250 MILES IN A DAY ON 570 c.c. IMPRESSIONS OF THE BABY FIAT
When the 6 h.p. Type 500 /120 Fiat was examined at the last Olympia the query immediately arose as to whether it was just another baby car, or whether it would be a car with a special appeal
all of its own. A desire to assist in marshalling the United Hospitals and University of London M.C. Cotswold Trial one February week-end provided an opportunity to answer this query, because, the usual transport being unavailable, J. Eason-Gibson loaned his own Fiat baby.
Taking the little car over on the Saturday evening a preliminary 50 miles were covered in London, at the end of which we were able to turn in anticipating a very enjoyable day on the morrow, notwithstanding the fact that we had to get right down to Burford early in the morning, then set out on marshalling duties many miles further on, which would necessitate the car being out of use for the better part of the day. However, a run up the Croydon By-Pass showed that the Fiat would do its 60 m.p.h. in spite of its modest engine size, and town traffic conditions reassured us of its liveliness and ability to nip through crowded streets.
On the Sunday we woke the baby at 7 a.m., drove it easily for a couple of miles until the oil pressure needle lost its inclination to wander off the dial, then loaded the inevitable kit (2/9 alarum clock included) into the extremely roomy sternsheets, and left South London by 7.45 a.m. Incidentally, this very generous luggage accommodation is under cover and easily accessible from the seats, and we had already proved it possible to seat an extra passenger for short runs.
Soon we were through London and the tram-infested Uxbridge, the tiny engine humming around at a sustained cruising speed of 50 m.p.h., the oil pressure steady at 25 lb. per square inch. Indeed, fifty can be held all day on suitable roads, and the Fiat corners so well that much time can be made up on winding routes that would not be possible on more conventional baby cars. Suffice it to say that we were at the “Cotswold Gateway,” Burford, by 10.15 a.m., inclusive of a stop for map reading and another to secure the engine-cover. The independent front suspension and low build allows one to take liberties on corners, tail slides being instantly brought under control, and over the worst surfaces the riding is surprisingly “even-keel,” with never a trace of pitching—a remarkable achievement in a car so light and short. The steering is curious—fairly light, fairly high-geared, with no return action of any sort and very responsive. There is no castor action at all, yet no effort is required to hold a straight course, and the width is easy to judge. Much of the fascination of this Type 500 Fiat is its extreme simplicity. Open the front and the little side-valve, aluminium head engine is readily accessible, as is
the radiator filler. Open the off-side bonnet “flap,” locked by a lever on the dash, and the petrol tank filler is revealed. On the dash only two dials have to be observed,: the very clear oil gauge and the speedometer with total mileage recorder (there is no trip reading). Pullout buttons look after the starter and choke, a tiny switch starts the electric screen-wiper, the non-cancelling direction indicators are worked by another minute switch in the centre of the screen base-. panel, and the petrol tap is under the scuttle, it being possible to go on to the reserve three-quarter gallon without stopping the car. The lights are worked by a single switch in the dashboard centre, giving a good dimming action and a splendid driving light, and there is an ignition lock. An effective hand throttle is provided, and one push on a button brings alive the dash lamps, which stays on even with all other lamps extinguished,, until the button is again depressed, while a turn of the lamp-top converts it into a
useful interior light. The doors have deep pockets, and the forward sections of the windows slide back, which allows ample ventilation and makes it just possible to give hand signals if desired. In spite of the light construction doors and windows are taut and silent. The interior mirror gives an adequate view with the coupe head erect and with everything closed the Fiat is extremely cosy. Driving vision is, perhaps, slightly impaired to left and right, but the for
ward view is exceptional. The door
handles on the exterior pull upwards to open the doors, a novel and convenient action. Naturally, economy is an interesting study. There is a special fascination about a small, comfortable car which, driven sensibly, will put up a respectable average speed and yet show a very economical fuel consumption. The Fiat has an economy device on the dash which cuts down the :let area, and once the engine was decently warm we could not discern the slightest alteration in acceleration or pulling with this in full operation. Under these conditions a rough check gave 45 over 200 varied miles, and certainly better than 40 m.p.g. throughout, with fast driving and con stant re-starting from cold. The tank
gives a range of approximately 170 miles, before going on to the reserve. During our marshalling duties we negotiated sufficient hilly and slimy sections to credit the little car with the ability to go any sane place, and it certainly is the ideal for impecunious trials officials, Anxious to get back to town, we frequently held 60 m.p.h. on the run home, and were seldom below 40. The lower two gears are used merely to move away, but third provides useful acceleration up to about 40 m.p.h., though normally the final change-up is made at 28 to 30 m.p.h., after which 40 m.p.h. is reached almost at once. The synchromesh really works, the gear-lever is long and astonishingly rigid and the clutch very light and ros t:ve The gears are not noisy and the whole transmission is very taut. The engine is a real ” revver,” and it picked up cleanly, except for an. occasional hesitation at low speeds if the throttle was rammed open carelessly. We have emphasised the splendid riding Continued on page 121 and road-clinging qualities and must couple this with the brakes, which are absurdly light to apply, yet so powerful that they may be used with confidence if an open bend is entered a shade too rapidly. Descending the approach to Stancombe Hill called for only a touch of brakes, with second gear engaged, in spite of the engine being right in the nose. The diminutive hand-lever, which a fair passenger would term “just too cute,” is nevertheless quite practical. That this baby Fiat is not tedious for a full day’s
motoring is proved by our re-appearance In South London by 11 p.m., leaving Burford at 7 p.m. and with many delays en route. And there is so little to criticise. There are sundry vibrations from mirror and anti-dazzle shields, etc., which it should be easy to cure. The adjustable bucket seats are on the flimsy side, but the backs fold and there is ample legroom. We enthuse over this Fiat on four points (a) It is interestingly unorthodox. (b) It can beat most babies on road-hold
Lug, cornering, comfort and braking. (c) It is so simple and possesses so much accommodation and (d) It is able to get on with a real job of work really econoiniCally.
It is notable that this h.p. baby has about it something of the character of those other famous marques with which Eason-Gibson is so closely associated—The Frazer-Nash B.M.W. and Lancia. Let the Beecholme Motor Company, London, SAV.12 demonstrate this new baby to you.