WHEN the Triumph Spitfire Four was announced it seemed only a matter of time before the Vitesse Six engine was dropped in. Well, it was a long time coming and few people really expected the 2-litre version that has been announced, but it was well worth waiting for; not only is the car a lot more powerful, but it is also far smoother and considerably better equipped into the bargain, changing from a rather noisy little fun-car into a grown-up grand touring model.
On paper the Triumph GT6 seems to be a direct competitor to the TR4A, since it has very similar performance and costs £985 including tax. It is, however, available only in GT coupe form, the Michelotti-styled bodywork looking very much like the Le Mans prototypes, and is so much more refined that it is unlikely to appeal to the same type of buyer—it certainly does not have any rugged sports-car appeal and the performance feels unsensational, though the stopwatch disagrees.
The rigid chassis of the Spitfire is retained, and with it the extremely tight 25-ft. turning circle. At the back, swing axle independent suspension is set up with negative camber, while at the front the normal wishbone suspension is fitted. The 1,998-c.c. 6-cylinder power unit is uprated, with a 9.5-to-1 compression ratio, to 95 b.h.p. net, compared with 90 net in the 2000 saloon, this being enough to give the car a top speed of 107 m.p.h. Overdrive is available optionally.
The extra weight of the coupe body compensates the heavier power unit to give nearly identical handling characteristics, while variations in roll-bar diameter and spring ratings do the rest. Larger callipers are fitted on the front disc brakes to take care of the stopping, and 4½J rims (shod with Dunlop SP41 tyres) are specified.
Still the GT6 is purely a two-seater, but with a great deal of luggage area behind the seats and under the compartment floor. A side-hinged tailgate door opens up to the storage area measuring 14.2 cu. ft., making it ideal for the executive-traveller.
For the occupants, new seats are hip-hugging and comfortable— the only thing we didn’t like about them was the way the dye transfers itself to a white shirt on a hot day! The GT6 is pile-carpeted throughout, and the facia is a particularly nice walnut-panelled affair with plenty of instruments in the style of the Vitesse layout. A sprung leather-rimmed steering wheel is standard equipment. Emphasising the touring aspects, a 9.75-gallon fuel tank is installed, and great emphasis has been laid on soundproofing (even the exhaust system is insulated from the body).
Driving the GT6 from the Coventry factory to Mallory Park circuit confirmed that it is smooth and fast, quiet and comfortable. Especially useful is the amount of torque which, in a light car, enables the driver to be quite lazy when he feels like it. The all-synchromesh gearbox, coupled by an 8.5-in, diaphragm spring clutch, is smooth though inclined to baulk occasionally when the car is new.
Circuit testing made it clear that the GT6 is a very handy car to drive quickly. With this type of rear suspension it needs to be set up early for fast corners but when on its line it holds it beautifully with just a suggestion of oversteer. Braking is entirely adequate, and on the two short straights at Mallory it would exceed 96 m.p.h. in overdrive 3rd without any fuss or bother. Possibly on bumpy roads the suspension is going to be a little harsh. Since the kerb weight has gone up to 17 cwt. it would have been nice to experiment with trailing link suspension as on the 2000, but we understand that it would have been an expensive proposition. Customers will in any case have to wait until next Spring for the GT6 since the initial production has been reserved for export.
The interior of the Triumph 2000 has been improved for the coming year, with individual fresh-air adjustable inlets on the facia, and new front seats like those in the 1300. The seats are fully reclining, and have punched leather upholstery. Price of the saloon has risen to £1,198 including tax, the estate now costing £1,455.
NEW CORTINA RANGE
RESTYLED to allow more interior space, the 1967 version of the Ford Cortina contains a number of up-to-the-minute advantages over its best-selling predecessor. Curved side-windows and slightly greater width, inside and out, are specified without any increase in overall length. The track is increased and with improved suspension the ride and handling qualities have been improved considerably. Clutch effort has been halved, gear linkages of the GT version redesigned, and the seats are better too.
In its cheapest form the new Cortina has a 5-bearing 1,300-c.c. engine developing 57.5 b.h.p., a 7% improvement on the old 3-bearing 1,200-C.C. unit. The new engine is a destroked version of the 1½-litre in-line engine, available optionally or as standard equipment in the 1500 Super. The GT version retains the 83-b.h.p. Weber-equipped in-line engine. A Lotus twin-cam version will be announced next year.
Though the new cars weigh about 60 pounds more than last year’s they all perform very well. The 1300, for instance, has a claimed top speed of 80 m.p.h. with 0-60 m.p.h. acceleration in 21.5 sec., while the Super will reach 82 m.p.h. and knock two seconds off the 60-m.p.h. time.
Before the announcement we had the opportunity to drive the cars in Scotland, taking special interest in a vivid red GT model provided. This had the wide-rim 4½J wheels shod with Pirelli Cinturato tyres, an optional extra costing around £25 with tax. Although we drove Four-up part of the time it became clear that the new model corners more surely, and with less body-roll, than before and it was difficult to make front or rear wheels break away even at the high cornering speeds possible in the traffic-free Highlands. There is final roll oversteer, as before, but the process is a bit more gradual than it was, and free from the lurching that characterised the old Cortinas when pressed. This result has been achieved by redesigning the rear suspension and altering the MacPherson struts at the front, effectively lowering the centre of gravity. The GT still has radius arms to locate the rear axle.
The clutch is much lighter than before, having a 25-pound operating pressure, and the GT was altogether a pleasant car. Unfortunately (for sportsmen!) the gearbox is unaltered, and the 2nd gear screams to a maximum of 45 m.p.h. The noise level is a little higher than in the 1300 de luxe sampled later in the day, and it was surprising how nippy the lower-powered car proved to be. On narrower wheels it can definitely he pressed to breakaway at the rear in a very gentle and predictable way, but again it was surprising how well it hung on when the roads were wet; there is, of course, far less oil and rubber on Scottish roads, but the increased track certainly seems to do the trick.
Interior space in the new Cortina range is extremely good, ample for four adults and probably in the occasional five-seater category. We felt quite fresh after spending a full day, and covering 250 miles, in these cars and there is every reason to think that they will be even more popular.
SUNBEAM IMP SPORT
SUNBEAM version of the Imp was announced by Rootes for the Paris Show, priced at £665 including tax. It is the fastest Imp yet to go into full production, having a claimed top speed of ” -90 m.p.h.” and 0-60 m.p.h. acceleration in under 18 seconds.
The 875-c.c. alloy, overhead camshaft engine has been pepped up with a new cylinder head and twin Stromberg carburetters to give 51 h.h.p. net at 6,100 r.p.m., an increase of around 30%. Torque is 55 lb, ft. at 4,300 r.p.m.
Difficulties in producing the 1-litre “Rallye” engine in quantity account for the capacity remaining at 875 c.c., though the 998-CC. unit is available optionally. The Sunbeam Imp Sport does, however, have most of the extras used on rally versions, such as power-assisted braking (with harder linings), larger-diameter driveshafts, a stoneguard, greater water capacity and a larger fan, an oil cooler, stiffened suspension arms with higher spring ratings, and the louvred bonnet lid to assist cooling.
Engine modifications include a redesigned cylinder head, highlift camshaft, larger ports and valves, double valve springs, new valve timing and improved oil draining. The pistons are also stronger and the distributor has been modified.
The interior is quite luxurious for a small car, equipment including water temperature, oil pressure, ammeter and fuel gauges. The Sunbeam Imp Sport has been well insulated against engine noise, but short road trial shows that in order to enjoy the performance it is necessary to stay high up in the rev-range, and the noise level (especially in the back) is fairly high.
With first-hand knowledge of the reliability of the “new generation” of Imps on tough rallies, we believe that the Sunbeam will prove popular among the sporting fraternity. The performance is quite lively when required, while handling and braking are in keeping. After our trial a Singer version was announced.
This stylish drophead Corsair was shown at Earls Court by Crayford Auto Development Ltd. of Tatsfield, Kent. The hood is made of heavy-duty plastic, tailor-made or the individual car, and features a very wide rear window. Considerable strengthening is carried out to the bodywork.
The Fiat 1100R, first shown at Geneva earlier this year, has been introduced in this country at £682 including tax. The Estate version costs £749.
ALFA GT JUNIOR
To reach Britain early next year, the Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior is a stylish grand touring model with a top speed of 105 m.p.h. It has the mechanical features of the Giulia 1300 TI saloon, notably a pair of twin-choke carburetters and, of course, the twin-cam head to give a maximum power output of 103 b.h.p.
GLAS RANGE IN BRITAIN
Four leading models in the popular Bavarian Glas range appeared at Earls Court. In all, eight models will be sold in this country at prices ranging from £915 to £3,046 including tax. They have Frua-designed saloon and coupe coachwork and feature high-performance overhead camshaft engines, all with alloy cylinder heads and 5-bearing crankshafts.
Glas Concessionaires (Great Britain) Ltd., a King’s Lynn Company, has been preparing the market for two years arranging distribution and servicing. The smallest model is the 1,290-c.c., 4-cylinder 1304 saloon, which has a GT coupe counterpart. A 4-cylinder 1700 saloon is next in the range with TS (tuned) and cabriolet versions, and the biggest car is an exciting 2.6-litre V8 GT coupe. This one has 140-b.h.p. output and is claimed to do 125 m.p.h. Disc brakes all round and de Dion rear suspension are in the specification.
At the lower prices announced recently, the Renault 16 goes into production for 1967 with a number of new features. The facia has been redesigned and there is an entirely new fresh-air heating system; detail improvements include a variable-speed booster fan, automatic choke, anti-theft steering lock, cigar-lighter, a cigarette box combined with an ash-tray and pipe-rack, anti-dazzle mirror, padded dash and doors, centre armrest at the back, a luggage compartment light, and better seat adjustment.
AMI 6 ESTATE
Citroen have introduced the popular small Ami 6 Estate Car to the British market, costing £667 including tax (a luxury version is priced at £699). Powered by a 2-cylinder air-cooled 602-c.c. engine delivering 26 b.h.p. gross, this front-drive model carries four people or a maximum of 660 lb. payload.
FASTER AND CHEAPER AUDI
TWO quicker versions of the front-drive Auto Union Audi— and a big price reduction on the standard model—have been announced. The present model, which continues unchanged, is renamed the 70 Series and sells £170 cheaper in 2-door form at £997, while the 4-door version costs £1,059. It has the Mercedes-designed high-compression 1,700-c.c. engine developing b.h.p. gross (72 net).
With the same engine capacity, the new Audi 80 Series develops 91 b.h.p. gross (80 net), and the 90 Series has a bored-out 1,770-c.c. unit developing 102 b.h.p. gross; putting it into the 100-m.p.h. class. Both the 80 and the Super 90 have fully carpeted interiors, wood-lined facias, fully-reclining front seats and a better heating and ventilation system. Twin-choke carburetters are fitted to both models.
Prices of the 80 Series are £1,095 including tax for the 2-door, £1,126 for the 4-door, and £1,194 for the Variant Estate. The Super 90 costs £1,157 (2-door) and £1,194 (4-door).
All the prices are lower than hitherto, partly explained by anticipation of the import surcharge removal. However, Volkswagen intend to make Auto Union a wholly-owned subsidiary by the end of this year and have applied their strict production methods to cost reduction.