SPORTS-CARS IN PARIS
AN INTERESTING SHOW FOR ENTHUSIASTS AT THE SALON DE L’AUTOMOBILE FINE COACHWORK
SPORTS-CAR racing has been overshadowed this year by the Grand Prix events, but in such races as there have been, notably at Le Mans and in the Tourist Trophy, the French have done well. One hesitates to draw attention to such a fact, but it seems reasonable to infer that the French have been striving for the position once held by British manufacturers as masters in the sports-car world.
Certainly at the Paris Salon there were many examples of sporting machines, of a type represented at Earl’s Court, among British cars, only by the lone Frazer-Nash, and by the Aston-Martin. It is a considerable advantage to exhibitors at the Salon that actual racingcars can be placed on the stands, without necessarily being offered for sale. Thus Mercedes were able to exhibit one of the actual Grand Prix cars, even as last year Delahaye displayed their new twelvecylinder Grand Prix model.
This year there was again an outstanding exhibit on the Delahaye stand, for one of the twelve-cylinder models was shown in touring form, with a magnificent drophead roadster body, beautifully streamlined in an unobtrusive way, and with the headlamps sunk into the fairings of the front wings.
This car, which for sheer elegance of line would have compared favourably with anything seen either in the Salon itself or at Earl’s Court, is known as the Type 165. It has a V12 4i-litre engine, similar to that of the Grand Prix models. with suitable modifications, thus bearing out the policy of the Delahaye firm, which is to race with cars of a type which can be used for actual production.
Instead of the three carburetters on the racing model, the car shown had one large, double-bodied downdra.ught Solex carburetter. The engine has seven main bearings, and develops 160 h.p. by the French rating, which is different from the English. A Cotal magnetic gearbox is fitted, and the axle ratio is 3.875 to 1. The chassis weight is just under a ton, and the chassis price is 188,000 frs., or less than 0300 by the present rate of exchange. This is the price in France, not allowing for duty on a car imported into England.
Delahaye also have an improved version of the 31-litre six-cylinder car, which has done well in many sports-car races, and can now be obtained with special cylinder-head after the lines of that employed for the Grand Prix models. Independent front and normal rear suspension is fitted in all cases. Bugattis are so well established a marque in the minds of sporting enthusiasts, and have such highly developed steering and springing, as the result of participation in races, that Le Patron has not yet considered it necessary to adopt independent front suspension. The traditional shape of the radiator, in a world where radiator shapes alter every year, or even disappear altogether, as on the latest American models, remains still unchanged. The Bugattis at the
Salon had smart, modern coachwork, however, of the most pleasing lines, if more luxurious than that of the Grand Prix modifie type. The Stelvio cabriolet on the Bugatti attracted particular admiration. The 4i-litre Talbot, or Talbot-Darracq, as it is better to call the French firm, has not yet been put into production, but the six-cylinder 4-litre engine, which develops 140 h.p. in Lago Special form, is now fitted in a number of touring chassis, as well as in the competition two-seater, seen this year at Earl’s Court. With a closed body, in comfortable saloon form, the Lago Special Talbot-Darracq is said to be capable of about 105 m.p.h., while the competition model reaches 115 m.p.h.,
and is thus one of the fastest unblown cars
on the market. Talbot-Darracq also have a new 2.3-litre 13 h.p. four-cylinder model, exhibited for the first time at the Salon. All these cars, like nearly all the Continental makes, have independent front suspension. An interesting small French sports-car with independent suspension not only of the front wheels but of the rear wheels as well is the Georges Irat. These cars have front wheel drive, and this year have a new chassis shaped like a IT, with the open end, where the engine is mounted, facing forward. The suspension is by an ingenious system of rubber rings, one in tension and the other in compression, thus providing an auto matic shock-absorber. The smaller model has a 1,100 c.c. Ruby engine, while the other car has the 2-litre Citroen unit. In both cases the gear-levers are mounted in a very convenient position
on the dashboard. A neat two-seater drop-head body, of sporting type, is fitted.
The new small ” 202 ” Peugeot, known as “La Voiture Economique,” scarcely comes into the sporting category, though it has many interesting features, such as torsion-bar independent front suspension, and the steering box mounted in front of the axle. For sportsmen the principal interest in the Peugeot range is the “402 leger,” which has an engine of just over 2-litres capacity, in a 9 ft. 5 in. chassis. This car has done very well at Le Mans in the last two years, and at the Salon an ultra-sporting two-seater was exhibited, with streamlined rear wings, and the headlamps in separate fairings, not enclosed within the radiator grille, as on the other Peugeot models.
This is indeed a real sports-car, not of the somewhat exaggerated streamlined pattern which has characterised machines of semi-racing type on the Continent in recent years. Besides the sports twoSeater, very practical drop-head bodies were seen on the Peugeot models, with the hoods folding neatly away, and practically disappearing.
Bodies of this type, luxuriously fitted out, were a feature of the Delages, on which chassis there were many examples of fine coachwork, both on the maker’s stand and in the special coachbuilders’ section. The La Liconie is seldom seen in England, though the name is well enough known, for in France they have established a reputation as specialists in light cars. The La Licorne is a car for the motorist of discernment, embodying features of
great technical interest. The frame is in the form of an X, with the engine carried in the front fork. and the rear axle by the rear fork, while between the two there is a short central ” backbone.” Two models are available in the same chassis, one with 1,125 c.c. engine, and
the other of 1,628 c.c. The smaller model has four speeds, and the larger three speeds, while the price is the same. The engine is mounted as far forward as possible in the chassis, so far forward, in fact, that it would be in the way of a normal system of transverse independent
front suspension. Instead, a novel arrangement is fitted, with double semicantilever springs mounted obliquely at an angle to the frame, with their mountings at the extreme front corners of the X, and the springs thus pointing backwards.
This new frame and suspension is said to give remarkable roadholding, while there is exceptional body room in a short chassis. Another car of great technical interest is the Panhard-Levassor, one of the oldest names in the history of motoring, but with a specification of the most modern kind. In this case there is no frame at
all except a stout tubular backbone. The independent front suspension is actually mounted on the engine crankcase, which is massively built, and the steering, with double drop-arms, one on each side, is also mounted on the engine.
This machine, as well as the small Hotchkiss-Arnilear, was introduced at the Salon last year. The latter car was seen for the first time at Earl’s Court, and thus need not be described here in detail. It was exhibited in Paris under the Amilcar name, and the independent front suspension (used in conjunction with front wheel drive) has been modified, with a strengthened master-leaf on the transverse springs. The rear wheels are also independently sprung.
Yet another small French car with independent suspension of all four wheels is the 1,100 c.c. Danvignes, which has not yet been seen in England. It was shown with a pleasing sports two-seater body.
The Skoda, a Czechoslovakian make, was exhibited in the face of great difficulties, and, indeed, in view of international affairs, it had not been found possible to prepare the latest models for the Salon. These, however, retaining allindependent suspension, have a bigger engine of 1,100 c.c., instead of 1-litre, and a wider track, to give increased body space. The engine has three main bearings, instead of two, and Lockheed hydraulic brakes are now fitted. This year there were not many British cars at the Salon, for only Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Humber, and Hillman had
stands. However, on the former two makes some of the finest coachwork in the whole exhibition was seen, in particular a Franay coupe-de-ville on a Rolls-Royce, while on the Bentley, there was a fine brougham by de Villars, with the sharp-cut, clean lines associated with French bodies.