THE 11 LITRE H.R.G. AN AMAZING CAR WITH POWERFUL ACCELERATION, AND AN IDEAL TRIALS CAR
There are certain cars which appeal to the enthusiast from the very first, when he reads their specification, and before ever he tries the car on the road or inspects it in the showroom.
In such a category we place the 11-litre H.R.G. and consequently we have followed its still youthful career with more than usual interest, noting especially its excellent showing in trials and other forms of competitive motoring. But naturally our chief desire has been to try the car for ourselves, and although such a course has been difficult for Mr. Godfrey, in view of the astonishing number of motoring scribes with like desires, not to mention the firm’s interest in the competition activities of its clients, nevertheless he was able to spare MOTOR SPORT a car for two days early in May, during which we covered exactly 400 most enjoyable and very rapid miles.
Although the H.R.G. is definitely the ” real thing,” scorning synchro-mesh, automatic ignition control and direction indicators, etc., it is essentially modern in conception and consequently we felt at home behind the wheel literally in the first hundred yards or so. The driving position is excellent, with both wings visible, the wheel is in one’s lap and the gear-lever nestles against one’s left leg, absolutely to hand. The central hand-brake lever is easily reached, when once located by a stranger to the car. The doors allow easy entry and exit and shut firmly. The steering wheel was set a trifle low, we thought, so that one’s right arm was hampered by the bodyside, while the seat cushions might with advantage be raised and the single-piece rear squab provided with rather more padding. As it was we set the squab adjustment in the furthest forward of its three possible positions and packed ourselves with coats, and felt thoroughly comfortable in 800 almost non-stop miles, the foregoing criticism only applying to a tendency to slide about on the seat when cornering fast. We understand that the latest cars have improved seating and that we could have raised the position of the steering wheel, as the column is fully adjustable. The pedals are nicely placed, the right hand accelerator is of excellent shape, and there Is admirable space in which to rest the clutch foot. The horn button is in the wheel centre, with the ignition, lighting and dynamo charge controls. All instruments can be easily read and the wheel is of good quality spring type with a pleasantly thin rim. Out on the road the H.R.G. rides very comfortably through built-up areas, with a pleasant but not harsh” racing” action, which smooths out entirely as speed rises. In traffic one realises from the commencement that the accereration is outstanding, and extremely useful. Arrived on the main Salisbury Road we were soon cruising at 70 m.p.h., going up to 80 m.p.h. on all the better stretches, and making full use of third gear to pass temporary obstructions. Top gear acceleration is excellent, but in second and third the pick-up is truly astonishing. Normally one starts in first gear, though second is permissible in gentle town motoring. On second a normal change to third is made at 2,000 to 2,500 r.p.m., when top is engaged after the revs, have mounted very vividly to :1,000 t() 3,500 r.p.m. At
The 11-litre H.R.G. has a sturdy and business-like appearance, not belied by its performance ln competition 60 m.p.h. the H.R.G. cruises at a mere 3,000 r.p.m. on its 4 to 1 top ratio, but seems equally happy at 70 or even 80 m.p.h., the latter speed being held for mile after mile on the deserted Wiltshire roads, everything humming beautifully
and no signs of distress arising. First to second is a quick change, given a doubledeclutch movement, and if one is really brutal a straight-through change is possible. The lever then comes back into third which is a dog-clutch engagement, and forward into top, both rapid, normal changes, just falling short of racing “rapidity.” The downward changes are rapid and thoroughly satisfying, using double-declutch action, aided by the willing Meadows engine. The short, remote lever is rigid and handles beautifully in a narrow, visible gate. There was a slight tendency to catch on the side of the gate going into third. Reverse is left, forward, the lever lifting for en gagement. This is a gear-change that is straightforward yet which repays skilful handling and as such is a joy to anyone who can drive. The gears are outstandingly quiet, and third is as silent as top. The clutch action is extremely light, the pedal movement is short and
the engagement smooth, yet absolutely positive, even for racing get-away or test-hill restarts. The steering is excellent and again fully in keeping with the thoroughbred characteristics of the H.R.G. as a whole. It is neither very light nor very heavy, it is very high geared and it enables the car to be placed anywhere at any speed with little more than wrist movement, while there is adequate and rapid castor action. The wheel asks I turns, lock to lock, and the lock is good without being exceptional. There was a suspicion of binding brakes on full right lock. No road-wheel movement reaches the steering wheel. Leaving ” A30 ” after some thoroughly soul satisfying road-burning that refused to put the oil temperature above 650, the highest figure recorded during the test, we made for some rough going, and were able to form a further idea of the road-holding qualities. As on the main King’s Highway, so on the by-ways, the H.R.G. steered accurately and always “sat down ” in a noteworthy and reassuring manner. Fast bends must be taken far faster than on the majority of modern sports-cars to make
the Dunlops howl, and it is exceptionally difficult to promote a real slide even on loose or damp surfaces. As soon as one is used to the rapid steering action the H.R.G. handles over any surfaces and round any sort of bend like a racing-car and there is an entire absence of roll on. corners or pitching and swaying on the straightaway. Much of this stability must arise from the rigid build of the entire car, apart from correct weight distribution, which is reflected in the manner in which radiator, lamps and wings behave over bad going, similar rigidity being evident in the steering column, though the dash panel was loose and the scuttle prone to slight lateral movement. The H.R.G. feels absolutely in one with its driver, yet it is still one of those all too rare motor-cars which can be wooed by a skilful driver into doing for him what it would not do for an. all-in-top-gear class of pilot. Actually it will run happily at 16 m.p.h. on top gear, but it is wiser to drop into third below 25 m.p.h. and with a 7 to 1 compression-ratio the ignition control asked for continued attention and even so it was difficult to entirely kill” pinking “if the throttle were harshly depressed. We used Discol fuel and later Esso Ethyl, the former appearing slightly better suited to the engine. The ignition control works nicely in a serrated quadrant and can be flicked round with the left thumb or forefinger.
The exhaust note is distinctly sporting from about 3,000 r.p.m. upwards, but the note is of the right tone, as those who heard the car flat out on Brooklands readily agreed, and, using restraint on the indirects, the police are left with no option but to observe the H.R.G. as a car whose sporting lines belie its silent functioning.
In the course of a brisk afternoon’s motoring we tackled a few noted trials hills of the not-slimy variety and with three persons in the car, one enthusiast having insisted on travelling in the emergency quarters in the tonneau, we came to the conclusion that the H.R.G. is too fast to extend to anything like its maximum abilities unless marshals stand at corners to wave ” all clear.” As it was, respecting our own and other people’s safety, we stormed New Close Hollow absurdly easily in second gear, cutting out for every corner, and not exceeding 3,500 r.p.m. Capatich was another romp-up in second. mostly at “three-three,” and Ibberton was again a second gear ascent, starting on the gradient, though on losing revs. at the last bend we momentarily used bottom, whereupon the rear wheels shot out a barrage of gravel and pebbles and the car accelerated rapidly. Zig Zag, being a main road gradient, we could only run up carefully, hugging the near side and using H.R.G. road-holding to enliven the cornering without sliding to opposite parts of the highway. Middledowtt we took in third, using second for the corners, which could be taken so rapidly that we hit the outside bank during one ascent. The H.R.G. will obviously walk happily round a course composed of such hills, even in an overloaded state. Some boiling was evident, but it soon passed and may have been an outcome of a slight general tendency to run hot.
The water thermometer was not working, but we noticed a tendency to steam in prolonged traffic running and inspection beneath the bonnet showed that quite a lot of the ignition control range was inoperative.
Back to ” A30 ” we ran home thoroughly satisfied with our hill storming, revelling now in cruising really rapidly at well below 4,000 r.p.m. and in the astonishing acceleration that enables one to play very prettily with the clumps of traffic that signify the nearness of London town. As subsequent tests against the watch show, the H.R.G. has exceptional acceleration abilities, and it has them in the right place, as is very evident after driving the car in a fast traffic stream. This is outstandingly useful as well as exhilarating acceleration, and not mere speed
trial or ” show-room ” stuff, the low wehtht enabling astonishing figures to be achieved with hi it gears and a comparatively moderate power output, with all that that means on the score of economy and tune-retention.
As a matter of interest we observed an hour of the homeward drive and, including Salisbury’s extensive built-up area and slow running for the last twenty minutes on account of the bad light and a fly-infested screen, we covered forty-seven miles in the sixty minutes, which figure was probably substantially bettered on the nut down, in daylight, when the driver was really tryin!.
Running out of fuel, we found the reverse tap conveniently situated on opening the bonnet. In 400 miles, including Brooklands tests, the consumption Was roughly 30 m.p.g. The brakes give an admirable sense of security front speeds in the sixties and seventies, but on the car tested they were not fully effective from about 30 m.p.h. downwards probably on account of the oil in the drums or polished linings. The pedal calls for unusually heavy
pressure for emergency stops, though it is satisfactorily taut, the brakes come on absolutely ” square ” and they work with only a very slight, and quite fascinating hiss -from the tyres. At the end of the test they showed.. no sign of needing any adjustment, which can actually be done when necessary while the car is running. The hand-lever has a release for the ratchet, giving a permanent racing-action if required, and this we kept in use, as otherwise the lever tends to lock on whcn the pedal is depressed. The action, on both systems, is taut, but rather devoid of ” feel ” and some effort was required to hold the car on a stiff gradient ; again probably a matter of readjustment. The lever is used only for parking and restarting on hills. It is not possible to comment on the lighting or dimming, arrangements, as the near-side headlamp was out of action, but we contrived to manage quite well with the off-side lamp, directed so that it could be kept alight without inconvenience to approaching traffic. The dash lighting is by means of effective, bluehued indirect lamps, in two sections, controlled by separate switches,
Going to Brooklands next day, we first tried a flying lap with only the driver in. the car and the screen flat. The first attempt was clocked at 78 m.p.h., using grass-clipping methods round the Byfleet, the ” soft ” Champions disliking the pace and tending to pre-ignite. Another try resulted in a timed lap at 82 m.p.h., with legitimate use of the Byfleet Banking. The flying quarter and half-mile was attempted two up, and covered at exactly 88 m.p.h. On the gears, going up to the rev, limit of 5,000 r.p.m. in each case, we did 26 m.p.h. in first, 44. in second, and 71 in third. The speedometer was accurate at the lower speeds, and about 3 m.p.h. fast when flat out. The truly sensational acceleration chart is reproduced herewith, the runs being tinted only once and normal driving methods being employed. With two up, as on the other runs, we recorded 9* secs. from to 50 m.p.h. and 13* seconds from to 60 m.p.h. —sensational figures, indeed 1 The engine has no trace of flat-spots and vibration is only evident at around the rev. limit. It started at the second touch on the button after eight and a half hours in an unheated shed and, even more
surprising, thereafter idled at 500 r.p.m. without stalling, being quite ready to pull away as soon as the driver had put on helmet and gloves and had had the
tank filled. The range on a filling, incidentally, is approximately 450 miles.
The transmission is taut, and on Brooklands the H.R.G. felt more stable than any other small car the writer has driven at these speeds.
Turning to items of detail, both doors have deep pockets, though there is no cubby hole on the dash. The screen folds fiat, when the bonnet can still be opened, and there are double wipers. The bonnet extends back to cover the pedals, etc., and it has quite effective quick-action clips. The luggage space is excellent, but we would suggest bucket seats, separately adjustable, and a space so that the rear passenger could sit centrally and put his or her legs between the seats. But perhaps the H.R.G. designers are married men, with no use for threeseaters I The twin rear tyres are held by a strap-fixing, behind the slab-type rear tank. The wings are of ample proportions, and the lines of the H.R.G., with its tubular front axle, I back-set ” real ” radiator and long bonnet, are admirable, from every angle. The instrument board carries the following, reading from left to right : oil thermometer, ammeter, Jaeger rev-counter, dash lamp switch below, starter button and push-pull ignition switch, Jaeger speedometer, oil-pressure gauge, water thermometer, hand throttle knob and slow-running control below. There is a hood that stows away out of sight, but we were lucky and had no occasion to unfurl it. The seat cushions are pneumatic. The radiator has a large filler cap of screw pattern and the rear tank filler is on the small side, of similar snap action to that of an M.G. There is a clock-type fuel gauge on the top of the tank. The oil-pressure varies with enginespeed, but reads 40-45 lb. per sq. in. at high speed in top gear. The normal oil temperature is 50° and no oil was added in 400 miles. There is two stage dynamo charge. We like the ignition switch but missed the mearts!of locking it. In conclusion, if this report emphasises that the H.R.G. is a genuine thoroughbred with outstanding performance and very interesting characteristics, we shall be more than satisfied. Suffice it, therefore, to say that Mr. Godfrey has done his job well and given us a most refresh
ing motor-car in this age of flashy, lowgeared and generally “pansy,” small sports-cars. We shall follow the H.R.G. ‘s career with renewed interest after an exhilarating couple of days in one, and we may add that this is one of the very few marques which We should like to own, a feeling only experienced occasionally in the course of trying all manners of cars for MOTOR Sl’ORT. Turning to the specification, the engine is a four-cylinder, 69 x100 m.m. (1,497 c.c.) Meadows push-rod o.h.v. unit with special modifications to Mr. Godfrey’s requirements. These modifications include special crankshaft, fully balanced, altered con-rods and ” Y ” alloy pistons. Each engine is hand-assembled at the
ILR.G. works. The crankshaft runs in three bearings. The cylinder head is detachable, and the sump and crankcase are of alloy. Ignition is by a Scintilla polar-inductor hand-controlled magneto set transversely at the front with the contact-breaker extremely accessible on the off side. Two S.U. carburetters are used, feeding an external, square-section manifold and supplied by an S.U. electric pump. The rear tank holds 15 gallons,
with reserve. Cooling is by thermosiphon, with large water pipes, and the radiator is mounted on the engine. There is room for a pump if required. No fan is used. The big oil-filler is in the lid of the valve-cover.
The four-speed Moss gearbox is in unit with the engine. There is remote control and silent third. The clutch is of single dry-plate type with linings attached to the outer members to facilitate rapid gearchanging. The drive passes to a three-quarter floating, spiral-bevel rear axle via a Hardy-Spicer open propeller-shaft. The frame has a tubular cross-member in the centre and deep channel-section side
members. It passes beneath the rear axle. Rear suspension is by out-rigged half-elliptic springs and front suspension by quarter-ellipties with the shockabsorber arms acting as torque and locating members. The springs are very wide and flat-set and normal shackles. have been dispensed with. The front axle is a tubular beam. The brakes are operated by encased, Bowden-type cables and have exceptionally light magnesiumalloy ribbed drums and centrifugal east-iron liners. The shoes have separate fulcrums and both hand-lever and foot pedal have cockpit master adjustments. Steering is by a Manes-Weller box and fore and aft drag-link. The wheel is,
a 17′ Dover. Electrical equipment is. 12 volt. Equipment includes Jaeger speedometer and rev. counter, Burgesssilencer, Dunlop wheels and tyres, and
Moseley float-on-air upholstery. The price is 095 and there is a choice of’ blue, green, red or black finish at thisprice, black wheels in all instances, or special colours at 10s. extra. Other extras obtainable at the works include : second spare wheel with mounting, .47 10s., or 00 10s. with 4.50″ x17° Dunlop Sports covers ; bonnet strap7s. 6d. ; Andre Telecontrol of rear shock-absorbers, er 15s. The makers” address is : H.R.G. Engineering Co. Ltd., Oakcroft Road, Kingston By-Pass,. Tolworth, Surrey. ‘Phone : Elmbridge. 4489.