Mercedes go record-breaking at 17.7 m.p.g.
Setting new speed and endurance records slowly seems to be coming back into fashion once more, a major British manufacturer putting the finishing touches to a series of attempts with a popular saloon car as we went to press. Mercedes-Benz have been pressing on with their belief, and now one held by many other West German manufacturers, in the future of diesel. They expressed the state of their art fairly dramatically at Nardo, Southern Italy, in early May when they captured nine new world records for diesel-engined cars (eight of them new absolute records, regardless of power unit) with the latest version of the CIII. Drivers were Paul Frere/Rico Steinemann, but there was nothing nostalgic about the highly developed five-cylinder engine, or the drag factor of .02 claimed for the exciting body shape. One of the car’s designers, Guido Moch, of the Mercedes R&D department also assisted with the driving.
In its test form the inline five produces 230 b.h.p. from 3-litres. It employs a Garrett exhaust-mounted turbocharger, “charge air cooling” and Bosch fuel injection equipment. The highest speed recorded in the sessions was 202 m.p.h., but the fastest new speed record was 199.983 m.p.h. for one hour: the absolute record for that still remains with David Anderson’s Pollution Packer jet-engined vehicle at 234 m.p.h. The slowest record speed recorded by the Mercedes was of 195.3 m.p.h. over 12 hours. All but one of the records had stood to the American Abe Jenkins (Mormon Meteor) and were established in the 1940s.
From the lack a diesel car engine activity in Britain one does wonder if we may be caught with our metaphoric industrial trousers down as world legislation favours the spark-less unit to an increasing extent? In commercial vehicle terms we seem to be well represented, but to supply British-built diesels for car mass production seems a need that we seem to be recognising somewhat tardily, and the sporting diesel seems an anathema here at present. In Europe many are saying that the sporting engine of the future could be represented by a turbocharged diesel version of the Golf, which is expected to go into serious production, and would have obvious uses in the American Market of the 1980s and beyond.
Having paid an admission fee, you will be able to see the two-day pre-British GP testing sessions at Brands Hatch. They commence at 9.30 on Wednesday and Thursday June 7th and 8th and the admission charge is £2 for adults, or half that sum for children.
New car introductions
Spring seems to have had a soothing effect on the motor car industry, though the SMM&T figures for April car sales in Britain hardly had good news for Leyland. Their most popular car was down in sixth place and Leyland had one of the lowest market share figures ever. Elsewhere new model introductions are plentiful, especially from the Europeans and Japanese.
Of most sporting import must be the Mazda RX-7. This 2+2 coupe reaffirms the Toyo Kogyo faith in the rotary engine, as it will only be available with a double rotor unit corresponding to 2.3-litres. No date has been set for sale in Britain, but the car is going on sale in America this year.
Those who remember the Mazda concern’s Cosmo sports car, which was very well received by this magazine and others in the late sixties, will appreciate that Mazda have almost returned to the original concept of selling the rotary in a sporting car prior to further mass-production uses. In current form the engine offers 130 DIN b.h.p. at 7,000 r.p.m., enough (say the makers) to provide 120 m.p.h. and acceleration from rest to 60 m.p.h. in 8.7 seconds. In American tests, which should only be treated as a guide and are obviously conducted in US gallons (giving a slightly pessimistic figure before conversion to imperial m.p.g.) the Mazda RX-7 has recorded 23 m.p.g. overall, 29 m.p.g. in main road use and 19 m.p.g. for town work.
Outside the engine the car is smoothly styled and well equipped. The suspension is conventional strut-type at the front and a thoroughly located four-link live axle at the rear. Not quite so attractive is the retention of recirculating ball steering, though it does have the variable ratio provision. The engine’s compact dimensions have allowed it to be set well back in the chassis and 5J by 13″ diameter wheels are adequately clothed in 185/70 radials. The track is quoted at 4’8″ and the car is “just over 4’” high.
Peugeot is not a marque that is easily accessible to Motor Sport, though we have run examples of their estate car range with satisfaction for some years. Thus, unlike the majority of the British press, we cannot offer first hand impressions of the 305 tour-door model, released on the British Market in mid-May at prices from £2,999 to £3,599. By all accounts these FWD, alloy-engined Peugeots are tine cars with the attraction of 10,000-mile main service intervals and the choice of either 1,290 C.C./65 b.h.p. power unit, or 1,472 c.c. and 74 b.h.p. In the latter form top speed is said to be slightly over 90 m.p.h. and a lowest fuel consumption figure of 31.7 m.p.g. is mentioned. Both engines are transversely-mounted, inclined 20 degrees to the front, have a single overhead camshaft and removable wet liners.
From their headquarters at Slough, where the attractions of Bernadette Piot as PRO have been replaced by the technically-advanced Jeffrey Daniels (lately of Autocar), we hear that the Citroen CX is now available with a 2½-litre diesel engine. The 2500D offers 20% more torque than the 2200D unit, but both are offered in Britain at prices of £5,469 and £5,848. In a separate release Citroen inform us that the Ami 8, the biggest of their fiat twin-engined models, is no longer to be sold in Britain. It continues production in France, following in the skinny tyre tracks or 1.8 million other Amis which have been made since their launch in 1961.
Citroen are also selling goo special Basalte versions of the GS flat-four saloons. These come with many stripes, special interior trim, tinted glass, Bosch Blaupunkt radio and sunroof, costing £3,320.
By 1979 we can expect to receive the first British examples of Saab’s new 900 series which is now on sale in Sweden. The designation takes on an additional role to that of the faithful 99s, but retains much of the familiar shape. It seems Saab have done an extremely thorough development of the basic 99 theme, for the car is longer (8.27″) and has a number of fundamental improvements throughout, including an attractive new fascia and instrumentation. Owing to extra space provided under-bonnet, r.h.d. cars will now be available with power-assisted steering.
Television and motor sports seem to be more natural bedfellows these days. As BBC and ITV compete on the Grand Prix front, the BBC have also agreed to show filmed reports of the remaining rounds in the 1978 Sedan Products RAC Open Rally Championship. The majority of credit for this splendid news goes to the RAC, who have been working hard to increase recognition by the mass media for this branch of the sport.
The events will be shown on the Saturday after they were held, and will form 20 minutes in the content of the afternoon sports programme Grandstand. Provisional dates for transmission are: Welsh (May 20th), Scottish (June 24th), Burmah (August 26th) and Manx (September 23rd). The RAC Lombard Rally will also be covered and arrangements for this will be announced shortly.
Porsche 935/78 facts and figures
Porsche never have been content to rest amongst the rewards of their long-distance racing programmes, so it was no surprise to see that they had pushed the development of their dominant Group 5 935 model to new heights for its appearance at Silverstone. Now in a third season of racing (though prototype work went on for years before the Group 5 series was inaugurated) the latest turbocharged Porsche closed racers develop about too horsepower more than did the legendary flat-12 Porsche 917s! This year’s b.h.p. figure is 750, though, as with any turbo application, output can be swiftly altered.
For those who secretly like to know “wottle she do mister?” but restrained themselves Porsche press material quotes a top speed of 217 m.p.h. (presumably at Le Mans?) for the 3,213c.c. flat-six. The engine now has four valves per cylinder, a feature also now found on the 1.4-litre Baby Porsche which raced and aroused so much comment last year in the German national series. The cylinder heads are water-cooled, the block trusting to the traditional air medium. As always in this application a four-speed gearbox is employed for this 20.23 cwt. example of technology in (high-speed) motion.
The differences in body are obvious, though one does wonder whatever happened to the “Silhouette” intentions of this formula? A subtle interior change was that the car carried right-hand drive at Silverstone.
These latest models in a long line of racing 911s is continue to use Dunlop racing tyres (as did Mercedes in their recent diesel record-breaking Sessions), now mounted on 16″ (front) and 19″ diameter Porsche wheels.
The Standard Register celebrates the 75th anniversary of the marque by staging its 19th Annual Field Event at Syon Park, Brentford this year. The programme, to be held on July 9th, includes a concours d’elegance to which all Standard cars can be admitted. Entry fee is £1.75 and further details are available from M. Alderson, 36 Northfields Road, West Acton, London, W3.