The Elmer A. Sperry Award, awarded annually to commemorate the memory of one of America’s greatest inventors, by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, was presented in New York late last year to Dr. Heinz Nordhoff in honour of the late Dr. Porsche and the workers in the VW factory. Never before has this award been made to an automobile manufacturer or, indeed, outside the States. The citation reads: “To Dr. Ferdinand Porsche (in memoriam), Dr. Heinz Nordhoff, and their co-workers in Volkswagenwerk for the development of the Volkswagen automobile, which, in concept, engineering design and production, has made available to the world, an automobile of small size for multiple uses, with unique attributes of universality; of low initial and operating costs; of simplicity of design having ease of maintenance; comfort with adequate performance; and suitable for rural and urban use.”
Although Dr. Nordhoff denies that a new VW is shortly to be introduced, stating that “it is more important to me to give people good value, instead of following a group of hysterical stylists,” American motor papers have been publishing suggestions as to lines he might follow. Road & Track and now Motor Trend have illustrated possible lines for a new VW. In their May issue Road & Track predicts that, if a new VW comes, it will be a five-seater Karmann-Ghia saloon on the existing platform chassis, with the engine enlarged to about 1,390 c.c. By using larger valves 50 b.h.p. and 80 m.p.h. top speed are envisaged. A synchromesh bottom gear is specified, and it is known that Wolfsburg have this modification in hand and are experimenting with an automatic clutch. Hydraulic or rod, instead of cable, clutch control is also believed to be in hand. Road & Track specify detail changes and even visualise a cheaper version of the famous “beetle,” using a flat-twin two-stroke engine. However, all this, except the synchromesh first gear and improved clutch operation, is pure speculation. Although VW are selling over 550,000 vehicles a year they cannot catch up with world demand.
At this stage we would not venture a comparison between the brilliant new Triumph Herald, only British family car with i.r.s., and the Volkswagen, which has had i.r.s. since 1936, partly for fear of being dubbed unpatriotic and partly because we have not yet completed a road-test of the British car. But it is of interest to see how staunch VW enthusiasts regard the Triumph Herald and we cannot do better than reproduce the views of a contributor to the May issue of Beetling, the journal of the Volkswagen Owners’ Club of Great Britain:
“A certain new small English family car has recently been introduced as offering something new in motoring. New, eh? Well, let’s see what its got. Some of the features seem oddly familiar, so I think a few gentle comparisons might reassure us that we don’t have to get out the For Sale notices yet.
“That independent rear end — someone in the design department has obviously slipped up here and let this creep in somehow. No doubt one of the brighter accessory boys will now come up with a gadget to convert this to a rigid axle and stop the funny swing-axles moving up and down!
“Separate chassis — well, box frame members or VW-type platform, it all means much the same to me.
“Cruising speed: 60 m.p.h. Unfortunately that poor engine is doing a mere 4,500 r.p.m. at this rate of knots. I daren’t think what it’s doing at 68 m.p.h.
“Now those adjustable-for-angle seats are a good idea. Let’s hope they are as comfortable as ours, for they seem a little on the small side; and as for the one at the back — well that is several inches narrower and comes complete with wheel-arch bulges!
“Brakes have two 7-in. and two 8-in. drums. There’s nothing like variety you know, but four 9-in. ones would seem to offer better retardation. Of course, with those tiny 13-in. wheels it must be rather difficult to achieve anything larger.
“Average fuel consumption tested at 36 m.p.g. Well, folks, we can do better than that. Press-button catches on the quarter-vent — Uh! Uh! No rheostat-controlled instrument light, though. What! no-fuses? Built-in heater (water for same can be had as a free extra). An additional 1½ cwt. unladen — they’re welcome to that. Petrol reserve — good. [But in the boot, whereas you can work the VW’s tap with the left foot. — Ed.]
“Acceleration. I see that comparative reports from the same source suggest we should just be able to show it a clean pair of swing-axles at the lights. (The couple more b.h.p. available must be lost in driving the water pump!) [Surely the Herald is over 1 cwt. heavier? — Ed.]
“So, remember, you too can have all the above for only £14 cheaper.
“P.S.—I am envious, though, of that 25-foot turning circle and no grease points. What about it, Wolfsburg?
The Editor of the Oldham Evening Chronicle, referring us to the item headed “Mistaken Identity” on page 353 of last month’s issue, points out that his paper did not carry a picture of an A55 in mistake for one of the Morris Oxford series V. The correct Morris Oxford picture was used, and we apologise for suggesting that the Oldham Evening Chronicle had used a wrong picture, which was not so. It seems that newsprint can change the appearance of the Morris Oxford radiator grille and make it look like the almost identical grille of an A55, which, while the newspaper in question is completely exonerated, does, as we said, emphasise the close simularity between modern B.M.C. products!