Not since the days of the “Nippy” and “Speedy” have the Austin Motor Company, Ltd., made models of direct interest to users of high-performance cars, albeit their “Sixteen” is no sluggard. At the Geneva Show the new Austins were a centre of attraction and proved that they should come most distinctly in the high-performance category.
Having 6-cylinder, 85 by 101.6-mm. (3,460 c.c.), push-rod, o.h.v. engines, these fine cars develop 110 b.h.p. in single-carburetter form, or 120 b.h.p. in two-carburetter form. Both versions have a compression ratio of 6.8 to 1, and follow an identical specification. The counter-balanced, forged-steel crankshaft runs in four “Thinwall” bearings, and “Thinwall” bearings are likewise used for the camshaft. The lubrication system embraces jet feed to the cylinder walls and a Tecalemit full-flow filter holding 2 pints of oil, the total oil capacity being 17 pints. Cooling, thermostatically controlled, is by pump and fan, timing by chain, and ignition by coil, with vacuum-automatic control of advance and retard. The drive goes via a 10-in. Borg and Beck clutch to a 4-speed synchromesh gearbox controlled by a steering column lever. The ratios are 15.08, 10.5, 6.34 and 4.45 to 1, giving 18 1/2 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. in top gear. The chassis has a wheelbase of 9 ft. 11 in., and a new independent wishbone and coil spring suspension is used at the front, with Austin’s well-tried arrangement of long 1/2-elliptic springs interleaved with zinc, at the back. Double-acting hydraulic shock-absorbers are used all round. The steering gear gives a ratio of 16 to 1 for normal work, automatically changing to 18 to 1 for .full-lock work, and there is a spring-spoke wheel.
It will be seen that these new “110” and “120” Austins are right up-to-date and should greatly bolster-up our export trade to countries populated by car-discerning peoples. Lots of us have come to believe in Austin dependability and will be most intrigued to see this desirable quality allied to extreme performance. It is interesting that Austin’s are using Lucas electrical equipment (high-output 12-volt dynamo with compensated voltage control and solenoid-operated starter), A.C. fuel pump to draw fuel from a 16-gallon rear tank with twin fillers, Stromberg carburetter, Hardy-Spicer open propeller shaft and Lockheed hydraulic brakes. At present the “120” two-carburetter version of the latest Austin is distinguished by the modernistic Van den Plas-built “Princess” saloon body, the single-carburetter “110” model carrying a rather more angular saloon body, without spats over its rear wheels, known as the “Sheerline.” Very nice folders describing these two new Austins in detail and ably illustrated by Gildersleve, are obtainable from Longbridge.
Last month we talked about the Morgan 3-wheeler as a means of obtaining good performance with maximum economy. We see no reason to retract those sentiments, but not everyone who wants a Morgan can find one, and not everyone wants to buy a secondhand car anyway. So, looking somewhat to the future, which is necessary if one is British and contemplating a new car, one wonders whether the half-litre type of economy cars about which there was much chatter at the end of the war, might not catch on quite nicely. There were various attempts at this sort of thing in the past — the J.M.B. 3-wheeler with 600-c.c. engine, still sometimes encountered, and the suspension-less Villiers-engined Gnome on its Dunlop balloon tyres, for instance. With a modern, multi-cylinder, high-revving engine of about 500 c.c., using a reasonably high compression-ratio — the kind of power unit racing has fostered — and of really light-weight construction, a car of this type could surely give some 50 m.p.g. as a matter of course. That would be very useful at the present time. But the crux of the whole thing would seem to be to forget performance altogether. To try to give the customer 50 m.p.g. and 55 or more m.p.h. may not be impossible, but to aim at a regular 50 m.p.g. and not fret if cruising speed does not greatly exceed 40 m.p.h., is obviously a far easier task. To dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts talk of such sedate speeds usually results in impatience, yet ’tis better to be able to motor somehow than not at all, and we have satisfied ourselves that for distances of up to 80 or so miles, or for town driving, a 40 m.p.h. cruising speed is not unendurable. So designers might like to try their hand at a real economy car, from which 50 m.p.g. plus is always obtainable. We have seen drawings of a hush-hush 600-c.c., two-cylinder, air-cooled car of modernistic outline which looks like a big stride in this direction — and we suspect, while repeating that economy, and speed cannot be easily reconciled, that in this instance the performance capabilities may be distinctly sparkling.
Our Road Tests
Manufacturers of modern motor-cars have expressed displeasure at the low speeds recorded in our post-war road tests. So it would seem advisable to state again that, Brooklands being no longer available, facilities for extending cars are few and far between. Rather than discontinue timed tests, Motor Sport obtained permission to use a private road and thereon marked out a measured 1/4 mile. This course is reasonably level and, in any case, cars are timed in both directions. The surface is very reasonable, and the prevailing wind seems to blow at right angles to the road. Why, then, do our speeds depress the manufacturers? Simply, we suggest, because at Brooklands a car could be driven flat-out for a considerable distance before entering the measured stretch and additional impetus added by diving off the banking just prior to the timed run. We try cars for speed under far more exacting conditions. The run into the 1/4 mile represents about 1/2 a mile in the more favourable direction. So our published timed speeds are mainly of value as a means of comparison of cars running under road conditions. Thus, the Allard achieved 80.4 m.p.h., the “TC” M.G. 65.6 m.p.h., and the saloon Sunbeam-Talbot Ten 53.6 m.p.h. On the other hand, the run-in permits even the slowest car to reach peak speed on its highest indirect gear some distance before top is engaged for the timed run and you can ask yourself how often, in road motoring, you get any appreciable distance in which to work up speed gradually in top gear after you have gone as hard as you can through the indirect gears? When speedometer readings greater than those observed through the timed stretch are attained on the road, we usually find that (a) a strong wind was blowing behind the car, (b) that the road ran downhill, or (c) that an abnormally clear stretch of road was available in which to build up speed, such as a by-pass in the early morning. We believe that speed figures as published in Motor Sport road-tests represent the highest speed that can be obtained readily on the road under normal give-and-take conditions, and which, therefore, can be reached many times in the course of a normal main-road run. We contend that such figures are far more instructive to the prospective purchaser than freak recordings only attainable by privileged road-testers or competition drivers, able to extend their cars over long stretches of roadway to which the public has no access. In our opinion, something like a clear mile or more of road would be needed before any appreciable increase in our timed speeds could be realised. A clear view for a further half-mile would be necessary in order to pull-up in the event of oncoming traffic. That is to say, at least one and a half miles of straight, empty going would be needed.
On the other hand, the speeds we publish should be obtainable frequently in the course of ordinary motoring by any driver prepared to accelerate briskly through his gears when an opportunity for speed presents itself.
The Grey-Cleveland Harmer ex-Czaykowski Bugatti mentioned last month, turns out to be, not a “2.3,” but a type 51A, 1 1/2-litre twin-cam car. Grey also has the ex-Rayson 1 1/2-litre, 4-cylinder Maserati. Incidentally, Pedigree Cars, Ltd. always have a good selection of Bugattis in stock.
Mrs. Darbishire has acquired the ex-Maclure, E.R.A.engined i.f.s. Riley from Parnell.
J. H. T. Smith hopes to race again this year.
Major Gardner will attempt to do 150 m.p.h. with his M.G. in 4-cylinder 500-c.c. form on the Jabbeke-Aelstre motor road on July 24-27th.
Amongst the cars entered for the British Hill-Climb Championship is Sydney Allard’s new single-seater sprint car. In appearance rather like a modern G.P. car, it has an air-cooled push-rod o.h.v. Steyr V8 engine, now with eight motorcycle-type carburetters and a very high compression ratio. A Ford 3-speed gearbox and rear axle are used, there is divided-axle i.f.s., the tank holds about one gallon and not only is the car very light, but it is said to give an excellent output low down in the speed range. The power/weight ratio should be E.R.A.-like.
Montlhèry Track, near Paris, is open again.