Impressions of the Paris Salon
Specially gathered for "Motor Sport" by Marcus Chambers.
Panhard.- 2-cylinder flat twin, air-cooled 594-c.c., developing 15 h.p., 4speed, front-wheel-drive, 56 m.p.h. Power-to-weight ratio, 19 kgs. per h.p. Valves closed by torsion bar. Cast aluminium chassis.
J. P. Wimille Car. — Whilst striking to the eye, it is doubtful if the design of the double-curved Plexiglas windscreen is practical, having no screen wipers and being subject to abrasion from stones. Rear view is obstructed by engine compartment.
Gordini.-1,100-c.c. single-seater racing Fiat, designed for racing on twisting courses, where all-up weight tells more than streamlining. Driver's cowl at rear of headrest made of Perspex. Front-suspension reminiscent of Mercédès Grand Prix car.
Monsieur Lago's latest 6-cylinder, 4 1/2-litre, 93 by 110 mm. Talbot engine has followed closely on Riley practice. Will be supplied in touring form with two carburetters, or in racing form with three carburetters. Twin camshafts driven by chain, mounted low down. Valves operated by short push-rods and mounted in a semi-spherical head. Normal power output 170 b.h.p. at 4,200 r.p.m., m.e.p. 116. 250 b.h.p. in racing form. Engine mainly light-alloy. Transmission by Talbot-Lago Wilson-type gearbox made in France. This box is said to be a great improvement on the Wilson box. The clutch pedal behaves in the orthodox manner and has no "snap back."
Ettore Bugatti showed two engines, the Type 73A single-cam, 1 1/2-litre blown touring engine, and 350-c.c., twin-cam, 4-cylinder. Typical Bugatti: No h.p. figures yet available.
Renault.-740-c.c., 4-cylinder, with rear-placed engine. 19 b.h.p., 58 m.p.h., four doors, four seats. Should have great popularity. Deliveries scheduled to commence next June.
Delahaye. — Rear suspension is now pure De Dion.
Talbot has abandoned the long radius arms on the front-suspension in favour of wishbones.
Delage still seems to have the best front-suspension.
The Show is remarkable for the large number of chassis featuring engines of less than 760 c.c. These cars are classed as prototypes at present, and some may never go into production. They have, however, reached the Show in outwardly completed form. The smallest is the Aerocarene 2-seater of 125 c.c., and the largest the 760-c.c. Renault.
In the racing and super-sports class we find plenty of choice. The Guerin-de Coucy single-seater, for which high speeds are claimed, is offered in three models; the 1 1/2-litre is claimed to have a maximum of 160 m.p.h., which seems a trifle optimistic. The front-suspension is a little spidery.
Packard Clipper best of the Americans; Studebaker quite the most puzzling. Difficult to tell the back from the front.
Skoda Minor f.w.d. 2-cylinder, 615 c.c., water-cooled, 2-stroke vertical twin. 19.5 b.h.p., 37 miles per gallon, weight 680 kgs. Independent suspension at rear, a doubtful asset with f.w.d. The most striking 3-wheeler ever built is the new Mathis, powered by a 2-cylinder, flat-twin water-cooled, with two separate radiators. 707 c.c., 15 b.h.p., 64 m.p.h., f.w.d., three seats. Light-alloy largely used in engine.
The D.B. is quite modest in its claims and should be a very consistent performer in sports-car racing in the 1 1/2-litre and 2-litre classes, the speed claimed being 106 and 112 m.p.h., respectively. Little is known about the new Bugatti, for which 260 b.h.p. and 150 m.p.h. is claimed for the blown, 1,500-c.c., single-seater.
TYRES are the main restriction in French motoring. It is not surprising that Michelin has developed a new cover which uses steel wire in the carcase. It is claimed that 30 to 40 per cent. less rubber is used in these covers, but heavy commercial vehicles have already successfully covered as much as 74,000 miles on such a cover. Smaller sizes will be awaited with interest.
Since the introduction of the Gregoire, the cast-aluminium wheel with detachable rim has come into its own. Nearly all French light cars have adopted this design. The use of the light alloys in engine and chassis is most marked. This is due to the fact that supplies of iron and steel are severely rationed to the French Motor Industry.
It was unfortunate that the English cars were not represented at the Show, owing to the decision reached by the S.M.M.T. in 1946. Cars were, however, in evidence outside, in the shape of Peter Clark's new Aerodynamic H.R.G. and Laurence Pomeroy's new Triumph "1800" Roadster. Both cars received great praise, and the prices were considered normal. The H.R.G. was often mistaken for a new French or Italian model. Peter Clark entered his car for the 1947 Le Mans at the A.C.O. stand.
In spite of there being no British cars, French agents staged shows for Austin and Jaguar, amongst others.
The French light cars are selling well. One American was heard to place an order for 1,000 Baby Panhards, offering to pay in advance. Even if we could not have made deliveries, the British manufacturers should have kept their names before the buying public. Customers came from Switzerland, Italy, Morocco, Tunis, Indo-China, America, Holland and Belgium.
The writer was fortunate to get a ride in P. A. T. Garland's 3-litre Delage, in which Gerard won the 1938 T.T. The car has a 6-cylinder engine of 2,999 c.c. with three S.U. carburetters. The Cotal gearbox is a delight. A slightly lower back-axle ratio is now used, so that acceleration was very good, over 90 m.p.h. in 3rd gear being obtained in a short stretch of Boulevard. The engine peaks at 4,900 r.p.m., but will run up to 5,600 if pressed. The car was driven through Paris without wings and with a straightthrough exhaust pipe.
In practice for the Coup du Salon, Sommer's was easily the quickest of the Grand Prix cars.
The new 2-litre Salmsons did not seem to have a lot of urge. The D.B.s were very steady, but not quite as fast as we would have expected. The British contingent suffered from its usual troubles, Parnell with his blower. Brooke was very quick on the corners. There were many complaints about the organisation, which failed to arrange for fuel and pit passes right up to the last moment. The system of employing reserves is very unfair to those who come a long way to compete. Should an ace driver decide to turn up at the last moment, the reserve may find himself even further down the list, as one of the other runners will be dropped in favour of a more spectacular name.
We saw a complete straight-eight, twin-cam Salmson 1 1/2 litre, with alternative 1,100-c.c. blocks, and single-seater body, in pieces in a garage. £300 will buy it, and it is said to be a 1932 car. It had Fiat "1,100" i.f.s. at the front, and looked very like an Alfa-Romeo, the camshaft drive being taken from the centre of the engine.
The most interesting accessory seen in the gallery at the show was the "Turbano" water hose, which can be bent to any angle, thus eliminating moulded hoses. It should have many uses, such as for test-bed work. The makers seek a British agent.