TO many motorists Rolls-Royce and “The Continent” are closely linked phrases. To some, like the writer, the conception came first from the pages of Dornford Yates novels, where the sorely tried cars bore their enthusiastic and hard-driving owners from North to South at phenomenal averages, thereby filling the youthful mind with all the author’s devotion for the famous marque. Apart from the Alpine Trial of 1912, in which the 40-50 model of that day, the famous Silver Ghost snatched the principal award from the hands of a rather astonished assembly of the Continent’s best cars, Rolls-Royce cars have never participated officially in competition abroad. On the other hand all the experimental models undergo their final tests of six months or more, alternating between the steep and chilly passes of the Alps, and the scorching straight Routes Nat ionales of France ; so the connection between ” continent ” and Rolls-Royce is a very real one. What more appropriate name, therefore for the short wheel-base sporting saloon on the Phantom II chassis ? The charm of a high-grade car lies in its individuality, and like the character of the average man or woman, is only fully appreciated after a fairly long acquaintance. When we first saw at Conduit Street the impressive car which had been lent to us for test, we experienced a momentary doubt as to whether we were capable of piloting it through the taxiridden traffic of the Metropolis to the calmer waters of the open road, yet in a few miles this impression of bigness had disappeared, and the car felt as easy to handle as any sixteen-horsepower sports
car. In the same way, being inveterate users of the gear-lever, on first reaching open country we gave the Rolls-Royce full throttle on every gear, certainly with most happy results, but unnecessarily, as we found afterwards. The tremendous
Engine : 6 cylinders, 137.5 mm. bore, 106.5 mm. stroke, capacity 7,668 c.c. R.A.C. Rating 43.3 h.p. Push-rod operated overhead valves. One Rolls-Royce carburetter. Dual ignition ; magneto and coil.
Gear-box : 4 speeds and reverse. Ratios, 3.4, 4.54, 6.8 and 11.9 to 1. Constant Mesh secon4 gear, synchro -mesh third and top.
Brakes : Cable operated, with RollsRoyce mechanical servo.
Springs : Half elliptic.
Back Axle : Fully ;floating. Hypoid bevel gears.
Dimensions : Wheelbasel2ft. Track —Front axle 4ft. 101in., rear axle 5ft. Olin. Weight with five-seater Continental Saloon, 49 cwts.
power developed at low engine speeds makes possible an exceptional top gear performance, and brings the car from ten miles an hour to eighty in under one minute, as the speed chart reveals. Top gear is therefore used for most main-road running, with third a useful handmaid for getting quickly up to 60 m.p.h. The charm of a big engine is revealed in the way the car sails along at 60, 70 or 80 m.p.h., in quite uncanny silence, flattening hills in its stride, and simply asking to be driven as hard as safety permits, from one end of the
journey to the other. At 80 m.p.h., it is worth noting the engine speed is only 2,950 r.p.m.
During our road test we covered over 600 miles, and the greater part of this was spent on the Great North Road. Apart from being one of the few roads in England on which one can try a powerful car like the Rolls, it is sufficiently diversified not to be tedious.
After sailing along at no small speed through the early fast stretches north of London, where the fine top-gear performance gave plenty of chance of leaning back and admiring the effortless progress of this modern Magic Carpet, we entered the much more sinuous sections in Bedfordshire and further North. With this change of country, a new car was revealed. On the way North we had been impressed by the firm yet supple springing, which gives the Continental the steadiness on corners of the best type of sports car, yet we were unprepared for the way in which this 23ton car of 12 feet wheelbase could be slung round corners. On cambered corners the inside wheels kept station a foot from the kerb, while when one was feeling frivolous the tail could be made to slide with the utmost nicety of control. Not all owners perhaps would want to do this, but it proved in no uncertain fashion how well the suspension and the weight distribution had been arranged.
A refinement has been fitted to the latest 40-50 Rolls-Royce cars in the form of a hand control for the shock absorbers, mounted on the steering column. We found this of value principally when encountering hump-back bridges at speed, but otherwise left the lever in the central position. It is specially useful, of course, to provide that little extra stiffness of springing which one appreciates on a car fully loaded with passengers and luggage.
Further North again, beyond Boroughbridge, came opportunities of trying the all-out speed, which was found to be in the neighbourhood of 92 m.p.h. This speed was attained with one of the two silencers cut out ; with the two in operation the maximum speed is about 85 m.p.h. The figures shown on the graph were also obtained with both silencers in use, and were recorded at Brooklands.
The return from Yorkshire was made in 5 hours, giving an average speed of 45 m.p.h., without any particular effort.
A good deal of rain was encountered on the way south, without calling for any reduction of speed. Journeys under these conditions no doubt commonplace to owners of 40-50’s, but for ourselves we could not help noticing how little fatigued we felt as compared with runs on smaller cars over much shorter distances.
Most of the journey was done at night, and in spite of being fitted with lowpowered bulbs, the Lucas P. 100 lamps gave an excellent driving light. The dipping reflectors were controlled by a switch mounted on the floor in a position convenient to the driver’s left foot.
The high performance of the Continental has been secured without sacrificing any of the traditional Rolls-Royce smoothness and good manners. One of our pleasantest memories was an afternoon’s touring in Swaledale, gliding along at 35 or so, on a mere whiff of throttle, which yet sufficed to take us up all but the heavier gradients. The seating position is high enough to allow one really to appreciate the scenery, while the controls are so light that even on uneven and narrow moorland roads the driver is in no way embarrassed by the size of the car. The steering lock is excellent, and the car can be turned with two or three sweeps across the average main road. In towns the car moves along at 10 m.p.h. or less on top with ignition retarded, while the easily engaged third gear is particularly valuable when one wishes to overtake rapidly.
Having given some idea of the car’s performance, it remains to mention sonic of the special points which help to place the Rolls-Royce in a class of its own. First of all the steering. Steering, of course, is one of the most important things on a large fast car, and on the Rolls its lightness and accuracy are things to marvel at, and yet this is contrived with a high ratio and a caster action which centralises the large steering wheel after corners have been negotiated. The gentlest of holds on the large steering wheel kept the car on its course at speed, and corners are taken almost without effort. The braking effort is assisted by a mechanical servo-motor, and a gentle pressure is all that is required. From
40 m.p.h. the car can be brought to rest in 60 ft., an excellent performance on a car weighing over two tons. At the higher end of the scale they arc just as remarkable, as was shown when a Morris Cowley pulled out into the Great North Road when we were doing 90 m.p.h. As will be understood, gear-changing is not often required on the 40-50, but in spite of this the gear-box has been brought to the same pitch of perfection as the rest of the chassis. Third and top gears are fitted with synchro-mesh mechanism, and third is so silent that on several occasions we ran for two or three miles without being aware that we were not in top. A speed of over seventy miles an hour can be reached on third, though some slight roughness is noticed towards the maximum, but owing to the fine top gear torque, sixty is quite sufficient for normal main-road work. Second is a silentrunning ratio, and the car is usually
started on this gear. Top to third is a rapid change, with second spaced slightly more widely. The synchro-mesh mechanism for third and top is remarkably smooth and rapid in action, without presenting the light double-clutch changes, which the sporting driver usually prefers.
The more one looks into the design of the “4O-50” the more one is impressed with the care which goes into the making of the car, for every detail has taken on its present form only after years of development, and every item, except for a few items of electrical equipment, are made at the Rolls-Royce Works at Derby.
The six-cylinder engine has its cylinders cast in two blocks of three, and has an aluminium cylinder-head. Pushrod overhead valves are used, one inlet and one exhaust per cylinder. Dual ignition is fitted, one set of plugs being fired by coil and the other by magneto, 18 m.m. Lodge plugs being used. A centrifugal governor advances the ignition through a relay operated by the engine oil pressure, the hand lever on the control column serving merely to limit the amount of advance available.
The carburettor is virtually three instruments in one. For starting from cold the first of these is brought into play, and extra oil is supplied to the cylinder walls as the engine is being brought to a running temperature. A small auxiliary carburettor is used for slow-running, while the main one has a single jet, the orifice of which is varied by a tapered needle, in turn controlled by engine suction. The petrol is conveyed from the 28 gallon rear tank by an Autovac vacuum tank, but in order to prevent the supply failing when the car is run for long periods on full throttle, as might happen when relying on the depression in the induction pipe, the vacuum is maintained by an engine-driven pump. The petrol consumption on a 220-mile run worked out at 9 m.p.g. The crank-shaft is dynamically balanced and carried in seven main bearings, and these and the big ends are plain. Oil is
forced to all points, a reduced pressure being used for such parts as the overhead valve gear. An ” edge-type ” pressure oil filter is standardised, and the plates are partly rotated by a ratchet mechanism each time the clutch pedal is depressed.
A single-plate clutch is used and the gear-box is mounted in unit with the engine. The complete unit is carried on the main frame on a pivoted mounting torsionally, insulated by rubber, and friction dampers regulate the slight movement permitted. The synchro-mesh gear-box has already been described, but no less interesting is the brake servo-mechanism, mounted at the side. When the brake pedal is depressed it applies the rear brakes, and also forces a disc clutch into contact with a rotating disc. As the disc clutch is dragged round, the pull it exerts is divided between the front and rear brakes and since the rear brakes already are receiving the direct pressure of the foot, there is no possibility of the front brakes locking. The braking effect between the two wheels on either side of the car is balanced by
means of ” equalisers” which are miniature differential gears, and the effort of the hand-brake, which operates independent shoes in the rear drums, is also equalised in this way.
An open propeller shaft is used, and the two all-metal universal joints are fitted with needle roller bearings. A hypoidbevel drive is used in the back-axle, which materially lowers the propeller shaft line and therefore the floor level in the rear compartment. The rear axle is fully floating, with the axle tubes bolted to the differential casing.
The chassis is of the orthodox type, swept up at front and rear and strengthened with a number of tubular and channel cross-members. Axle movement is controlled by special Rolls-Royce hydraulic shock absorbers and as has been said a fine adjustment of these is provided on the steering column.
A centralised lubrication system mounted on the dash supplies oil to all moving points on the chassis, including the road springs.
J. C. Ridley’s triumph.
It was not generally known at the time that J. C. Ridley’s Triumph “Gloria,” which finished second in the general classification of the Monte Carlo Rally and won the Junior Class, was actually supercharged for the eliminating test at the end.
A last minute decision to ” blow” the car, and thereby gain a big increase in acceleration, did not allow the fitting of the Centric supercharger to be of a permanent nature. Accordingly, a simple arrangement of temporary brackets and open chain drive from the crankshaft nose was used. This accounts for the supercharger not being installed during the long run from Umea.
Arrangements’ have now been made whereby new Triumph ” Glorias ” can in future be supplied with a Centric supercharger, properly designed to suit the car and with a totally enclosed drive. The additional cost has not yet been fixed.
In the past the great difficulty attached to the use of a stabilising device for the steering gear of a car has been the attendant loading or stiffening of the steering control. The benefits of such
The Continental four-door saloon, by Barker, was a fine example of English coachcraft. The sweeping lines of the wings, which proved most efficient in wet weather, and the shallow roof, which yet contrived to accommodate a sliding roof, were a fitting accompaniment to the severe yet graceful bonnet, and this restrained feeling of good taste was supported by the colours, dark and light maroon, in which this handsome car was finished. The seats were particularly comfortable, covered with soft hide and upholstered so as to be both yielding and free from side-sway. A central arm-rest is fitted to the back squab, so that two or three may be carried in equal comfort. There is ample leg-room, and since the rear seat is well in front of the rear axle, the riding is in no way inferior to that enjoyed by the occupants of the two front seats. The front windows were fitted with special ventilating flaps operated by the normal winders, and by this means the interior of the car can be kept airy and yet
a device are undisputed, but the accompanying disadvantage has prevented their wide-spread use.
There has recently been placed on the market, however, a device which overcomes this drawback, at the same time retaining all the good points of a steering damper. It is called the Titan Self Steering Stabiliser, and is made by the T.N.T. Patents, Ltd., Park Gardens, Alfold, Billingshurst, Sussex.
The secret of the Titan Stabiliser is that, instead of using friction or hydraulic resistance as a means of checking ,excessive movement, the principle of inertia has been brought into play. A small circular housing is clamped to the front axle, and is connected to the track-rod by means of universal-jointed link-rod. Inside the housing is a rotating weight, damped in oil, and the resistance of the inertia of this weight absorbs and checks all steering shocks. It will be seen that no extra load is placed on the ordinary steering control, so that an actual saving in wear is obtained. A new car fitted with a Titan Stabiliser benefits by the longer life of its steering gear, while an old car similarly equipped can be made to steer accurately and easily. As proof of their outstanding merit, it is worth recalling that a pair of Titan
free from draughts.
The forward placing of the rear seats makes it possible to provide really generous luggage accommodation, and the large boot provides room for half a dozen suitcases, or even a small trunk, while in addition the rear panel can be let down to act as a luggage platform. The tools are carried partly along the sides of the luggage compartment, and partly in a hinged tray recessed to fit the individual parts.
Fashions in cars may veer this way and that, but there is still no disputing what is the Best Car in the World. Constant in their determination to hold on to what is proven good, Messrs. Rolls-Royce are now the only British firm still to offer.a largeengined car, and this a vehicle which, with the materials employed in its construction, should give unfailing service for ten, twenty—who knows how many—years ; while the classic proportions of the radiator and bonnet are happily reflected-in the many fine bodies now being offered by British coachbuilders. Long may the combination flourish !
Stabilisers were fitted to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s ” Blue Bird.”
A Motoring Film.
An instructive and enjoyable evening was spent by a large audience at the Baths Hall, Latimer Road, Wimbledon, on the occasion of the Morris film show, given by Messrs. Jarvis et Sons, Ltd., the well-known automobile firm. Different phases of construction were shown in detail, and left a deep impression on the minds of the audience of the colossal organisation entailed in modern automobile construction. After this, the Conception, manufacture and testing of the latest Morris model—the new” Eight “were shown, and a splendid scenic film, “Land’s End to John o’ Groats.” The film show concluded with an amusing cartoon dealing with the nefarious activities and well-merited end of a motor croolc
The proceedings concluded with an address by Mr. G. E. T. Eyston, the famous racing motorist, and a Director of Messrs. Jarvis & Sons. In emphasising the modern trend of new car buying, he pointed out that his firm had already sold twice the number of Morris cars in the past five months as compared with the corresponding period last year.