Veteran to classic -- 0-100-0

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We see that a weekly contemporary is organising a competition for its readers to see which of their cars can record the best time on a 0-100-0mph thrash. We note further that four warming-up and six timed runs are envisaged, which sounds like a pretty daunting ordeal for the cars involved. Some 33 years ago Roy Salvadori set the ball, or actually an Aston Martin DB4, rolling in this respect.

When we were road-testing a Facel Vega FVS in 1958 we thought about this performance of desperate acceleration and heavy braking, and decided to see what the 5.8-litre Chrysler-powered French coupé could do in that respect. The time came out to just over the 30 seconds clocked by Salvadori (although without elaborate test equipment it is almost impossible to tell when the ton has been reached and abandon floored accelerator for the brake pedal) except that the car wouldn’t stop. It rolled on, the brakes having faded completely.

The particular type of Facel Vega had 15 in wheels necessitating 11in diameter Alfin brake drums (we were told that the lining area worked out at 95.5 sq/in per ton) which just couldn’t cope. After we had returned the car to HW Motors we had a ‘phone call from George Abecassis, who told us that we had cracked the Alfins, about which he didn’t seem very pleased.

So this can be very tough on a car, and doesn’t prove very much, surely? It leads me on to say that I am not very enamoured of the 0-60 mph and similar acceleration times the road-testers get up to, when obtaining figures to publish in the various journals (including Motor Sport ). Car owners seldom get going from rest by banging in the clutch and departing with spinning wheels. So a more realistic test of acceleration must be to start things from a steady rolling speed, such as 10 mph, having of course first calibrated speedometer or rev-counter to give a correct reading at which to depress the throttle pedal.

In pre-war times this is what Motor Sport testers did, when compiling the acceleration graphs we used to publish. It saved the borrowed test car some punishment and the figures were more realistic.

It may be of interest that a 1.5-litre Meadows-engined HRG tested in 1937 took less than 0.2 seconds longer to accelerate to 50 mph from a steady 10 mph than it did from a wheel-spinning standstill, and the difference to 60 was 0.7 seconds. So much for burning clutch lining and tyre rubber away from the lights! — WB