Thunder in the park with F5000
Formula 5000 may have been on its last legs in Europe by October 1975, but…
THE TALBOT “105.”
T0 the discerning motorist few qualities surpass in importance that of consistency, especially when it has been achieved at the high speeds of modern racing. The success of the ” 105 ” Talbot in this direction is due to no unexpected piece of good fortune, but through a steady development from earlier models. On its first public appearance in the 1930 Double Twelve Race, the “90,” itself practically identical with the ” 75″ which had already altered people’s opinions of the capabilities of a small engine, put up a performance which impressed all who saw it, At Phoenix Park and Ulster the team of three cars finished intact, winning their class and putting up tremendous averages.
Although the capacity of the ” 90 ” is only 2,300 c.c., it had to compete against cars up to 3 litres, so for 1931 a new car, the” 105,” was designed with a capacity just under the 3 litre limit. At the same time the chassis was lowered, the valve gear modified and. the radiator height cut down, resulting in increased efficiency all round. First, second, third in their class in the Double Twelve, second at Le Mans, third at Phoenix Park and fourth at Ulster, the new cars demonstrated their ability to keep going almost indefinitely and in the latter race averaged over 77 m.p.h. During the present season in the 1,000 Miles race Talbots collected the team prize, all the cars averaging over 90 m.p.h., Brian Lewis was third at Le Mans, and took the same place in the 500 Miles race in September with an average Speed of 111.6 m.p.h. Au equally fine Performance was the carrying off of a Coupe des Alpes in the Alpine Trial for the finest performance in its capacity group, the first time for 18 years that this distinction has been won by a British firm.
Bearing in mind this list of achievements, we looked forward to a test of the ” 105 ” with keen anticipation, nor were we disappointed. Arriving at the Talbot Works in a ” 90,” it was natural that we should make comparisons with this parent of the ” 105.” The driving position was very
similar, the controls coming easily to hand and foot, while the single piece windscreen, which could be folded down, was placed to allow of unobstructed vision. Steering was a little lower geared than on the “90,” and enabled the heavier car to be handled with equal ease. The clutch was smooth and progressive, and the gearchange was quick, the ratios engaging with an easy and clear-cut accuracy. In traffic of varying density the car revealed its dual nature, for it can be driven slowly in the best” town-carriage” style, or if one is in a hurry, a depression of the foot gives a snappy acceleration clear of the rest of the bunch. In either case the car upheld the Talbot reputation for quietness. In order to make the usual tests the car was taken to Brooklands, as the rough surface of the track is an excellent test of a car’s riding comfort at high speeds. It was most satisfactory to find that the car was perfectly steady and comfortable without any alteration of the standard shock-absorber setting. The car had unfortunately only run 1,200 miles, so we did not try to attain the makers’ guaranteed speed of 95 m.p.h., 85 being the maximum on the level. Another 1,500
miles would have effected the freedom necessary for the extra 10 m.p.h. Even as it was we have seldom felt a more effortless 85. The speedometer incidently was dead accurate, an important point and a pleasant change from the usual state of affairs.
On the road one’s impression was one of silent, effortless speed and the speedometer needle swung round unnoticed to the 70 mark on any open stretch. The car is flexible, on top gear, but with maxima of 47 and 67 at 4,500 r.p,m. on second and third gears, the gear-box is apt to be used out of sheer exuberance. The silent third gear is inaudible except on the over-run.
As has been said before, the suspension is extraordinarily adaptable to all sorts of surfaces, but on fast corners the back of the car was inclined to roll slightly, though it checks itself immediately. We mentioned this to Mr. Arthur Fox, who, of course, is a director of Fox and Nichols, Ltd., the very successful entrants of Talbot cars in competition. He confirmed our impression that friction shock-absorbers were needed to supplement the hydraulic devices, and, cars supplied by his firm are so fitted before delivery. The car we tested had both types in front, and this end of the car was noticeably steady on corners.
The 1933 models are fitted with Luvax shock-absorbers adjustable from the steering column, as well as the Andre friction type, so that this criticism no longer applies.
The brakes were smooth and powerful, stopping the car in 57 feet from 40 m.p.h. Cable operation replaces the rod linkage used on the ” 90″ to apply the front brakes, and cuts out all ” spring ” and backlash. The positive action allows a complete graduation of retarding effect. Though the ” 105″ is heavier than the “90,” it is if anything easier to handle, and a run through Surrey by-lanes and short sharp hills was carried out without effort Light steering, though with plenty of caster, a good lock, easy gear-change and powerful brakes combine to make the
car ideal for hilly districts, as was amply shown by the success of the marque this year in the Alps.
The body of the car tested was built by Vanden Plas and has modern and attractive lines. A wide door on each side gives access to the back and front seats. The front seats have pneumatic upholstery, while that in the rear, which is equally ,comfortable, is wide enough to seat three people if necessary. A criticism is that the upswept chassis projects above the seat cushion at each side, so that on a rough road with three people in the back, the outside passengers might come into contact with the side members. An arm rest on either side of the back compartment would prevent this from happening. Rotax electrical equipment is standard, the two large head-lamps being close together in front of the radiator. Beneath it is the dynamotor, which is a combined starter and dynamo. When the engine is
running it charges the two 12 volt accumulators, but when the starter knob is pressed the two batteries are connected in series to give 24 volts, which should be adequate to swing the engine in the coldest weather.
As has been noted elsewhere, the ” 105 ” can be supplied with the Talbot self-changing gear-box, and we had a short run in a car so fitted. Everyone is now familiar with the method of operation, a small lever on the steering column allowing the gear to be selected, to be brought into operation when required by a pedal which replaces the clutch pedal on the conventional lay-out. The Talbot operation was a distinct improvement on some of the earlier applications of the Wilson patents, as the pedal always returns to the same position. The self-changing gear in no way lessens the fascination of driving even for the skilled driver, as the pedal requires
to be operated like the normal clutch pedal to get a smooth start. It is of course possible to change up or down on full throttle, in which case the car bounds forward, the brake drums in the gear box slipping slightly and cushioning the shock. Best results seem tO be obtained by using the layout normally and slightly releasing the accelerator when changing up, when the sensation is like making a perfect and instantaneous gear change, without the pause inseparable with any but very close ratios. Traffic or cross-country journeys reveal the ” accelerating” box at its best, and allow the driver to concentrate when cornering on braking and steering alone. We prophesy a revolution in next year’s racing when the new” 105 ” enters the field.
The price of the Talbot ” 105 ” as tested, with the Vanden Plas open body, is £695, and the Wilson box can be fitted without extra charge.
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