WE TRY AN AMERICAN

THE DODGE 25,3 H.P. CUSTOM SIX FROM THE ENTHUSIAST'S VIEW-POINT

WE TRY AN AMERICAN

SPORTS-CAR enthusiasts are supposed to regard America's automobiles with some contempt, although there is no gainsaying the fact that for very little expenditure they offer comfortable Motoring of the luxury order, combined with performance that is not only a pleasure to fast drivers, but which melts the miles very effectively indeed. Prejudice against a certain class of car, once established, is not at all easy to dispel, and, remembering that quite a few Of the gentry to whom the lay Press refers to as

Speed Kings" favour cars that have originated from across the Atlantic, we decided to test a modern American-type car and record our impressions without bias. Accordingly, we borrowed a Dodge 25.3 h.p. Custom Six five-seater saloon, a car adequately representative of upto-date practice, with 3i-litre six-cylinder motor, three-speed gearbox and overdrive transmission, taxable at 09 10s., and, outwardly, a very palatial car, priced at the moderate figure of £410. Actually, it must be strongly emphasised that, although the Dodge is an Americantype, it is largely constructed of British materials, by British labour, at the big works at Kew. One criticism which is levelled at American cars concerns garish external appearance and flashy interior decorations. On this score, certainly, the Dodge is immune, for the quietly finished radiator grille, which is a rigid casting and not a tin-pressing, blends very well with the long tapering bonnet, and the general appearance is one of dignity and refinement and suggestive of a very powerful and expensive car. So far as the interior is concerned, the upholstery is in English leather, the fittings are sane and praetical and the metal instrument panel is quite British in its layout with a cubby hole on the left with sprung lid, clock

inset, central pull-out ash-tray, and speedometer and combined oil-fuel-ammeterthermometer as two large dials on the extreme right.

Pour pull-out knobs set centrally under a ledge control, from left to right respectively, lamps, dashlight, cigar lighter and throttle. The horn is in the centre of the wheel, the lamp dimmer on the floor between the clutch and brake pedal, the spotlamp switch under the dash on the right, the starter button on the extreme right of the facia, while each screen-wiper has its own control above the blade. The ignition key is centrally located and when removed the starter is dead, but not the horn. Poor road-holding is another criticism beloved by anti-Americanists. We can only say that we tried the Dodge round Brooklands at maximum speed, up three

trials hilts, in town and on the open highway, and found Very little to worry about. Rolling is only pronounced under exceptionally vigorous cornering and it is not accompanied by excessive tyre protest, nor does the tail spray outwards. At high speeds there is some floating movement, and, of course, the steering is low-geared, needing 3+ turns, lock to lock, but this Dodge handles thoroughly satisfactorily, far better than the majority of American cars and many big cars of utility type. Although low-geared, the steering has no lost action and possesses really vigorous castor-action, which is most useful for coming out of acute corners, both at high and at low speeds. It does not normally transmit return action, the column and wheel are absolutely free from vibration and it is finger light at all save full lock, while the lock is exceptionally good. Over rough going considerable kick-back occurs.

Moreover, the driving position from the single squab front seat is extremely good. The rather high position of clutch and brake pedals is soon forgotten, likewise the action of the full-treddlepattern accelerator, and the wheel is thin-rimmed and nicely raked, with the long, but not too flimsy, gear-lever absolutely where it should be. The central hand-lever, of pistol type, set under the facia, is fairly easily reached by stooping slightly, and it holds the car on hills reasonably decisively and operates quite well. The gear-lever, as we have just remarked, is admirably placed, and so excellent is the synchro-mesh that we found we had automatically discarded our principle of double-declutching for downward changes. The lever just moves easily from position to position and does not object to really quick actions, while the change from second to bottom,

required only on trials hills or in traffic, goes through. particularly well.

Having disposed of these points which are traditionally supposed to load the dice against the Yank, we can turn to the credit side. First and foremost, there is the stipple, effortless running of this Dodge. The engine is inaudible, save for a slight sound when accelerating, right up to the maximum speed and it is unusually " silky " and well balanced. The gears and transmission, too, are inaudible. Consequently, one drives at 60 m.p.h, when conditions permit in luxurious silence and, coupled with suspension that smoothes out every road inequality, from a small bump to a deep cavity, the peacefulness of Dodge motoring must be set down as a considerable attainment at the price at which the car sells. There is, in addition, that desirable spaciousness about the body, the deeply-upholstered seats of which could seat four persons behind and three in front if conditions necessitated, luggage and personal belongings going into the commodious boot, in which the tools and spare-wheel are carried. Furthermore, there is acceleration and speed to a satisfying extent. First gear is only required momentarily for starting, and there is then silent, powerful and purposeful acceleration in second until top is engaged, when this acceleration continues into the "sixties." It is quite unnecessary to go up to peak revs. in first or second, and the acceleration is not only of immense benefit in traffic driving but enables rapid passing to be done in safety on roads where congested traffic is travelling at considerable speed. The Dodge holds 60 m.p.h. very pleasantly, but will maintain 70 m.p.h. if asked in an equally unruffled manner. Here we must record that we had some difficulty in deciding whether or not the automatic overdrive was functioning, which hampered the compilation of performance data at Brooklands. In both positions of overdrive control the .speedometer registered exactly 70 m.p.h. at full throttle, nor did acceleration vary. We are inclined to think that the overdrive did not come into play--no rev. counter is fitted— and it is a tribute to the engine's complete unobtrusiveness that no clue was ob tainable. In this case the Brooklands lap at 72i m.p.h. and the repeated halfmile runs at 75 m.p.h.. indicate that for a big closed car of not excessive engine Capacity the Dodge is One of the quicker motors. Acceleration figures were like wise hampered, but to 50 m.p.h., three up, needed about 20 seconds. On Brooklands the car rode very tom

DUTCH DABBLINGS

SHUNG is back in Holland, although the winter-type of day is still pre vailing. Motorists are trekking to the bulb-fields and Some large flowershows have opened their doors. Rumours of racers and racing are everywhere. B. Hertzberger went to Italy with the 2-litre Aston-Martin which Dick Seaman drove in the 1936 T.T. After having finished second last year he was out for blood this time. From Brescia to Florence he kept close behind the four works

fortably, was steady even when grassclipping round the Byteet, nor did s..everal fast laps move the oil and thermometer needles from their customary indications of 40 lb. and just below 160°F. respectively. Of sticky hills, we climbed Lythe Farm twice and Steep once, using first gear for the bends on the former and for most of the latter, and with four up had no bother at all, indicative of the Dodge suitability for motoring away from recognised roads. Old Stonor was more a test of suspension than of engine, being a

rapid middle-gear ascent. Fuel consumption came out at approximately 15 to 16 m.p.g., all this fun and games , included. Incidentally, the engine fired instantly from cold and was ready to work hard right away. The brakes are powerful and require progressive, and not excessive, pedal pressure. They had a slightly disconcerting tendency to pull to the off side when applied hard at speed, but otherwise pulled the car up all square, rather deceptively, and in silence. The nose does not dip under traffic braking and the Dodge rides very evenly. The clutch is light, extremely smooth, yet positive, and a novice should find the transmission simplicity itself, while it is possible to come down to a literal crawl on top gear. The overdrive is controlled by a facia control, which allows the overdrive to come in as desired by easing the accelerator at 45 to 50 m.p.h. Turning to details, the lights are good and the dim position effective, though the central foot cottrol is occasionally awkward if the brake pedal is in use. There is a powerful spot-light, useful for picking out the nearside kerb and for driving in fog or mist. The light switch was a trifle indefinite, but it was possible to see whether the off-side lamp was on, in going from headlamps to sidelamps in towns. The instruments were illuminated brightly, without dazzle, and a very adequate interior light is provided. The ammeter showed little charge, probably on account of the con stant voltage control. We have commented on the excellent driving position. The view over the long bonnet is most satisfying, and the off-side wing is visible. It is a little difficult to draw in close to kerbs, on account of the invisible nearside wing and position of the front axle, but one soon loses the feeling that the Dodge is a big car. The body is free from rattles and drumming indeed, Only the windrush is heard at any speed. The windows wind down, or swing open in the rear quarter lights, and the front

13..M.W.s but on the 'autostrada to Pisa he took the lead, upholding thus Dutch and British prestige in this famous race. But . . . it was not to last ! Near Livorno, when leading his class, tremendous vibrations warned him. A quick look under the bonnet told him that an engine-support was no longer supporting, and that was that. Hertzberger and his co-driver, A. Debille, drove a very fine race and both deserved to win. Next year they ate trying again. Hettzberger's mechanic, van der Nil, took the place of windows are split, the rear half winding down and the front half swinging open, which enables excellent ventilative settings to be obtained. There is a sliding roof, exceptional on American-type cars. The doors have big pockets and there is a woollen carpet in the rear compartment. Equipment includes sun visors and passenger's "pulls." The direction indicators are worked from a switch on the right of the facia, perhaps a trifle blanked by the wheel. They are of interesting construction, the time element setting up a low buzz, and the switch slowly returning to the" cancel "position. If required for a longer period the arms are retained in signalling position by moving the .switch back to the required extent, or, if it is desired to cancel before the time-element has done so, the driver merely cancels with the switch. At night, one is reminded of the position of the arms by their bright illumination. There is a scuttle ventilator. The horn has a rather repulsive note, which can be reduced by careful manipulation of the button. There is a small arm-rest for driver as well as for front-seat passenger and the big single-piece front seat is adjustable. The rear seat has a folding central arm-rest. The screen-wipers work vigorously, if a trifle noisily, the bonnet tops open easily and bumpers are standard equipment. The fuel gauge appeared to be accurate. The view in the central rear-view mirror is extremely good, the rear blind works well and entry and egress are exceptionally easy. The front screen pillars are rather thick. Cloth or leather upholstery is optional and Thames grey, golden beige, maroon, blue or black finishes are available. The whole arrangement and construction of the bodywork is notably well carried out. The overdrive transmission reduces engine speed by one third, equivalent to a reduction from 3,500 to 2,480 r.p.m. at a road

speed of 65 m.p.h. in high gear. The engine, a side valve 31-litre, has a silver finish and the untidy arrangement of auxiliaries common to transatlantic productions. The lighting system is 12 volt.

In conclusion, those who appreciate the easy running and extreme performance of cars in this class—and quite a lot of our racing meu do--should make a point of trying the Dodge before acquiring their new cars.

It is a very excellent example of this particular sort of automobile, very moderately priced at L410 with the Englishtrim Custom coachwork. Messrs. Dodge Brothers (Britain) ma., of Mortlake Road, Kew Gardens, Surrey, will gladly supply full particulars.

Carriere's co-driver as that co-driver did not turn up in time. They finished fifth with the Talbot and we are proud of van der Fiji's part of this place.

Plans for the Dutch Road Racing Circuit are taking shape but I am not allowed to disclose anything. Perhaps later. We hope to see you all coming over to our dykes and windmills to view our races— and to take part in them. By the way, we don't all wear wooden shoes 1 That will be all for this month. Cheerio everybody!