A Ranelagh-Bodied ,yoo” Fiat
THOSE who know of my admiration for the motor cars produced by our “co-belligerents “will appreciate with what pleasure I accepted an invitation from Geoffrey Battersby to inspect the then latest addition to his stable of a “
This model is less well known than either the ” 500 ” or ” 1,100 ” cars, and is exceedingly interesting technically. The chassis consists of a single central ” tube ” of box-girder construction, splayed out fore and aft in a ” Y.” The forward ” Y ” carries the power unit and a solid beam carrying the Vauxhallpattern suspension units, while the rear ” Y ” mounts I-elliptic springs, shackled at their after ends to the extremities of the ” Y ” and at their forward ends to a crossmember running across the point where this ” Y” meets the central box-girder. The chassis layout gives a wheelbase of 9 ft. 2 in., with a forward track a 4 ft. 3 in., and a rear track of 4 ft. 41 in.
The wheels are fitted with 15-4n. by 5.25-in. tyres, and the brakes, as on most Fiat products, are Lockheed, and are well able to cope with any demands. Shockabsorbing is by inbuilt hydraulic absorbers incorporated with the front suspension units, and by DCICO piston type at the rear, aided by a torsion stabiliser. As for the power unit, it is of straightforward design. The (;-cylinder pushrod o.h.v. engine of 65 by 75 mm. (1,493 c.c.), has a compression ratio of 5.75 to 1. and produces 45 b.h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m. A 4-bearing crank, fitted with a vibration damper, makes for extremely Smooth running, further aided by flexible engine mounting. Lubricant, from a 6-pint sump, is circulated by a gear-type pump drawing through a submerged filter, and water circulation is aided by a pump driven by the fan belt and equipped with
a thermostat and by-pass. Ignition is by coil, with a centrifugally-controlled distributor which has, in addition, an overriding manual adjustment. Carburation is by a single choke downdraught Zenith, fed by a camshaft-driven fuel pump.
Via a single-plate clutch the drive is through a 4-speed gearbox to a divided propeller shaft, allowing the floor of the car to be kept clear of the obstructing propeller-shaft tunnel, as the front shaft is inside the box-girder member, at the rear end of which is the steady bearing and the second universal joint, vertical movement only occurring in the rear half of the divided shaft. The standard axle ratio is 9-40.
On arriving at Battersby’s I was immediately struck with the resemblance of the car to those bodied by Farina, but was assured that this was a Ranelagh product, and was in steel, and not lightalloy, making for a heavy, albeit strong and durable, job. Further examination reveals “M.E.C.” engraved on the magna hub discs, and I was informed that the model had been treated at the Melbourne Engineering Co., under, it is said, the supervision of Peter Berthon. The compression ratio had been increased to 8 to 1, giving a reputed 1).h.p. of 70 at 5,650 r.p.m. This, no doubt, is safe by virtue of a special Laystall crankshaft running in Glacier-metal-lined bearings. During my somewhat short investigation of the alterations from standard, I noted the popular Fran’) oil-cleaner, which is an addition of proved merit. I was fortunate in having a short run with Battersby on his official A.T.C. duties, and was able to handle the car
for myself. I was impressed with the extreme smoothness of the engine ; it would pull down to 15 m.p.h. on top, and would accelerate without snatch or miss. The acceleration was discounted by the weight, some 23 cwt., but was satisfac
tory for a town carriage. Steering was accurate and light, but I should have appreciated a wheel of greater diameter and thinner rim.
As the car had not been run in, no attempt at maximum speed was made. Wear in the needle rollers of the front suspension units gave occasional colossal wheel flap, with which drivers of Fiat ” 500s ” are accustomed, but this has since been attended to. I noted that the gear-change was considerably more rapid
than on my own hack “500,” but extremely definite. Summing up, I should say that, with its modifications, the car is one of great promise. I will not attempt to describe the bodywork, save to point out that it still seems difficult to make a drophead in which the head can be easily stowed and which does not spoil the lines of the car when so stowed. On my return to the house I was able to re-acquaint myself with Battersby’s stable of” Vermicular ” cha.ssised-cars—the Tatra and the Hansa —both of which I have had the pleasure of conducting. Fellow sportsmen will remember Battersby’s performances in J.C.C. events with Salmsons and blown and unblown 0.M.s and may, no doubt, know of his Salmson-G.N. “Special,” which has, so far as I know, yet to make its debut. He has recently obtained an
8th Series Lancia Lambda, which is in perfect condition after 70,000 miles. This latest acquisition he humorously describes as “Mad, even for a hatter.” I wonder how many agree ? •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ODD SPOTS
TasO Matliiesort is on 111′ tiVe service, Morris Goodall is in the West Country, and Arthur Dobson has to do with radio in a works of his own. The Star recently referred to a member of the A.T.S. as a former racing driver—they meant Mrs. Big!,s, who drove twice at Brooklands, in a ltilcy Nine, winning a short handicap a t he 1936 Easter meeting on her second
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• A Useful Tool
Thanks to a set of Plastilite magnetic pick-ups,” retrieving lost Wheel part); or tools from hitherto inaccessible places is no longer a tiresome, time-wasting job. Retailing at 48. (id. each, this handy instrument (which consists of a permanent magnet and flexible wire that can 1)0 bent to any shape) will shortly be obtainable from Plastilite Patents, Ltd., 25, London Road, Bromley, Kent. Every workshop will find it a real boon that soon saves its .low cost. by its laboursaving handiness