“YOUNG CHARABANC ” MANY USES OF THE FORD V8 ESTATE GAR FOR THE SPORTING ENTHUSIAST
NXARLY all racing-drivers have to carry an enormous amount of equipment about with them to the various races, unless, if the race is at Brooklands, they are fortunate enough
to have a shed at the track. Even then, the gear must be transported up to the pits, while means of transport will still be necessary for races at Donington or in other parts of the country. The extreme example is that of the MercOlas-Benz Grand Prix equipe, which not only has a separate lorry to carry each car, together with its spares, but a complete travelling workshop as well besides munerous tenders and private cars to convey the various assistants and mechanics, quite apart from the drivers themselves. The modern Grand Prix
equipe, travelling to a race, is like an army on the move. Individual racing drivers cannot travel in such state, and they usually fall back upon some old and capacious machine in which to pack their spare wheels, tyres, fuel, and a mass of general equip ment. Such objects are difficult to pack into any ordinary car, to make the best use of such space as is available, and there is rarely much room left for personal comfort. Furthermore, if an ordinary car is employed, as used by its owner for everyday journeys when not travelling to a race, it will rapidly be spoilt. The upholstery will be torn, and the interior will become unfit for general conveyance, apart from the undue load on the springs. Lately a new type of machine has been developed, known as the utility or estate car, which is eminently suitable for transport of large quantities of equipment. One of the best known examples is the Ford V8, fitted with this special type of body. The Ford V8 with its ordinary touring types of body has already
become very popular with drivers who also run a racing-car, and the latest examples on the utility or estate car chassis may be strongly recommended as even more suitable. Reference has been made to the ” utility ” and the ” estate ” cars, and
it is important to note that there is a ‘distinct difference, though cars with bodies of this type are often generally referred to by the former title of ” utility cars.” A difficultyarose when these cars were first brought out, as it was held in one court that they were commercial vehicles, and as such were subject to a general limit of 30 m.p.h., whether in a built-up
area or not. Such a limitation, if generally enforced, would naturally be a great drawback, especially for their use by racing men. However, the Minister of Transport recently made it quite clear, in answer to a specific question on this matter, that no hard and fast rule could be laid down, that a certain body style constituted a commercial vehicle, and that the definition lay rather in the purpose for which a vehicle was constructed. If, for instance, a vehicle was by its construction suited for carrying passengers, it could not be
classed as a goods vehicle, no matter what the type of body. Both the utility” and the ” estate ” Ford V8s have a large body of hard maple, finished with spar varnish to
enhance the natural grain. There are three rows of seats. In front, besides the driver, there is ample room for two other persons, and there is a door on each side for this compartment. Behind there is another seat for two persons, and behind that again, the rear seat will accommodate another three. The rear compartment, which is approximately 6 ft. in length, also has two separate doors, and there are safety glass windows all the way round. The main differences between the ” utility” and the ” estate ” types are
that on the former the tail-board can be let down, and the middle and rear seats are quickly detachable. The utility car, which is thus more readily adaptable for carrying large loads, may thus be deemed to be a commercial vehicle, whereas the estate car, with fixed tailboard and seats, is a passenger-carrying vehicle, and not subject to the general 30 m.p.h. limit. Though the seats are fixed in position— one could remove them if one had no objection to the commercial vehicle status and its limitations—the space available for carrying personal equipment is extremely large on the estate
car. Besides all the gear necessary for a racing machine, one could almost certainly convey several mechanics as well in complete comfort. This is really the point of the estate car, that in its springing and in its general comfort it handles exactly like an ordin
ary car. When one first sees the enormous space behind the driving seat, one may be a little alarmed, and fancy that some care would be necessary to avoid bumping the tail into obstructions.
On the occasion of the present test, however, the Ford VS estate car was driven straight from the MOTOR SPoRT offices through the thickest traffic of the Bank and the Mansion House, and through narrow City streets, without any undue precautions haying to be taken, or any sense of unfamiliarity to be overcome. The writer has certainly handled a large number of private cars of widely different characteristics, but never before had driven a machine with so large a body—almost -a “young charabanc.” The ease of handling of the estate car was thus at once remarkable. On the open road, one gets another surprise. One might expect some difference in performance with so large a body behind one, but in actual fact the con struction is so light that the car goes just like an ordinary V8—and there is no need to amplify that statement. Many owners of sporting machines were surprised when the big machine whistled by them, and hills were taken in its stride
without faltering. On a long, deserted by-pass, quite level, a speed of 80 ln.p.h.
was actually attained ! An average of 40 m.p.h. also became quite possible.
When corners were taken really fast, there was a slight amount of roll, but only if one drove the big estate car as one would a sports machine. At all ordinary speeds one could forget about the length of the body.
However, there is little need to stress the remarkable performance of time car, for performance is not the primary object of its construction. Its speedy capabilities May be toted Merely because occasions often arise when, even with a load on board, one wishes to get to the scene of a race quickly. Preparation of the racingcar might have been delayed, leaving only ‘a Short space for practice, and the driver would need his mechanics and spares on the spot as rapidly as possible.
In this case an old, perhaps decrepit, tender would be at a disadvantage, whereas between, say, London and Donington the estate car could keep up as high an average as most sports-cars that one could mention.
On the occasion of the test the carrying powers of the car could scarcely be extended to the full, but its roomy body was utilised to convey all the electrical equipment necessary for the running of a big speed event. This comprised twelve reels holding three miles of heavy cable, a special apparatus for winding up the cable, two telephones, the electric timing gear itself, with its apparatus for the start and finish, and a number of other items, apart from personal luggage. In spite of this load, there would still have been room for at least four passengers,
without overcrowding. Never before, with an ordinary car, had the entire equipment mentioned above been loaded into a single machine, and even then, as much as could be carried had been packed most carefully, making use of every square inch of space, including even the front seat beside the driver. With the Ford estate car one could merely stack in the reels of cable, etc., placing them more or less haphazard, and still finding plenty of room to spare, while the front compartment remained quite empty. Apart from uses connected with motor sport, the estate car, as its name implies,
should prove most useful for many country purposes, such as fishing, hunt ing, or golf expeditions. A foursome party, complete with all their clubs and luggage, could be conveyed in comfort
equal to that of an ordinary saloon car. It has a big ground clearance, and is. built for travelling over rough, unmade surfaces. The cost of the estate car is. i315.