The only racing car in the Show is the F.I Lotus, with one of the fast Lotus Elite coupes keeping it company. Amongst highperformance cars a highlight of Earls Court is the Aston Martin DB4. Exhibits which lift a Motor Show above the level of the local showroom are stripped engines and chassis. There is a fair selection of these this time. Triumph have a specially-displayed TR3 chasais, a Peerless chassis stands on its side to conserve stand space, AC.. Morgan, Austin-Healey, Sprite and Frisky are in chassis form, Rover show the engine end of the 3-litre chassis, but perhaps the best exhibit in this category is that of VW, on whose stand the partially sectioned chassis revolves under floodlights of changing colour, reminding us that this pre-war design, which still sells strongly all over the world, is virtually of back-hone construction. Engines, mostly partly sectioned and sometimes rotating, can be seen on the stands of N.S.U., Hillman, Ford. Sunbeam, Wolseley, Austin-Healey, Volvo, Austin, Jaguar and Aston Martin, while Humber naturally have a cut-open Super Snipe power unit to show their Peugeot-like valve gear; this car, incidentally, having only three forward speeds. Transparent bonnets are used on Morris Minor 1000, Riley 1.5 and D.A.F.
There is nothing particularly striking this year in the display of complete cars. A Ford Zodiac convertible forms the centrepiece of the Dagenham Ford stand. where they still show the Popular, although Citroen no longer exhibit the 2 c.v. On the Citroen stand a DS hull, presumably filled with helium, is in process of taking flight, but most makers content themselves with placing their more outstanding cars on rotating turntables. Rover thus display the new 3-litre, which has borrowed adjustable face-level ventilation from the DS Citroens; this does not make it anything like as up to date as these splendid French cars. We confess to disappointment that the new Rover is not a Gran Turismo model based on the chassis of the gas-turbine coupe Rover shown at Earls Court two years ago—but with piston engine and two-wheel drive…
An attraction on Stand 118 is Mike Hawthorn and two V12 250 GT Ferrari coupes. The new Frisky Sprint to be built by Vickers-Armstrong and for which 90 m.p.h. is claimed from 492 c.c. attracts much attention but those who sit in it appear to get precious little protection from the screen. It is expected to sell for £675-750 inclusive of purchase tax. Outstanding exhibit on the Renault stand is the eye-catching Floride, and it is noticeable that the rear-engine location has enabled the stylist to dispense with any form of frontal grille, imitation or otherwise. Renault list their rally successes and Rootes announce the ” new” Rapier as ” Rally bred and proved.” On the Alfa-Romeo stand there is a colour picture of Brooklands Truck with two 159 Alfas racing round it and taking it in turns to catch fire. This piece of fiction can be forgiven after examining the beautiful cars displayed. Mercedes-Benz have a surprisingly mean stand for such a great concern; it is decorated with the classic three pointed star, with a few pictures of past racing glories, and a photograph of the Houses of Parliament perhaps to commemorate the State Visit to London of the President of the German Federal Republic. They show a 190SL and 300D, and a new petrol-injection 220SE but not the new o.h.c. diesel 190D.
Standard give pride of place to the new Vanguard Vignale, from which two of the doors have become detached, a part-sectioned Twin-Cam M.G. is seen leaping into the air, while a small Riley is ascending a mild gradient. The new Austin A40s contained live models in exciting frocks but just as we had decided that this was a good publicity stunt, whereas Rootes could only afford wax young ladies in the Minx, we discovered that when the show opened the girls had vanished with the Press cameras. Austin-Healey have a gold-finished 100-Six, perhaps to celebrate Abingdon’s sports-car output of over 1,000 a week.
The Ford stand recalls the lady who went to the zoo, saw the hippopotstmus and, turning to her escort, said, ” I just do not believe it,” because these who have become students of automobile engineering in recent years may well say the same when confronted with petrol-thirsty side-valve engines in the small Fords.
The cyclecar, which should have been dead long ago, refuses to lie down and, like the poor, and for the poor, is ever with us—at Earls Court in the guise of Berkeley, D.A.F. Fiat 500. Frisky. Goggomobil. Isetta. N.S.U. and Opperman. The last-named, besides the Unicar. show a new glass-fibre Stirling coupe of Continental appearance, which has a 424-cc. two-stroke engine, and the Berkeley has expanded into a full four seater. Amongst the cycle cars air-cooling is universal, rear engines. mostly vertical twins, predominate, and the four-stroke is fractionally more popular than the two-stroke. The D.A.F.. with full four-seater closed body and spacious luggage boot, and highlyingenious fully-automatic belt transmission which incorporates automatic differential action and enables i.r.s. to be employed without recourse to jointed drive-shafts, will be sold here early next year at a price in the region of £700. ‘What with this clever Dutch miniature and the N.S.U. with ingenious drive for its o.h. camshaft, the cyclecars are not exactly dull though they may be futile.
Great interest is displayed in the Volvo 122S, a smart 1,582-c.c car capable of 94 m.p.h., and the spacious Borgward Isabella TS can do around 100 m.p.h: on 1.5-litres. Tail fins are now available as an extra on the handsome Isabella TS coupe. The Rovers seem to have lost some of their former dignity with the new frontal treatment and the Jaguars have dated somewhat, although engines and chassis are essentially modern and power stering has been adopted for the new Mk. IX. The lone Feed Vega has disc brakes, which should make this an extremely attractive car for ultra-fast travel.
If Peerless is a make new to Earls Court, it is sad to find Allard, D.K.W., Lagonda and Packard absentees; Lanchester disappeared last year and Singer has submerged its individuality in Minx. components.
Volvo show a 450 convertible and Studebaker their new ” small ” car in the form of the 1.2-litre V8 Lark, which is pleasantly free from unnecessary adornment and quite European-looking, in contrast to the guided-Missiles incorporated in the fins of the Buick/Cadillac exhibits. A Frazer-Nash V8 occupies a stand with B.M.W.s from which it borrows its present engine, while Fiat show a full range of models on a stand flanked by a big illuminated colour picture of their great Turin factory. The Fiat 1200 Gran Luce is one of the finest family all-rounders and the ” New 500″ now have more power and winding windows, amongst other improvements. The back seats of the Rolls-Royce exhibits look particularly comfortable. That the cyclecars are growing up is evident on all sides. Goggomobil having the Super-Cog 700 on view which dwarfs the little coupes, while the B.M.W. Isetta is almost car-size, and 80 m.p.h. is claimed for the N.S.U. Sport Prinz coupe.
Porsche have the more popular models on show but no Carerra. Alvis have a dignified display of their improved Park Ward saloon and coupe 3-litres.
The Editor disclaims any responsibility for the fact that the VW stand is once again adjacent to the MOTOR SPORT stand. and points out that the Ferrari stand is even nearer ! These fine Italian Gran Turismo coupes have Cut-out ” prancing horses ” on their radiator grilles, behind which nestle the twin spot-lamps. Maximum speed is estimated, by one who should know, as 140 m.p.h.
On the day before the Show opened the T. V. cameras were busy and Stirling Moss was being shown how to drive the little N.S.U. Prinz by a miscellany of beauty-queens ! This year the accent is on glamour, with colourful cars and -‘several ” Miss Triumphs ” on Stand 147. W. B.