MATTERS OF MOMENT THE 36th INTERNATIONAL MOTOR SHOW, EARLS COURT
The implications and aftermath of the. Earls Court Show remain, although it closed its doors a few days ago. It was organised very ably indeed, by our Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. In a way this is misleading, for nowadays the majority of our ears are assembled from proprietary parts rather than manufactured–there are still a few notable exceptions, of course. The credit for the splendid exhibition of modern motor vehicles that the
spacious hall at Earls Court belongs as much to the exhibitors of parts and accessories, and components and paints, and leather and cloth, and tyres and electrics, and what have you, as to the firms which have so skilfully assembled them into complete vehicles, each -vehicle possessed of style, attractions, characteristics, and perhaps drawbacks, of its own. Primarily, MOTOR SPORT readers are concerned with high-performance cars, although it does not escape Editorial notice that with the rapid and continuing increase in circulation which this paper has enjoyed since the war have come additional branches of readership. To the fanatics for ears like Bentleys and Frazer-Naslws, the actual choice of one former Editor, has come a wider field of enthusiasts using, with equal enjoyment, cars of lesser performance but no doubt similarly endearing qualities. There is even a
section of readership that cannot, for divers reasons, run sports ears as such, but who display . their enthusiasm for the Sport by using their comparatively utilitarian vehicles to attend racing and other competition events. One and all, these car-users were on common ground at Earls Court. They could examine, admire, criticise the cars on show but none had any hope of acquiring one in wider six years, unless they were overseas visitors, V.I.P.s or had already put up with their existing ears for more than a tenth of their lifetime. Verily, few of us can entirely ignore polities these days, when we see a Motor Show of glittering new vehicles which 71111Si be sold if we are to continue to exist but which we cannot buy ourselves ! It is a matter of polities, too, that when purchase tax was introduced, the Government of that day said that it would not apply to articles already heavily taxable, yet this pledge was broken and our .cheapest car costs today over £172 more than otherwise it would do. Mercifully, boats are com
pletely and .caravans virtually free of again ! Fortunately, Britain offers to the world a wide range of wellestablished cars. In the “sports” or, more accurately these days, the ” high-performance ” field, Allard, Alvis, Aston-Martin, Bentley, Bristol, Frazer-Nash, Healey, Jaguar, Jensen, JoWett, Lagonda, Lea-Francis, M.G. and Morgan carry on the great traditions built up for us in years gone by, on the open road and in sports-car racing, by these and other redoubtable
The Allard is well suited to the American market, where engine size is of no moment and where its Ford components and the Ardun, Cadillac and Chrysler engines which give it its great urge are well proven and understood. Alvis have branched away from ” F.W.D.” and ” 12/50 ” to make a dignified gentleman’s fast car. Aston-Martin build one of the faster and more desirable cars of today in the 24-litre twin o.h.e. DB2, with the exciting tubular-chassis live-speed open 1)113 in the offing but not at the Show. The Bentley is quite without rival as a dignified, long-wearing, silent car that is altogether delightful to handle and which has gained usefully in speed and acceleration by recent enlargement of its engine to the former classic Bentley size of 4i litres. The Bristol is not so much slower on 2 litres, looks what it is; and has made The
Frazer-Nash is a sports car in the best and truest sense of that misused term as its consistentsuccesses in all manner of fierce competitions convey. Healey was quick on the post-war scene with a rugged motor car of real performance and, while I mourn the demise of the simple ” Silverstone ” model, I admire the new Alvis-engined roadster and have not forgotten how Tony Bolt made the Nash-Healey go at Le Mans. . Jaguar i8 perhaps the most enterprising of all British manufacturers (making, I believe, (10 per cent, of the car themselves), and Mr. Lyons richly deserves the sales successes he is achieving with his very Convincing range of models, all at highly competitive prices. These sales are no doubt influenced by the racing victories of the magnificent Type C .Jaguar in the hands of the Peters, Walker and Whitehead, and the inimitable Stirling Moss. The XK120 Jaguar is accepted the World over as a first-rate sports car and in fixed-head coupe form is one of the best-proportioned and grandest ears ever made. The Mk. VII Jaguar saloon is another beautiful car which offers hitherto unheard of performance front a comfortable five-seater earriagewhieh we ean Only hope has been made to stop in as big a way as it leut been made to rush 41.1011g The Jensen, which lives near the City of Austin within the town of 13irmingham and borrows time Austin ” Sheer/ine ” engine, is typically British and offers a genuine 100 m.p.h. with associated attractions. The Jowett Jupiter is a brilliant design, -engine as well as chassis, and it takes a very big car to better its acceleration, speed and &hatless running ; and such a car couldn’t get within gallons of the Jupiter’s very low fuel consump
tion. The Lagonda, a delightfully individualistic design with its independent rear as well as front suspension and the W. 0. Bentley-inspired twin-earn engine (but, alas, no longer with Cotal gearbox), is a Very fine implement with which to melt the miles without suffering the least apprehension or discomfort. Lea
Francis proffers an efficient engine and a nice gear change ; M.G. provides the ” TD Midget ” which, because of its looks and willingness, should quietly drop that tag ; and the Morgan Plus Four has the distinction of being able•to follow pretty closely on the tails of Healeys and Jaguars while being the lowest-priced
over sports car in the Show. With the M.G. (which is the least expensive of all the sports ears), it /oohs like a motor car, albeit it uses a proprietary power unit.
This is a truly formidable range of fast machinery and here the inability to buy off the peg brings its only advantage—there is no need to attempt to choose between them. After the high-performance cars some thought must be given to the products of Britain’s Big Six, for, by sheer weight of numbers, these will be encountered most frequently on the high ways, byways, field-paths and dirt-roads of the world. Nuffield deserves ” honourable mention ” for building good roadholding and handling qualities into ordinary airs. The fine little Morris Minor led the way in this respect and the present-day Oxford follows suit. The Nuffield Rileys and Volseley are very line
ears, too, and in the latter is found o.h.e. actuation of vertical ult. valves that takes one right back to Hispano-engined Spads of the Kaiser War and A. O. Miller’s funny little Tens taking long duration records at Brooklands after the Armistice. Ford, too, offers such. fatalities in the new Consul and Zephyr, and both are outstandingly brisk cars for their type. I know that when Dagenham tools up for a new model it cannot afford to make mistakes, and these ” 5-Star ” Fords will inevitably carve as deep a niche in motoring history as did the ” ‘I’,” the ” the
Eight and the VS Fords before them. It is good, too, that the Anglia continues to be madetime lowest-priced car at the Show and one for witielt a very efficient, inexpensive repairs ;aid replacements service is available in almost every place where it house, kraal or igloo exists. Rotes and Austin both offer a very -comprehetisiYe range of ears, although the former prefer to provide comfortable travel for five or six people in their good-handling £450 Minx, whereas Austin’s smallest model is now their 800-e.e. Seven. The latter caused, with the Ferrari chassis, the biggest crushes at Earls Court. It and the Morris Minor are likely to compete strongly one with the other in the months to come. Without trying both, judgment is not possible, but whereas the Morris seems better proportioned and more roomy, the Austin, in spite of its smaller engine, may develop more ” steam ” imp to its maximum of over 60 m.p.h. The Humbers and Stmbeam-Talbots, A70s, A90s
and ” Sheerlities ” provide automobiles for all requirements and oceasions. And the Austin A40 Sports is a handy °namable car. I have not driven the new Vauxhalls, front Litton, where the “
boaters ” amine front, but I hear very strong meals of praise about them. They tire said to be it considerable advance on last year’s models and the 1951 Vauxhalls were such sensible, useful and well-mannered ears that the latest Wyvern and Velox mast be quite something.
The Standard Vanguard. with its New Look by WilhnotBreeden, is a practical people’s car–but a big people’s car for big people. The speed at. which Vanguards pass you reminds me of the old Standard slogan ” Count Them on the Road ” anti of how well their present roomy, rugged saloon covers the ground. Its engine. in smaller and modified form, also hauls the plough, in Ferguson tractors, and in Vanguard guise gets the Morgan Plus Four off the mark like a flying saucer chased by a searchlight. The Triumphs remain well-appointed British vehicles. All these Big Six products have a useful job to do in this competitive post-war world. Indeed, the challenge from the American market has long been a powerful one and from the Continent ears like the Fiat 1,400, Simea Aronde, ” 303 ” Peugeot and Light Fifteen and six-cylinder Citroens (Fiat and Citroen made in English factories) constitute something of it menace. An engineering friend of !nine remarked recently that there are two current ways of selling cat’S : yMt cart pay a la Of money to publicity experts to sell indifferent ears. or you can deflect some of this expenditure to the engineerinfr sitar to ensure that your ears are not indifferent, when they will sell themaelveaI Let US hope that Britain, whose future depends on exports, universally adopts the latter. And if this is vital where bread-and-butter ears are concerned, how mucli more so is it the case in competing with Continental high-performance
ears like the Ferrari, Lancia Aurelia, 1,900 ” Alfa-Romeo. ” Paris-Nice ” Hotchkiss, DO Delage, anti I35M Delahaye. Modern design and construction may not always appeal to enthusiasts’ eyes. Welded-up chassis frames with. the joins ‘showing, wire throttle controls, cables to operate clutches, red paint On engines and so on upset the aesthetic, and the prevailing slab-sided and square-ended shapes, wartn the cockles only of pro duction managers’ hearts. Indeed, I sometimes feel that present crudities belong more to the dawn Of motoring than to the evolution Of over half a century ! In the matter of production-car evolution the horse seems to have been put before the cart, but thank tit. Christopher this is so. Otherwise the old ears would have fallen apart years ago and no ” vintage ” vehieles would have survived OS mercifully they have done. As it is, vintage and near-vintage ears l’PRULin the sole salvation of those who cannot bitsnew ears and who feel nausea at the thought of the remaining worn-out, dull and untrustworthy vehicles which are the go between that separates 1930 from 1951. Yes, thank St. Christopher Many of us motor today far netter than we
otherwise might because the craftsmen of yesteryear builded better than they knew. This is an adequate reason why Moron Sroar devotes space to the vintage movement and the motoring history that is complementary to it. There were other ears at Earls Court which merit attention, but space is short. Singer showed an open-air Roadster, the sensible Javelin continued to make friends, the Americans were
one and all spacious mobile drawing-rooms, the Continentals in a class of their own, while the super-dooper golden DaimlerHooper wits an example of what happens when money and vulgarity unite. Without the exhibitors in the galleries, as I have emphasised, there could have been no Motor Show. Dunlop, as their attrac tive daily Press advertisements reminded us, supplied tyres to 24 British exhibitors. Fourteen other makes of tyre were shown. The petrol and oil people were present in foree—Castrol, whose oil I idivas use in the staff Morgan Plus Four, Vigzol, Sternal, Ducklemins and others. Lucas, Notek, Marchal, etc., showed lamps ;tad electrical equipment. The purveyors of safety, like Ferodo, Girlin, and Lockheed, were represented, all these firms deserving the grateful thanks of enthusinsts because the ” boni ” they pay to drivers helps materially to make racing possible. The Press was present and, we hope, correct, Moron SPORT being pleased to receive many -famous personalities at its stand. Yes, it was a great Show I Even British Railways were represented The present interest in motoring and motor ears is easily understood. Driving represents one of the few useful pursuits in which eyes, hands and feet have to be co-ordinated, the brain used actively, if quite serious consequences are to be avoided. Even the most humble car is preferable in the eyes of many to beim, jolted, possibly jostled, certainly anointed with smuts tind half-deafened, and quite possibly delivered late by the railways. The most insignificant of ears can count on putting 25 miles into each hour with some certainty and, although its
running costs are today as high as ever they have been, railway hires are also excessive and are apparently to rise still higher. The enthasiast with some mechanical knowledge can reduce costs by sharing his car with others of like enthusiasm, and if our big and little manufacturers are too shortsighted to }mild time efiltivalent of a Citroen 2 C.V., then our enthusiast will probably build such a vehicle himself— or buy a Bond. He will not be ibile to boast of a sports car, but he will have personal
transport to the places where sports ears and racing ears run. Motoring represents one of the few freedoms left open to us, the ability to go where the will dictates and leave behind the daily environment with its increasing burden of trouble and anxiety. Walking and eyeling to a lesser extent provide a similar outlet, and I sometimes think what a pity it is that man in his folly does not unite these activities the better to combat the heavy taxes, increasing legislation and inadequate roads that threaten our joint mobility. On that note we will turn to a
review of the high-performanee ears at Earls Court, the sort of motor airs you and I would run if we won a football pool or, far better, made a fortune throltait honest toil and endeavour, unfettered by red tape and restrictions..—W. B.