SPORTS CARS AT THE GERMAN SHOW
WIDE RANGE OF OPEN MODELS SHOWN IN RESPONSE TO POPULAR DEMAND-AERODYNAMIC BODIES STILL IN FAVOUR.
WHEN the doors of the Merrehallen, on the Kaiserdamm und Funkturm, Berlin, were thrown open to the public on the 11th February, a big step forward was made in the recovery
of the German automobile industry. Some idea of this progress can be gained by the fact that the Exhibition was three times bigger than its counterpart last year ; it covered an area of 50,000 square metres ; and contained 500 exhibits. Two main tendencies are apparent in current German design. Both are trace able to public opinion and demand. First of all, cheaper and smarter cars are to be seen everywhere. The people have not
a great deal of money, so cars must be cheap, but they also feel that prosperity is returning, so they like their cars to be bright, modern, and in keeping with their cheerful spirits.
In this respect the new Opel is undoubtedly the sensation of the Show. It has a 1.2 litre engine, and sells for 1,500 marks (roughly £120 at present rate of exchange). Production has not yet
started, but it will be ready within the limit. By the rules of the Exhibition all cars ordered at the Merrehallen must be delivered before July. The second outstanding tendency is the return to favour of the open car, par ticularly as a sports model. Two factors account for this. One is the fresh-air cult, which is stronger than ever in Germany and naturally turns people against closed cars, and the other is American and French competition. The smart roadsters from thee two countries have been greatly favoured by those who seek sports motoring. Particularly has this been the case with women, who have been attracted by smart colour schemes and good acceleration. Assisted by heavy tariffs, practically every German manu facturer has taken up the challenge by producing an open sports model, with
sports cabriolets for the fairer sex. At the same time engine size has been kept down, but the ” sportserienwagen” shown at Berlin are capable of a performance equal to that of their rivals. In a quick glance round the Show we were particularly impressed by the magnificent 12 -cy 1 i rider Horch mit kompressor, the new 2.5-litre MercedesBenz, the super-streamlined Type 500 of the same make, the 36 h.p. Wanderer, the new 2-litre B.M.W., and the fast 11-litre six, the improved 2-litre Adler
Trumpf Senior, the 2.25-litre Hanomag, next to the N.S.U. and Z iindapp, both showing as sports models. Germany can laim to be the home of the aerodynamic body, and yet one cannot say that this type of body has really caught on. The public is conservative in its taste, and not even the admitted advantage of added speed and greater comfort can quite overcome the hesitation caused by the unusual lines. It would be
safer to say that the aerodynamic body is holding its own—which means that it will one day become universal. The angular German body is a thing of the past. Curves and bulges are now the vogue, and their wider range has appealed to the coachwork designers. Apart from the ultra-modern 5-litre ” Mere,” whose lines are a matter of great discussion, there are plenty of original coachwork ideas of undisputed
merit, and taken as a whole, this branch of car manufacture can be said to be making real headway in Germany.
Body space is growing—as it will have to in England before long. Four-seaters have become five-seaters, and five-seaters are now six-seaters. Engine sizes, too, show a slight increase, with higher compressions. Chassis design is very much the same. There are many small technical improvements, as to acceleration, back axles, steering gear, and careful assembly. At the risk of appearing unpatriotic, one is bound to admit that taken as a whole, German automobiles display a greater amount of technical ingenuity than is evidenced by our own standard, as opposed to sports cars. Take suspension, for example. Practically every German car has independent springing, carried out in a scientific manner. One has only to ride in such a car as the B.M.W. to appreciate the huge advance over orthodox springing obtained by this practice. Such cars as the 3i-litre Mayba.ch, with a power output of 140 h.p., a reinforced frame and independent springing the little rear-engined
Mercedes-Benz; the Hansa and Praga with their ” backbone ” chassis and independent springing, all reveal a wealth of engineering skill. From the technical point of view we found great interest in the little Imperia, exhibited in the motor-cycle section. This intriguing little vehicle has a chassis made of steel tubing, independent springing, and a two-stroke engine at the rear with three cylinders, air-cooled, and ‘
supercharged. The coupe body is of perfect aerodynamic lines, and the Complete car Weighs only 8 cwt. Since its little engine is 750 c.c. capacity, and revs. at 4,500 r.p.m., the performance on the road Should be exceptional.
The only British firms exhibiting in Berlin are the Austin Company and M. A. McEvoy, Ltd. The latter control the production of Zoller superchargers. Foreign cars are not encouraged in Germany, for Herr Hitler realises that the motor industry is the key industry of Germany. He said so in his inaugural speech, and added : ” We have to make this country motor-minded. For this we need good motor roads, and this is the object of our great read scheme.”
The heavy import duties have resulted in a total absence of American cars, for the Ford is now manufactured in Cologne. Foreign countries were therefore represented by Austin,. Austro-Daimler, Steyr, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Praga, Renault and Tatra. German makes were Opel, Audi, Wanderer, D.K.W. Horch, MercedesBenz, Maybach, Adler, B.M.W., HansaLloyd, Stoewer, Hanomag and N.S.U.