CAR FASHIONS AND FANCIES FOR 1929.
A FEW NOTES ON THE PREVAILING TENDENCIES AT OLYMPIA.
THE most lasting impression left on the mind after a visit to this year’s Show is, I fear, one of bodies. Such terms as Sportsman’s Coup.% Sunshine Saloon, Fabric and All Steel have been drummed into the ears and flaunted before the eyes almost to the exclusion of everything else.
While this is undoubtedly a very healthy sign of the perfection of the modern motor car as a utility vehicle, insomuch that mechanical excellence is taken for granted, yet to the sporting enthusiast it certainly detracts from the interest of the Show.
However, the latter, by careful study, will find a few interesting cars and many features which, he will be pleased to note, are the direct outcome of racing experience.
Racing has enabled manufacturers to perfect the reliability of the comparatively small multi-cylinder engine, which for smoothness, flexibility and acceleration has long been pre-eminent. Among the cars at Olympia which broke new ground in this direction were
Amilcar, Armstrong Siddeley and Riley.
Of these, perhaps the most remarkable is the Hillman. The products of this firm have been steadily improved each season for the last few years, and in presenting a ” straight-eight ” engine of two-litre capacity, mounted in the safety type of chassis, the Hillman Motor Car Company have shown themselves thoroughly up-to-date in thought and deed. In common with the other Hillman models, the chassis is extremely low, though the ground clearance is in no way diminished. The overhead valve engine has dimensions of 63 x 105 m.m., with a total cubic capacity of 2,620 c.c. The Treasury rating is 19.7 and the tax is thus 00. Cooling is by the thermo-syphon system, assisted by fan and
impellor, with controlled shutters to the radiator. The gear-box provides four speeds and reverse and is righthand controlled. Transmission is by Hardy Spicer propellor shaft, with a semi-floating spiral bevel drive axis.
The specification includes semi-elliptic springs with shock absorbers all round, coil and distributor ignition, Lucas lighting and starting and 29 x 5.50 in. balloon tyres. The performance of the car is stated to be excellent.
The most remarkable feature of the new chassis, however, is the price, which makes it the cheapest eightcylinder car on the market. It is made in four models, tourer, saloon, Weyniann saloon and ” Segrave Coupe,” the first of these costing 4:435 and the remainder £485 each. All are of the Safety
type, with non-splinterable glass, electrically operated dipping head-lamp reflectors, wire-wheels, and Dewandre servo brakes.
Last year Amilcar delighted their many admirers by showing the wonderful six-cylinder super-charged model, which is retained for 1929, but in addition, and in a somewhat different class, they now market an eightcylinder car with an engine capacity of 1700 c.c. While capable of a good performance, aided by the maker’s racing experiments, the car is not a sports model, but is interesting as an example of the trend in modern automobile design. The specification includes a fourspeed gear-box with multi plate clutch and spiral bevel final drive, while the chassis price is 050. The Armstrong Siddeley stand was remarkable for the appearance of the first really small six-cylinder car to be manufactured in this country. Carrying with it the maker’s reputation for sturdy construction, the new model should find a ready market, especially as again
the price is really attractive, namely, t275 for the full saloon. The engine capacity is only a trifle over 1200 c.c., while a three-speed gear-box and 27 x4.4 in. tyres complete the main features of the specification.
Riley, after a very successful season, both in competition and business, with their 9 h.p. model have now produced a slightly larger six-cylinder edition, combining all the attractive features which made the smaller car so delightful, with the extra accommodation demanded by so many and now catered for by the increased engine size. The new model has an engine of 1633 cc. and the excellent four-speed box with the silent third gear, which has been such a strong point in favour of the ” 9.” Both in engine and chassis the ” 6 ” closely follows the design of the ” 9″ and the price of the ” Stelvie ” saloon is 095.
LARGE MULTI-CYLINDER CARS.
Among firms who have adopted multi-cylinder designs in the larger sizes the most prominent are MercedesBenz and Renault. The former, of course, show the 6-cylinder 36-220 h.p. model, whose praises we shall never cease to sing, but they now market also a more sedate vehicle having a wonderfully simple-looking 8-cylinder-in-line engine of 4-4litres capacity. Unlike most Mercedes models, this car has no supercharger and has side-by-side valves, though neither idea, nor the 8-cylinder design, are strange to this firm. In fact, the new model owes much to experience gained with some of the racing cars of a few years back.
The 45 h.p. Renault has always been regarded as a tower of strength in the big car class. Now, however, a car of approximately the same size with two more cylinders should satisfy the enthusiast who likes the little extra refinement in running which may have been missing in the big six-cylinder model.
An unusual feature of the new Renault is the mounting of the radiator in the conventional position. The illustration shows that this has been done without sacrificing the usual imposing appearance of the Renault “bow,” nor is the change due to any inefficiency of the old rearward position, but merely because, with a straighteight engine, the overall length would be excessive.
Arrol-Aster and Beverly-Barnes both market 8cylinder cars of approximately 3 litre capacity, the former with an engine of the sleeve-valve type, remarkable for silence and flexibility, and the latter with a thoroughly up-to-date design of twin overhead camshaft engine.
A good feature of the Arrol-Aster is the ” one-shot ” chassis lubrication system, while the Beverley has a gear-box whose ease of operation and choice of ratios should delight the sportsman.
FOR THE SPORTSMAN.
Turning to the firms who specialise in sports cars, the most noteworthy, from the point of advanced design, is the front wheel drive Alvis. This car has made a fine name for itself in various road races this year and should appeal to many who desire something of real
merit, yet out of the ordinary. Its cornering abilities are apparently phenomenal, and its engine is based on the successful 4-cylinder type, which has done so well during the last few years.
The chassis may be had with or without supercharger and with various types of body work at prices in the neighbourhood of 000 — 000.
Aston-Martin again showed their attractive range of pleasure cars, with minor improvements, and the firm’s policy seems to be to work on sound, well-tried lines, without attempting any startlingly novel features.
After several years of patient research Lea-Francis can now safely claim a position second to none in the world of sporting light cars. Everyone knows that the Hyper-Sports model won the Ulster T.T. and ran at 80 m.p.h. for 12 hours at Brooklands. Replicas of this successful chassis may be had with two-seater, fourseater, coupe or saloon type bodies at prices ranging upward from 095.
Bentley Motors, after a brilliantly successful racing season, have not found it necessary to make anything but detail alterations to the 4i litre and 3-litre models, but they have added a ” speed ” edition of the big sixcylinder chassis. This is a car which should appeal strongly to the fortunate sportsman who can and must have the best.
Lagonda have learnt much during the year by racing experience and an already excellent car has become even better ; a Le Mans replica is now available, completely equipped for road racing, at a somewhat higher price than the ordinary speed model.
With regard to sporting cars of foreign manufacture, apart from those already mentioned, the palm must surely be awarded to the Italians. Two of the most attractive cars in their class are the Alfa Romeo and the 0.M., while others of real merit (in the eyes of the sportsman) are the Ceirano, the Itala, and the Lancia.
The Alfa Romeo 1500 c.c. supercharged model has managed to sweep the board in almost every event entered for with what appeared to be consummate ease. One glance at the exterior or at the mechanism should be enough to win the heart of any enthusiast, but the price is necessarily high.
The 2-litre O.M. is dealt with separately elsewhere in this issue, and both it and its small brother are in their way quite outstanding.
Two other names only come to mind when thinking of sports cars, namely, Austro-Daimler and Stutz.
The former have improved their unconventional tubular chassis model and the 3-litre car has also shown that it is a serious force in the standard car races.
Stutz continue as the only big American firm to make a sports model, and, moreover, one which does not lose its sporting performance when carrying generous coachwork. Stutz created great surprise and admiration by their challenge to the victorious Bentley at Le Mans.
Taken all in all, therefore, the sportsman may find many satisfactory features about the cars manufactured for 1929, though at first it might appear that his interests have been unduly neglected in favour of the family man and the business traveller.