the selection of an ideal sports car



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THE SELECTION OF AN IDEAL SPORTS CAR. Impressions of a Competition Driver after Visiting Olympia.

MV annual visit to Olympia this year was made with the fixed intention of discovering a type of machine, which to my mind would fulfil all the ideals of a sporting driver, who besides using the car in the big competitions of the year, has aspirations in the direction of speed events and, above all, must have something suitable for travelling about the country on business or pleasure. The question of first cost is naturally one of some importance, but perhaps running costs figure more prominently as an item of annual expenditure, therefore it seems that the ideal machine is one which is not taxed more than £12 per annum and should be insured for about a similar amount. After all, with the modern improvements in engine design and better power-weight ratios, it is possible to get excellent all round results

As a matter of fact, such small four seaters can be made very comfortable and do not occasion fatigue, even though the journeys may be very long. Weather protection is another point calling for attention and though Continental sportsmen are content to put up with hoods and screens of a very sketchy nature, such are not well adapted for the climate of this country. I have found that if the hood is properly constructed and set sufficiently low, this with low seats, gives ample protection even in very wet weather, so that nothing short of a strong side gale calls for the use of the side curtains. In selecting a make of car, one should be careful to choose a model which is really a sports chassis from beginning to end, in preference to a machine which has been christened a sports model, but in reality is little

from the small type of vehicle, though naturally those who are able to soar to greater heights will study such expensive cars as the Bentley and Vauxhall with the closest interest.

With regard to seating accommodation, the sporting driver is usually inclined to favour the two-seater type and many fascinating little models are available with extremely sporty bodywork ; but, in choosing a car for all round work, one should not lose sight of the fact that the utility of the two seater is very limited. Perhaps the full four seater is, on the other hand, rather cumbersome in some respects, so with regard to passenger space I would strongly favour a four seater in which the rear seats will just hold two passengers in comfort, though the design of the bodywork must only allow for a limited amount of leg room.

better than a touring chassis dressed up with wire wheels a high compression engine and a semi-streamlined body.

At the present time there appears to be a distinct vogue for highly ornamental sports models and in my opinion the development of such types is not altogether desirable. In the first place the driver who uses his car for everyday work and competitions seldom has the time to spare to look after extra frillings in the way of bodywork decorations and the selection of such cars means, either that an enormous amount of time has to be spent in polishing, “Simonising,” etc., to the detriment of more important attentions to the mechanism.

Four or Six Cylinders.

With regard to the number of cylinders, we have to

remember several things. Firstly, it is a mistake to take the performance of six cylinder nioe_e:s when the cars put up records for speed and endurance in the hands of professionals. It is quite true that many six cylinder models perform admirably in the hands of private owners, but we also have to take into account the amount of time which must be spent in looking after the extra cylinders. A six cylinder engine which has to be neglected for want of time, is immeasurably worse than a four, which by reason of the comparative economy of tuning time can be kept up to concert pitch with comparatively little effort.

As far as smoothness of running is concerned, the keen amateur driver is less critical than the comfort loving tourist and in any case an engine that is really tuned up to give its maximum performance, must lose a certain amount of sweetness, be it of the four, six, or eight variety. Engine design is another important factor for the con

does not matter a tinker’s cuss to the repair man, who earns his living as the result of many hours spent at the customer’s expense, but when one only has a limited amount of time available for his own repair jobs, it is a great convenience to be able to overhaul the units in separate bites. For instance, the engine can be tackled during one week-end, leaving the gear box job as an entirely distinct operation, which need not be started until one has every convenience for doing the work without waste of time and in comparative comfort.

Service Considerations.

It is rather a curious thing to observe that some manufacturers build sports cars, more or less under compulsion, but are not in the least way sympathetic with the owners once the purchase price has been paid. Service, so called, is sometimes dispensed by London representatives, who have little more in the way of facilities than a showroom, and the real needs of the sporting

sideration of the amateur and in spite of the undoubted increase of maximum efficiency provided by engines with overhead valve gear, certain well-known makers have shown us that extreme nippiness can be obtained from engines of the side valve type, which are admittedly far less troublesome to look after than those of the more advanced variety.

In certain sections of the sporting community, an engine is not considered a ” sports ” engine unless the valves are of the overhead type, but comparisons made in the performance of the best representatives of each class, prove that there is very little to choose in the acceleration and maximum speed of either. As an incorrigible amateur mechanic, I am strongly in favour of sports models which do not incorporate unit construction, not that I have any particular grouse about most of the models of recent design, but for the simple reason that annual overhaul jobs are so much easier when the engine and gear box are separate. It

owner are of very small m)ment compared with the chances of selling new cars. As a matter of fact, this sort of thing has opened up a very promising field for keen trade men to cater for the tuning and service for special makes of cars and to-day some of the well-known competition drivers are doing a flourishing business in this direction.

The question of service is also largely affected by the methods of production adopted by the manufacturers and constant changes in models cannot be regarded too favourably by the private owner.

Reserve of Peformance.

The final note concerning sports cars must deal with the important feature of reserve performance and in this detail, the prospective purchaser must remember that a maximum guaranteed speed does not mean a speed at which the car can be run habitually. Many of the so-called sporting models of to-day are certainly

capable of speeds up to 60 or 70 miles per hour, but as soon as any attempt is made to drive them at such a pace, all sorts of complications ensue. Suspension as a rule limits the speed of a car and whilst, in some cases, the engine may be good enough to produce enough power, the cars are difficult if not dangerous to hold on the road when travelling all out.

In all cases, therefore, there should be a sufficient reserve of performance so that the driver can keep a little up his sleeve to be used with discretion as occasion demands. Generally speaking such a reserve is not to be found in the sports cars that are sold at cut prices, or those which are included in a range of touring cars in the hope of attracting the novice, who may have desires to become a successful competitor in trials.


THE Surbiton Motor Club held a very interesting and exciting Gymkhana recently at the Leyland Sports Ground, Kingston. Seldom has a more thrilling programme been placed before the public.

Unfortunately for the organisers, it began to rain just before the meeting was billed to start, and consequently a large number of would-be spectators preferred to remain indoors.

However, about 1,500 people witnessed a splendid programme, which was full of laughter,t hrills and spills, as promised by the promoting club. At 2.30 p.m. the programme commenced with a display of trick riding, in which experts handled their motor cycles in an almost eerie manner. What must have been a record long jump was given. Then followed a team relay race—each team having three riders who completed one lap in each heat and two in the final ; aiso a Surf Board race, in which a surf board, similar to those used on the water, is attached to a motor cycle, on which a passenger is drawn round the course. This proved to be what was possibly one of the most interesting events. In addition to passengers being dragged round without resting on the board itself, a number of drivers continued minus their passenger, discovering the fact only when crossing the finishing line.

Motor Cycle Football raised spectators to a high pitch of excitement, some wonderful exhibitions of riding being given by the players. A very fast game was played, perhaps a little bit rough at times, but still very sporting. Of the opposing teams, Surbiton v. Brixton, it was difficult to say which were the better. Surbiton were a little weak with the defence, especially at the goal itself. However, the game was rapid from start to finish, and Mr. F. W. Barnes, the referee, had a very strenuous time in keeping in touch with the ball. Brixton won by 3 goals to 1, a score unusually low for this class of game. The Car slow race, which was staged next, proved perhaps more interesting for the competitor than the spectator. About fifteen cars entered for this event, the winner being the one who finished the course last

without stopping or touching the clutch. A competitor with a 20 h.p. Austin Tourer amused the crowd by completing part of the course mounted on the steering wheel. His was by far the slowest car, but when almost at the finish the engine stopped.

Then followed a potato race, open to cars and motor cycle combinations. In this, a passenger is taken along a line of potatoes, having to lift each one by means of a spear with which he or she was supplied.

A motor cycle combination polo match, Brixton v. Clapham, also proved an exciting event, this being won by Brixton. In this game the passenger is armed with the usual type of polo stick, and is kept in touch with the ball by the driver. Some very clever handling of machines was witnessed.

The final event was a Grand National race. This was arranged in heats of three solo riders. Each competitor had to complete a lap which included a long jump, a see-saw and a crawl under a net staked down tight on the ground.

All programmes sold during the afternoon were mun.bered, and at the conclusion of the meeting the numbers were included in a draw for two prizes.


Relay Race (Solo).-1, Carshalton M.C.; 2, Brixton M.C.; 3, Andover M.C.

Slow Race (Car).—Winner, G. E. Barnet (Sizaire Berwick).

Grand National (Solo).-1, J. A. Baker (A. J.S.) ; 2, C. Hemmings (Zenith).

Surf Board Race (Solo).-1, F. R. Mitchel (Zenith) ; 2, C. M. Harley (Zenith).

Potato Race.—Winners, L. Heller (Morris Cowley) ; E. Webb (Enfield).

Motor Cycle Football.—Brixton M.C., 3; Surbiton, 1. Motor Cycle Polo.—Brixton M.C., 3; Clapham M.C., 0. Winning Programme Nos.—lst, W. Famer, No. 498; 2nd, H. Sullivan, No. 73.