THE HUMBER SNIPE SPORTS SALOON Handsome Lines on a Speedy Chassis.
THE touring car has undoubtedly been improved to a great extent through the lessons taught by racing, and so it conies about that a touring chassis fitted with a powerful engine can put up a fine performance without sacrificing smooth running and silence of running. This proceedure was followed on the early Humber ” Snipes” and the experience gleaned from producing a car of this type is reflected in the satisfying behaviour of the latest models.
The popularity which Humbers enjoy on the overseas markets has no doubt encouraged the manufacturers to fit those refinements which usually make their first appearance on cars produced in America, while the nicety of handling and the distinctive coachwork and finish characteristic of this side of the Atlantic have been retained.
Moving gently through London traffic, most of the time on top gear, there was nothing to suggest the high maximum speed of this luxurious saloon, except that it leapt forward briskly on third gear with a touch of the throttle. With light steering and an inaudible engine one was unconscious of its size. The only complaint was a slight difficulty in always making a smooth start, due either to the clutch being out of adjustment, or possibly to the flexible mounting of the engine.
The same shudder was experienced when running at walking pace on top gear, but disappeared on pushing over the lever into third. he synchro-mesh mechanism for third and top ensured a quick and silent change, and these gears and second are all silent. A free-wheel clutch is also fitted, but we did not find occasion to use it.
The Brooklands tests were carried out comfortably and without fuss or noise, and the car ran at full speed on the track as steadily as it did on the road. The comfortable maximum speed on second gear which was generally used for starting was 30 m.p.h. and 50 on third. No rev. counter was fitted to the car as extreme engine speeds are not called for but at the speeds given it was running at approximately 3,800 r.p.m. The maximum speed attained on the track was about 77 m.p.h., which was achieved on the Byfleet Banking after a 50 m.p.h. run through at the end of the Railway Straight The car we tested had done over 7,000 miles as a demonstrator without attention, so that the private owner may expect a speed equally high even when the time of decarbonising approaches.
For a substantial and roomy car fitted with an engine of 3i litres the all-out speed and acceleration are both highly satisfactory and the petrol consumption of 15 m.p.h. during the test period, shows that the car would be economical to run.
The brakes were really powerful and progressive without any suggestion of the snatch sometimes experienced with self-servo mechanism. The large ribbed drums and the torque members for the front axle help to bring about this result. From 40 m.p.h. the car was stopped in 51 feet on dry concrete. For a touring car the paramount qualities are quiet-running, good suspension, silence and a good top-gear performance. A short acquaintance with the “Snipe ” revealed that all these requirements were adequately fulfilled, so we then drove it
as one would an out-and-out sports car.
The suspension at full speed even on roads of a wavy character left nothing to be desired, but on fast bends the back of the car was inclined to swing. It was found that if the steering wheel were firmly held, the car actually took the bend without trouble, so that weight distribution and other essentials are not to blame. Friction shock absorbers in addition to the hydraulic type already fitted would overcome the trouble in conjunction with more fully inflated tyres.
The steering was light and accurate, though fairly low-geared, and a useful degree of self-centering action was a good feature. The gear-change was rapid and simple and soon got the car to its best cruising speed of 60-65 m.p.h. Once there the car maintained its speed without gearchanging even in face of gradients such as Bix Hill, the sharp rise leading up from Henley Fair Mile on the Oxford road. At this speed and even up to 75 m.p.h. the only sounds were the rush of the wind past the car and the swish of the tyres.
The front seats are set at a comfortable angle and give good support to back and thighs. They were upholstered in leather with a latex rubber filling, with springs underneath, a combination which gives a soft seat without side-sway. The windscreen was high and gave excellent visibility, while the steering wheel with its oval-section rim was also well-placed. The gear-lever is free from whip and the pedals and brake lever are conveniently placed. The accelerator pedal is of the hinged type, and at full throttle lies at rather an awkward angle.
To this road-report one can only add that the running of the car is so effortless that one ceases to think in terms of acceleration and braking and simply drives as though one with the car. The chassis and coachwork details which made this possible therefore deserve a full description. The automatic choke device was a great convenience, giving an instant start hot or cold without the possibility of damage through an over-rich ma ture. It is operated by the induction pipe depression in conjunction with a thermostat. The automatic advance and retard is also suction con trolled. ‘1 he radiator shut
T he acceleration chart cf the Humber Snipe Sports Saloon.
ters are controlled by the water temperature and by the engine oil-pressure together, so that when the engine is stopped the shutters close at once.
The dash lay-out was particularly commendable. A large and plainly marked Jaeger speedometer was placed in the middle with a small clock dial at the bottom. The thermometer and the petrol gauge were on the near side, with the ammeter and the oil-pressure guage in front of the driver. With the indirect lighting in operation they showed up well at night without distracting the driver.
The headlamps were fitted with special lenses which gave a rectangular zone of light, so that both sides of the road were illuminated, but without the abrupt cutoff of top light usually associated with that type of beam. The daytime cruising speed may therefore be safely maintained at night. Turning to the technical side, the Humber Snipe is fitted with a side valve engine of capacity 3,499 c.c., and has a seven
bearing counterbalanced crankshaft with a vibration damper. The cyclonic induction pipe is in the form of a shallow V. and in conjunction with a Stromberg downdraft carburetter gives a range of engine speed entirely free from fiat-spot or hesitation. The petrol is fed from a 14 gallon rear tank by an A. .C. mechanical pump.
A large air-cleaner and filter is fitted.
Coil ignition is used, controlled by suction from the induction pipe, and Startix automatic starting is also a feature. The oil filler, the distributor and the dynamo are accessible on the off side.
The engine and gear-box unit is mounted on rubber at three points. A single dry-plate clutch is used, and the gear-box has constant-mesh pinions for second and third gears, with synchromesh mechanism on third and top. An open propeller shaft is used with spiral bevel final drive.
The frame is a rigid structure upswept front and rear and braced amidships with a substantial cruciform member. Semi-elliptic springs are used, and two pressed-steel radius rods transmit the braking stresses direct to the chassis. 1,w-servo self-energising brakes operate in large ribbed drums.
The Sports saloon is a handsome and roomy car following modern lines but yet avoiding extremes in such matters as the treatment of the rear panel. Plenty of head-room and a well-lighted interior make it a cheerful car to drive, while the window on the driver’s side may be lowered completely without causing a draught. Louvres over the doors allow the lights to be lowered slightly even in bad weather, and there is also a sliding roof-panel. The separate front seats slide easily, and there is ample width and leg room in the back for three people, and a central folding arm-rest. The leather upholstery looks well and is most comfortable. The actual coachwork which is built with steel bands on
a wooden frame, was absolutely silent.
The maker’s address is Humber Ltd., Coventry, but the car tested was put at our disposal by Rootes Ltd., Devonshire House, Piccadill y, W.I, who are the London and Export Distributors. The Snipe Sports Saloon costs 2550.