A selection of new models
Some of the new cars seen and tried at Motor Show time
THE Rootes Group brought out a complete range of -196$. styles for their Hillman, Sunbeam, Singer and Humber vehicles. By far the most radical was the fast-back version of the Rapier, ‘whose styling at least made a change from the current trend in body design. The makers claim too-m.p.h. performance from the car’s 94 b.h.p. 1,725-c.c. engine, driving through an Alpine close-ratio gearbox. Automatic Transmission is also available at k43 extra but the total basic price is L1,2oo. The Sunbeam Stiletto was also announced, a fast-back model on the Imp/Chamois range hut with a hairy 55-b.h.p. engine. The specification includes reinforced suspension arms, thicker drive shafts and a stone guard for the fan and radiator. Radial .ply tyres are fitted as standard—why don’t more manufacturers do this ?
Of their other badges, the Hillman Hunter looks like the Hilhnan Minx looks like the Singer Vogue looks like the Humber Sceptre. all Very smart and very pleasant but now not so show-shattering. Perhaps the brightest new production Car of the show was the Vauxhall Victor and Victor 2000. With a similar appearance to the Viva, the new Victor has moved up in the world, being fitted with a brand new single-overhead Camshaft engine, rack-and-pinion steering and coil-spring rear suspension, as on the Viva. (Incidentally, it has been said that the Viva is very similar in looks to its American cousin, the Camaro; Vauxhall assure us this should he the other way round, for the Viva was in embryo before the Camaro.) Vauxhall’s other models, the Viva and Cresta/Viscount ranges, continue unchanged for
another year, although while at Vauxhall recently we did spot a Cresta with twin tail-pipes!
The new Victor, when driven around the twisty lanes and on the motorway near Luton, created a good first impression. The steering was obviously nicer and the car did not fall about on the road. The 2000 was particularly pleasing, having considerably more punch and performance than associated with its predecessors. The noise level, however, was not particularly low, but the seats were comfortable,. the steering position pleasant, and the actual steering wheel was an energy-absorbing one. Another good point was that the interior mirror was large enough for complete vision out of the rear window, a nice change from the all too prevalent ones which are about 3 in. wide.
The 1600 develops 83-b.h.p. at 5,800 r.p.m. and go lb. ft. torque at 3,202 r.p.m., while the bigger engine develops to 4 b.h.p. and t 16 lb. ft. at the same engine speeds.
The three big American firms, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, along with their smaller competitor, American Motors, produced a whole Clutch of new cars. American Motors brought in a competitor in the all-important sports-sAbon market which Ford’s Mustang really exploited. This was the Rambler Javelin, cleanly-styled and with an enormous fast-back, and a list of extras and alternatives that could only be American.
Incredibly a total of t36 models with a choice of eight basic engine variations are being offered by Chrysler. Of the General Motors products the Chevrolet Corvette has been given a completely new look and is almost good-looking. Headlights and windscreen wipers disappear when not in use, the new body is slightly lower, slightly narrower and 7 inches longer, and in the new chassis nestles an engine with a choice of tune fro:n 363 to 435 b.h.p. In the Chevrolet range alone there are 41 models.
General Motors’ German concern, Opel, also announced a new range, including six additions to the Kadett model and the Olympia, which bridges the gap between the Kaden and Rekord lines. The Olympia has a new fast-back body and is powered by a 67 b.h.p. 1.1-litre engine, although 1.7 S and 1.9 S engines are also available. These have single-overhead camshafts which operate the inclined valves through rockers and are not like the Vauxhall model.
Ford’s offering is centred around their cross-flow-headed Cortina range. The other models received detail changes, while the Lotus version has lost the word ” Lotus ” and had “Twin Cam” put in its place on the bodywork. Ford have upset some customers by making the change to the 1,60o-c.c. engine so soon, thus rendering 1967 models obsolete after one year. There has been a big demand for the Corsair 2000E and Ford have followed this with a Cortina along the same line of thought, the 1600E, which must also sell well. From Triumph the big news was their Lucas Met-injected TR5 Pl. Claimed to reach 125 m.p.h. (elsewhere than in Jolly Old England), the TI25 uses the old TR4A chassis fitted with ‘a 2i-litre version of Triumph’s 6-cylinder in-line unit and fitted with fuel injection. This &vine now develops i5o b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m. and 164 lb. ft. torque at 3,500 r.p.m. The rest of the car is much the same, but it does have
• a new hood, stiffer rear suspension and larger brakes, complete with tandem master cylinders. Also new is a twin-carburetter 1300 and the Herald 13/60, which is fitted with r,z96-c.c. engine as seen on other Triumph models.
Perhaps the car of most interest to MOTOR SPORT readers is the new Aston Martin DBS. This car has a smart body, English-styled, on a longer, wider chassis, and is an addition to the Aston range and not a replacement for the DB6 and Volante. The body is panelled in aluminium and is 6 ft. wide, which offers more interior space than in previous models. The interior is particularly pleasing, being finished with a light blue leather and Wilton carpets on the white example we examined.
It had been half expected that the new car would be fitted with the 5-litre V8 which was seen a few times in racing. This was not the case, for the power unit is the familiar 4-litre, which is available in both DB6 (S.U. carburetters) and Vantage (Weber carburetters) tune. Rear suspension is by de Dion—the first time this system has been used on a production Aston Martin—and the basic cost is £5,500.
Rover’s solid 3-litre has been replaced by a 3.5-litre, which is available in both saloon and coupe styles. Apart from the engine and gearbox the new car’s specifications remain much as they were, the big difference being the alloy V8 engine which was derived from an original General Motors design. This engine, of 3,528 c.c., develops 160.5 b.h.p. at 5,200 r.p.m. and 210 lb. ft. at 2,600 r.p.m. This new engine provides a 30″„ increase in power and also gives a weight saving of zoo lb. over the 3-litre. The exterior has been altered slightly, notably with a different grille and fog lights moulded into the bodywork, while on the inside the driver’s console and controls have been redesigned. The saloon retails at £1,999 and the coupe at £2,097.
A great deal of uncomplimentary things have been said of the British Motor Holdings group lately after their 1968 models were announced. But there seem to be signs that the company may in the future concentrate more on such selling amenities as comfort, luggage space, performance and styling rather than let the technical people have the upper hand. Certainly their presentation left correspondents a little cold : there were Mk. z versions of the Mini, now available with 848and 998-c.c. engines, the latter having an all-synchromesh gearbox; 1300 versions of the t loos, which will also continue in production; the M.G.-C and the Austin Westminster.
The M.G.-C looks just like an M.G.-B, but with a power bulge on the bonnet that hides B.M.C.’s rugged and reliable 3-litre 6-cylinder engine as seen in the Austin-Healey 3000. All M.G.-C models, which will also be sold in the popular GT form, will have as an optional extra an automatic gearbox. The 3-litre engine produces 15o b.h.p.roughly the same as a tuned, racing ” B ” engine—at 5,250 r.p.m. and 174 lb. ft. torque at 3,500 r.p.m. But the car now understeers quite a bit, mainly due to the other new feature, the torsion-bar front suspension. Both M.G.-B and Austin Healey 3000 will continue in production. The ADO6t—the Austin 3-litre saloon—looks like an elongated t800 and has hydrolastic suspension and the 6-cylinder motor placed conventionally and driving the rear wheels. It has power-assisted steering and prices range between £1,418 for the manual gearbox
through to £1,517 for the automatic. It is a big car and luxuriously finished, but then in this price bracket it has a lot of competition from the Vauxhall Viscount, Ford Executive and Rover 2000 market.
Other B.M.C. models continue, while the company’s other interest, Jaguar and Daimler, have also come in for slight revisions, although the Mk. 2 styling now seems to be dating quite a bit.
From foreign countries the main exhibits of interest were the German N.S.U. Ro8o and Japanese Honda N600 mini. Simca also had an interesting new car, a front-wheel-drive ‘too. It seems strange that the French firm markets cars with such different layouts as rear-engined real-wheel-drive; front-engined rear-wheel-drive, and front-engined front-wheel-drive. However, their latest venture is possibly their best yet. The engine is placed across the front of the car but the styling is unmistakably Simca. The bodywork incorporates an upwards-opening rear door similar to the Renault 16.
The Simon is a well-behaved car on the road, with precise rack-andpinion steering and good road-holding with little roll. At the same time the car’s absorption of railway-crossings and bumpy roads was typically good, as one would expect from a French car. The seats were comfortable, although the room in the back was less than hoped for. Considering it will sell on the British market for between £718 and £839 it should prove quite popular. There are at present three models, the LS (with a 53-b.h.p. engine) and the GL and GLS (both with 56-b.h.p. engines), and all are available with either four or two doors and automatic gearbox. A station wagon and a commercial car are also to be manufactured.
The five-bearing t,i t8-c.c. engine is inclined to the rear, allowing for a better bonnet shape, and the gearbox is on the left-hand sidc of the engine. The suspension is independent all round, with Michelin ” X ” radial tyres as standard, and the brakes, which needed quite a lot of pedal pressure, are drum at the rear and disc at the front.
Mazda were exhibiting for the first time in this country and had on display their twin-rotor tioS sports coupe and estate and saloon versions of their elegantly styled (by I3ertone) isoo. The soo is’ powered by an o.h.c. 78-b.h.p. engine and sells for £994 in Great Britain, while the twin-rotor car, if it ever becomes available, costs £2,607, and is powered by a 982-c.c. version of the Wankel engine manufactured under licence by Toyo Kogyo Co. Ltd. It develops to8.5 b.h.p. at 7,000 r.p.m.