Matters of Moment, November 1955

The 40th London Motor Show 
This year’s S.M.M.T. International Motor Exhibition at Earls Court, which was opened by Earl Mountbatten on October 19th and which closes on October 29th, is proving one of the more interesting of these great annual motor shows.

Amongst new models an view for the first time at Earls Court are numbered the AIvis Graber coupé, the hush-hush 2.3-litre Armstrong-Siddeley, the sensational Citroën DS19, the Daimler One-o-Four Ladies’ Car, the small Ford estate car, the Humber Hawk estate car, the 2.4-litre Jaguar saloon, the Mercedes-Benz 190SL and 300C, the M.G. series MCA sports model, the Morgan 4/4 Series II sports model, the Porsche Carrera, and Speedster, the new version of Renault Frégate, revised Rovers, the bigger-engined Rover 90, the. twin o.h.c. Singer Hunter 75, the Standard Vanguard III, the Sunbeam Rapier, the Triumph TR3, not forgetting the Alfa-Romeo and Lancia Spider. Quite the most sensational exhibit is the long-awaited new Citroën, which is fully described in this issue. The former f.w.d. Citroën ran for 21 years with extreme success and whatever its successor was like, Citroën, we felt, would be unlikely to make any mistakes. To say they startled us with the ingenuity of the new car when we saw it at Slough is merely to state the truth. Yet there is every reason to believe that the great French firm will market the DS19 with facility. One engineer confided to us his scepticism of three kilos. of hydraulic piping, yet he flies frequently in aircraft which must rely on miles of similar pipes; a weekly contemporary has expressed doubt as to whether the public will accept full power-steering when they are used to it and casts doubt on the acceptability by buyer’s of the entire hydraulic mechanism of the DS19. Before the war we could have felt the same, but in 1955, with automatic transmission, two-pedal control, power steering and so forth commonplace on American cars and adopted in part for some British makes, the new Citroën’s only really revolutionary feature, apart from the manner in which its hydraulic mechanism is applied and blended with the whole conception of an admittedly advanced design, is its hydro-pneumatic suspension. In 1933 the Citroën which embraced in one car unitary steel construction, front-drive, torsion-bar suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, pendant pedals and wet liners was also revolutionary, although each of these features had been seen previously (historians amongst net readers will no doubt tell us when and where). Yet so successful was this “futuristic” car that it remained the Frenchman’s leading bread-and-butter transport for more than two decades and enraptured motoring connoisseurs in this country and elsewhere. On this assumption we predict a similar triumph for the DS19 — at all events, until you have visited Stand 155 you haven’t seen this year’s Motor Show!

In an age of growing standardisation it is satisfactory still to observe much individuality. To take only one aspect, valve gear; there is much diversity of thought amongst the exhibitorsof the 55 makes, 30 British, 10 American, six French, six German and three Italian, at Earls Court. The side-valve engine has almost gone to join the cone clutch and ¾-elliptic suspension, but persists in the small Fords, in the V8 Simca and Morgan 4/4 which use Ford engines, and in the Hillman Husky, and possibly may be found on an isolated U.S.A. vehicle. On almost all American and other cars o.h, valves prevail. In their most effective location, inclined and opposed to give a hemispherical combustion chamber, the comparatively expensive method of operation by twin o.h. camshafts, desirable when high r.p.m. are sought, is employed by Alfa-Romeo, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lagonda, Porsche (necessitating four camshafts), and Singer. That excellent compromise of single o.h.c., with or without intervening rockers, is used by A.C., Mercedes-Benz, and the other Singer models. Gone are the vertical shafts and ingenious camshaft drives of the past, chains now predominating, although the four-cam Porsche uses shafts. Riley and Lancia Appia have the two high-set camshafts and short push-rods actuating inclined o.h.v. via rockers. Increasing ingenuity is displayed in having cake and eating it, by arranging for push-rod operation of inclined o.h. valves from a camshaft economically housed in the crankcase, Armstrong-Siddeley and Bristol employing cross-push-rods for one line of valves, Citroën and Peugeot adopting different-length rockers for inlet and exhaust valve operation, and the V6 Lancia elaborates this method by having push-rod-operated inclined opposed valves in line with the crankshaft, followed in part by Porsche on their normal flat-four engines, with one vertical and one inclined valve. Bentley. Rolls-Royce. and Rover are different again, with their i.o.e. layout, while the. D.K.W. dispenses altogether with the Otto cycle, and is valveless.

Whatever system is used, compression pressures tend to increase, as the utmost efficiency is sought from present-day fuels. The emphasis is on ever higher performance and it is, perhaps, a sobering thought that of the makes at the Show, A.C., Alfa-Romeo, Allard, Armstrong-Siddeley, Aston Martin, Bentley, B.M.W., Bristol, Daimler, Frazer-Nash, Healey, Jaguar, Jensen, Lancia, Morgan, Porsche, Riley and Triumph, apart from many American makes, all have models which will do 100 m.p.h. Some exceed the still magic century by a very appreciable margin and it is a matter of how quickly they get there and how stable they are at that speed which is of real importance. Some only just get there, like the new Daimler One-o-Four which was advertised prior to the Show as a 100 m.p.h. car, but which, tested by the technical Press, did exactly 100.0 for the two-way run, which is what really counts when maximum speed is discussed. The fact is that really fast cars are at Earls Court almost in profusion, from the less-expensive sports car, the Morgan 4/4 Series II, upwards, and on that note we commend you to this great London Motor Show.

Volkswagen Win Australian Redex Trial 
The results of the Redex Round-Australia Trial have now been finally established. The Volkswagen driven by L. Whitehead and R. Foreman wins outright, six points ahead of the Volkswagen driven by E. Perkins. A Standard Vanguard — known in Australia as a Spacemaster — was third, 24 points behind the winner, a Ford Customline taking fourth and a Peugeot 203 fifth place. This convincing victory by VW in what is the world’s most arduous trial, against cars of all types including large Americans, should explain to those who are still puzzled the sweeping world-sales success of this little car.

In case we are accused of showing bias towards the unconventional against the orthodox, we would remark that in a masterful article in our respected contemporary, the Motor, Laurence Pomeroy, F.R.S.A., M.S.A.E., recently showed that, in terms of world production, air-cooling, rear-engines, front-drive and all-independent suspension, etc., predominate over designs which in the past were considered conventional.