Matters of Moment, May 1950
We add our salutations to the very many already showered on the Rover Company in respect of their pioneer turbo-jet car. This Rover is a truly encouraging example of British enterprise, the more meritorious for the confident manner in which it was displayed to the Press and last month exhibited in New York. Pure sentimentality weds us to crankshafts and valves, to reciprocating allied to rotary motion, and if the piston-engine is ousted by the turbine our period of mourning will be a long one. Meanwhile, all praise to the Rover engineers for a very significant achievement.
The American magazine True came out with another interesting sportscar article last February, written by its motor-enthusiast, Mercer-owning Editor, Ken Purdy. This time it described personal experience of three prominent sports cars, under the heading “The Two-Seater Comes Back.” These three cars were the XK 120 Jaguar, that has clearly taken America by storm—another U.S. writer has said of it: “It is a marvellous car, it’s something England can be really proud of “—the Kurtis-Kraft and the Crosley.
Note that two of Purdy’s three “desirables” are American! Possibly you expect that in a paper published in New York. But there is nothing to be gained by turning one’s back on one’s rivals and Motor Sport feels it might do British manufacturers and enthusiasts good to heed what Purdy feels about these cars.
He is scrupulously fair to the Jaguar. It is, he explains, the officially-certified fastest stock car in the world, yet its exhaust whoosh is not much louder than a Packard’s. He claims that the car tested for True reached 5,4110 r.p.m. on the tachometer in top gear, or 143 m.p.h., not allowing for wheel slip. etc.—they do go faster in the States! The safety, the astounding acceleration, are warmly emphasised, and we learn that the Jaguar rolls but doesn’t seem likely to slide and gives around 17 m.p.g. Acceleration figures are published: 0-30 in 2.5 sec., 50 in 5.3 sec., 60 in 9.2 sec., 80 in 16.7 sec., and 100 in 33.1 sec.
The Kurtis-Kraft is 2 in. shorter in wheelbase, has Ford V8 engine, gearbox, brakes, suspension and frame, as our Allard does, the weight is given as under 23 cwt., production is not to exceed 300 cars a year, and the price is $3,990. The speed approaches 105 m.p.h., according to True, and the acceleration figures are given as: 0-30 in 4.5 sec., 60 in 11.8 sec., 60-80 in top gear in 21.6 sec. The steering has the same lock-to-lock turns as that of the Jaguar, visibility is described as good, the central gear-lever thick, short and businesslike, the instruments black-faced and round, a rev.-counter is fitted and the hydraulic brakes are said to be entirely adequate to the Kurtis’ speed. If the car will go like this in standard side-valve form, how much better it should perform in “hotted-up” guise! Already a special Ford-engined Kurtis has been electrically timed at 142.5 m.p.h. on alcohol and at 132.9 m.p.h. on pump fuel, compared to the Jaguar’s 132.6 m.p.h. on 74 octane petrol at Ostend. True remarks: “If Kurtis can duplicate the latter speed (132.9 m.p.h.) after he has manufactured twenty-five ‘Competition’ models, he can claim the world’s stock-car record. . . . No one who knows him doubts that he’ll try for it. The record used to be held by America and it would be nice to have it back.” Frank Curtis, should we add, hails from Los Angeles, and has for years built some of the leading Indianapolis cars, usually Offenhauser-powered. He is well versed in custom-body building and his new Kurtis-Kraft, is now in production.
The little Crosley “Hotshot” was conceived by Powel Crossley, Jr., as the U.S. answer to the M.G. Midget, It costs $1,000 less than the M.G., but it hasn’t anything like as much refinement. It uses an 725-c.c. 26½-b.h.p. engine, has a wheelbase of 6 ft. 11 in., weighs under 10 c.w.t., does 0-30 in 7.2 sec., 60 in 27.2 sec., and can reach 74 m.p.h., by True‘s reckoning. That’s on an 8 to 1 compression ratio, but in accordance with American “hot-rod” practice, pistons to give 12 to 1 and 14 to 1 ratios are available and the car strips quickly for racing, saving 104 lb.
That’s the way the wind is blowing in the States. We are confident that our Jaguar and Allard on the one hand, our M.G. Midget and Morgan “4/4” on the other, are comfortably ahead of these newly-announced Americans. But it is as well to take stock of the opposition, for, as Motor Sport predicted in these columns last February, there is about to break a great new cult in sports cars and world competition is likely to be decidedly keen.
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STOP PRESS. Warm congratulations to Reg. Parnell for his fine driving at Goodwood on Easter Monday.