A 750-MILE ROAD AND TRACK TEST OF THE TALBOT TEN For many years the old-established
For many years the old-established firm of Clement-Talbot Ltd. concentrated only on large ears, though their ” 8-18 ” and ” 10-25″ models of earlier times are spoken of very highly by those still using them. Then, last year, a
modern Talbot Ten was announced, and we have recently had the interesting experience of subjecting one of these cars to a more than usually searching test, covering in all a distance of more than 750 miles. The model tested was the ” Rally ” open-tourer, priced at £248. On taking the car over at Barlby Road one felt at once that here was an essentially modern sports-car that would handle satisfactorily from the commencement, and emerging into the West End traffic, anxious to keep an appointment in South London, this impression was justified, for one found oneself driving as if the Talbot had been handled regularly for a considerable period. The driving position was correct, the powerful brakes and accurate steering subconsciously gave every confidence and, though hood and side-screens were erect, the rear-view mirror and trafficators proved entirely adequate in slipping rapidly through London’s varied traffic
Streams. A few matters of business dealt with, and the Talbot was headed for the Kingston by-pass, where, free from restricted areas, we settled down to fifty and sixty miles per hour, still with a sense of big-car security.
The Talbot Ten never for a moment gives the impression of a small-engined car in which sporting performance is achieved by a highly-tuned power unit and lightweight construction.
Instead, it is obvious that the designers’ aim has been to incorporate all the more desirable features of the most modern high-performance cars — supple suspension, impeccable road-holding, a smooth flow of power, finger-light smoothaction steering—in a car low in first cost and not expensive to maintain, and withal possessing an attractive outline and quality of finish which would not shame far more expensive productions. Arriving at Brooklands we lost no time
in getting out on to the track. The shock-absorbers received no attention, nor were the tyre pressures checked, though a slight petrol leak from the carburetter was cured to conserve the fuel in the almost-full rear tank. Brooklands failed to disturb the Talbot, which gave the happy impression that it would run round all day at full throttle. Held close to the grass round the 13yfieet Banking at sixty-five miles per hour, the steering remained dead accurate, the car completely stable, save for an occasional lifting of the rear wheels as rough patches were encountered. There was some wind blowing and the day was far from warm. With the screen flat and the tonneau
cover over all seats except the driver’s a flying lap was done in 142 seconds, equal to 70.14 miles per hour, the speed being niOsi 1 y steady at seventy, rising to seventyfive to seventy-eight in swooping from the Members’ Banking and falling to sixtyfour miles per hour from the Vickers Sheds to the beginning of the Home B nuking. During this performance the car was very quiet and felt under full control, ” placing ” to anywhere on the track the driver wished. The oil pressure remained steady at twenty-five to twentysix pounds per square inch as it had
done on the road. With the screen still flat, but a passenger in the car, the flying quarter-mile was covered in 12* seconds, or just under seventy-two miles per hour. Acceleration through the gears is shown in the chart, these times being first timings and not an average struck after several attempts. Fifty miles per hour was reached from a standstill in 17i seconds, two up. Several fast laps
were accomplished without any signs of distress and at seventy miles per hour the Talbot rode remarkably steadily, the steering remained fully as smooth and as accurate as at road speeds and the engine did not appear to overheat unduly. No thermometer is fitted, so we cannot quote the actual temperature rise. rev.-counter does not grace the facia, but extreme speeds on the gears were twenty-five miles per hour on bottom, thirty miles per hour on second, fifty miles per hour on third, and seventy-five
miles per hour on top. On the road, bottom is used for starting, and second is desirable shortly after moving off, though bottom is not as low as in a typical trials car. A notable feature of the Talbot is the use of synchro-mesh on every ratio. The remote gear lever is very well placed, very sturdy and has a short travel. In the ordinary way double-declutching downward changes are made, but the synchro-mesh works outstandingly effec
tively. It was possible to approach a road junction in top, slow to a crawl and go straight into second silently and decisively without touching the accelerator. Moreover, the synchro-mesh works really rapidly. The lever moved a trifle stiffly but with a pleasantly decisive action. Upward changes could be made very quickly, with or without double declutching, a sharp pat with the hand getting the lever home. Reverse position could always be found at the first attempt when wanted, lying over beyond the second-gear position, no safety-catch being deemed necessary which, in our experience, it was not.
The clutch is positive in action, feels right during racing starts and is light to operate. Pedal travel is average. The accelerator is on the right of the brake pedal and though a driver new to the car had a bad moment treading on both at once, the writer did not find them too close at any time ; indeed the brake pedal is slightly cut away to give additional clearance. The brakes work well ; silently, smoothly and very effectively and pedal pressure is light for normal stops, with slightly more effort called for in an emergency. On Brooklands concrete surface we stopped in forty-five feet from forty miles per hour in spite of one wheel locking, .1 remarkable performance. The hand brake lies almost horizontally between the front seats and has a push-in release button. At first it seemed to work jerkily and to be too flimsy but with increased usage it seemed entirely adequate and,
being inter-connected with the pedal, gave an admirable feeling of security when used to hold the car on an incline in traffic. On the Saturday after we made the track tests the Talbot was used to attend the Shelsley-Walsh Hill-Climb and that long hard drive 1)1-Ought out the car’s qualities very fully. The easy riding and outstanding roadholding were a material aid in achieving good average speeds with one driver behind the wheel all day, and the steering characteristics contributed to our lack of fatigue. This steering is extremely accurate, has ample castor action and, in the up-to-date style, is not only fingerlight, but also works Very smoothly, so that one steers mainly by wrist Movement on all but acute bends. The wheel is thin-rimmed and approximately two and a half turns take the wheels from lock to lock. Only on really bad surfaces is a trace of road-wheel motion transmitted, vibration is not transmitted at all, though the action occasionally felt a shade ” springy.” Couple this steering with really steady road-holding, devoid of rolling on corners, free from pitching save on truly wavy surfaces, yet with supple comfortable riding, and it becomes clear that the Talbot Ten is a car in which 500 miles in a day would not seem hard labour. This riding is most fascinating, the weight appearing to be hung in exactly the correct way, and if the effect is that of a certain ” deadness ” there is no denying the sense of security and ease which the frame and suspension arrange ments combine to promote. Yet the suspension is sufficiently supple to ask for care in engaging the clutch and in braking if a ” dipping ” motion is to be
avoided. The Talbot Ten has to be cornered more than usually rapidly to draw forth an appeal from its Dunlops.
Add to the foregoing remarks the fact that the little four-cylinder side-valve engine is silky smooth and almost entirely silent at a cruising speed of fifty to fiftyfive miles per hour in top gear, and it will be seen that this Talbot really stands out as a very inexpensive example of the modern type of high-performance machine, following a lead set by cars in far higher price classes. The car’s whole manner of running is one of unobtrusive efficiency, though there is a pleasant exhaust burble in accelerating on the indirect ratios. The silencer actually became detached from the exhaust pipe towards the end of the test, but we drove through the West End
without arousing Robert’s wrath. It was interesting that after our prolonged test, mostly composed of hard driving under very varied conditions, the brakes had lost little, if any, of their original power. A slight squeak had developed, but the pedal had none of that flabbiness which shorter runs round trials courses have evinced in certain other motors we have tried. In the 750 miles we added no oil, and felt guilty, but justified, because the pressure-gauge needle could not be made to waver on sharp bends. The fuel-consumption worked out at twenty-four miles per gallon, which included the Brooklands tests. and all warming up. Starting from cold gave no cause for complaint. On the road the Talbot Ten is a very refreshing car to handle, its ” finnness ” and tenacious road-holding making it especially interesting on twisty roads. One drives mostly in top and third, the acceleration on the higher ratios being excellent once the engine has got into its stride, which it does from about twenty miles an hour on third, and thirty miles per hour in top. Second gear provides ample pick-up from a mere
crawl. The slow-running qualities on top are something quite out of the ordinary and we gained considerable pleasure from the feat of following a group of people pushing a racing-car along the road out of Dancer’s End estate without changing down—a very slow walking pace. There is no flat-spot or vibration period throughout the range and the power-unit only sounds stressed when reaching the extreme limits on the indirects. Actually, we thought that the Talbot Ten settled down most happily at about fifty-five miles per hour, which it reaches rapidly
after slowing to the “forties.” The transmission is silent, the gears making their presence noticeable mainly on the over-run, when changing, as the lever is momentarily in neutral, a not unpleasant sound. The body is free from rattles and Only the flapping of hood and side screens intrude. Torrential rain caught us on the Shelsley run, when the all-weather equipment emerged with flying colours, the interior being as snug as a saloon, while the rather disturbing corners of Fish Hill were negotiated in blinding rain with no trace of a skid. The driving position is very good, though the near-side wing is just invisible, which might be sufficient justification for a slightly higher seating position. The screen gives ample protection when erect from wind and quite heavy rain, and folds truly horizontal, though the licence unfortunatelythen adopts a law-defying position, as in most sports-cars. The hood erects easily, but the back side curtains proved something of a puzzle, which the exceptional conditions made it expedient to solve The propeller-shaft tunnel is being modified in 1937 cars to give more leg-room in the front compartment, though the writer experienced no inconvenience in keeping his foot off the clutch as it was. The front seats are of bucket type, arranged so that the driver’s left elbow does not continually nudge the passenger, and with ample back-support. The rear seat will accommodate three normal mortals quite comfortably, access being rendered easier by tilting backs to the front seats. The two doors are hinged at the rear and we made quite elegant entry and egress. The near-side door had a tendency to jamb. Wide running boards are provided and the wings are very shapely. Upholstery is in leather and the car’s external finish has a glossiness denoting good quality cellulose. At all times the radiator and ” frontworks ” remain rigid; indeed the Talbot is essentially built with thoroughbred solidity, so that the suspension is more than usually praiseworthy in its manner of smoothing bad surfaces without distortion of the body members. The driving position is close to wheel and screen. The instru ment-board, set under the scuttle, carries a big oval speedometer with inset fuelgauge, oil-gauge, clock, and dynamocharging light, the choke and starter buttons, an ash-tray before the passenger, cigarette lighter, throttle-setting fog switch and, on the extreme right, the lamp switch. There is a cubb) -hole before the passenger. The speedometer was accurate for all normal purposes and the fuel-gauge registered accurately to the nearest gallon. We should have felt happier with a water-thermometer and an ammeter, as the dynamo light seemed a trifle indecisive. On the centre of the steering-wheel is the control for the self-cancelling trafficators, the horn and the headlamp dimmer ; a convenient arrangement. The headlamp dimmer occasionally refused to work, which a few moments’ inspection would probably have cured. A steering-wheel spoke was rather apt to blank the important thirty miles per hour position on the speedometer. The lamps were entirely adequate and thick fog at night in the Staines locality provided a good test of the foglamp, which is a valuable addition. A tiny mirror is mounted on the centre of the scuttle, but this is very effective, even with the screen raised. We failed to discover the switch for the dashboard lighting. The rigid radiator, surmounted by a simple mascot, and the long flattopped bonnet as viewed from the drivingseat, enhance the big-car impression which this Ten inspires. The bonnet is held by screw-pattern clips, which worked satisfactorily. On the off side of the engine the big A.C. air-cleaner and neatly mounted spare plugs commend themselves, and plugs, oil-filter and fuses are creditably accessible. The battery sits on a shelf beneath the bonnet, where it could not be more easy of inspection, and the tools are accommodated behind it in a well. Incidentally, a very efficient hydraulic jack is included in the equipment; we unearthed it for a stricken Bugatti for our Dunlops gave no anxiety. The particular car we had for test was finished in green and carried small ‘UnionJacks on the bonnet sides, as it had been used for official trials work earlier in the year, having, indeed, covered 20,000 very strenuous miles. The polished aluminium wheel-discs blend very well with the deep wings and the hub-caps provide the essential sporting touch. They are, of course, of genuine knock-on pattern, not
imitations. The radiator-shell incorporates dummy shutters but is not the flimsy tin pressing too common on presentday cheap motors. The radiator-filler cap is beneath the bonnet. Turning to mechanical details, the fourcylinder engine was developed from that used originally for the Aero model Hillman. Minx. It has side-by-side valves and is rated at 9.8 h.p. The crankshaft runs in three bearings and an aluminium cylinderhead is used, smartly polished externally and held down by long accessible studs. A Zenith special downdraught carburetter feeds via a square-section hot-spotted manifold, all ingoing air passing through an A .C. air-cleaner. Ignition is by coil, with automatic regulation of advance and retard, the distributor being mounted vertically and the plug-leads having push-on terminals. Cooling is thermo-syphonic, fan assisted. The ribbed exhaust-manifold has a forward off-take pipe, and dynamo is of ventilated type with constant voltage control operated auto
matically. The compression-ratio is 6.8 to 1 and 40 b.h.p. is developed. In unit with the engine is the fourspeed and reverse gearbox with synchromesh on all forward speeds, there being two sets of ratios, to suit open and closed bodywork.. Power is transmitted to the spiral-bevel rear axle via an open shaft with needle-roller universals. The clutch is of the single dry-plate variety. The brakes are of duo-servo pattern, operated by cables. Steering is of worm-and-nut type, generous lock being provided and the sprung wheel has a diameter of 17 in. Suspension is by undendung springs, damped by I uvax double action hydraulic shock-absorbers. An 81gallon tank is carried at the rear of the frame, giving a range of 200 miles under
hard driving conditions. The filler extends on the near side of the body. 12-volt electrical equipment is used. Wire wheels are standard ecuipment, of centre-locknut type, carrying .1 x 5.25 covers. Apart from the bodywork details already enumerated, the tourer has adjustable front seats, arm rests for the rearseat passengers, telescopic ash-trays, doorpockets, a neat cover for the rear-mounted spare wheel, bumpers front and back, stop and reversing lights, dual screen wiper, safety glass, and a very useful tonneau cover extending over the front compartment. A choice of red, Talbot grey, platinum grey, green or all-black finishes is offered, with upholstery and
hoods in blending shades. The price is f248, and at the same figure a smart sports saloon is available, while a drophead four-seater coupe is listed at Z278.
The Talbot Ten is an interesting little car, offering a degree of refinement, both in its manner of running and the way in which it handles, that belies its price, and possessing at the same time a high degree of stability and a sporting performance. It should be one of the best sellers of 1937.