French Derby rivals

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Bill Boddy

There were two Gallic options for those seeking top-quality motoring after WW1. One is still remembered, one not…

Soon after the horrors of WW1 ended in 1918, the profiteers and surviving aristocrats would have been buying top-class motor cars. The Rolls-Royce’s great reputation convinced the Derby manufacturer that the 40/50hp Silver Ghost could run for another spell, its dignity and silent functioning well able to compete against the new wave of overhead-camshaft offerings from R-R’s pre-war rivals.

Chief among those rivals was the French Hispano-Suiza company. The new post-war car from Bois-Colombes, with a 37.2hp 6-1/2-litre light-alloy engine with camshaft prodding the valves directly, would have attracted the attention of sporting gentlemen even if they knew nothing about how racing Hispanos had finally trounced the single and twin-cylinder Peugeots in the voiturette contests. Postwar, the Hispano was not particularly prominent on the race circuits.

In his 1954 book about vintage cars Cecil Clutton wrote that “the Hispano-Suiza is probably the only car that in its day was mentioned in the same breath as Rolls-Royce. It was magnificently made, perfectly proportioned, years ahead of its time and a joy to drive; it was one of the world’s very great cars.” Better, perhaps, over the long straight French highways than on our more restricted roads, with its three-speed gearbox, whose ratios Clutton called “rather depressing”. But there is no denying that here was a splendid motor car, its shapely radiator topped by the famous flying stork mascot, as R-R had its Spirit of Ecstasy lady above its angular ‘trademark’ radiator.

Since 1919 the H-S had had servo four-wheel-brakes, but it took R-R until 1924 to adopt them, paying royalties to H-S and Renault for a mechanical servo system. So as the 1920s unfolded the sales battle was between H-S, R-R and the sleeve-valve Daimler, for which Royal preference before and after the war could not be disregarded.

By 1921 things had settled down a bit. At the Paris Salon some 35 makes of cars had 4WBs, and at the White City part of the London Motor Show Hispano was joined by another French exhibit, namely the Farman from Billancourt. This had the same sized engine as the Hispano, 100x140mm (6597cc).

I have never understood why the Farman never succeeded as the Hispano-Suiza did. It may not have had a racing background like the Hispano, although this amounted to no more than Dubonnet’s win in the 1921 Boulogne Cup, his second place to Bablot in the 1922 event, followed by first and second places in 1923 in the Monza model 142mm-stroke cars, and a few Brooklands races and records by Woolf Barnato in his 8-litre Boulogne Hispano.

Against which for Farman could be quoted the early aviation exploits of the Farman brothers, and Henry Farman’s third place for Panhard in the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup contest, and the brothers’ first (Henry) and third (Maurice) places in the Paris-Vienna race, followed by victory for Maurice and a second for Henry on Panhards in 1902 in the 537-mile Paris-Arras-Paris stint, with earlier wins for both in lesser contests on 1901 Panhard and Darracq racers.

The Farman seemed a direct rival to the Hispano-Suiza; either by coincidence or intent the two 37hp cars even had very similar type designations: H6B for Hispano, A6B for the Farman. The Farman looked to have the qualities to compete with the Hispano. The engine had a steel, not a light-alloy, cylinder block with cast-iron liners and with the heads machined all over the welded-on jackets gave ample water space. The overhead camshaft was driven by a bevel gear vertical shaft, with rockers to the valves, which had double springs. The dual Zenith carburettor was on the near side, the exhaust manifold opposite, giving through gas flow. Dual ignition by Delco coil and magneto was used, with two sets of plugs, one each side of the cylinder heads. The cooling fan could be driver-controlled but this was later deleted.

There was a unit engine/gearbox as on the Hispano, with a disc clutch. The gearbox had those better-spaced four ratios, with a central gear lever, and it and the front universal joint were oiled from the engine. Torque-tube transmission was coupled to a bevel-gear axle, and four-wheel brakes cost £120 extra. Suspension was by half-elliptic front and cantilever back springs. Two spare wheels were provided and the Bleriot headlamps could be dipped. In 1921 a Farman chassis cost £1600, the Hispano chassis £2100.

By 1926 when press road tests were requested, all that was available here was a 2-1/2-year-old model, which nevertheless did its 70mph for one light-footed journalist. Indeed, in all my long association with Motor Sport I recall only one reader who referred to Farmans.

Related articles

Related products