SPORTING CARS ON TEST

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SPORTING CARS ON TEST.

THE 2-LITRE 6-CYLINDER O.M.

By RODNEY L. WALKERLEY.

FROM time to time there have been many attempts at the production of a “perfect small car,” as distinct from a cheap, good small car ; and although the ” perfect ” car must remain an entity of reason and never achieve existence, there are one or two instances of a distinct approach to the ideal, among which the latest production of the famous Brescia factory—the Officine Meccaniche—must take a foremost place. Since 1918 the famous Italian firm has sought to produce a small car whose chassis, embodying all the refinements associated with high-powered and expensive cars, shall be the dernier cri in automobilism, and how far this aim has been realised, the fame of the O.M. car, and its record in open competition, must testff this connection it may be recalled that the capable hands of R. F. Oats a car, identic n every respect with the model I had the ple . re of testing, finished in the recent Ulster T.T. e in eighth place, at an average speed of 59.83 m ., after an absolutely no-trouble, non-stop run, performance which is as

amazin as ‘t was uns • tacular. t was then, wit. ,ery great pleasure, that we availed ourselves if M s. L. C. Rawlence’s kindness, and with Mr. Oats

• a four-seater e helm, slid silently through the London open tourer edition of the 2-litre 6 inder sports 0.M., en route for Brooklands Motor ourse, Weybridge. ,., As can be seen from the illustrations, the special sports 15/60 chassis is an extremely good looking car,

and its specification fully confirms the promise of its appearance.

The power unit, which is so exquisitely compact as to appear diminutive, is a six cylinder side valve of 1,990 c.c. capacity. In the sports engine the valves are interchangeable, and the pistons are of a special alloy. The aluminium crank-case is designed to allow for water cooling to the centre bearings, and is suspended at three points, the bearings being carried in the top half. Carburation is by two R.A.G. carburettors, the fuel being supplied via an Autovac from a 16 gallon tank at the rear. Ignition is by Bosch coil.

The chassis weighs 161 cwts., the treasury rating is 15.6 h.p., and the tax comes to 06 per annum.

Smoothness and Docility. On our

On our way out of London, we were able to judge a little of the tractability of the 0.M., and I have nothing but praise for the behaviour of the car. Apart from the hiss of the air intake, the power unit gave us no hint of its presence. The six cylinders were smooth and silent, and the side valve engine was free from any sign of clatter. The exhaust note was subdued, but when accelerating through a gap in traffic, the pitch rose in a manner indicative of a ” snappy ” engine.

The four-wheel brakes were excellent, smooth and progressive in use, and there appeared to be no tendency to lock wheels, even when applied in emergency. The hand brake, operating on a second set of rear shoes, was a definite ” service ” brake, as distinct from a parking device. fast run down to the track I could see that the performanc . in Ulster might be calle quite standard, and to be expec f he

a 1 1 y . on corners an a speed wak.

reminiscent of a real racing car, and it was obvious that the most indecent and illegal averages could be put up on this car.

A noteworthy feature was thrown into high relief during our fast run on the road. The gearbox was naturally brought into constant use, and the third gear, which was exceptionally useful and was employed for long periods, was the nearest approach to a silent third I have met with for a very long time, and tempts one to rapid acceleration and high road speeds. The maximum on this ratio was considerably in excess of a mile a minute.

At Brooklands. Arrived at the track, we first of all checked and

we slightly increased our tyre pressure prior to a little hiele speed motoring, and screwed up the Hartfords in preparation for the bumping to come. Then, four up, we circled the concrete to warm up. After a couple of laps, four up, we shed two passengers, and I essayed a lap flat out.

Running on full throttle, the little engine was as smooth and well bred as at town speeds, and while we held eighty-two along the straight, I found the O.M. rode as steady and straight as anyone could wish. On the bankings the car clung like a limpet to the track, and, despite the bumps, the steering was finger-light, and I was able to drive one-handed, conversing with my passenger the while. On a subsequent lap it was found possible to pull the car down the Byfleet and cut across to the Fork with perfect steadiness, the speedometer-needle hard against its last notch the while. We must have been doing a good eighty-five. I timed actually only one lap by stop-watch, and found that we had taken 135 seconds, which represents a lap speed of 73.78 m.p.h. To those with a knowledge of the track, this speed will appear distinctly creditable in a 2-litre car which which has none of the features of the ordinary sports car—overhead valves and other complications. Actually, I should put the maximum speed of the O.M. at about eighty-two, under ordinarily good, every-day conditions.

An interesting experiment we carried out was slowing down on top gear to six miles per hour, and then steadily accelerating, still on top, until the speedometer would indicate no further. It must be acknowledged that six to eighty on top, without fuss or noise, is very good flexibility in any car. But having driven the O.M. for any length of time, it simply becomes as a matter of course..

The Test Hill. found the and tested the brakes

g on the’• ht—where we slowed from eighty to twenty in a gra — —……:, short distance —we took the car to the Test Hill, and ha ,ith our front wheel on the first slope of the hill. Then, ro i .anding start, in first gear, the O.M. surged up the gradiei accelerating all the way till the abrupt ce° of incline compelled a closing of the th As the car took off at the crest, the se: emeter was registering

thirty-five, and our or the hill was 12 seconds. This I thou• • n excellent performance, for there was no ot of rolling start on the flat, the front wheels

b • • actually on the hill when I let in the clutch.

A Deceptive Car.

Handling the O.M.one absolutely forgets that the car is a two-litre side-valve—and no Ricardo head at that. The outstanding impression is that of a high powered car. There is that feeling of complete solidity beneath the throttle pedal that is so totally lacking in the vast majority of cars of this size. One feels thatno matter how hard the O.M. is driven—and it puts up a road performance unsurpassed by cars twice its size— the car will keep on keeping on. The chassis is an outstanding example of masterly design and perfect engineering, and approaches that perfect thing, a poem in steel, the nearest thing to the ideal small car that I have ever tried.

No Criticism.

There appears nothing worthy of criticism. The power is there, the gears are right and silent in operation, and, once the sprung lever is grown used to, easy in changing. The brakes are good, the steering light and free from kick. The suspension is noteworthy and the road holding outstandingly good. From radiator to tail lamp, the O.M. is a car built to an ideal, and at 095 is cheap at the price. The concessionaires for the United Kingdom are L. C. Rawlence and Co., 39, Sackville Street, Piccadilly, where a demonstration run can be had by arrangement And my advice to the would-be sporting driver is : go and have a run, it is an experience never to be forgotten,