At Goodwood during this month the new o.h.v. Morris-Minor four-door saloon made its debut in a remarkable fashion. It completed a run of 10,000 miles in 10 days, averaging 45.3 m.p.h. and over 43 m.p.g. on “Pool” petrol (supplied by Esso) on a circuit that is a severe test of tyres, suspension and transmission. More than this, the engine of the little Morris never ceased to run during this period, nor did the Minor come to rest. It was serviced correctly in accordance with the handbook by means of the Nuffield Organisation Central Experimental Department special research tender, which was built in five weeks. This trailer acted as “dry-dock” to the Minor as required and while in the confines of the trailer the car’s engine never ceased to drive it, thrust being measured while car and tender were coupled, and it continued to run on its own wheels while so coupled, save for such wheels as were being changed. Oil was sucked from the sump and replenished, battery and fuel tank topped up, the chassis greased (save for its propeller shaft) and, as has been said, wheels changed, by lifting tackle, as required. The car was standard except for a large fuel tank, specially hinged seats to facilitate a change of drivers while in motion, and a hand-throttle.
Works test-drivers, two to a team, took two- and four-hour spells at the wheel. Each lap the car passed over an automatic lap-scorer set on the track in front of the control-tower. This was so arranged that when both tender and car passed over it, only one recording was made. Car and tender were in touch with Control via VHF two-way radio and tape recordings were made of what the technicians said throughout the run.
Nuffield emphasise that there is nothing of stunt nature about the research tender, which will be used to obtain test-data of all kinds as and when required. Nor was there any secrecy about the 10,000-mile demonstration. The Press was invited to attend Goodwood on October 9th, when the car had covered over 9,000 miles and watch it in action. We were allowed to ride on the tender during servicing-spells or watch it from lorries driven alongside. We were also permitted to drive other o.h.v. Morris-Minors round the circuit while the demonstration proceeded. (We had our fun in a 2½-litre Riley, but also rode in a Minor which, three up, proved able to reach a speedometer speed of nearly 60 m.p.h. along Goodwood’s brief straights.)
Reverting to the 10,000-mile run, front tyres were changed after about 2,000 miles, but it had been found that Goodwood absorbs 1.7-h.p. in “circuit thrust” and that tyre wear when going round the circuit at 59 m.p.h. was 37.7 miles per 1 mm. of tread depth, compared to 1,590 miles per 1 mm. of tread depth at 45 m.p.h. on the road. Thus the need for frequent tyre-changes is no reflection on the Dunlop covers; indeed, Dunlop technicians paid warm tribute to the stability of the Minor on corners which made this tyre-wear possible. The performance and economy of the Minor is also magnified when “circuit-thrust” is taken into consideration.
Ten thousand miles in 10 days does not constitute an official record — the world’s record for this distance is 89.71 m.p.h. (Citroen), in Class G 66.09 m.p.h. (Adler), but over banked tracks, not on a road-circuit. But it is a very convincing demonstration of the Series II Morris-Minor and the first time a car has run non-stop for such a distance. At night the Lucas lamps provided most of the illumination, bar a few lanterns at strategic points. The Circuit was lapped counter-clockwise to reproduce normal conditions and reduce tyre wear.
We shall hope to see the Nuffield research tender and Nuffield cars in further long-duration demonstrations, perhaps at Montlhery or the coming high-speed test track at Lindley. Someone may be tempted to try to equal the Minor’s run at Goodwood without a tender—if so, good luck to them, for demonstrations of this kind teach extremely valuable lessons.
Meanwhile, let us toast this excellent British Motor Corporation o.h.v. Minor; alas, the A30 engine is to go only into the four-door saloon and that is for Export only.—W. B.