Miscellaneous

Austin-Healey 3000

Most manufacturers carry out a policy of continuous development on their vehicles throughout the years and we have seen the Austin-Healey grow from a four-cylinder A90-engined model to the latest six-cylinder 124-b.h.p. model designated the 3000, which is announced today by Donald Healey.

In appearance the new model does not differ from the previous 100-6, but the B.M.C. C-type engine has a new cylinder block giving a capacity of 2,912 c.c. to keep it just within the 3-litre class, and in this form it gives 124 h.h.p. at 4,600 r.p.m., using a compression-ratio of 9.03 to 1. The bore is now 83.36 mm. and the stroke 89 mm. To cope with this increased power, Girling 11¼-in. disc brakes are now standard equipment on the front wheels, with 11 in. by 2¼  in. wide drum brakes at the rear.

The cars are still available as two- or occasional four-seaters, and a useful feature is the provision of a master switch inside the boot which switches off the ignition. It is necessary, of course, to lock the boot.

We have recently had the opportunity of trying this model on the Continent, together with an improved version of another B.M.C. model and a report of the test will be published in next month's issue.

The Continental trip was arranged at short notice and consequently the left-hand drive models which we drove were not fully run-in (some, in fact, had done virtually no mileage whatsoever) and the gearboxes were rather tight, making gear-changing difficult. Nevertheless, 5,000 r.p.m. was seen in top gear, equivalent to around 105 m.p.h. The manufacturers claim that 100 m.p.h. can be reached from rest in 31 seconds.

Price of the two-seater model is £1,168  9s. 2d. and the four-seater is £1,175  10s. 10d. -- M.L.T

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Chryslers Sell Simcas

To celebrate their take-over of Simca sales in this country, Chrysler Motors held a Press Party at Brands Hatch recently, where journalists, were able to test various Simca models.

Chryslers will be assembling Simcas at their Kew factory and will incorporate a large proportion of British material, such as tyres, sparking plugs, and even body parts as time goes on and the demand for Simcas increases. Only the Aronde series will be sold here as Mr. Wendell S. Clough, the American President of Chryslers told us he felt that there would be little demand for the Vedette series in Britain. Nor will the Plein Ciel hardtop or Ocean convertible be sold in Britain at present as no right-hand drive models will be produced tor some time.

We were able to take the Montlhery and Elysee saloons round the track, which gave us the opportunity to see that they are very stable and controllable cars under heavy cornering, with spritely acceleration. Although the cars show no technical novelties they are sturdy and well made, and should enjoy a brisk sale in this country. We hope that more manufacturers will have such faith in their new models that they will allow them to be thrashed round a race track for hours on end by journalists. The cars required no attention whatsoever and, indeed, no mechanics were in evidence had any repairs been required. -- M.L.T.

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VW Notes

From Australia comes news of an intriguing VW Special, built by L. Whitehead. It is a single-seater racing car with all-enveloping body resembling a pre-war Auto-Union record-breaker, the headrest fin being vented for engine cooling and the driver sitting centrally. The rear-engine location is retained, but engine unit and i.r.s. are reversed, the torsion-bars being housed within the rear cross-member, and the back wheels located by forward-facing arms. Front suspension and steering are normal VW but the steering box is set centrally and well forward, raking the column, Rear suspension has neutral camber unladen. The clutch now has hydraulic control and overdrive top has been converted to direct drive, providing a top-gear ratio of about 4 to 1. The indirect ratios are unchanged hut a choice of tyre sizes is available.

The engine is supercharged at 5/6 lb./sq. in. with a chain-driven Judson compressor drawing from a 1½-in. S.U. carburetter. It was found necessary to fit a larger oil pump and to open up the oil galleries, while the inlet manifold was prone to puncture. The cylinder bore was enlarged 3 mm., giving a swept volume of 1,300 c.c., and it is now intended to raise the c.r. to 14 to 1, inclusive of the blower boost, using alcohol fuel. In its present form b.h.p. is estimated at 60-70 and the engine runs happily at 6,500 r.p.m., pulling 5,600 r.p.m. in top gear, aided by the low-drag single-seater body. Standard brakes, with air scoops, have proved entirely adequate for circuit racing, using drilled disc wheels. The wheelbase is 7 ft. 7 in., track unchanged, and weight, ready to race, 8 cwt. Maximum speed is said to be 112 m.p.h.

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The pleasant gear-change and light steering recently resulted in the sale of a VW to an elderly lady who had hired one while her Hillman California was laid up. She specified a two-tone paint job and whitewall tyres, and is now a confirmed enthusiast. -- W.B.

 

Looking Back . . .

The other day we drove to Bristol to see Mr. C. Pole Wedmore. The main object of this visit was to talk ahout Calthorpes, since Mr. Wedmore was called in by that company in 1921 to design a racing car for them, this being the very slim single-seater illustrated in plates 25 and 45 of "The History of Brooklands Motor Course."

We will not bore the present generation with details of that ancient Brooklands Calthorpe, which achieved 96 m.p.h. on 30 b.h.p., largely by reason of a frontal area of only 5.8 sq. ft. But, as so often happens when one interviews those who were in the motor industry during the early days, other interesting items emerged, which are worth putting on record.

For example, Mr. Wedmore studied engineering (although he preferred music) under Morgan and Wood, who evolved the camshafts for the successful pre-1914 T.T. Douglas motor-cycles. As a result of his excellent training Mr. Wedmore, when he went to Daimler at Coventry, was able to read a paper on valve timing. Morgan introduced him to unsymmetrical valve timing, having obtained 66 b.h.p. from a Knight sleeve-valve engine for Daimler before the 1914-18 war by shifting the sleeve-operating eccentrics to obtain this effect at the inlet ports. One of these engines was adapted for the early tanks when war broke out. At Daimlers Mr. Wedmore first learnt of the benefits of flat as distinct from cambered road springs, which he used in a special application on the 1921 racing Calthorpe.

Mr. Wedmore started motoring with a single-cylinder Fafnir motor-cycle with an open exhaust pipe terminating just before the crankcase. He was never arrested for this and today one of his neighbours is the very policeman who used to turn a deaf ear nearly fifty years ago as the youthful rider went by on this noisy Fafnir! Next Mr. Wedmore saw an early belt-drive G.N. and promptly returned home to build a cyclecar of his own. It wasn't very successful and he found building pedal cycles and selling them to friends a better use of his spare time.

He later acquired a pre-war White and Poppe Morris-Oxford, and this was followed by a Morris-Cowley, on which he experimented with his special C.P.W. cams, a Le Zebre (the engine of which is said to have inspired contemporary Singers), a Gwynne Eight "hipbath" and a 7.5 Citroen "Cloverleaf:" Mr. Wedmore recalls that the Morris-Oxford did 43 m.p.h., the Morris-Cowley 55 m.p.h., the Le Zebre 60 m.p.h. and the Gwynne Eight 73 m.p.h. He was enormously impressed with the Gwynne but an illness necessitated a steadier ride, so along came the little Citroen, on its low-pressure tyres, but, luxurious as it was, it was 18 m.p.h. slower than the Gwynne.

After leaving Calthorpe Mr. Wedmore wrote road-test reports for a Bristol newspaper until he obtained a position with Morris in 1928, staying with them until 1934. He spent the first three months of 1928 getting the bugs out of the six-cylinder Isis engine, which had been evolved after abortive attempts to copy two American designs, and after the original six-cylinder Morris-Oxford had proved a dismal failure.

After this Mr. Wedmore worked on the LA 14 six-cylinder engine, this being used in a rather square-rigged but well-equipped £285 Morris-Oxford saloon that was in production from 1930 to 1935. He designed a "silent ramp" camshaft for this s.v. engine, which gave inaudible idling, because the tappet clearances were taken up gradually. The cylinder head had well-shaped, machined combustion chambers, adopted also for the first Morris Ten-Fours. Later, rough cast-iron heads were fitted to the Ten-Four and this somewhat reduced the surprising willingness of these engines. For the LA 14 engine Morris wanted to jacket only the top of the block, as in bull-nose days, but eventually they had to listen to Mr. Wedmore and extend the jackets. The 10/4, 10/6 and 14/6 engines all had air-cleaners included in the head, oily horsehair being enclosed in a pressed jacket, which covered the plugs and gave the appearance of an o.h.v. unit. This contributed to the inaudible idling. The side-valves were inclined, as on the 12/20 Calthorpe.

Altogether Mr. Wedmore evolved over 60 camshafts for various Morris engines, including those for the Mk. III 18/80 M.G. He claims credit for the successful M.G. TA engine, the Wolseley 14/56 engine and a smaller push-rod o.h.v. engine which he thinks was used, after he had left Morris Engines, for the Wolseley Eight, one of which Lord Nuffield still drives. He was also associated with the original s.v. Morris Minor engine which, with compression-ratio steadily raised, served in the series-E and later Morris Eights. Incidentally, he claims that at one time Nuffield contemplated selling the Morris Minor for £65, engines then costing less than £15 each.

Today, in retirement at Westbury-on-Trym. Mr. Wedmore has returned to his first love -- music, -- W. B.