Sports Cars at Olympia
THERE is no doubt that the vogue of the standard car race has done a great deal to enlarge the choice of genuine sports models available to the enthusiast, and this year at Olympia there is no lack of cars whose sporting propensities are carried deeper than the old trick of putting a sports body and a carefully designed exhaust system on a standard car and saying that it has such and such a performance. Of laterthere has been ample opportunity for the manufacturer to prove his words, and the result is that there are plenty of the genuine article of every class from the amazing little Austin to cars with ten times its cubic capacity or more. It is of course possible to give details of every car’s specification, but it is not purposed to do so here as the man who has a particular interest in any make will want to know much more about it than can be set down here, and after all what are the glorious beings on the stands at the Show really for, if not to satisfy the technical inquirer ? Yes we know there are exceptions, like the man we once asked what was the compression ratio on a certain model and after consulting a catalogue he replied,” 4.7 to 1 on top ! ” However the make he represented was not one in which our readers
are likely to be interested, and there is likely to be no lack of genuine information…
The Wonderful “Babies.”
The smallest class has lately produced some new adherents and the pioneer Austin 7, whose performances this year have surpassed anything that its most optimistic admirers had dared to hope, is now ably challenged by such excellent performers as the M.G. Midget, and the small Triumph and it is a great pity that these, while being so near to the Austin in capacity are just over the 750 mark and are thus barred from competing against it on level terms. Perhaps next year may encourage them to build a ” special ” for Class H.
It is cheering to note that at last the 1100 c.c. class has ceased to be monopolised by our foreign rivals and the performance of the Riley 9 has shown that British manufacturers are alive to the demand for a real performer in this class though there is no lack of competition from abroad, and the B.N.C. and the G.A.R. are French products which are both marketed in supercharged form, while the Vernon-Derby, Salmson, and Amilcar also represent France with very attractive models.
The 1500 c.c. class is as popular as ever, and while Britain is well represented with the Lea-Francis, Marendaz, Frazer-Nash, Aston-Martin, and Alvis, etc., all of which have been tried in racing on road and track, there is no chance of us being allowed to rest undisturbed in this class when such cars as 0.M., Bianchi, Vernon-Derby, the interesting front drive Tracta, the successful Alfa-Romeo, and by no means least, the product of M. Ettore Bugatti, a name synonymous with speed, whose cars “same as you can buy” have held their own against all comers on the most difficult road circuits in the world for the past few years.
When we come to the larger classes the man to whom the actual purchase price of a vehicle is not of prime importance is in a very happy position as regards choice of models, and when a car is 2-litre or more it becomes possible to carry somewhat more elaborate coach work without its being detrimental to the performance. The sports car with closed bodywork which at one time would have been regarded as a contradiction in terms has definitely come to stay, and except of course where the car is required for actual competition work, it is becoming increasingly popular. At one time the sa:.00n and good roadholding at high speeds were not regarded as compatible, but the lessons learnt from racing of late years have made it possible to build a comfortable saloon which for performance and steadiness at speed and on corners would utterly put to shame the semistripped sports model of a few years ago. What could be more shapely and impressive for instance than the Stutz Black Hawk saloon, and any of our readers who have had the opportunity of taking the wheel of one of these cars will have to admit that though America may be chiefly fond of the rather ” woolly ” family motor car, there is at least one from across the ocean that as a genuine high performance vehicle can hold its own with the best that we can offer.
Among the larger sports cars the name of Bentley immediately stands out and there is no gainsaying the fact that this has been a marvellous year for this make, and has amply justified the policy of supporting every big race for which they have been eligible, and they are to be congratulated on a very pretty finish to the season with their success in the B.R.D.C. 500 Miles race. The range now includes a supercharged edition of the famous 4i-1itre model, though we cannot but regret that the 3-litre is not also among their models.
The Biggest ” Merc.”
No review, however hasty, of sporting cars is complete without some mention of the 38/250 h.p. Mercedes, and its overwhelming victory in the Ulster T.T. this year under conditions which might be considered anything but favourable to the big car, and when competing against the cream of the British motor industry, shows that we should indeed hesitate before telling ourselves that British cars are the best. Good they certainly are, but the fact that other countries can produce, on occasion, something that can make them acknowledge defeat should make them even better.
We have perhaps rather neglected the intermediate classes in jumping from the small to the very large and there are several names such as Crossley and Lagonda whose names have been built up on reliability, and who, when associating themselves with fast motors give confidence to the buyer who, while wanting good performance likes to feel that the speed at his disposal is not going to mean the possibility of mechanical failure if used as it should be.
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