SPACIOUS AND DE LUXE
The Austin z800 Crayford Estate Car
ESTATE cars come in many makes and sizes and are undeniably useful. I have been trying a Crayford-converted Austin 1800, which is not only very spacious but is an estate car or shooting brake of de luxe conception, the padded upholstery of which may not be best suited for conveying pigs to market but does make this a splendid holiday or shopping car, etc.
This Crayford conversion from 1800 saloon to shooting brake is less expensive than the Ford Corsair and Zephyr, Fiat 2300, Peugeot 4041-) Volvo 121, Simca IsooGL and Triumph 2000 estate cars, more than L:350 in some cases Of these, only the Fiat, Ford Zephyr, Simca and Triumph are faster and from rest to 6o m.p.h. the Austin accelerates better than the Peugeot and Volvo. It is distinctly more economical than the big Fiat and ‘Ford, the Peugeot and the Triumph (I obtained 26.5 m.p.g. of 4-star), perhaps because it is rather lighter than most of the estate wagons in its class.
Dimensionally., it is shorter than the Other makes quoted above, by a matter of nearly two feet compared with the Zephyr V6, yet it is wider than all save the Zephyr. It also scores—and these are the important points—in respect of height above road, length of rear compartment, width of loading platform and between the wheel-arches, and height of the loading aperture. The Fiat 2300 is superior over space in rear with the back seat in use, and cubic feet loading volume to window level with the back seat folded (by 6.2 cu. ft.) and the Zephyr has a 9 in. higher loading aperture, but is otherwise inferior. The Austin Crayford has much less overhang than the others, as much as 14 in. less compared with the Vauxhall Victor tot, for instance.
The front-drive, interconnected Hydrolastic suspension and low, unimpeded floor, enable this Crayford conversion to carry heavy loads without impairing the outstandingly good cornering and handling for which the Austin 1800 is noted. I found I could drive fast with something like 5 cwt. behind me with no change in the feel of the car, apart from a slightly less lively rough-road ride and some loss of acceleration. The back seat folds easily and the lift-up rear door, retained open automatically by its struts, rendersloading very easy, especially as the four normal doors are retained. A substantial woodslatted roof-rack, quickly removable, is standard equipment. This causes some wind noise at speed, which at first I blamed on the Dunlop SPLIT tyres. The car’s appearance is smart and unobtrusively similar to that of the saloon, and its dark red finish was much admired. It is interesting that Crayford make use of the longer body interior to lit extractor vents, with rubber flap-valves, at the rear, which work well in conjunction with the facia vents—but which B.M.C., unlike Ford, do not provide on their saloon cars.
There is no need to describe 1800 aspects of the vehicle, which we have dealt with previously, apart from remarking that in U 355-mile day’s drive I found the low-geared steering rather tiresome, and the gear change stiff but with a nicely-located lever. The excellence of the ride and cornering, as always, left me very enthusiastic.
The test car was a 1966 model, provided by Green Garage Ltd. Of South Warnborough, near Odiham, Hampshire (Long Sutton 249). It was notable that, although it had covered to,000 miles, it was in excellent mechanical and bodily condition, and that although these engines are sometimes reputed to use a lot of oil, a pint sufficed for 366 miles; the good petrol consumption has already been mentioned. When supplying these Crayford conversions Green Garage remove the unsecured tool-bag from the back of the vehicle, and remount the tools, jack strapped in, wheel-brace clipped in, in the engine compartment. They can do this on any 1-Soo for ki TOS. The complete car costs £1,104. They also supply a neat dog-guard, folding with the seat, for attachment to the back seat of this or any 1800, for £5 Jos. —W. B.
A PERSONAL RECOLLECTION
At a display of current Volkswagen models put on by Co’bourne, Garages Ltd. at the Talbot Hotel, Ripley, on September 30th, which was visited by hundreds of their customers, the 1.h.d. two-tone 1947 VW, JLT 420, which first decided Mr. Colbourne-Baber to become an agent in this country for these cars, formed the centrepiece.
Seeing the car again aroused memories for me, because it was this ” Beetle ” that I drove in 1952 while Mr. Baber had flown to Germany for a business meeting with VW, and which thus became the subject of Mayon Swim’s first Volkswagen road-test. More than that, I was so impressed with this then-regarded-as-unconventional German car, apart from the feel of its cable brakes, that I decided to become a VW user, from which stemmed my rabid enthusiasm for these ears which raged for half-a-decade and has not altogether subsided. Indeed, I travelled to this pleasant party in my 1953 ” Beetle,” which has the same 1,131 c.c. engine as Mr. Baber’s older car, which is thought to have completed in excess of 200,000 miles.
It is interesting that it was this car, and an earlier article we had published from an R.A.E. officer about a war-time VW he had used in Germany, that cultivated MOToR Srowt’s enthusiasm for this now famous make, of which some 14 million have been built to date. Incidentally, Mr. Baber tells me that the affectionate term ” Beetle ” originated at his son’s prep-school, no doubt with JLT 42o in mind, and was afterwards used by him when he founded the Volkswagen O.C. and named their magazine Beeding. From there, of course, it had passed into common usage.—W. B.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Last month we published a picture of a road junction in Wales “protected ” by HALT, STOP and GIVE-WAY signs. When we passed there a few days afterwards, the expensive new GIVE-WAY sign was no longer displayed . . .
MORRIS ‘Soo BREAKS RECORDS
Record breaking is something of a lost art these days. But during September a two-carburreter Morris 1800 saloon broke seven International Class E (production cars) records. It made this king-duration attempt at Monza and averaged 93.9 m.p.h. for four days to 92.64 m.p.h. for 15,000 miles. The drivers were Baker, Enever, Aaltonen, Vernaeve, Fall and Poole and B.M.C.’s new Competition Manager, Peter Browning, supervised the run. Dunlop tyres and Castro! Oil were used.