A FWD petrol conserver of the make which won the E. African Safari
and for which pro-British Graham Hill has fallen
Variety is the spice and the road-test Jaguar XJ12 was followed by a Datsun 100A, a bite at the Cherry which gave an immediate contrast, in a fuel-gauge needle which sagged very slowly instead of falling from F to E with alarming rapidity! There was also a decided contrast in noise-levels . . . . . . .
But the Datsun is a game little car and an appropriate one to try with petrol prices up again—curious that a fluid which promotes cold is so difficult to freeze! I think the 988 c.c. engine of the Datsun Cherry is supposed to thrive on two-star petrol but, remembering its 9 to 1 c.r., and in the absence of an instruction book, I fed it three-star. This it consumed so sparingly that it had me re-checking with cans and measurements. After correcting the mileometer the result was 41.5 m.p.g. overall including a fast 240-mile run to Silverstone and back.
I began finding out about this little bright mustard two-door £909 Datsun by taking it along most of the M4, where it was perfectly happy to run noisily at the full permitted pace with plenty in hand. Then we took to the twisty roads NE from Chepstow and the steering column began to squeak, although this soon cured itself. The gear whine from the transverse power pack is trying on long runs at speed, so that one longs to coast. Otherwise, this Cherry is a thoroughly practical and very economical outfit. It required no oil after 950 miles. It has generous-sized front seats which do not promote aches or discomfort unless one does more than 100 miles at a sitting. But the high head-rests make the 100A a better two-seater than four-seater. The boot-lid self locks and props, needing two hands to lower it. The front-hinged bonnet likewise. Cornering is all one expects from a front-drive small car—splendidly safe— and on Dunlop Gold Seal C41 tyres wet roads hold no terrors. But the strut-type suspension is extremely hard and the brakes adequate but spongy. Gear-change, hand-brake and the quick, light steering, just over 3 turns, lock to lock, are all well-contrived and a r.h. stalk looks after turn-indicators and flashing and dipping of the Joshiba headlamps.
The engine commenced quickly from cold if the choke was used, so the excellent fuel economy was not achieved by resorting to a weak mixture. A big unlockable cubby and spacious open shell are provided for the front-seat passenger. Hazard warning, two-speed wipers, powerful washers and fuel, heat dials are fitted, the latter rather difficult to read. The clear speedometer has a total-with-decimal mileometer. The doors have good locks, window winders and “keeps”, the electrical services are well fused, but there is only one vizor. The heater is very powerful but insensitive and its tiny control on the under-scuttle heater-box is close to sharp metal, capable of inflicting a nasty graze on the back of the left hand (“I see you have been driving your Datsun motor-car when you were not wearing your overcoat, my dear Watson”).
The fresh-air ventilation is also either off or on, with no half-way measures, a tiresome business. Otherwise, this Japanese Mini is a willing little car, which will wind up to 87 m.p.h. and accelerate well for its size. The battery, plugs, dip-stick and distributor are very accessible and back-seat occupants have a notably big shelf on which to stow their belongings. It is interesting that the Datsun uses a frontal radiator and electric fan, as adopted by BL for the new Allegro. The only fault the Cherry developed was a loose lock for the flap which covers the hot-water-bottle-type stopper of the fuel tank. It is a useful little car.—W.B.