A NEW SPORTS “NINE”
THE TRIUMPH “SOUTHERN CROSS”
THE cry that was so often heard of late that the open car was dead has long since proved to be wrong. There will always be a number of drivers who hate being shut up in a “glass box” especially on a small car, and the very large number of open bodies of the “short 4-seater”
type now on the road is proof enough of their popularity. The most recent example of this excellent type which we have tried is the 9 h.p. Triumph chassis fitted with a very neat and well finished 4-seater body, the ensemble being designated the “Southern Cross.”
One of the most noticeable features of the design of this Triumph, and of all the range of Triumph cars for that matter, is the robust chassis and excellent detail arrangement, in which nothing is skimped because the car is small, and where the whole layout is a replica of the best large -car practice. The engine is a 4-cylinder with overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valves, and a 3-bearing crankshaft of extremely rigid design. The whole unit is rubber mounted, and the result is a smoothness of running which many six-cylinder jobs might envy ; without doubt the -crankshaft is the greatest factor in this very desirable result, and although it is not so cheap a method -of building as a 2-bearing engine, it seems more than worth it. The 4-speed gearbox is in unit with the engine and has a central change lever, excellently positioned but rather “springy.” On the car we tried the effect of this was rather accentuated as the selector springs were rather tight, making the change a little stiff when getting out of a gear. This would not be noticed
so much when the car had seen more use, and could of course be easily altered. The transmission to the rear axle is by underslung worm drive, which gives the coach-builders a good opportunity of fitting low coachwork, and is completely silent. Excellent features of the body are the sound weather-proofing arrangements, good finish, and comfort of the seating ; the only criticism of the seats we could find was that the back of the driving seat was rather too much raked, which, although
very pleasant for a short spell of quiet driving, does not give the same feeling of “having hold” of the car which a more vertical position provides, and is not so good for long runs. Again. this is a point which is easily altered to suit individual tastes. The ample luggage locker behind the rear
squab, the flat folding screen with twin electric wipers, the 8 gallon rear tank with reserve tap, and many other well thought out details lead to the conclusion that the only points over which everyone may not be in agreement are those which are easily modified without cost.
In a couple of hundred miles or so in this car we were chiefly impressed by the amazing sweetness and complete mechanical silence of the engine, and this, combined with a real “big car” feeling of rigidity and steadiness, are responsible for the very definite charm of this very pleasant motorcar.
That strength means a certain amount of weight is almost inevitable, even in the most scientific design, and actual acceleration can be improved at a sacrifice of this.
In this type of car such a policy would be wrong, as the owner would choose a “Southern Cross” as a car which is meant to last without appreciable wear, and what is more, to provide exceptionally pleasant travel meanwhile.
The average speeds possible with the car are greatly assisted by the effortless manner in which the power is given, and there is never any sign, at any speed, that the engine is not perfectly happy. The maximum speed as tried was 64 m.p.h., which would probably increase when the car has covered a greater mileage, as it had not yet
reached the stage when a car’s performance is at its best. On second and third gear 30 m.p.h. and 40 m.p.h. can be reached, first gear not being normally required at all. The road holding and cornering is very good, the suspension, controlled by Luvax shock absorbers, being an effective compromise between comfort at low speeds and steadiness when travelling fast. The steering has avoided the modem tendency for ultra low gearing, and gives very precise control as a result. Owing to the newness of the car the pins and mechanism were not yet run in, and the steering was not in consequence as sensitive as it will be, and the self centering was not, therefore,
as definite as we should like. However, the chassis of a car takes almost more running in than the engine, and when fully settled down this steering should be really good. The Ashby ” Brooklands ” spring wheel, fitted to this car, is a great asset on long journeys, and certainly enhances the appearance. The hydraulic 4-wheel brakes are
smooth, progressive, and powerful, and stop the car in 60ft. from 40 m.p.h. while giving the driver that confidence which is so desirable.
The whole car is a thoroughly high class production which should strongly appeal to the motorist who wants a car really economical both in running and in upkeep under the hardest conditions.
Letters from Readers, January 1968
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