are 11.89, 7.75. 5.23, 4.1 and (overdrive) 3.4 to 1, so that this open Aston-Martin should cruise safely at over 100 mph in overdrive. It will presumably have as good, if not better, handling qualities as the DB2 and the reliability of the Aston-Martin engine has been proved at Le Mans and elsewhere. Road-test of this latest British high-performance car should disclose some very exceptional performance figures.

Thoughts

Is a caution factor entering too greatly into present-day motor racing ? With the enormous public interest now involved, organisers have every reason to play for even greater safety than before the war, when safety measures, particularly at Brooklands, were very thorough. Yet we see the chicane at Goodwood to slow cars down and the new Club circuits at Silverstone restricting speeds to lower than were attainable on the old Club circuit. Very desirable, no doubt, but just occasionally we pine to see “flat-out” speed, and become nostalgic over the Brooklands outer-circuit, where drivers really could get a move on ! Further thought on caution —-the BARC has decided to ban from certain of its events drivers who do not fit suppressors on the ignition leads of their competition cars. A kind gesture to television users, and a publicity-catching one as well no doubt. But as the motorist is so heavily taxed, should he be forced against his own judgment into buying equipment which the Government could quite easily present to him free of charge were it essential ? Remembering how public and police made few allowances for the short-comings of early motor-car engines, in an era before universal silence was easily attained, we are against compulsion on the motorist to overcome the sensitivity of the television set to electrical interference many hundreds of yards distant !

Reverting to Silverstone, there is less excitement for the vultures at Club meetings since the long run to Stowe corner was abandoned. The “short” Club circuit of 1.608 miles involves only the Beckett’s hairpin and Woodcote as really sharp corners and the “long” Club circuit of 1.825 miles brings in three additional corners, or six in all.

The “short” course is about 5 mph slower than last year’s Club circuit and the “long” circuit some 5 mph slower again than the present “short” Club course. No doubt both are kinder to clubmen’s cars than the old Club circuit of 2.278 miles with its one long straight and the fast drop to Stowe, along which very considerable speeds could be attained. The VSCC and Eight-Clubs used the “short” circuit, the Maidstone & Mid-Kent MC the “long”.

Neither of these Club circuits is so suited to the 750 Club’s Six-Hour Relay Race, scheduled for August 30th, as the former 2.278 mile Club circuit, although, if it is not possible to get the full Silverstone (three-mile) circuit, the “short” Club course is likely to be Hobson’s choice.

Motor Sport tenders its deepest sympathy to the relatives and friends of those enthusiasts who lost their lives on June 14th trying to reach Le Mans in a Morton Airways Consul aircraft.

Baladeur’s “Sideslips” will be resumed next month.

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