BIG CAR PERFORMANCE IN A SMALL COMPASS
The Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. displays exceptional acceleration, speed and riding comfort without losing the charm of easy handling Before driving the Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. we found it difficult to believe that real comfort and effortless long-distance travel Could be achieved on a car With a wheel base of only 8 feet. Having tried a variety of these cars ranging from the cpen two-seater to the four-seater saloon, we can only express complete agreement
with Mr. 11. J. Aldington, the managing director of the Frazer-Nash cars, who has been responsible for bringing their virtues to the notice of the English motoring public.
Mr. Aldington was so impressed by their performance in the Alpine Trial two years ago that he was determined to introduce them into England as light touring cars which would form an alternative to the full-sports models of the Frazer-Nash range.
• A large number of body-styles are available, and the cars with Continental bodies are still built in Germany, while those which have I.:nglish bodies are assembled over her, but it is hoped that by next year all cars for the British market will he assembled in this country.
The ,English l.Nl. s differ from t he Continental ones principally in having right-hand steering with a special high gear-ratio and a klifierent type of gearhe?x.
The car owes its OcCeS:s to three points of design, independent front-wheel suspension, a rigid chassis and a high-power weight ratio, and as in the case of most motor vehicles conceived as a whole and built under one roof, theco virtues are to some extent interdependent. The two side-members of the chassis are tubular with only three light crossmembers and the frame tapers towards the front almost in the form of a capital “A.” To the front of this is fitted the front-wheel suspension assembly, a light triangulated structure of pressed steel on which is mounted a transverse leaf spring and tubular stays supporting the steering pivots. Into this chassis is fitted a remarkably compact 1-litre or 2-litre
engine. The two-seater car complete only weighs 15 cwt., and consequently with an efficient but straight-forward engine running on ” No. 1 ” fuel one obtains remarkable acceleration and an allout speed of over 80 m.p.h. A comfortable four-seater saloon only weighs 174 cwt., which should be an object lesson to those of our manufacturers who burden a 1,100 c.c. engine with a ton-weight of chassis and coachwork.
We. began our test on the two-seater Sports model, an attractive little car with bodywork of typically Continental design. The moment we took the wheel we decided that here was a car which was definitely ” the goods.” Fairly bounding away on the gears, it was necessary to keep a close look-out on the speedometer needle, particularly in view of the high top gear fitted. Even on top gear from 25 m.p.h. one experiences a real surge of power. True to its ideal of being first and foremost a flexible touring car, however, the B.M.W. runs quite happily
on its 3.9 gear at 8., or 10 m.p.h. The exhaust note is almost inaudible on top gear, and just pleasantly :” sporting ” On third and second. Reaching Brooklands, we had an was really striking, the figure of 10-60 in 144 seconds being particularly good for an
unsupercharged car. All figures up to 70 m.p.h. were actually put up in the finishing straight, and thanks to the very efficient brakes, there was no difficulty in pulling up with plenty of room to spare before reaching the barriers outside the paddock. The brakes are progressive in action and the full power is only felt when the pedal is fully depressed, but under those circumstances it is possible to pull up in 51 feet from 40 m.p.h. without any sign of locking or instability, a figure xvhich speaks for itself. The gear-change between first and second is quick, instantaneous between second and third, and as fast as one wants between third and top. The engine runs up without a murmur to 4,500 r.p.m., at which the speeds on the indirect gears
opportunity of trying the car’s performance against the stop-watch, and as will be appreciated from the acceleration chart reproduced below, the acceleration
5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 SECONDS The acceleration chart of the Fra.;er-Nsh
JfM11. are 26, 48 and 68 m.p.h.; for short periods 5,000 r.p.m. does no harm. The timed Speed over a flying half-mile worked out at 82.6 m.p.h., a really creditable figure for a car with a comparatively
” soft ” engine. With the windscreen raised the maximum is about 79 m.p.h. For the road section of the test we drove a car fitted with a two-seater cabriolet Or drop-head body, otherwise identical with the open car. On the way to the Great West Road we surprised a good many ownersf
o. ..trwrican cars famous for their performance, by the way that this quiet-looking little car shot away after traffic stops, and then adjourned to a notorious section of pot-holed road to test the sty-pf.n,dtm. On a normally sprung car 10 m.p.h. is about the safe or sans) limit but the 13.M.W. cruised ,,v,•ts it without the slightest discomfott at 40 m.p.h., and even at 10 m.p.h, which is the critical speed with some suspensions it was only by the thud of the wheel as they struck the various obstacles that one realised that the car was running on anything but a
normal road. The front wheels are of course independently steered and there was not the slightest tremor from the steering wheel.
Continuing in the same vein we took the car over a variety of unnamed lanes in the Chilterns and were struck by the way the car proceeded with one front wheel in a rut . and the other high on the bank without tending to deviate from the intended path. Shillingridge Wood and Maidens Grove, two minor test-hills in those parts, were also climbed. Half throttie on bottom gear sent the car rushing up at 20 m.p.h. or so, and ruts and stones did not prevent the car and its passengers from having a “boulevard fide.”
On the same day as we were out, incidentally, a team of Frazer-NashB.M.W.s were engaged in winning the N.W. London Team Trial, a fact which surprised us not at all after our own experiences. Trials enthusiasts will be glad to know that the cars have a ground clearance of 8 inches, while the differential casing is made of cast iron instead of aluminium, to avoid possible damage when passing over unmade roads. It might be supposed that springing sufficiently flexible for really rough roads might make the car difficult to hold when travelling fast over normal highways, but
this is far from being the case. We found it possible to corner with the B.M.W. as fast if not faster than on the most firmly sprung racing cars we have driven, and the amazing thing is that there is apparently no sway even with the tyres, which are 16 by 5.25 Fort Dunlops, inflated to a mere 15 lbs. It can only be accounted for by correct weight distribution and an unusually stiff chassis.
The steering is quite unlike any other we have tried. It is at once high-geared, light, and provided with ample caster. On curves steering is instinctive, by slightly turning the shoulders, as it used to be in the days when one rode motor
cycles, and the wrists are completely isolated from road shocks. Two turns swing the wheels from lock to lock, and the steering circle, 30 feet, is worthy of a London taxi. The cruising speed of the car is really high, and without really making any particular effort to drive fast, we found ourselves always maintaining a steady
70 m.p.h., at which the engine speed is a smooth 3,600 r.p.m. On down-hill slopes we let the speed rise to over 80 m.p.h., and even then, with the car closed, no sound could be detected from the engine. As .a result the B.M.W. may be driven just as hard as the driver wishes without any feeling of fuss or hard work, and one is inclined to give it just as much
throttle as road conditions will permit. Even so the passengers arrived at the end of the journey without feeling that the car has been pushed or the driver engaged in rather a strenuous contest with the clock. On twisty roads of course the short wheelbase and perfect balance of the car are of the greatest value, and it can be held into bends until the tyres scream or brought round more gently with a touch of brake and accelerator. Between bends the car quickly leaps up to 60 m.p.h. Third gear, which is silent-running, is a most useful ratio and we employed it
Turning to the mechanical side and starting with the engine, the valves are overhead-push rod operated, and the oil filler is located in the centre of the cover. The cylinder head is made of close-grained grey iron, and the compression of the sports engine is 6.8 to 1.
The balanced crankshaft runs in four main-bearings and the steel connecting rods are drilled to give positive lubrication to the small end bearings. An easily detached pressure filter is incorporated in the lubrication system. Coil ignition is used, with automatic advance, and like the sliding armature starter and the constant-voltage dynamo it; of Bosch manufacture. Three Zenith carburetters are standardised on the Sports-car, and are fitted with rich mixture control for easy starting and copper gauze air filters. As fuel we found Shell No. 1 suited the engine very well and
the consumption worked out at 18-20 m.p.g. when the car was driven hard. Petrol feed of Course is by gravity from the dash tank.
A water impeller and fan -assist cooling, and a thermostat is included which maintains the water temperature at a constant figure.
The clutch is of the single dry plate type with an automatically lubricated thrust bearing, and the gear-box, which is bolted up in unit with the engine, has synchro-mesh on third and top gears. An open propeller shaft is used, and the final drive is through spiral-bevel gears. The chassis lay-Out has already been referred to and also the front and rear
suspension. Hydraulic shock-absorbers are used on both axles, and all spring shackles, brake, steering joints and brake bearings are lubricated by means of a ” one shot ” tank mounted on the dash.
Of the bodies little need be said except that they have pleasant lines, ample mudguarding and are robustly constructed. In the case of the open car we should have liked a little more ” cut-away ” in the door on the driver’s side, but the cabriolet was amply wide enough to give plenty of elbow-room inside the body. In each case there is a large luggage space in-side the tail, reached by tilting forward the seats, while the spare Wheel is carried in a well and protected by a flush fitting circular cover.
Summing up one’s impressions of the FraztA–Nash-II. V., one can truthfully say that her’ is a light car which for performance and comfort can hold its own with any large car on the market, and it is only when a long bonnet, body spare or de-luxe coachwork are of importance that one need go further afield to find the ideal fast-touring car.
frequently just for the pleasure of feeling the surge of power, while the engine is sufficiently flexible to do most of its work on top gear if one required. The synchromesh mechanism makes it impossible to make a bad change, but we found the long lever fitted to the closed car less easy to handle than the short one standardised on the sports two-seater. Second gear, which runs with a quiet
hum, is rarely required. It is low enough to be used for starting on the level and keeps the car going in fine style on a steep hill.
The driving position was well thought out, and there was plenty of room round the pedals. The gear-lever is right under the hand, and the hand-brake, though further away, is readily found when one knows where to feel for it. The dipper switch is operated with the heel of the left foot. The head lamps are really powerful, and after dark 70 m.p.h. can still be maintained without straining. The cushions afford good support for the legs and back, but we found those on the closed car rather hard after a
hundred mile run. On the open car pneumatic upholstery is fitted and the cushions in this case were rather more yielding.
The only criticism we can offer of this excellent little car is that the petrol tank is mounted under the bonnet. The danger of fire in such a position is slight, but there is the annoyance of the petrol slopping over if the tank is overfilled, and when a full complement of fuel is taken on, the petrol is inclined to spurt out through the vent-holes with consequent smell in the driving compartment. A more efficient venting arrangement would no doubt overcome this defect.