THE 3i-LITRE TALBOT
HANDSOME NEW SERIES CAR CAPABLE OF NEARLY 90 M.P.H.
The acquisition of the Clement Talbot Company by the Humber-Hillman Group coincided with small, but important, modifications in the chassis and other details in the ” 105 ” and 31-1itre models. The new frame is stronger yet actually lighter, with its box-section side-members and tubular cross-member, and the silent dynamotor has given way to the more powerful electric starter of conventional type. The new bodies are low hung, with rakish lines of windscreen and rear panel, but the radiator, like the car itself, remains typically Talbot, which is a synonym for quick, easy motoring. Perhaps the most abiding impression of the 3i-litre Talbot was its handiness and the pleasure one derived from driving it fast on the road. The ten-foot chassis is large enough to seat four people in comfort within the wheel-base, but not too long to sling round corners with ‘considerable verve. Sitting at ease with the left foot braced on the sensiblyplaced foot-rest, the driver just turns the wheel to the desired amount and leaves it there and the car comes round in a smooth sweep. The car does not roll or require correction afterwards and in this state of affairs the rigid chassis, wide track and low build of the Sports Saloon all play their part. An unexpected corner taken overfast merely results in a tail-slide, which can be adequately controlled by means of the high-geared
steering. Caster action is unobtrusive but is sufficient to centre the wheel after a corner, and the whole lay-out combines to give confidenee at speed.
The hydraulic shock-absorbers, which are controlled by means of a lever on the steering, are really powerful and when set in the ” maximum ” position, the springing is as firm and stable as a
speed car should be, and corners can be taken without a suspicion of roll. On all ordinary surfaces the shock-absorbers can be left full hard at most speeds, and only taken back to the mid-position when the cat is passing over corrugated patches of tarmac. So much for springing and road
holding. To obtain performance figures, we visited Brooklands Track, which by now was almost completely renovated. Over the flying half-mile the speed worked out at 87.8 m.p.h. with the speedometer showing 89-90, and the car r’ding smoothly. Rain and wind which came on later made it difficult to get accurate figures for acceleration to the higher speeds, and those given on the chart below for speeds over 70 m.p.h. are not as good as could have been
obtained under normal weather conditions.
The engine runs smoothly and silently up to 4,000 r.p.m. and with rather more mechanical noise, an additional 500 r.p.m. is permissible, giving maxima in the :gears of 30, 50 and 70 m.p.h. On kip gear, ” 4-5 ” is Si) m.p.h.
As the acceleration chart shows, the Talbot reaches 70 m.p.h. from a standstill in half-a-minute and, as the car runs at this speed with virtually no sound from engine or exhaust, it can be maintained on a long journey without any effort. Cornering and road-holding, as has been said, are above the average, and the time required to cover a frequently-used hundred mile test route is very little more than that of the fastest standard open car we have taken over the route. 80 m.p.h. is easily obtained on reasonably straight stretches, and on occasions on by-pass roads we reached the Brooklands maximum, the only disadvantage to travelling flat out being that there is a good deal of wind roar, which is rather surprising in view of the smooth lines of the body. With continued fast running the interior of the car became a little warm, hit the problem of ventilation has been carefully studied, and it is easy to get plenty of fresh air without unpleasant
draughts. The triangular windows at the front of the front doors and the back on the four doors can be swung out independently and produce an extractor effect without interfering with the main windows, which wind vertically. There is a ventilator on each side of the scuttle, the windscreen is hinged at the top and swings outwards and finally, for summer driving, a sliding roof is provided. To get maximum performance on winding or hilly roads, the gear-box needs to be used freely, and this is particularcly simple matter on the Talbot, which is fitted with a selfchanging gear-box. The gears are preselected by a lever working on a notch mounted on the steering column and coming just under the driver’s right
hand. The notches are well-defined, and there is no chance of overshooting a gear. To withstand the hundred or so horse-power which the 31-litre engine develops, the band-tensioning springs and consequently the amount of force needed to operate the pedal is considerable, but one is rewardect by a gear-box which takes up the drive without slip at all speeds. Third gear is silent and second heard only a slight hum. .
A centrifugal clutch between engine and gear-box disengages at speeds below 600 r.p.m., and there is consequently no rumbling from the gear-box when waiting in traffic blocks. The drive becomes solid at over 900 r.p.m. and in no way affects the operation of the gear-box at higher revs.
The engine is above all smooth and quiet-running, and sliding along at 50-55 m.p.h. it is difficult to imagine a more effortless means of progression. At the lower end of the scale the 31-litre ran smoothly down to 15 m.p.h. on top, but showed some hesitation in getting away smoothly if the throttle was opened quickly.
To obtain full acceleration on the gears, it was found best to dab the throttle and ease back slightly, and our impression was that bigger jets all round would have improved the performance materially. As it was, once the trick had been learnt, our low black saloon could be forced up hills on that useful third gear at most exhilarating speeds.
Unfortunately there was too much water on the track to . obtain proper braking figures so one can only say that the brakes proved light and progressive in action, and well up to the car’s speed. The adjustment of the front brakes seems a little critical and it is advisable not to have too much power on these if violent braking and fast road-work is intended.
Viewed from outside the Speed Saloon looks low and compact and the roof line does not rise above shoulder level. This has not been allowed to interfere with head room. In the front seats there is just sufficient clearance to wear a soft felt hat and in the rear seats, mirabile dictu, a further four or five inches. The driving position is excellent, with good visibility and the wheel coming well into the lap. Front and rear seats are well upholstered and give good support without side sway on corners. Ample leg room for the rear passengers is secured by means of foot-wells.
Minor annoyances are that one’s thumb is inclined to get jammed under the dash-board when applying the handbrake, and that the speedometer dial markings from 30 to 100 m.p.h. are hidden from the driver by a built-in ashtray. The headlamps are controlled by means of a lever on the steering boss. When correctly focused they are suitable for speeds up to 70 m.p.h., but would have been better with 60-watt bulbs. With the lever in mid-position, one head-lamp is extinguished and the other dipped and at the bottom, only the sidelamps are in action. Following the usual Talbot practice, the starting, lighting and coil switches on the facia panel can be locked with a single key. Other points of equipment are the light which
serves as an oil-pressure indicator, and the petrol and oil-level guages grouped together with the radiator thermometer and the battery level indicator.
Engine and chassis display numerous joints making for efficiency and easy maintenance. In the first place the pairs of overhead valves, which are vertical and operated by push-rods, are set diagonally across each combustion chamber, allowing large valves to be used without increasing the overall length of the engine. Ball-ended bolts which fit into cups on the rockers act as fulcrums, and the valve clearance is adjusted by screwing the fulcrum bolts up or down and securing them with lock-nuts. All-aluminium pistons are now used instead of the bi-metal type, and the connecting rods are of steel.
The crankshaft is machined from a solid billet, runs in seven bearings and is statically and dynamically balanced. A single down-draught Zenith carburetter is used, fed from the 19-gallon rear tank by an A.C. engine-driven pump. The petrol consumption worked out at 131 m.p.g., and the fuel used was Esso Ethyl. A Delco coil is used, and 4I 4I 90 BO 70 60
50 a. i 40 30 20 to 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 SECONDS
the distributor, which is accessibly mounted on the near side, has two contact breakers working at half speed. The starter motor is of conventional type engaging with a toothed ring on the flywheel, while the dynamo is driven off at engine speed from the front end of the crankshaft. The radiator is mounted in unit with the engine, cool water entering through the engine bearers, which are hollow, being returned through a rigid metal pipe from the cylinder
head to the header tank. The waterpump shaft is lubricated from the engine and an independent greaser is provided to look after the gland. A special feature of Talbot cars is the one-shot lubrication system. A spring loaded hand-pump draws hot oil from the sump and forces it to steering pins,
spring shackles and other parts. On the latest cars the system has been extended to lubricate the leaves of the road springs. The clutch and the gear-box also receive their supplies from the engine.
The clutch mechanism is particularly ingenious. In the first place, in order that the engine may still be used for braking, it is coupled to the gear-box by what may be termed a reversed freewheel. At slow speeds the road wheels can drive the engine, but the engine is free to over-run the drive from the gearbox. The clutch friction surfaces, which are similar to brake shoes, are mounted on the crankshaft and actually serve as a fly-wheel. When the engine speed exceeds 600 t.p.m. they swing outwards and come into contact with a ribbed drum mounted on the gear-box main shaft, and from 900 r.p.m. onwards, there is a positive drive from engine to gear-box.
The gear-box is of the self-changing pettern, constructed under Wilson patents by Messrs. Clement Talbot. An auxiliary oil pump is built in and circulates lubricarkt even when coasting with the engine stopped. The propeller shaft is enclosed in a torque tube and the final drive is by spiral bevel. Half-cantilever springs are used at the rear and half-elliptics in front, damped in cach case by Luvax
hydraulic shock-absorbers controlled fl om the steering column. The brakes ‘operate in 16-inch drums, the front ones, which have a self-servo mechanism, applied by armoured cable and the rear -ones with rods. Warm and nut steering .of Talbot design is fitted. The chassis is of new design, upswept fi ont and rear to obtain a low centre of ,gravity. The side-members are of boxsection, and apart from the usual cross III ,11111,1-5, a cros!,-rnember stiffens the
chassis from the engine to the back spring mounting. As the illustrations show, the Speed Saloon is a haedsome production from its spreading front wings, which provide complete immunity against mud-slinging, to the spacious luggage and trunk space in ‘the tail. The extra half-litre of capacity makes t 3,j-litre car cope as
easily with t his comfortabk closed body as the ” 105 ” does with the open coachwork, and the larger car with open coachwork should be capable of a certain 90 m.p.h.
Around and about: comment on the racing and club scene, February 1972
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