ON THE EARL'S COURT SHOW

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

ON THE EARL’S COURT SHOW

IT is fortunate. that first impressions are not final, because our first impression of Earl’s Court was one of disillusionment that all its parka and garages were full early on the first afternoon that it was opened—after all that we had read about the Vastness Of the a.cconunodation a ‘siilable. It’s an illwind that blows nobody any good, and I suppose Dyer and Co. were quite happy because poliee. and park attendants were just sending everyotte to the ” Olympia Garage,” which landed most of us at the vast new Metropolis Garage managed by the popular, late Secretary of the J.C.C. We went there ourselves, after visiting the Ford Exhibition, to see the II.R.G. show, but we did not get to Earl’s Court that day, for the garage is too far from the new home of the inotor-show to encourage one.

Once inside Earl’s Court, impressions were certainly very favourable. The stone floors and ample ventilation prove an excellent antidote to even the most susceptible Olympia ” heads,” and the bareness of the stands, with their conventional layout, even to the makers’ signs, is compensated by the freedom of movement made possible—only in isolated cases were these Stands roped round—by the general sense of light and airiness, and particularly by the ease with which one could locate a Stand from a glance at the high-slung Overhead names. The feeding arrangements, too, are excellently planned, even if supplies were failing late on the Saturday nights, while the escalator up to the accessories should encourage more persons than ever before to nose around this very interesting section of the Show. As to the cars, one has to acknowledge them as a very fine collective achievement indeed. The modern car, no matter of what class, is very fine value for money, safe and far easier to drive safely than its forebears of a decade earlier. We, as enthusiasts for fast motors, can congratulate ourselves; that this has largely been brought about by the lessons resulting from racing and competition generally, fostered down the ages by keen drivers who sacrificed quite a lot of valuable things, economy, comfort, even in some cases I’m afraid, safety, that they might have greater performance than their fellow road-users. To-day, performance is on everybody’s tongue and to a greater or lesser degree snappy getaway and a decent cruising speed is built into every modern car. The visitors to this year’s show, old and young, gentleman or lady, showed a very notable degree of motoring intelligence. Even a North Country working-class young man Of simple denteatamr, who got into conversation with me on the way out, had very decided views about motor-cars, condemning a certain famous chassis as not fit to ride in, another as yet too experimental to be a safe purchase, and quoting with awe the ” 0-50 ” accleration of the LammasGraham. People to-day seek sports-car qualities built into nice, quiet, gentlemanly, ease-to-drive vehicles and they are exceedingly well served. We, in our turn, ask for more performance than ever before without the worries associated With former fast stuff, and find a very adequate answer amongst marques like Bentley, Frazer-Nash-B. M , British-Salmsort, Lagonda, R ailton , Astoi artin, M

Delahaye, Bugatti, Nlf;:t. Mercedes-Benz, and the rest you know so well. No, Ow efforts of racing men, many, alas, no longer with us, and of enthusiasts who spent incredible stuns inthe dark ages on things like Brooklands Hillmans or eight-valve Bugattis have certainly not been in vain. Yet design does not stagnate—no one who has gone round this Exhibit:on at all carefully will fear that —while coachwork, likewise, is happily varied, so that if you want a car that looks highly conventional you are well served, but seekers after the unorthodox find much to appeal—the 6 hp. Whys, for instance, carries modern frontage to excess, air reaching the radiator only through horizontal ducts in a V-fronted bonnet of extreme curvature. Nevertheless, there are some very striking ears that

come between the two extremes, notably the coupe on the 57S Bugatti and a very fine, two-colour Bertelli coupe on the Type 328 Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. Also a very normal, yet quite distinctive Armstrong-Siddeley 25 saloon, while RollsRoyce struck another note of individuality by the yellow and black finish of their Barker sedanca de vilbe body on a ” Phantom Iii” chassis. This year the Continental exhibits make a very strong bid for popularity, and are of considerable technical diversity. This time Riley and Talbot staged the last-minute surprises, the former with the newly introduced ” Nine,” Talbot with the 3-litre Sidle valve model. Looking around at the small sportscars one was amused at designers’ straggles to find accommodation for comp.-shod spare wheels, a big fuel tank and some luggage-space, all at the rear end. One wonders whether spare wheels might not be carried beside the bonnet, within the wheelbase, in spite of their greater weight and bulk nowadays—as is done on the

” Boulogne II ” Frazer-Nash. The Morgan 4/4, of course, has a two-well recess for its comp.-shod spares, and they are nicely clamped in, a similar arrangement to that used on the sports two-seater British Salmson Six, though the actual car of the latter marque exhibited had a neater touring body with room for only one wheel in its locker. The permanent jacks were a prominent sight on the British -Salmsons. The Earl’s Court venue seemed to encourage cheeriness and good spirit, but funny incidents were few and far between. There was one good theory, however, expressed on the stand of the maker of a popular 2-litre. Someone was asking why this car had never been roadtested by the better-known motor papers. ” Oh,” said an unofficial standsman ” there was once a case of a faked car being offered for road-test and perhaps— now fight shy of Submitting standard jobs.” ” But” protested the first speaker ” I know of the case to which you refer, and it was with a smaller

specimen of this same make.” “Well,” replied our informer “that suggests what other makers may do, and is all the more reason why this maker should not enter the same arena . . .” All very ingenious, of course, and decidedly humorous, but actually, while no motorscribe can adequately ” scrutineer ” the cars offered to him for test, isn’t it obvious that figures for fuel consumption and slow running in top gear will spoil any evil efforts to bump up compressionratios and otherwise tamper with demon stration cars ? Apart from which we have a much higher opinion of presentday publicity departments I

Oh yes 1 I want to see that salesman who told me you can easily change the central plugs on the V12 Lagonda, in a Lagonda pit at a big race, some day, for even the best motors oil candles sooner or later . . . Also, I am anxious to try the Morgan 4/4, to see whether its steering column floats about over bad going, for, as last year, this very long column is supported only by a flimsy, tubular bracket near the base on the chassis exhibit, and can be waved about without effort. On the complete cars it is quite adequately held, and if the scuttle isn’t prone to flexing all will be well. Only a road-test could confirm that. The new four-seater Morgan has very generous accommodation for a car of this kind. Examination of small sports-cars made me interested in the vision offered to the competition driver with his screen folded flat. In the case of the Morgan the passenger was confronted by the wiper-box, wiper-arm and mirror. The B.S.A. had the mirror rather in the driver’s line of look-see, though the steering wheel was well clear of the dash. The short-chassis AstonMartin possessed a particularly clear view,

with two aero-screens erect. The 4ilitre open-bodied Bentley was exhibited with its screen folded flat and here, again, the vision was impeccable. We were present, incidentally, when H.R.H. The Duke of Kent inspected the V12 powerunit on the Lagonda stand, and His Royal Highness seemed to hold the name of W. 0. Bentley as much in awe as do hundreds of other enthusiasts—which is not surprising, as his personal car is a Bentley. Some makers seemed rather cramped for room on their stands, notably FrazerNash-B.M.W. and their neighbours, Mercedes-Benz, but Alfa-Romeo, with, at

all events on the Monday morning, only two closed cars and a long, open fourseater, and Aston-Martin, with three exhibits, had ample room in which to stage an effective display. Rolls-Royce and Bentley were amongst the most dignified stands, each containing four cars, one in each corner, with their c.c. or h.p. designations shown on their numberplates. Literature did not seem as plentiful as usual, or perhaps it was stored away from small boys’ prowling eyes. But George Tuck had some very interesting publications to give away on the M.G. stand, our road-test of the T-model Midget included. Opel had a very cora

prehensive book of owners’ opinions, delightfully illustrated by Fenwick. But, in general, the catalogue collector seems not to have penetrated to Earl’s Court, possibly because Trojan is not there to give away those collecting bags ! All manner of odd things strike the keen observer amongst this excellent range of automobiles. I was intrigued with the transversely-placed seat behind the main seats in the Type 320N Mercedes-Benz cabriolet, priced at 095. The two lone and both closed 3.3-litre Bugattis drew a discerning crowd and the value of the French franc had resulted in the startling low prices inscribed on their windscreens. Far be it from me to criticise the works of Ettore, though I did think the steering wheel spokes likely to mask the typic ally Molsheim dash-protruding minor controls of the Type 57. Lancias are squatter than ever, and the new separate-chassis Aprilia obviously has greatly increased accommodation. By the way, many open sports jobs have useful cubby-holes in their instrument boards, but far too few have covers for them, as on the B.M.W. Gloves and maps are so easily lost . . . B.S.A. give plenty of luggage area on their sports two-seater, but I did not like the metal spare wheel cover. A.C. showed a very striking 18/80 h.p. two-seater with mottled metal facia, a covered luggage compartment and hood well, a tonneau-cover over the passenger’s seat and a steering wheel rim matching the colour scheme. In contrast, the frontage of one of the bigger Adlers was quite ghostly, on account of in-built lamps, and I was amused at the designation “Supercharged Plueton ” applied to the ulta-modern f.w.d. Cord. Aston-Martin, I noticed, has grown bumpers, which contrast strangely with outside exhaust pipes on the short chassis two-fourseater, but even Bugatti had these aids to unblemished bodywork, of curious tubular-pattern, in two sections, on the Type 57. Riley showed no open Sprite this year and, as expected, the shapely new four-cylinder Alvis was a closed car. Alvis, by the way, showed, as usual, a beautifully turned-out stripped chassis and Rolls-Royce, Bentley, B.S.A., and Lagonda were amongst those show ing engines. In the Demonstration Chassis section the part sectioned 540K

Mercedes-Benz enthralled everyone and maintained a crowd thereat. Although the sports-type car was amply in evidence, as befits its present commercial significance, the Type 328 Frazer-NashB.M.W. was probably the most strikingly displayed, with its big list of achievements and its road-test figures, showing a maximum of over 103 m.p.h., accompanying it. And the only Frazer-Nash present, the four-cylinder ” Boulogne II” job, was certainly the only example of stark, unadorned fast stuff in the whole exhibition. I thought that the Type 540K straight-eight Mercedes-Benz, sold early during the Show to H.H. the Sultan of Johore, did not look quite so clean-cut or impressive as the model of this type shown last year, albeit it is a magnificent car. It may have been the colourscheme or lighting, of course, that helped

this impression. The smaller Mere. models had an irresistible appeal and are solid-looking, beautifully finished cars. The little Type 170V has a big aircleaner with an intake duct directed at the radiator header-tank. The Type 230 saloon was easily identified, with memories of that great Grand Prix week still in mind. Delahaye showed striking bodywork, yet not so sensational as one of their exhibits last year, and the quiet finish of the efficient three carburetter engine was a sight to please, resembling the finish of Alfa-Romeo’s beautiful twin o.h. camshaft units. A sensible point on the Delahaye stand was a bracing rod to steady the side panel of the rear wings. Wings, of course, could fill many pages and it is noticeable that even sports models of the more pretentious sort now have well shrouded wheels and frontworks, as witness, for example, the 4f litre and V12 Lagondas. Not everyone is in sympathy with this trend, one friend of mine in particular, who likens it to dressing up cars in tin shirts to resemble fourteenth century hobby horses, and he

deplores this return to the Victorian era, when everything had to have a petticoat. And, as he says, so often you get mud and water slung at you by socalled streamlined moderns, when older cars can be followed without a fouled screen. Yet, from the appearance point of view, I suppose simple wings would blend very badly with the flowing lines, grilled radiators and sweeping built-in luggage lockers we now admire. Enthusiasts still have the Frazer-Nash and

11,R.G., ot course. But elaborate wings, even on small cars, can add heaps of quite unwelcome weight. It’s curious, of course, how first impressions can be altogether faulty. Last year, at Olympia, for instance, a friend

and I scoffed at the baby Fiat and told ourselves it was only a toy and not a very clever one at that. Now, having driven the thing, I must confess to waxing very enthusiastic, and it doesn’t need this statement to convince you of the little car’s worth. The new Balilla Fiat, of similar appearance, looks to be another very nice car, rather more compact than we expected, but losing nothing on that account. Then there was the Triumph Dolomite’s radiator treatment, which first met with distinct disapproval, yet which most people now agree is extremely effective ; we certainly enjoyed the air of luxury and wealth so conveyed, when testing the 9-litro Dolomite last May. In rather a different way the Type 328 Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. presents food for thought. inasmuch as it does 103 m.p.h., on 2-litres of push-rod engine, developing not excessive power, and you just cannot argue light weight where maximum speed is concerned. Vet think what lots of horses, often realised by complicated design, have been needed to put other fully-equipped cars up to this speed. Good output low down and thus an ability to pull a high top-gear ratio is the clue. The new S.S. attracted deserved attention as another car likely to achieve a

genuine 100 m.p.h. (Wisdom lapped at 117 at Brooklands on the Saturday) and the S.S. people really do deserve high praise in respect of the present range, for only a few years ago lots of us used to hold our noses rather aloft as they passed, regarding them as imitations of something their owners would like them to be.. Not so, to-day. Another very fast car is the 90 m.p.h. British-Salmson Six and one of the most dignified and best finished of really fast cars at the Show. And if you want lots and lots of passenger space in a car of modest engine size, inspect the 14 h.p. British-Salmson, whose twin o.h. camshaft engine was a source of interest throughout the Show period. Delahaye showed an attractive drophead coupe, having a satisfying number of neat air-ducts along its bonnet sides and louvres in the top panel of the bonnet, which are not only highly practieal (hot air rises, you know) but can add so much to a car’s appearance when the bonnet is a lengthy one. Pages could be written about gear-levers, from those on the Lagonda, which were higher than the steering wheel rims, to those of the Adler’s, B.S.A.s and Imperial, which didn’t seem to possess any. In the same way I could carry these notes into the coachwork section, or up the escalator into the gallery of extraordinarily interesting accessory exhibits. But perhaps enough has been written to indicate that the first Motor Show at Earl’s Court has been a great, indeed ‘a magnificent Exhibition— like that other exhibition staged by Mr. Cramer up at Donington earlier last

month. Oh yes ! Will the S.M.M.T. please show the Great Motoring Public sonic racing cars at Earl’s Court in 1938, having sanctioned Sir Malcolm’s recordbreaking motor-boat this year ?