TO THE ROAD RESEARCH LABORATORY BY ASTON MARTIN
RECENTLY the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research completed the construction of a new research track at Crowthorne in Berkshire which is to be used by the Road Research Laboratory for its many and varied experi ments in the solving of problems presented by an ever increasing traffic density. We Were especially interested as the three-milelong track in the form of a figure-eight features a long steeply
banked bend, the only One in the country apart from the M.I.R.A. track at Lindley. We then learned that there was a possibility of taking a car round the track, so in order to do the track justice (at least that was our excuse) we arranged to borrow the Works demonstration Anon Martin DB4 G.T. for the day. Arriving at the Aston Martin factory in Fekhans, Roy Jackson-Moore briefed us on the Controls but since the car was 845 XMV, the hard worked car which had been used at the Guild of Motoring Writers test day in October 1900, it was not unfamiliar to us. Since that
time it had put about 25,000 miles under its Dunlop RS5’s and Mr. Jackson-Moore apologised in advance for any faults as the engine really could do with a check over and he asked us not to exceed 5,500 r.p.m. if at all possible. Since the 3.54 axle ratio gives 22.6 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. a smart piece of mental arithmetic gave us a top speed of 124.3 m.p.h. which is quite enough for anything short of the M 1 in Britain. Rather amusingly the Aston Martin factory, home of one of the world’s fastest cars-, does not boast a too-octane petrol pump so
we were advised to add some too-octane brew before using heavy acceleration. After adding ten gallons to the ten already in the tank the fuel gauge needle just flickered over the half-full mark, but with consumption around the 12-10 m.p.g. bracket twenty gallons were not going to last long. The large leather seats are of course extremely comfortable and are adjustable for rake as well as fore-and-aft movement, although one must vacate the seat to Carry out the former operation. The pedals are placed in the proper positions and the 16 in. wood rimmed steering wheel is nicely angled. There are plenty of instruments to keep the driver informed of what’s going on and the rev-counter and speedometer are placed under a hooded cowl in front of the driver. Stalks protrude on either side of the
column for light dipping and turn signalling, the latter being nonself-cancelling, and buttons on both of them flash the headlamps to full beam at any time. The 331 b.h.p. (gross) engine is fitted with triple Weber carburetters and on starting one must posh the throttle pedal to the
floor, remembering to lift-off before the revs go sky high. The engine is definitely noisy but most of this comes from the mechanical clatter of camshafts, etc., rather than from the twin exhausts which give off a deep and not unpleasant boom. Having sorted out the cockpit drill we eased out the fairly heavy clutch pedal and put the lever into first gear, but a horrid grauneh
ing noise informed us that we hadn’t succeeded and a mechanic told us that it was necessary to push the clutch out fully and wait for a second or two l-tefOre moving the lever. Once this was
accomplished the was headed our of Feltham towards the A 30 and as we had several hours to spare before presenting ourselves at Crowthorne a quick run to Salisbury and back was indicated. Unfortunately traffic as far as Basingstoke was thick and the Aston hardly ever exceeded 60 m.p.h. Although the engine would run down to 25. m.p.h. in top gear it was not too happy and would begin to snatch, so to obtain maximum enjoyment from the car it was best to drop down through the gears As speed decreased, ready for quick acceleration back up to cruising speed. The steering was heavy at low speed but lightened out as speed increased, the same comments applying to the four-wheel Girling disc brakes which required extremely high pressure to stop from low speeds; but the same pressure would produce startling results from three-figure speeds. Once Basingstoke was disposed of the traffic thinned out and the Anon soon hurtled itself up to a too m.p.h. cruising speed,
but in deference to some damp patches on the roads higher speeds were not attempted unless the road ahead was very clear and very dry. An occasional indicated 120 m.p.h. came up across Salisbury Plain, but the amount of concentration required on the narrow A 30 was phenomenal as the slightest movement a I-mile ahead required that the right foot be transferred to the brake pedal
immediately. As befits a large, powerful, front-engined car which will be driven by everyone from a world class racing driver to an over-fed under-skilled playboy the Aston understcers just sufficiently to make one aware when a corner is being taken somewhere near the limit and, Although not feeling as if it corners well, the driver is surprised when he looks at the speedometer and finds that the G.T. has taken a particular corner far quicker than he had imagined.
After several hours exhilarating motoring the Anon was regretfully turned back towards Crowthorne, a final burst of 120 m.p.h. on the new dual carriageway down into Camberley finishing our fast motoring for the day. The Aston is a delightfully deceptive car which we would like to sample more fully one day. At the test track the Press were informed that they could have a ride round in cars belonging to the Road Research Laboratory but that their own cars would have to stay in the car park. This disappointment accepted, the Press were able to study some of the fascinating projects being organised at Crowthorne.
One of the most interesting demonstrations was in the use of electronic guidance for vehicles, a ‘Citroen with the screen blacked out being driven along the main straight over an energised guidance cable laid in the road, the driver being guided simply by his instruments which are aCluaccd by two coils at the front of the car which have to ruts either side of the guidance cable. The system is still in its early stages and much development is needed before it can become a workable proposition. Various types of road surfaces have been laid on the straight so that skid resistance con he tested and several demonstrations of this were given. Demonstrations were also given of the skidresisting properties of high hysteresis rubber, two identical cars following each other on to the skid pan and braking at the same spot. ‘The rear car was fitted With high hysteresis rubber tyres and came to rest in an appreciably shorter distance than the normally Shod car. Continued on page 56o