GERMANY’S CARS ” RATIONALISED ” THE INDUSTRY COMING UNDER STATE CONTROL: APPEARANCE OF THE PEOPLE’S CAR
ERMANY, supreme in Grand Prix racing, had few sports-cars on exhibition at the Berlin Motor -Show, which finished on March 5th. The State is too busy organising the entire industry on an economical basis, and in inaking the whole country motor-ininded, to allow manufacturers scope for attention to sport for private individuals. Sport is regarded as the best possible means of publicity, with Grand Prix racing—purely a concern for manu
facturers—in the foreground. If a private individual in Germany wishes to race a sports-car of a national make, he nearly always buys a B.M.W., and this make certainly had the only real sporting car in the exhibition, the well known 2-litre Type 828. A glance at the programme of last year’s Niirburgrennen, on the occasion of the German Grand Prix, bears out this view, for apart from the flocks of B.M.W.s, there were only a couple of Hanomags and two of the small Neanders, of cars of German origin.
Owing to the-lacleof German sports-cars, one does see a certain number of M.G.s in that country, while a supercharged 2-litre Alta was noticed in Berlin during the course of the exhibition. The N.S.U.Fiat was also used for sporting work, but it is difficult to assess the nationality of this machine, of Italian origin, but built at the N.S.U. works in Germany. Similarly, this make is known as a SimcaFiat in Prance. A smart little sports two-seater “Type 500” was shown at the Ausstellung.
Almost the only other open sports-car in the Show (as distinct from the many cabriolet or convertible models) was the 1.7-litre Mercedes-Benz roadster, described, in last month’s issue of MOTOR SPORT. On the Mercedes stand, however, there was another special car of immense Interest for enthusiasts, a new 5.8-litre supercharged open roadster, with shorter and lighter chassis than the standard .5.4-litre, and a five-speed gearbox. This beautiful car is not yet in the production range, and the model shown was built specially for Korpsfiihrer Hiihnlein, leader of German motor sport, and chief of the N.S.K.K. troopers, who are a feature at all German sporting events. A notice was proudly displayed upon. this car, showing that it was the machine in which the Korpsfiihrer recently started from the Kaiserhof Hotel, in the centre of Berlin, and averaged over 80 m.p.h. to the Odeonsplatz, Munich, a distance of about 650 miles, including four stops. Imagine a notice at Earl’s Court claiming such a journey for, say, the Minister of Transport, from the Ritz Hotel to Princes Street, Edinburgh I Herr Hitler, however, is apparently not in favour of such average speeds, even on the latest autobahnen, for he stated in his opening speech at the Au.sstellung that these roads were fit for maintaining speeds of about 50 m.p.h. With all deference to the Fiihrer, this seems an underestimation, at any rate at present, while the autobahnen are comparatively traffic-free. These roads are not very wide, however, and in a few
years time it may indeed be the case that high averages will be impossible.
The 5.8-litre Mercedes, if put into production, should go far towards reestablishing the former claim of the marque to have the fastest production car, in the famous SSK, for Korpsfiihrer Hfilmlein’s machine is said to have a maximum of well over 140 m.p.h. In another hall one of the special Mercedes cars built for cross-country trials was exhibited, while huge throngs continually admired the latest streamlined record-breaker, fresh from its triumphs at Dessau, which was displayed in a special Honour Hall reserved for cars which have upheld German prestige during the year. Here there were also Caracciola’s earlier record-breaker, which last spring attained 268 m.p.h., and a road-racing Mercedes of Grand Prix type. Auto-Union displayed the super-streamlined car which
still holds the world’s standing start records, driven by the late Berndt Rosemeyer, and a road-racing Grand Prix model of the latest type. B.M.W. were accorded a place for the successful 2-litre sports-car, and Hanomag had the streamlined Diesel record-breaker on view.
This Honour Hall is typical of the German flair for showmanship. In England. we have had ” Blue Bird” at the Motor Show, but it would be pleasant to see an E.R.A. given a special place, as some recognition by the industry for the deeds wrought on their behalf.
Nor was it only inside the exhibition that Germany had her racing-cars well to the fore. On the morning of the opening ceremony the blare of open exhausts was heard in the streets of Berlin, as the Auto-Unions and Mercedes Grand Prix cars headed the State procession. with Herr Hitler himself as the central figure, accompanied by his ministers. At 60 m.p.h. or more the cars tore through the streets, between ranks of uniformed S.S. men, and cheered by thousands.
The Berlin .Show itself is housed in nine great halls, and includes exhibits of motor cycles, transport vehicles, car radio, accessories, synthetic materials, and Post Office and Army vehicles. Amongst the latter was a huge 30 ton tank, with a vast photographic enlargement above it showing Herr Hitler entering the Sudetenland. Over the whole exhibition hung the shadow of State control. Soon manufacturers will not even be able to produce what types they like, in order that production may be organised in the most efficient manner. This restriction is not yet in force, but the conditions laid down by Colonel von Schell, the new motor “dictator,” will be known before the year is out, and will embody drastic reductions in the number of types. It is thought that of the fifty-five types of private cars now being made, less than half will survive under the new regime. This ” rationalisation ” policy has already been applied to com
mercial vehicles. It is a scheme only possible in a totalitarian country, and it remains to be seen how it will work out, for private enterprise is likely to be stifled. The coming production of the K.d.F. (Strength through Joy) or People’s Car is another big factor affecting the German industry. The K.d.F. was at last on exhibition, two models occupying a place of honour on the dais from which Herr Hitler spoke. These cars have a 986 c.c. air-cooled engine, at the rear, with four horizontally opposed cylinders, and overhead valves. All four wheels are independently sprung, by means of torsion bars, and the frame is of the tubular ” backbone ” type. Quite a roomy four-seater saloon body, of streamlined shape, is fitted. One model has a fixed roof, and another has a folding roof of flexible material. Its price is about
The low price of the car is due to its production by a special State-controlled company, which gives it every advantage with absence of agents’ discount, profit for shareholders, etc., as well as improved facilities for the supply of materials. It was designed by Dr. Porsche, the well known engineer who was responsible for the original SSK Mercedes, as well as the Grand Prix Auto-Union. The factory at Fallerslehen, near Brunswick, is now being built, and will constitute a town On its own, but production models will not be available
until next year. In spite of this, it is said that 170,000 K.d.F. cars have already been sold and paid for, and the German workers are subscribing about a million marks a week in instalments, the minimum being five Marks. As soon as 750 out of the 990 marks of the purchase price have been subscribed, the purchaser receives a delivery number, which will entitle him to a certain precedence when production is begun.
As regards other German cars, the rapidly increasing network of autobahnen is exerting a powerful influence on design. Cars are being built to cruise at a speed as near their maximum as possible, :and, except in the lower-priced models, such refinements as salt-cooled valves, and increased use of water and oil thermometers, are being found. Streamlining has not made a great deal of headway since last year. Adler continue in the forefront in this respect, and the 2i-litre model (the sports saloon version of which has a claimed maximum of 90 m.p.h.) is equipped with a novel oil-radiator, consisting of a tube coiled round and round inside the header tank
of the water radiator. Thus the oil, passing through this pipe, is warmed initially, and thereafter its temperature is governed by that of the water.
Another well-streamlined car was the Tatra, formerly Czecho-Slovakian, but now German, since the factory is at Nesselsdorf, in Sudetenland. The model exhibited had a 3-litre V8 air-cooled engine at the rear, developing 80 h.p. A maximum speed of 102 m.p.h. is claimed, with a cruising speed of about 88 m.p.h. on the autobahnen. It has a backbone frame, and all four wheels independently sprung. Two spare wheels are carried under the front bonnet. In a way this model is an improved and. more powerful version of the K.d.P., having similar features of design, but it costs eight times as much, though even that does not make it very expensive. The CzechoSlovakian Skoda, from the great factory at Pilsen, was exhibited in its new form, with 1,100 c.c. engine, and, as before, a backbone chassis and
all-independent suspension. The gearbox on this car is in the back axle. One of the Skoda models exhibited had a smart little roadster body, with extra folding seats concealed in the tail. Another Czech car is the Praga Piccolo, which also has an 1,100 c.c. engine, and sports independent suspension of all four wheels. Before the advent of the X.d.F., the small two-stroke front-wheel drive D.K.W., from the Auto-Union combine, was the cheapest car on the German market, costing 1,050 marks (about
005). It now has a new box-section frame, with the result that a low( r floor Level is possible. Wanderers, to continue with the Auto-Union range, have few changes, but both Audi and Horch have new
models, The Audi has front-wheel drive, and is seldom seen in this country. The new car has a 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine, of overhead camshaft type, with a good power-to-weight ratio, and a maximum of some 80 m.p.h. The new Horeh is a 3.8-litre V8, a development of the 3.5-litre car, and one of the models shown had an elaborately equipped and super-streamlined body. Opel also had a new model on view, the Captain, with 2i-litre engine, interesting through the adoption of integral
frame and body construction on quite a large car.
Borgward is the new name of Hansa cars, but unfortunately the new supercharged 2-litre sports model, which, if it is as good as its specification, should be very interesting, was not on show. This machine, with backbone frame and, all-independent springing, is said to be designed for a speed of 125 m.p.h. Considerable courage, in view of the impending K.d.F., was shown by the Hanomag concern in introducing a new small car, of 1.3 litres capacity. This has integralconstruction, and a very nicely streamlined body, while the independently front suspension is ingenious, making use
of rubber blocks in torsion. The synthetic Buna rubber is used, and in this connection one may note that considerable progress has been made in the economic production of this substance, so that Herr Hitler said that he expected that during the course of the year all German tyres would :eventually be made from Build. Mention has already been made of the racing and special Mercedes, and in the standard. range several interesting changes have been made. The 2.3-litre car now has the X-shaped frame as used on the 1.7-litre model, and detail improvements such as a larger petrol tank. The 8.2litre engine has been increased in size to 3.4-litres, in order to preserve the same power output with a lower compression ratio, so that lower octane fuel may be used. This model, especially built for fast cruising on the autobahnen, now has an overdrive giving a 25 per cent. reduction in engine revs., and it is said that the maximum and the cruising speed are now both identical, viz., 80 m.p.h. The 5.4-litre supercharged car has a five-speed gearbox, with a geared up top. Using the highest ratio, 90 m.p.h.. represents only 2,700 r.p.m. Improved shock-absorbers are fitted. British cars at the shoW were Humber, Sunbeam-Talbot, and Austin. The new Austin Eight appeared during the course of the show, simultaneously with its announcement all over the world, and Herr Hitler, who once owned an. Austin Seven, as usual took great interest
in this stand. In general, however, it was an. intensely national exhibition, showing the considerable strides that the German industry has taken, or has been. forced to take, in recent years.
ALMOST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE:
At the annual dimier of the Bugatti Owners’ Club Jean Bugatti announced. that he proposed to give a twin o.h.c. 2.3-litre G.P. Bugatti to the Club, which those members who cannot own racingcars of their own may drive. He suggested drawing lots for turns at the wheel, but hopes lady members will remain content with sports-cars. If this scheme materialises the Bugatti Owner’s Club will have something quite unique to offer its members. Always more interesting than the average one-make Club, the B.O.C. acquired prestige by the very thorough organisation of a set of standardized annual fixtures, and last year branched out with the great Prescott venture, which was completely success
ful. Certainly it is one of the most aristocratic and. important of motor-clubs —and it does not slime-storm.