2 C.V. Citroen's 100 Ascents Of Bwlch-Y-Groes

Air-cooling vindicated in R.A.C.-observed trial

In 1925 the Rover Company was awarded the Dewar Trophy, that coveted award presented by Lord Dewar in 1906 to commemorate annually the most outstanding performance accomplished in Certified Trials observed by the R.A.C.

They were awarded the Trophy in respect of an endurance feat undertaken by a 14/45 Rover saloon. This was the then new model designed by Poppe, with a four-cylinder 75 by 120 mm. 2,121-c.c. engine having the unique overhead-valve gear with two high-set camshafts and cross push-rods to actuate valves inclined in the hemispherical combustion chambers. The car weighed approximately 28 cwt., or approximately 32 cwt. in running trim with driver and observer, etc., and it pulled a bottom gear of 20.3 to 1. BwIch-y-Groes was described as a mountain pass about 1 1/2 miles long with gradients ranging from 1 in 12.3 to 1 in 4.93 and this the Rover set out to ascend and descend fifty consecutive times on September 22nd, 1925.

At the top it was swung round, at the bottom reversed for turning. The test commenced at 7 a.m. and concluded at 7 p.m., the climbs and descents being as continuous as practical, the engine being kept running continuously, except for four stops on accidental occasions, when it was restarted immediately. Only three pauses were made on these climbs, once, on the third ascent, due to momentary popping in the S.U. carburetter, once through the presence of sheep and once to open a gate. Changes of driver and observer were made after 13 ascents; naturally, top gear was never engaged. Heavy rainfall fell most of the day. No work or adjustment was called for, descents were made in third gear (9.3 to 1) and at no time did the cooling water boil, the total amount of water consumed being slightly less than half-a-pint. The Rover was duly granted R.A.C. Certificate of Performance No. 610 and awarded the Dewar Trophy.

Last year the Editor of Motor Sport suggested to Ken Best, Competition Manager of the National Benzole Company, Ltd., that it would be instructive to see if a small air-cooled car could emulate the Rover's task.

Consequently, on April 24th this year, a 2 c.v. Citroen was set at the gradient, again under R.A.C. observation, the object being to accomplish double the number of ascents made in 1925 by a car of one-fifth the Rover's engine capacity.

A start was made at 5 a.m. and the drivers, W. Boddy and K. Best, changed at three-hour intervals. The little Citroen climbed faultlessly in first (25.9 to 1) and very occasionally second gear (12.55 to 1) and descended the steep, unfenced road at speeds exceeding 50 m.p.h., virtually coasting, as overdrive-top (5.17 to 1) was used for the descents and the automatic centrifugal clutch was fitted to the the car in question. The little 425-c.c. air-cooled flat-twin engine was kept running continuously except for a period of two minutes when it was stopped to enable the oil-level to be checked. The Citroen was reversed vigorously each time at the foot of the Pass in order to turn it for the next ascent. The runs occupied about 18 1/2 hours and during this time only three vehicles were encountered, one of them an Austin from Longbridge, for B.M.C. use BwIch-y-Groes for test purposes. The weather varied from sunshine to torrential rain and thunder and the last ascents were made with the car lost in mist at the top turn, its brakes now absent due to the effect of the rapid descents - Boddy handed the car over to Best to enable him to have the honour of driving the 100th ascent, and also, because he was aware of the complete lack of anchorage!

R.A.C. observers travelled in the car throughout and found that the overall average speed up and down the Pass, with its average gradient of 1 in 7.3, and including the turn-rounds, was 16.52 m.p.h. The Citroen consumed National Benzoic petrol at the rate of 25.41 m.p.g. and required only half-a-pint of National Benzoie Light s.a.e. 20 oil. Its chassis and front-drive universal joints received no grease and after adjustment the following morning the brakes were pronounced satisfactory.

This endurance test is a further tribute to the reliability and practicability of the little 2 c.v. Citroen, the smallest-engined saloon on the market, for it was running as soundly at the finish as at the start and its cylinders never missed a beat, or gave any evidence of overheating. The K.L.G. plugs, and Ducellier coil, stood up without a trace of protest, cooled, of course, by the benzoic fuel. Certainly air-cooling and front-wheel-drive were vindicated for strenuous and continuous Pass-storming. If you are not convinced, try ten consecutive ascents this summer in your own small saloon!


Vintage Cars On A Road Circuit

On June 23rd the V.S.C.C. will hold its second race meeting at Chilton Park, near Chester. The races will include the Seaman Trophies Race for historic racing cars and, apart from racing, there will be a Concours d'Elegance and Parade of Edwardian and vintage cars, somewhat on the lines of last year's outstandingly successful Birthday Party parade at Goodwood. Admission will be by carpark ticket (10s) and this is a date all vintage-car enthusiasts should enter prominently in their diaries. Entries close this month - regulations from T.W. Carson, Break Cottage, Bishop's Green, near Newbury, Berkshire.


Andover Traction Engine Rally (May 12th)

A more pleasant, typically English happening than the annual Traction Engine Rally, held in a big meadow adjacent to Finkley Manor Farm, it would be difficult to imagine. This year the organisers, the Andover and District Model Engineering Society, had made the event more interesting than before by having less racing and more skill-demanding contests, such as driving through obstacles, backing trailers, etc. The miniature railway did continuous duty carrying children and, under a summer sky, the dandelion-carpeted field, with tents dotted about it, constituted a delightful setting for this enjoyable fixture.

The grand parade which opened proceedings showed the following beautifully turned-out engines to be present: a 1918 Tasker C-type from Tasker's Museum; a 1918 Fowler 5-h.p. showman's locomotive, one of the few Tiger types to be built; a 1932 Foden D-type 4-h.p. tractor "Mighty Atom," which has appeared on television; a 1929 Foden D-type tractor which was shown by the makers at the Swindon Royal Show that year and was in use until recently, first as a brickhauler, then as a showman's engine; a 1914 4-h.p. Garrett "Lady Raglan," used in the Stroud/Gloucester area for road haulage; a 1920 5-ton Garrett used for timber extraction up to last year; a 1927 Wallis and Steevens 6-h.p. two-cylinder compound; a rebuilt 1920 Wallis and Steevens "Anton Belle"; a newcomer in the forum of a single-cylinder Garrett agricultural engine; a 1906 3-ton single-cylinder Tasker type A1 from the Tasker Museum; a 1912 4-h.p. Burrell still employed for timber hauling; the oldest engine present, in the form of an 1898 Fowler "Alfred," which has no injector and is still used for farm work; Mr. Napper's 1902 Gainsborough Marshall four-shaft two-speed single-cylinder; a 1910 Wallis and Steevens still engaged on regular threshing duties; a 1907 Devonshire-type general-purpose Burrell "Marmaduke"; a 1934 Sentinel S4 110-b.h.p. two-speed steam lorry from St. Albans, which was in use until last year; a 1931 Sentinel DG4 120-b.h.p. steam platform lorry which was formerly an oil-tanker, serving at Birkenhead from 1937 to 1949; and a very smart 1921 Aveling and Porter steam road-roller.

When the engines had paraded those vintage and Edwardian cars present were invited to do likewise and we saw an Edwardian Renault tourer, a 1913 Austin, a Lancia Lambda, a six-cylinder Delage two-seater, a very fine Amilcar Grand Sport, a fully-laden Singer Junior saloon, a 12/60 Alvis saloon, a 4 1/2-litre Bentley, a 9/20 Humber two-seater, a 12/25 number saloon (both called Wolseleys by the commentator), C.S. Barney's "bull-nose" Morris-Cowley two-seater, H.F. Gray's very smart 1931 Talbot 75 saloon and three Rolls-Royce delight the crowd, after which the majority of the engines contested their various events, following which we drove home along that quiet road, flanked by stately parks, which runs from Andover to Basingstoke, via Whitchurch, Freefolk and Overton.

Incidentally, a traction engine can be taxed for road use, unladen, for £2 a year, and future rallies for them are due to take place at Worthing on June 2nd, Appleford on June 9th, Elsworth on June 23rd, Stisted on July 7th, Camborne on July 14th, Bedford on the same day, Taunton on July 28th and Kegworth on that day. If you have never witnessed one of these delightful spectacles, here is your opportunity. - W. B.


British Cars Dominate Tulip Rally

The first seven places in the Tulip Rally were taken by Austin, Standard, Rover and Morris cars.

1st: R.E.C. Brookes/E.W.H. Brookes (Austin A30).

2nd: J.C. Wallwork/W.D. Bleakley (Standard Eight).

3rd: P.B. Hopkirk/J.A. Garvey (Standard Eight).