sporting cars on test

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32

SPORTING CARS ON TEST:

The 14 H.P. Sports Delage.

By THE EDITOR

BY the courtesy of Messrs. J. Smith and Company of Albemarle Street, we recently enjoyed a very interesting day out in a Sports Delage, fitted with a very handsome 2-seater body. A dicky seat of somewhat diminutive proportions was concealed in the “stern “, being covered when not in use, by a stout decked hatch on approved nautical lines.

This seat was occupied for the greater part of the trip by the photographer, who became somewhat blasphemous when we carried out impromptu brake tests or tried the suspension at speed on rough roads !

As usual the first few miles of our journey led through traffic infested streets, but a burst of sixty miles an hour along that very rough riverside road from Barnes to Richmond enlivened matters somewhat before the usual irritating crawl through Kingston. Further on, at Esher, a zealous P.C. suspected us of race-going under trade number plates but readily accepted the stereotyped excuse of” on test” and allowed us to pull out from the queue of Sandown Park pilgrims.

Traffic exigencies had so far prevented any definite impressions of the characteristics of the car, though like most high grade sports models it proved perfectly docile and well behaved at slow speeds, it being possible to accelerate smoothly from the merest crawl on top gear. By judicious use of the gear-box however, it was possible to experience really useful acceleration of a genuine sporting nature and extremely creditable in view of the fact that the car was new and by no means under-equipped.

Deceleration.

The brakes were effective but it was not until we reached the open road that their full worth could be appreciated. We then found that great liberties could be taken in leaving deceleration till the last second, when the foot pedal, operating shoes on all four wheels, brought the car to a standstill in a remarkably short distance—about 35 yards we should estimate, from 40 m.p.h. If the pedal was trodden on viciously the brakes were somewhat harsh and one or both back wheels locked. Probably a little adjustment would even up the braking power on all four wheels and provide even better deceleration. The roads being dry, no ill effects were noticed

from this slight inequality of braking, but had we met with slippery surfaces, no doubt the value of correct adjustment would have been realised. After some fairly fast road work we arrived at Brooklands, and after a pause for refreshment proceeded to try the paces of the Delage on the track.

Speed.

In the ordinary way the fastest section of the track is the run down from the banking on to the Railway Straight and it was unfortunate that on the day of our trial there was a very strong head wind blowing against us. However with a crew of three, 70 m.p.h. was attained down the straight, and what was more creditable, just over 70 m.p.h. was maintained past the fork and up the slope to the Members’ Bridge. Between 65 and 75 m.p.h. was maintained for two laps but on subsequent laps apparent plug pre-ignition occurred regularly just before the Bridge, thus compelling a temporary easing of the throttle pedal. We have no doubt that given suitable plugs and an engine more fully run in 75 m.p.h. laps could easily be attained on the Delage, while much greater speeds should be possible with a little tuning and stripping.

However the Delage is not a track racer, and viewed in its proper sphere it is an eminently satisfactory vehicle, since an easy 70 m.p.h. on a 2-litre engine is quite creditable.

No very high speeds were indulged in on the indirect gears owing to the newness of the engine, but 35-40 m.p.h. on second and well over 50 m.p.h. on third served to show that the motor did not object to rotating rapidly.

Hill Climbing. An attack was then made on

was then made on the Test Hill ; from a practically standing start at the foot, on second gear the Delage accelerated up to over 30 m.p.h., but dropped to 25 m.p.h. on the 1 in 4 section at the top. No attempt was made to rush the hill and there was never any fear that bottom gear would be necessary, even if the hill had been negotiated on a smaller throttle opening at a lower speed.

On descending the Test Hill it was found that either hand or foot brake (both incidentally working on the same shoes) would stop the car dead from 20 m.p.h. at any point on the hill. With regard to the system whereby both controls work brakes on all four wheels, for touring cars we have no fault to find with this plan, but on a sports car,

driven as such, we cannot help feeling that occasions might arise when it would be advantageous, to lock the back wheels only.

In these days of crowded roads and police traps it is all wrong, of course, to think of skidding sharp bends with locked wheels, but such ” menacing ” has its fascination and it may not always be possible to create the desired skid with the aid of the accelerator.

Road Holding.

At speed on the track and on the road the Delage was as steady as could be desired, though naturally the bumpy state of the former caused a little discomfort, especially to the passenger in the dickey. At all speeds two fingers on the spring spoked steering wheel, were sufficient to keep the car straight ahead, though when

cornering fast on the road the steering was just a shade too heavy to be perfect, probably due to the newness of the car.

A very commendable and complete absence of rolling on fast corners was a feature of the Delage, even if we were forced to negotiate corners on the reverse camber.

Comfortable pneumatic upholstery and spring steering wheel guarded against any bodily fatigue, while the sweetness of the clutch and the ease with which the gears could be changed all contributed to the general feeling of restful travel, a feeling which could easily be converted to ” Grand Prix Fever” by the vicious rasp of the exhaust, if the accelerator were pushed through the floorboards. The latter items incidentally provided a mild criticism,

in that when 60 m.p.h. was attained, up they came with monotonous regularity, allowing a miniature sandstorm to enter the driver’s eyes. This trick does not reflect in any way on the car or its designers, and is, of course; very easily remedied, but it is worth recording as it shows what a factor wind pressure is at such speeds.

This concludes our impressions of the latest Delage, a marque which incidentally has an excellent racing reputation, and no doubt many of the valuable lessons of the “great game” have affected the development of the production chassis, which, in sports form, sells at £415.

All particulars of Delage models may be obtained from J. Smith & Co., of Albemarle Street, and from the London and Parisian Motor Co., Ltd., of 87, Davies Street, Oxford Street, W.1.