Rumblings, July 1962

A challenge to VW?

Although Ford has announced that the new Cardinal or Falcon Four will not be produced in America as originally planned, it seems likely that this newcomer will be made in Ford’s Cologne plant next year. As the Taunus Fords are made there and are extremely good cars, this augers well for the Cardinal. Rumour suggests that the car is directed at VW domination of the U.S. and European small-car market. A 60 degree V4 1,475-c.c, engine giving 56 b.h.p. at 4,400 rpm. on an 8.5-to-1 c.r., will apparently drive the front wheels through choice of automatic transmission, an all-synchro. 3-speed gearbox or a close-ratio 4-speed box. At the front a 7-leaf transverse spring is spoken of; rear suspension will, it seems, consist of a 3-leaf half-elliptics locating a beam axle. Telescopic shock-absorbers, 2-ply 5.50 x 13 tyres, a 32-ft. turning circle and a kerb weight in the region of 1,650 lb. figure in the specification, with a weight distribution of 58/42. It appears that this Ford small car will be slightly more spacious inside than a VW, have something like twice the luggage space, be externally about as compact as a VW, and look like a miniature Falcon, with unitary construction and a completely flat floor. The wheelbase is quoted as 8 ft. 31 in. and, in comparison with the ubiquitous beetle, the Ford will be 5 in. longer, an inch wider, perhaps 5 in. lower. Interesting!

The B.M.C. Minis have converted many of us to front-wheel-drive and it could be a straight fight between the f.w.d. Cardinal and the VW with the rear-engine location that those who favour it tell us pack the noise and fumes away behind. American opinion seems to be that while the baby Ford has been designed to run 80,000 miles without major overhaul, its standards of quality and craftsmanship may not match up to those of Volkswagen. However, German Fords are generally well made. It’s as exciting as anticipation of the model-A in 1927….

Meanwhile another rear-engined small car will be announced next year—the small Rootes machine. Rootes have filed a patent for banana tappets, rather like those on a Brescia Bugatti. Could this mean a rather special valve arrangement on the CoventryClimax o.h.c. power unit that will be used in this new British baby-car?

A 1962 vintage car

We were asked the other day whether we thought there would be a market for a vintage-type car—something in the same category as a 30/98 Vauxhall or 4.5-litre Bentley—built of modern materials and taking advantage of today’s improved brakes, shock-absorbers, electrics and so on. It is a fascinating proposition. Our first reaction was that the project would be a failure (after selling, perhaps, a few to the States, where they welcome replicas of veteran cars) because most of the allure of a vintage car is its ability to perform and serve well in spite of its age, and be eligible for V.S.C.C. competitions.

But there is something faintly attractive about a big 4-cylinder engine built to marine or aero-engine standards in a simple chassis with modern damping and disc brakes. Would you buy such a car, and what form should its specification take?

The Rover 80

Of course, the paragraph above is slightly wide of the mark, for there is already in existence a company manufacturing vintage cars in 1962—Rover, with their “80” and “100” models. Last year, in Motor Sport for October, ” W. B.” devoted 1.5 pages to a discourse on the Rover 100, so there is no need to say much about the Royer 80 we have just road-tested, because, except for having no rich-mixture warning lamp or oil-level indicator button, it is the same car, but with a 4-cylinder 90.5 x 89 mm. (2,286 C.C.) all-o.h.v, engine instead of an i.o.e. 2,625-c.c. six. This develops 77 b.h.p. at 4,250 r.p.m. and, giving away 27 b.h.p. to the “100,” involves somewhat sluggish acceleration and more gear-changing.

Otherwise it is much the same dignified, well-finished and well-equipped old-fashioned motor car. It goes to an indicated 30, 50, and 70 m.p.h. in the three lower gears (the “100” showed only 27, 45 and 68 m.p.h.), has the same precise selection of over-drive-top, and gives a true maximum speed of 86.5 m.p.h., compared to just over 93 m.p.h. from the ” 100.” Fuel consumption is virtually the same, averaging 23.4 m.p.g. of Esso Extra (best = 23.3, town driving = 22.8 m.p.g.), compared to an overall 23.5 m.p.g. from the “100.” This Rover provided a complete contrast to a Jaguar E-type driven on the same day (further contrast being provided by the Editorial Mini Minor and 1924 Calthorpe!), and, incidentally, is a good hot-weather car, for the front quarter-lights are frameless, So with the windows down there is a wide area of opening, and there is also an openable scuttle-flap. There is an easily selected reserve fuel supply, which functioned even on the steep gradient of S. Harting hill, but the range averaged less than 22 m.p.g.

Although this antiquated-looking Rover 80, with forward-opening back doors, can be termed vintage, this is no uncomplimentary term. In fact, ” W.B.” showed so much enthusiasm for the Rover 100 that his friends told him that he would soon be wearing a panama hat and be going to Lord’s instead of Silverstone. The Rover 80 isn’t all that old-fashioned— it has excellent Girling disc front brakes and its absence of greasing points on all but the propeller-shaft is quite in keeping with modern thinking. There were also tubeless tyres and safety-harness for front and back seats, which they didn’t bother about in vintage times.

If there is any need to justify our very genuine liking for Rover motoring in the eyes of the sporting fraternity, we can point to John Eason-Gibson, one-time racing driver and Secretary of the B.R.D.C., who is strongly addicted to Rover ownership. . .

This particular Rover 80 had one very unladylike trait. It dropped liberal deposits of oil on the drive, which is probably why it consumed half-a-gallon (and two gallons of water) in 640 miles! Soon afterwards it came to rest for good, in clouds of steam. . . .

A very honest gentleman’s car, this smallest of the present Rover range. But unless price is a consideration, there would seem to be no point in buying it in lieu of the more lively Rover 100. The “80” costs £1,355 7s. 9d., inclusive of purchase tax, the “100” sells for £1,506 12s. 9d., which is value-for-money of a high order. It’s a droll world—the company making these sedate, old-world cars, is also responsible for the gas-turbine Rover T4 that had the honour of opening the Le Mans circuit.

High-speed Pirellis

Motoring scribes attended a Pirelli demonstration day at the F.V.R.D.E. track at Chobham last month. This did not prove anything in particular, for all the cars used were shod with Cinturas, so no comparisons could be made, but it did prove rather destructive when the journalists attempted to emulate the Pirelli test-drivers and pranged several cars to a greater or lesser degree, including a Lotus Elite. In any case, any knowledgeable motoring writer should already have been aware of the excellence of Cintura tyres.

The ordinary Cintura cover is suitable for speeds up to 125 m.p.h. but at Burton-on-Trent a new Cintura HS tyre is now in production. This has a nylon instead of a rayon casing, a specially constructed textile belt and a tread compounded to give better bonding to the casing. It is safe for continuous driving at up to 150 m.p.h. At present only two sizes are available-185 x 15 and 185 x 16.

Vintagery in the air

At the well-organised and well-attended Flying Display at Upavon on June 16th to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the R.A.F. it was nice to see nine ancient aeroplanes in the air, with an R-type free balloon flying in the background. The aeroplanes flown were a 1915 Avro 504K, a 1916 Sopwith Pup, a 1917 Bristol Fighter F2b, a 1917 S.E. 5A, all owned by the Shuttleworth Trust, a 1928 Hawker Hart, a 1929 Bristol Bulldog, a 1931 Avro Tutor, a 1934 Gloster Gladiator and a 1936 Fairey Swordfish. Group Capt. P. Hanafin, C.B.E., D.F.C., A.F.C., put up a splendid show in the Viper-engined S.E. 5A, performing loop, falling leaf and other aerobatics in this beautifully restored aeroplane normally to be seen in a showroom by the main gates of the RAF., S. Farnborough.

Later, in a fly-past, a Hurricane, Spitfire and Fulmer were seen amongst World War II aircraft. There was aiso a very fine static display of old and newer aeroplanes and their equipment, and three live models displayed R.F.C. uniforms of 1914/18—a pity they could not have paraded in the First World War Crossley or the model-T Ford Huck’s-starter, examples of both of which exist in running order.

Fleet Carnival Rally (June 17th)

Cars up to 1930: M. Banfield (1927 3/4.5-litre Bentley).

Cars, 1931-1939: C. Williams (1935 Daimler 15)

Cars, 1940-1962: D. Bailey (Alvis TA21).

Motorcycles up to 1930: R. Butcher (1925 599-c.c. Sunbeam).

Commercial Vehicles up to 1939: M. Banfield (1919 Leyland van).

Elegant Lady and Car: Mrs L. Fosbery (1962 Sunbeam Rapier).

Appropriate Dog and Car: A. Albon (1927 Austin Seven and dachshund).