THE 16 h.p. S.S.I. COUPE
WTIEN the S.S.I. coupe was first introduced at the Olympia Motor Show of 1931 it was felt by many that, handsome as the car undoubtedly was, its appeal was limited by reason of its lack of accommodation for occasional passengers.
In rectifying this possible criticism in the 1933 model, the Swallow Company has not only provided a very comfortable rear seat for two passengers, but in addition has, if anything, improved the outward appearance of the car. So that now, in its latest form, it would be difficult to find a more handsome vehicle at any price (and at £325 it is extraordinary value) than the S.S.I. coupe. The luxury hinted at by the lines of the car is not skin-deep, and the finish of the whole car has been most carefully attended to. The upholstery of the seats is unusually thick, the seats themselves slide easily on their runners, facilitating entry and exit, and there was not a rattle to be heard anywhere on the car we tested, although it had actually covered nearly 10,000 miles.
The car was placed at our disposal for a week-end by Messrs. Henlys, Ltd., of Henly House, Euston Road, London, and we were glad to meet there a figure well known to all readers of MOTOR SPORT, Mr. J. A. Joyce, who made so many fine performances both in records and races at the wheel of A.C. cars some years ago.
Driving in crowded London streets revealed the fact that the S.S.T. provides extraordinarily good vision, as both the front mudguards can be seen. The steering on the car we tested was slightly on the heavy sick (which we prefer), hut for the benefit of those to whom finger-light control is the ideal, we were satisfied that this could have been remedied by the application of a little grease to the joints. All the controls came easily to hand, the gear lever being placed well back, and in fact the driving position left nothing to be desired. In order to test tli(comfort of the S.S.I. on a normal day’s run, we set off on the Sunday morning for the West Country, and were soon sweeping down the deserted Bath Road. Beyond Reading the fast curves of the road, carefully super-elevated, allowed us to try out the road holding of the car, and we found ourselves able to take quite sharp curves at 60 m.p.b… the only indication that a corner was being taken a good deal faster than is possible with most cars being a squeal
from the t yres. Of heeling-over there was none, and at all times the car gave one a sense of utmost security.
The road hereabouts has some very level stretches, and we found that the maximum speed, without any assistance of gradient or wind, was 72 m.p.h. Incidentally the speedometer was practically dead accurate. On one occasion we succeeded in forcing the needle up to 79 m.p.h., with the aid of an initial downgrade, at which speed the engine remained smooth and the road holding was as good as at low speeds. On third gear the ‘maximum was about 58 m.p.h. but better acceleration was actually obtained if a change was made a little earlier. TI: e gear change was on the stiff side, and all the better for that, and was without any tricks.
We found that normal driving with tte S.S.I. produced an average of 40 m.p.h. over main roads, a figure which could be raised by dint of a little effort on the part of the driver. On one occasion we covered 41 miles in 50 minutes, at an average of just over 49 m.p.h. The low centre of gravity, the high-geared steering, the rigid suspension and willing engine all contribute towards this ability to maintain high average speeds without effort. The Standard engine, a 16 h.p. model fitted wtih a high compression head, gave the car a splendid performance. Absolutely dead smooth at all speeds, it was also possessed of remarkable flexibility. being able to pull evenly when throttled down to a mere crawl on top gear. From the slowest possible gait the car accelerated smoothly on depression of the accelerator pedal. This excellent quality is largely due to the R.A.G carburettor, which is fitted as standard to the S.S.1. Starting was at all times instantaneous and without difficulty, and the engine proved willing to pull strongly with a Minimum of warming up—a procedure often of a long nature on ‘,sports cars,
For night driving a pair of massive Lucas Biflex headlamps are used, which provide adequate illumination for all speeds up to the maximum. The driving light is spread over the whole road and roadside, yet without sacrificing the length of the beam, so that 70 m.p.h. can be maintained with comfort. Indeed, the average speed of 49 m.p.h. already referred to was accomplished in the dark, itself a tribute to the illumination available.
When we arrived back in London that night we had covered 320 miles in 12 hours, allowing ample time for meals and sightseeing, and including a call of two hours on some friends at Tewkesbury At the end we felt perfectly fresh, and our only regret was that we would have to part with such a pleasant motor car on the morrow.
Certainly, at 025 the S.S.I. coupe is amazingly good value.
A Beautiful Catalogue.
The Alvis Car and Engineering Company of Coventry has always maintained a high reputation for its literature and advertising leaflets. Now they have surpassed themselves in producing a most attractive catalogue of the Alvis ” Firefly 12.” The cover is printed in dull silver, and bears the famous ” Firefly ” itself in red and black. Inside a combination of artistic photographs of complete cars with close-up views of technical points of the ” Firefly’s” construction has been cleverly achieved.
A beautiful piece of work, which can be obtained by any of our readers, on mentioning MOTOR SPORT, from the Publicity Manager, Alvis Car and Engineering Co. Ltd., Coventry.