CARS from small factories are usually aimed at enthusiasts and this is so of the Warwick 2-litre G.T., which is a resuscitated Peerless, a low, compact 4-seater coupe built around Triumph TR components, with glass-fibre body, a de Dion back axle sprung on I-elliptic leaf-springs, and centrelock wire wheels.
A day in one of these cars, built in Bernie Rodgers’ small factory near Datchet, showed it to go very fast from place to place if you overlook a great deal of noise, roughness and vibration. The driving position and controls are arranged splendidly, apart from the need to lift the rig:it hand from the wheel to operate the o/d switch. Racing-type front bucket seats hold one securely but are rather hard and a little too small. Two small seats behind make the Warwick that rare vehicle, a 4-seater G.T. In spite of the low build, headroom is adequate and there is a more roomy low-set boot than the brief tail of the body suggests, in which ” squig ” bags would be happier than suitcases on account of the horizontal spare wheel. Interior upholstery in good leather is well contrived, the metal instrument panel carries speedometer, tachometer, oil gauge, water-temperature gauge, ammeter and fuel gauge and neat flick switches.
The doors have long quick-lift window handles of the nonrotating variety, the facia incorporates two very big open cubbyholes with rather shallow lips, the doors possess pockets, and the rear windows open slightly for ventilatory purposes. There is an effective heater-cum-fresh-air supply. Fuel is carried in two side tanks, each of 6 gallons capacity, with change-over switch on the facia, each having its own quick-action filler cap on the side of the body. The interior lamp, brought on by a facia switch, would be obscured with the back seat occupied; an unusual item is a light that comes on when o/d is in operation and the gear-lever in either 3rd or top gear in which the old works. The transmission tunnel keeps cool.
The very short central gear-lever is as on a ‘FR, with unpleasant rubber knob. The handbrake is a feeble affair, under the scuttle on the off-side. The steering column has an adjustment which refused to lock on the test car; the small, somewhat too springy Carlotti wheel, with cut-outs for the driver’s thumbs on two of its spokes, is well placed. The driver’s and front passenger’s feet live in wells; the foot dipper button is badly positioned and, more serious, there is no place for the driver’s left foot except under the clutch pedal.
You climb over sills to get into this low-built coupe but visibility is good. The entire bonnet hinges forward to reveal the Triumph engine, with twin S.U.s which have rod-linkage to the accelerator, and neat grouping of fuse boxes and minor components. On the road the Warwick exhibits excellent acceleration, even in top cog, cruises at nearly 85 m.p.h. at 4,000 r.p.m., or at a
mere 3,500 r.p.m. in old top. If you don’t mind the exhaust noise and bad vibration from the transmission 80 in 3rd and too in top is commonplace.
The steering is heavy and lumpy, but makes up for such vintage characteristics by being truly high-geared; it has no castor-return action. The gear-change is very good and the brakes, Girling disc at the front, superb, giving exceedingly powerful retardation at low pedal pressures, aided by a Clayton Dewandre vacuum servo. An impressive feature is lack of wind noise at high speed, and the Warwick goes round corners untidily but without breaking
away viciously, steering a fairly neutral line but with a tendency to wallow and roll slightly, while the hard back springing is all too evident on rough corners. At night the o/d and flashers warning lights annoy and the body exudes that glass-fibre smell. Metal door ” pulls ” also act as
useful grab handles, water temperature was r85° F., overheating having been banished by replacing the Peerless radiator with a ducted Triumph radiator, and the Dunlop RS5s didn’t squeal on corners.
Fuel consumption was 23 m.p.g. and roughly a pint of oil was used in some 300 miles, The Warwick is the poor man’s DB,‘ is very attractive to TR enthusiasts who need four seats, but is tiring on long runs and is too expensive at £1,715 15s. 9d. It will be recalled that this year a Buick-engined Warwick has been run in Club races. It appears that a young American who was studying at Cambridge used to order a new car from Bernie Rodgers every year and, returning home, installed one of the new light-alloy V8 3i-litre Buick Special power units. He has arranged to supply these engines to Bernard Rodger Develop ments Ltd. ten at a time and this compact engine goes fairly easily into a Warwick chassis after the front cross-member has been
opened out (which improves steering castor), the generator repositioned and a knuckle cut out of the end of the off-sicle exhaust manifold. Rodgers would like to use a Corvette 4-speed gearbox with the Buick engine but, unable to get anything higher than a 3.7-to-1 Salisbury axle, the gearing would be too low. So a Jaguar-type Moss gearbox is used, which necessitates only slight modification to the Buick bell-housing. This o.h.v. Buick engine is exceedingly neat and has such interesting features as a die-cast light alloy one piece crankcase and quite small big-end bolts entirely devoid of any locking medium. It develops 155 b.h.p. at 4,600 r.p.m. corn compared with too b.h.p.• at 5,000 r.p.m. from the present 4-cylinder engine and is lighter, so the potential can be imagined. The Buick-engined ” racer” they say does in the region of otoo m.p.h. in 20 seconds. So far this version of the Warwick is mainly’for export, no price having been fixed for this country, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see modifications to the rear suspen
sion, now that the designer is not tied so closely to Triumph components. Incidentally, another Warwick is motoring potently with a Bristol engine from a I,e Mans Frazer Nash under its bonnet.