The sports cars in the future

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MR. LAURENCE POMEROY Technical Editor of “The Motor,” frequently and very rightly puts forward the advantages of the streamline form of fast car. A recent article of his on this subject led H. C. Hastings to suggest, in “The Motor” of May 7th, that in future there will be room for other types as well. He visualises a streamlined “sports-racing” type, a trials type and a far more universal “sports tourer” for general sporting purposes. We think he is right, although we are not in entire agreement with all his arguments. For instance, he says against the streamline type that it could not be used over rough roads, for exploring moorland tracks or for trials, without risk of damage. This is true of extreme examples, but we should have no compunction in running a Lancia “Aprilia” in a trial, nor do we recall undue overhang on those freakishly-faired creations, the Burney and the rear-engined Crossley. Sales of cars of this shape are, we feel, more likely to be restricted on the score of extra garaging bulk, expense of construct ion and limited driver and passenger visibility. Then, Mr. Hastings says of the trials car that it is too harshly-sprung, has limited seating accommodation, skimpy weather-protection, is untidy, lacks civilized amenities and is not always too manageable on corners. That is true, of certain trials specials, but hardly of B.M.Ws., “Jabberwock” V8 Fords, T-type M.G., “Cream Cracker” Midgets, and so on. The author overlooks the typical small trials car’s biggest failing— namely, low gear ratios. A friend of ours tells a beautiful story of how he wrote to the makers of a famous British sports car asking them to quote their touring gear ratios, as those shown in the catalogue were too low for his fast travel requirements on the Continent and were apparently intended for trials work. Naturally, the reply was that only this one set of ratios could be had. . . . Trials cars, too incline to low geared steering, because direct action is uncomfortable when wheels are riding over deep ruts. With Mr. Hastings’s suggestion that a third type of car is desirable, able to cope fairly reasonably with main road fast motoring, off-the-beaten-track exploration, speed events and trials, we are in complete agreement. Britain made some excellent all-rounder sports cars before the war and will do so again afterwards. It would seem, too, that there might be scope for a development of existing utility car chassis. Unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, when an established manufacturer decides to make a sports-tourer version of his utility production, he nearly always, gets over-ambitious and wants to shorten the chassis, fit twin carburetters, special head, special camshaft, different gearbox, and so on and so forth, resulting in a very material price-increase over the standard chassis. This results in an excellent car for those interested in sheer performance with greater amenities than the out-and-out sports car offers, but there should be an excellent following for a more simple “gingered-up” utility production. A slightly higher compression-ratio, alloy head, hand ignition control, polished ports and, perhaps, a higher axle ratio, should give excellent urge to cars like the Hillman Fourteen, Humber Snipe, V8 Standard, Rover Twelve or Fourteen, Riley Twelve, Lanchester, Daimler, 3-litre Talbot, Wolseley Twenty-five, etc., etc. Modern cars of this type have really not too bad road-clinging qualities and, thanks to universal adoption of anchorage by Mr. Bendix, Mr. Girling or Mr. Lockheed, they stop quite decently. They are essentially British, and therefore reliable and well-sprung. Nearly always we see them as uninteresting closed boxes. Give them open bodies, perhaps as mildly aerodynamic two-seaters with emergency accommodation for another two, and modify them as aforementioned and even the smallest-engined types should do a genuine 70-80 m.p.h. and still be refined, quite economical cars, selling at around £400-£500 and having suspension and easy-to-control power quite reasonably suited to trials and rally type contests. This sort of thing has been done with American chassis, and the Allard has developed into one of the most potent trials cars, while, in “Light Sports” guise, the Railton, as Charles Follett has shown, becomes one of the greatest high-performance cars of all time. After the war, when car manufacture is resumed, British factories may well find the output of such cars a useful stop-gap, or at any rate, be glad to supply parts and accessories to auxiliary makers of British-basis “sports tourers.” Maybe MOTOR SPORT will be able to say “We told you so.” Reverting to Mr. Hastings’s article, we rather like his view that the true enthusiast wants to use his car on every possible occasion, no matter whether the object be exclusively motoring or otherwise. But that seems a trifle hard on the Edwardian cultist, the Bugatti owner and the brewer of home-devised “specials.” So shall we gently suggest that true enthusiasm verily expresses itself in varying and divers ways?. . . . .