Britain’s Outstanding Small Car
In an Editorial preface to our report on the R.A.C. Rally in the April issue we stated that the Standard Ten is Britain’s outstanding small car. This statement was based on the fact that the Standard Eight and Ten have o.h.v. engine and four-speed gearbox in contrast to Ford’s predilection for side valves and three speeds, and their possession of happier gear ratios, and more urge than the Austin A30 or Morris Minor. At that time we had not sampled the car on the road and suffered slight pangs of conscience; now, after covering 676 miles in a Standard Ten we can endorse our bold opinion.
This little car can do a very good job of work — it belongs to that admirable breed of post-war small cars which perform well, accommodate four people without giving them the impression that they are in a very small vehicle, feel durable, and yet offer economy of running which is an essential to many owners in this age of savagely-taxed petrol.
The 948-c.c. push-rod o.h.v. engine is a wonderfully willing worker, capable of propelling this little four-door saloon at over 73 m.p.h. under favourable conditions and making an indicated cruising speed of 60.65 m.p.h. habitual. Moreover, it is aided by a useful four-speed gearbox which enables indicated speeds of 22, 38 and 55. m.p.h. to be reached on the indirect ratios. The central gear-lever is good of its type, although being cranked so that the hand moves up-and-down instead of fore-and-aft, and somewhat stiff to move, the changes of ratio cannot be made with quite the speed or facility of a remote gear-lever.
The clutch is light if rather troublesome to engage smoothly. The steering is heavy at low speeds, not really light in normal use, but possesses ample castor action, does not suffer from column judder or transmit much return-motion, while it is geared nicely at 21 turns lock-to-lock. It has a firm feeling and only about one inch of lost movement at the wheel, but the turning circle is rather large. Nor is the steering particularly accurate (the Morris Minor scores here).
The Standard Ten has quite supple suspension, coil-spring and wishbone i.f.s, in front, ½-elliptic at the back, so that it rolls when cornering and dips its nose when anchored in a hurry. Nevertheless, over bad surfaces the ride is good, but not outstanding, some shake and movement being transmitted. The back axle definitely tends to steer the car, especially as the tiny wheels register the pot-holes, and British designers really should begin to think in terms of independent rear suspension. On certain surfaces wheel noise is evident. Yet, for all this, the cornering powers are surprisingly good, as rally drivers on a tight schedule will testify. The brief wheelbase and the excellent forward visibility make a frenzied journey in this small motor car enjoyable to the enthusiast. The 13-in. Dunlop tyres howl sometimes in surprise, but not unduly loudly, and the Girling brakes, although calling for considerable depression of the pedal and apt to squeak, are deceptive, being light to apply, progressive and able to lock the wheels in an emergency. The “real” handbrake is somewhat lost between the separate front seats but is reasonably easy to use; it holds convincingly.
Acceleration is quite brisk, due to the sensitive gear ratios. Of engine noise there is some but it isn’t excessive. The combination of acceleration, cruising speed and handiness results in satisfactory average speeds, 46 m.p.h. being achieved, for instance, on a winding, hilly, cross-country journey to Silverstone, admittedly on traffic-free roads, but with Henley-on-Thames to negotiate, where the traffic lights were hostile.
There is enough room within, if not to spare, and the seats are really comfortable, after one has become used to sinking rather low into soft cushions. Instrument panel there is none, this being replaced by a hooded speedometer (reading to 90 m.p.h.) in readiness for some Alexander modifications?) sans trip reading but possessing a total mileage recorder (without decimal readings), and warning lights to remind you about oil and dynamo charge. The speedometer’s plated rim tends to reflect sunlight at certain angles. A row of good quality push-pull switches, their functions outlined in white letters, but confusing at night, control starter, lamps, heater, twin wipers (non-self-parking and noisy) and choke, supplemented on the car tested by two similar switches for the Lucas spotlamps.
Upholstery is Vynide, the doors have push-button handles, which, like the window winding handles, feel durable, and a truly commendable feature is the provision not only of a capacious, 21 in. wide shelf under the dash, with an additional 8 in. wide compartment on the driver’s side, but, in addition, roomy rigid pockets in the front doors and a shelf before the back window. As if this isn’t enough, Standard’s provide very commodious luggage boot (lockable, but without a lid support), with the spare wheel stowed separately. A refinement is the provision of small ventilator windows in all four doors, although these have somewhat crude fasteners, and lack rain-gutters. The doors are of ample size for dignified negotiation; the driver’s locks with the ignition key, a separate key being needed for the boot.
Twin anti-dazzle vizors are provided and the test-car had a heater with controls within easy reach of the driver; it warmed the car reasonably effectively but the demister didn’t appear to function. Not a drop of water entered the body during the tropical cloudburst which stopped sports-car practice at Silverstone on May 6th. There is a good if vibratory rear-view mirror to complement the large back window. The interior lamp, like the wipers and indicators, only functions when the ignition is “on” and does not light as the doors are opened. The flashing direction-indicators are controlled by a tiny lever to the right of the steering column and self-cancel by a steering — but not a time – switch. A bulb on the end of the control lever blinks in tune with the indicators. We liked the ash-tray which swivels out of sight under the dash.
You cannot expect everything for a basic price of £409 and the Standard’s doors are “tinny,” there was a rubbing noise from the steering column, sundry rattles, and the engine sometimes tended to stall when changing down into second gear. The exposed door catches effectively smear grease on one’s clothing. Against this no oil or water was needed, no fumes entered the car, and the fuel consumption worked out at 36 ¾ m.p.g. in a combination of rapid driving, pottering about with much use of the lower ratios, and many cold starts. With quieter driving but many stops and starts a gallon lasted nearly 42 miles, and the overall average was 38.2 m.p.g. Moreover, a notice on the screen proclaimed that full power should not be employed for 500 miles in view of recent attention to pistons and bearings; this seemed odd in a car submitted for road-test, and one that had apparently done only about 6,300 miles, but it also suggested a stiff engine not conducive to maximum economy. Very minor criticisms: the speedometer needle floated, the fuel gauge showed ¾ full while petrol overflowed although it showed “F” next morning, and the interior door handles are rather large, attracting loose sleeves and tiny hands.
For a small car this Ten bristles with good points; besides those outlined, the gearbox, propeller-shaft tunnel and front wheel-arches do not intrude unduly into the interior.
The engine calls for the best-quality fuel and starts satisfactorily if not instantly from cold; the choke does not incorporate a hand-throttle.
Successful in rallies, this little Standard is a charming and useful car. The Standard slogan of years ago used to be “Count Them on the Road” — it certainly applies today, for the popularity of these Eights and Tens is a feature of British highways and byways. — W. B.
The Standard Ten Four-Door Saloon
Engine: Four cylinders. 63 by 76 mm., 948 c.c.; overhead valves operated by push-rods. 7 to 1 compression ratio; 33 b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m.
Gear ratios: First, 19.45 to 1; second, 11.2 to 1; third, 6.62 to 1; top 4.55 to 1.
Tyres: 5.60 in. by 13 in. Dunlop G.T. on bolt-on disc wheels.
Weight: 15 cwt. (less occupants but ready for the road with one gallon of petrol).
Steering ratio: 2 ¼ turns, lock-to-lock.
Fuel capacity: 7 gallons. Range approx. 267 miles.
Wheelbase: 7 ft. 0 in.
Track: 4 ft. 0 ½ in.
Overall dimensions: 12 ft. 1 in. by 5 ft. 0 in. by 4 ft. 10 in. (wide).
Price: £409 (£580 10s. 10d. with pt.).
Makers: Standard Motor Co. Ltd., Coventry.