letters from readers, March 1945

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• Sir,

In view of the interest which has been shown recently in S.T.D. racing cars, and having read the interesting article by Mr. Wyer in your January issue, it has occurred to me that a few notes on the ordinary Talbot-Darracq models (of one of which I have very pleasant rebollections for good service during some six years’ use) might interest your readers.

I do not think that the average enthusiast is really aware of the up-to-dateness of the standard models as far back as 1922. Our particular specimen was an 11.4-h.p. Talbot-Darracq of the type first introduced at the 1921 Show, and put into production in 1922, being a current model until May, 1923, when a revised version was produced and the name reverted to Darracq.

The T.D. had a 4-cylinder engine of 68 mm. bore and 110 mm. stroke, giving a capacity of approximately 1,598 c.c. The cylinders and crankcase were a single casting. A well-made crankshaft was attached thereto by three white-metallined bearings with force-feed lubrication. Connecting rods, with white metal run straight on, had slotted caps so that the big-end bolts were relieved of strain. The aluminium pistons had four piston rings, three compression and one on the skirt. They were attached to the con.-rods by hollow gudgeon pins having aluminium end pads, and were lubricated by the oil thrown up by the big-ends, which were force-fed through the hollow crankshaft. The camshaft was driven by a silent chain from the crankshaft and drove by skew gearing the oil pump, and Delco distributor, which had an automatic advance and retard mechanism similar to the type in common use to-day.

The sump was a ribbed alloy one and easily detachable, as also was the alloy timing cover, on which was mounted the alloy centrifugal water pump. A detachable cylinder head had eight tulip-shaped in-line overhead valves operated by pushrods via tappets lubricated by a by-pass from the main oil supply. The mixture was supplied by a Zenith triple diffuser carburetter feeding through an aluminium pipe to a combined inlet and exhaust manifold. The Delco dynamo was mounted on the front engine bearer and belt-driven, with an eccentric adjustment in. a most accessible position. A nice finish was given to the whole engine by an aluminium valve cover. To this very modern power unit was bolted an alloy three-speed gearbox with the self-starter bolted thereon. A single-plate clutch was housed in the flywheel, which had starter teeth cut on it. This single unit was attached to the frame by four bearers, and at the back of the gearbox a ball housing containing the universal joint had attached to it the torque tube which conveyed the drive, through an enclosed propeller shaft with a steady bearing in the centre, to a very modern banjo rear axle. The spiral bevel gears were all mounted on an aluminium bed which would be the cover plate of a Morris axle, but which, in this car, was the actual drive mounting. It was possible to assemble the whole differential assembly and adjust the mesh of the guirs on the bench and then insert the whole affair, which was an all ball-bearing job, into the pressed steel casing. As the car had a dashboard petrol tank, this made what is usually an unpleasant job quite simple.

The power unit would develop some 30 b.h.p. and attain 3,000 r.p.m. The frame was of orthodox design and suspended by semi-elliptic front and cantilever rear springs which gave a comfortable ride. The front axle was a straight beam with steering head with bronze bushes and ball race, which steered well ; In fact, the whole car was very stable. Ordinary worm-and-wheel steering in an alloy box was fitted. Back-wheel brakes in large drums and detachable wood wheels with 815 by 105 tyres completed the specification. The chassis had a wheelbase of some 9 ft. 6 in., track about 4 ft., overall length a little over 11 ft. A real honeycomb radiator was set well back, and the seats were within the wheelbase. The body was well made, but the body designer had not the same ideas of weight saving as the chassis designer, so the clever use of aluminium in the chassis was balanced by the solidity of the luxurious body I It had real leather upholstery, and side screens that gave saloon comfort, and some long journeys were undertaken without discomfort at Christmas times. The 6-volt battery was in an excellent place on a side-member of the chassis with the coil on dashboard. Its performance was good. It would hold 45 m.p.h. for long periods without signs of distress, and on the long climbs, such as one meets in the Cotswolds, a speed of 28 m.p.h. was easily held when

the gradient needed a change to second, whilst petrol consumption averaged 28 m.p.g., or would reach 35 m.p.g. when driven for economy. 225 miles was the longest day trip undertaken, and 1,000 miles the record week’s trip, which was good in those days. The travel was as pleasurable in this car whether one was at the wheel or a passenger, and it must be remembered that in 1922 it was usual to be well satisfied if a 10-12 h.p. car would give a maximum of 40 m.p.h.

The T.-D. was not rebored until 1928, when its total mileage must have reached over 50,000.

This model remained in production until May, 1923, when it was succeeded by a revised version having a magneto which was in tandem with a dynamo driven by an extra silent chain in the timing case and minor modifications such as 765 by 105 tyres ; it seemed a pity to me that the Delco battery ignition was dropped. 1924 saw the adoption of front-wheel brakes of Perrott type, and the petrol tank relegated to the rear of chassis, and fuel fed by vacuum tank. This type was seen in trials of the period and was as successful as the original model, which was a gold medal winner in the 1922 Six Days Scottish Trial.

The 1926 Show saw a re-design ; the bore grew to 69.5 mm., power went up to 40 b.h.p., and a four-speed gearbox, a longer wheelbase and saloon coachwork of Weymann type were fitted. From the 1923 type they were known as Darracqs, and some very interesting touring articles appeared in The A utocar of the period, written by that famous journalist Mr. W. F. Bradley, who seemed very keen on the marque. During the 1922-1929 period some excellent sports versions were seen, including a twin camshaft type seen at hillclimbs and Le Mans in 1925. After 1929 the firm went in for high-power 6-cylinder cars, which gradually disappeared ‘from our roads. I doubt if a specimen of real Talbot-Darracq is left now, though one or two Darracqs may be still about. It would be interesting to hear if any reader of MOTOR SPORT owns or has seen one. I am, Yours, etc.,

Woodbridge, ” COUNTRYMAN.” Suffolk.

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