With reference to your article ” Which Came First, the Eagle or the Merc.?” wherein you query the feasibility of producing the R.-R. Eagle engine in the short space of 14 months from the commencement of the 1914-18 war, mightn’t we fall generally into the error of judging the 1914 problem by today’s time scale and also fail to give due credit to our rude forefathers for their diligence and industry ?
In illustration, I would quote the following extract from the preface of the Spare Parts List of the 80-h.p. Gnome engine—a Daimler, Coventry, publication dated October 1st, 1914 : “On August 7th, viz. Friday in the first week of the war, arrangements were concluded with the Gnome Engine Company (Victoria, S.W.1) by which the Daimler Company undertook the construction of the 80-h.p. Gnome engine in England.
“In the absence of drawings, an engine was transferred by road on the Friday evening from the Gnome Engine Company’s premises in London to the Daimler works at Coventry. By the following Friday evening (August 14th) a complete set of over 300 working drawings had been prepared from the actual measurements of the engine, a specification list for all the parts had been compiled, printed and issued to all departments, material had been ordered, dies for over 16 stampings had been partially sunk, and the jigs, tools and gauges were well under way.
“The Daimler Company had promised to try and produce the first engine in eight weeks from acceptance of order, but absence of experience with the peculiarities of this design, and lack of precise information as to materials and limits rendered the possibility of this accomplishment very doubtful. Difficulties were overcome, however, without serious delay, and the first engine was actually running on the last day of September, which was the Wednesday of the eighth week after the acceptance of the order.”
Without in any way disparaging Daimler’s magnificent effort. it would be unreasonable to assume that Rolls-Royce were not equally industrious and expeditious—their capability likewise could not be in question. With their design assessment and production experience of the Renault V8, the low specific output of the first design standard production Eagle with its lower gas and inertia loadings (relative to the Mercedes G.P. engine), and the tempo as exemplified by the Daimler effort, I contend that it is reasonable to expect that if at the outbreak of the 1914 war Rolls-Royce commenced to design the Eagle ab initio incorporating the Mercedes features they could have achieved this in the time mentioned. I believe I am right in stating that even the post-Hitler war Mercedes G.P. engine embodied the welded fabricated block of forged steel cylinders and water jacketing.
Might not the appearance of the Eagle before the Hawk have been dictated by military necessity—first things first ?
Reverting to the Daimler Spare Parts List, which was also a price list, it is quaint to observe that a cylinder cost £7 9s. 7 1/2d. and a master con.-rod £23 12s. 2 1/2d.—priced to a halfpenny!
The new V6 Fords
The new-car event of April was the announcement of new V6 Fords from Dagenham. Further to the brief description elsewhere in this issue, it can be said that Ford’s Managing Director, speaking at a luncheon at London Hilton to introduce these new i.r.s. vee-engined Zodiacs and Zephyrs, said that £28 million had been invested in new plant and advanced production techniques on this model-range alone. The development occupied three years at the Ford Engineering Centre at Aveley, and the Dagenham factory has been extensively redeveloped for production of the new cars, 5,000 of which were delivered to support a vigorous launching programme. Mr. Gillen spoke of the 3-litre Zodiac “leaping into the sports-car class despite its elegant limousine qualities.” and quoted 0-30 m.p.h. in 3.5 sec., 0-60 m.p.h. in 11.5 sec., 30-50 m.p.h. in top gear in 8 sec., with a top speed comfortably in excess of 100 m.p.h. The only independent figures we have seen so far equal or improve on Ford’s claim, but the ride and handling, which was to have rivalled that of a Mercedes-Benz, has been described by a contemporary weekly as “a little disappointing.” We. look forward to making our own assessment in due course.