The Isotta Fraschini Tester
“Apen,..”Al..A.v.”0v.”Aednr”1.•-^1,-“V-^1.#4″1,-“rowNe.”1,-“V”*Nr1 SPORTING CARS ON TEST: THE ISOTTA FRASCHINI.
The Latest Production of a Pioneer Italian Firm. AAriVeWS”r4v,
THANKS to the courtesy of Messrs. Isotta Fraschini (Great Britain) Ltd., of 37, North Audley Street, London, W., we are able to publish particulars of their latest 45 h.p. ” Straight Eight” Isotta Fraschini, which is ,without.doubt a superb masterpiece of automobile construction.
As many of our readers are aware, Messrs. Isotta Fraschini, of Milan, Italy, possess a record in automobile construction which is probably unequalled throughout the world. Their first car was built nearly thirty years ago, and, as in pioneer work in those early days, they have been pioneers ever since in the development of research, experiment and construction.
The car which we had the opportunity of testing was the standard Sports model, fitted with a four-seater Sports body, the finish of which was a revelation of comfort and luxury, as may be gathered from the photographs which we reproduce.
To obtain an adequate idea as,to the wonderful capabilities of the Isotta Fraschini, one would have to leave the ordinary test routes, no matter how carefully they might be selected, and travel across the channel, where on the straight, wide roads of France or Italy the car could be allowed to travel for long distances at its maximum speed. From this we do not mean to imply that it is not suitable for English roads, but its performance is so immeasurably superior to that of any vehicle likely to be encountered that there is no criterion by which comparisons can be made.
The Isotta Fraschini Tester.
Leaving Town through a series of thickly congested roads, the big car headed its way through the traffic with absolute silence and glided along without the least suspicion of fuss, not even betraying the enormous power hidden beneath the bonnet
What we did notice, however, was that when there was any call for instant acceleration, one feltibodily transported forward in an almost unaccountable way.
Some cars accelerate with such a snap that the backs of the seats seem to dig themselves into one’s shoulders, others increase speed with an accompaniment of whirring machinery, but the only thing the acceleration of the Isotta Fraschini can be likened to is the gliding of a magic carpet, the sudden increase of speed being so silent and effortless.
As an indication of what may be done in the way of acceleration with this remarkable vehicle it may be remarked that when travelling along one of the new roads and the driver wished to pass a bunch of cars, some of which were capable of quite a respectable turn speed, the needle of the speedometer shot over to 86i miles per hour within what appeared to be two or three car lengths, and the pace then settled down to a comfortable 55 m.p.h., at which one had the sensation of doing an ordinary “thirty.”
With such a degree of acceleration as this, one finds the need of good braking, and the design of the Isotta Fraschini brakes permits a degree of retardation commensurate with the speed. The brakes, which are of the Servo type, operate with great smoothness and certainty. On testing the retardation against the stop watch, we found that when travelling at 80 miles per hour the car could be brought to a standstill without any violent application or trace of skidding in as little as 186 feet, and as we discovered later this could be effected with an extraordinarily small amount of pressure on the brake pedal. Discussing the matter of brakes, we were informed that four-wheel brakes have been fitted as standard to Isotta Fraschini cars for the last sixteen years, so by
now they can no longer be considered in an experimental stage.
Having witness what the car could do as to accelerating in ordinary traffic driving conditions, we made for a road where experiments in sheer acceleration could be made without causing undue concern to other road users. Starting on the level and by using the first and second gears, the speed of 89 miles per hour was reached in 25;) seconds. With the first gear alone 35 miles per hour was reached in 7 seconds, and when travelling on top gear at 35 miles per hour the speed of the car was
increased to 85 miles per hour in 171 seconds. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity of observing the maximum speed, but this is said to be in the neighbourhood of 104 m.p.h., and judging from the performance we witnessed, this does not appear to be any exaggeration. Short of climbing Ben Nevis, there seems to be no gradient likely to call for any effort on the part of the engine, and all our ordinary test hills, which we usually regard as something severe, simply disappeared like level ground as we swept up the inclines. In fact, with one’s eyes shut, the car might well have been travelling downhill. Having made all the usual observations and got our sensations of wonderment under control, we took a turn at the wheel, expecting to find that so large a car would be somewhat heavy to handle and call for the exercise of more than a usual degree of driving skill. To our surprise the steering felt extremely Tight and accurate, and once the length of the wheel base was
judged, there was no more difficulty in negotiating curves and sharp corners than is the case with touring cars of ordinary dimensions.
Though the acceleration is so wonderful, the engine is very docile, and will tick over to enable the car to run along in quite a ladylike manner at nine miles per hour, at which pace it runs gently and without any suspicion of torque chatter or transmission jerks. Throughout the entire range of speeds there is no period of vibration whatever, and although only three speeds are used, the ratios are so carefully selected that the gears can be changed as easily as though the speeds were selected without the use of toothed gearing at all.
As far as the constructional details of the chassis are concerned, one finds no departures from orthodox practice ; but perhaps it would be better to describe the Isotta Fraschini as the orthodox and sets a standard which other manufacturers have tried more or less to copy.
The eight cylinder engine has a remarkably clean exterior, the virtue of accessibility finding excellent expression in the arrangement of all the parts. The cylinders, which are cast monobloc, measure 95 mm. bore by 130 mm. stroke, thus giving an R.A.C. rating of 44.3 h.p., though the power actually developed on the brake is in the neighbourhood of 150 horsepower. The overhead valves are operated by push rods, and are fitted with double springs. A special automatic adjustment is provided for the timing chain, so that the tension always remains correct.
Aluminium alloy pistons are used, these being of a special design to ensure a permanently small working clearance and a low oil consumption.
The crankshaft is a fine piece of engineering, and is forged from chrome nickel steel, heat treated, tested and ground to fine limits, nine bearings of ample dimensions being used for its support in the upper portion of the crankcase. The crankcase is of the usual design, and is attached to the main members of the frame by four arms, the rear arms having been provided with friction dampers.
With so large an engine one might expect a somewhat heavy consumption of oil, but the full pressure system is so arranged that an adequate supply reaches all parts of the engine, and the quantity of oil used is small and works out at 800 to 1,200 miles to the gallon.
Two Zenith triple diffuser carburettors are employed, one to each set of four cylinders, with an inter-connecting pipe between the two. The mixture can be regulated as required for different running conditions by an air control lever mounted above the steering wheel, which also enables the engine to be started readily on cold mornings. The electrical equipment includes a combined Bosch
magneto and dynamo of the latest type, giving an advance of 45 degrees.
Three speeds forward and a reverse are provided by the gear box, which is mounted directly on the bell housing of the engine crankcase, wihch contains a dry plate clutch, consisting of alternate steel and Ferodo faced discs of large diameter.
In other respects the whole chassis is absolutely normal, though a close inspection reveals various refinements of construction that are too numerous to mention in detail. Needless to say, the workmanship represents the highest possible ideals of Italian craft, and the whole chassis is evidently built to last ; indeed, judging from the design and dimension of all parts, one would imagine that it would be impossible for the Isotta Fraschini to wear out at all.
Incidentally, we may mention that Messrs. Isotta Fraschini (Great Britain) Ltd. possesses a large and wellequipped Service Depot, where all spare parts are stocked—though one wonders in what circumstances they could ever be necessary—and the staff includes highly skilled mechanics from the Milan factory, whose expert knowledge should be of the greatest value to users of this famous make of car, if at any time such assistance should be required.