Riding on rubber for 10,000 miles
All cars have rubber between hubs and road, of course, except those on iron tyres, which you only see in museums. This article, however, is about a car which is sprung on rubber, apart from that of its tyres — in other words, the Morris Mini-Minor, the brilliant concept of Alec Issigonis, chief engineer of the British Motor Corporation.
A great deal of praise has already been bestowed on these remarkable little cars which achieve such spacious interiors with very economical exterior dimensions — multum in parvo — and it is now common knowledge that Issigonis achieves this by setting the 850cc engine across the front of the car with the gearbox underneath it, driving the front castors.
The praise that is due to Alec Issigonis stems from the fact that, in collaboration with Alex Moulton, he has used a completely reliable rubber suspension to provide a remarkably comfortable, pitch-free ride in a very light car, and has endowed his mini-car with quite outstanding cornering power, as anyone who has seen them racing at Silverstone, Goodwood and Brands Hatch can testify, and by taking away the mechanical elements has provided deceptively spacious passenger and luggage accommodation, which can only be appreciated by getting into the car.
Incidentally, the excellent comparative performance of a Mini-Minor, stemming largely from its phenomenal stability, was demonstrated in the Isle of Man during TT week, where officials were converted from scepticism to admiration when the Mini-Minor and Austin Se7en used for opening and closing the course covered the sinuous 37.5 miles in just 32 minutes, averaging 70mph and proving that sportscars are not necessary for this particular task, for which only 40 minutes can be allowed between individual races. — WB