MATTERS OF MOMENT, October 1953

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MATTERS OF MOMENT

BRITAIN’S BONNIE BABIES

The Welfare State, whatever else may be said and thought about it, has contrived to produce bonnie British babies—the rising generation of mechanically-minded youngsters. Conversely, the Welfare State has pushed up the cost of living so that motoring, amongst other things, is intolerably expensive. With food, fare, clothes and pastimes inflated far beyond 1939 standards. but salaries in the professional classes remaining comparatively

stabilised at wartime. levels, the majority of us are light of pocket and shallow of wallet. Consequently, we shall not be surprised to see baby. or rather economy, cars featured at this month’s Earls Court Motor Show, which opens on the 21st.

It is really rather astonishing that with world fuel prices so high (from 3s. 3d, a gallon in Holland to 5s. 10d. in France) manufacturers have for so long neglected the economy car— more especially as Britain pioneered the “big car in miniature” (as removed from the French-weaned simple cycle. car) and in the years prior to Hitlerism offered the Austin Seven, Singer Junior, Morris Minor, Morris Eight, Standard Eight, Ford Eight and similar 40-m.p.g. cars for the economical, snug transportation of the Citizens—John, Jane and Junior. We hold firmly to the belief that, delightful as a large unflurried engine high-geared in a lightweight car undoubtedly is (e.g., Volkswagen) for fuel

economies of the 40-m.p.g.-plus order, a tiny power-unit, revving freely, is the better proposition. It is astonishing that since the war Britain has marketed only three really small-engined cars, if we discount the. Anglo-French Renault 750. These, the Austin A30. Morris Minor and Ford Anglia—the first two having the same o.h.v. power unit—exceed by 53 c.c. and 186 c.c., respectively, the capacity of the well-proved Baby Austin of pre-war years, whose fame is kept burning brightly by today’s member of the virile 750 M.C. Considering the effective results obtained before the war by Fiat with 570 c.c. and side-by-aide valves and since the war by Renault with rear engine of 750 c.c. and Citroen with air-cooled flattwin engine of 350 c.c., both using overhead valves, we hope to see new conceptions of British utility/economy cars at Earls Court, using really diminutive power plants in ingeniously constructed featherweight body/chassis structures. If anyone questions the European demand for the simple car, scaled-down hypothesis of Henry’s immortal model-T, we need only point to the success of the French 2 c.v. Citroen (which is outselling the not so very much

more expensive Renault “big car in miniature”) and emphasise to the engineers both this little vehicle and the recently-introduced aircooled, flat-twin, 850-c.c., 1.3-cwt., six-seater Dyna-Panhard 54. The announcement that Citroen will now market the 2 c.v. in England should spur on our manufacturers. We have driven this little 60-m.p.g. four-seater saloon and although it requires downgrades and patience to build up a reasonable speed, and the dashboard gear change calls for concentration, the stability round corners is particularly outstanding in view of the extreme flexibility of the

suspension, which renders the ride luxurious. The tiny air-cooled flattwin engine is notably unobtrusive and they say it is cheaper to replace it every 36,000 miles than to rebore it. And to buy a new wing is more thrifty than to repair a buckled one. Truly a worthy Welfare State machine.

At this stage many readers will no doubt be searching for their pens to inform us that we are riding a hobbyhorse which has no right to be exercised in Moron SPORT—because small ears are not sports cars.

The purely economy vehicle may not lie a sports car–although it represents a desirable adjunct to the thirsty roadburner—but since the beginning of the New Motoring, when the pastime moved from heated motor house into unpretentious shed, economy cars have bred very exciting sports and racing variants. Recall the G.N. ” Kim” and such cars as the Joyce A.G., Bedford Hillman and Oates’ Lagonda, etc., which competed

in those carefree, public-road speed trials of the gay ‘twenties and were capable of lapping Brooklands at not far short of 90 m.p.h., and remember the performances of the racing Austin Sevens and M.G. Midgets and the point is surely proved.

This being the case, and bowing before the savage petrol tax of 2s. 6d. per gallon, let us encourage, not scorn, the new baby cars which are expected to steal the coming Motor Show. Rumour murmurs that other members of the Big Five intend to join Austin and Morris in this field. Sir John Black’s new offspring will have been announced by the time this Editorial is read, but as we pen it we do not know what engine size his engineers decided upon for the new model. Enthusiasm for a really economical capacity or vague disappointment at something larger in litreage than the pre-war Austin Seven awaits expression after the preview of the Baby Standard. comment on which appears in a later part of this issue.

Let us welcome these Bonnie British Babies; may they he easily weaned on the modern thin oils and premium-grade fuels, suffer a minimum of teething troubles, and emerge as 50-m.p.g. carriages !

THE TOURIST TROPHY RACE

Somehow the T.T. never seems to resume quite its former glory. This year’s race, over the excellent Dundrod road circuit on September 12th, was to have seen 54 of the latest sports cars, including Ferrari, Alfa-Romeo and Lancia, battling for honours. In fact, out of 45 cars listed in the programme only 27 came out for the Le Mans-style start and the race can hardly he termed International. The expected battle between John Wyer’s DB3(S) Aston Martins and “Mort” Morris-Goodall’s Type C Jaguars materialised, and ended in a convincing victory for David Brown, John Wyer and his merry Men. It is very nice to see this famous make of out-and-out British sports car redeeming past failures and winning important races, all the more so because from its inception by the late Lionel Martin in 1921 Aston Martin has been essentially a sports car and one of our leading designs in this field.

The race was won by Peter Collins and Pat Griffiths, those exuberant and skilful young drivers, for Aston Martin at 81.71 m.p.h. Parnell and Thompson brought their Aston Martin in second at 81.24 m.p.h. Third place, in spite of poor pit-work and largely on account of Ken Wharton’s virtuosity, went to the de Dion FrazerNash which Wharton shared with Robb-average speed, 77.21 m.p.h. The Series Production Car Award most deservedly went to photographer Phillips and co-driver Flower in a trusty TD M.G. in Series II tune.

To revert to the Aston Martin/Jaguar battle, the former team lost a car when Poore crashed, Jaguar lost Roles car with gearbox trouble after a mere five laps and the Whitehead/Stewart car later, with the same malady. The Moss/Walker car finished fourth with seriously crippled transmission, after waiting by the finishing fine as M088 deemed it incapable of doing another lap. It averaged 79.34 m.p.h. to win its class, other class winners being the victorious Aston Martin, Wharton’s Frazer-Nash, a Gordini and a DB-Panhard.

The course proved hard on tyres, probably due to its abrasive non-skid circuit and Moss changed many Dunlops, while Stewart had to stop out on the circuit to put on the spare. In contrast, the winning Aston Martin seemed to have needed rather fewer Avons, but it consumed a lot of water. Peter Walker set the race lap record at 87.53 m.p.h.

Retirements in this strenuous race included Lund’s Jowett Jupiter with useless steering gear, Scott-Russell who crashed in a FrazerNash, Mitchell, whose Frazer-Nash lost a rear wheel, a trouble the Isleworth marque experiences from time to time, Burgess’ Kieft sans brakes, Haze!burst who crashed the other Kieft, and Manussis, whose Jaguar crashed.

The 1953 T.T. lacked the intensity of Le Mans, but provided much of interest technically. It showed that the modern sports/ racing car on a sinuous circuit consumes tyres faster than a Formula II G.P. car, that Aston Martins are on the top of their form, if apt to overheat and wear out the clutch, but that Jaguar has, alas, not maintained Le Mans form-did not MOTOR SPORT’S Continental Correspondent, after praising the Coventry firm for a splendid victory in the French race, comment : “Jaguars cannot afford to become complacent ” ? Moss and Walker did their best with the material provided and high praise is due to Walker for breaking the race lap record.

Highest praise of all goes to John Wyer and his merry men, for Aston Martins were driven to a sure victory (ignoring the handicap) by Collins, Griffiths, Parnell and Thompson, while Frazer-Nash have every reason to feel proud of getting a 2-litre car home third, ahead of a 3i-litre machine.

SQN/LDR. NEVILLE F. DUKE, D.S.O., 0.B.E., D.F.C., A.F.C.

Wt in the world of-motor-racing like to think we know, even more than an appreciative lay public, how much the new World’s Air Speed Record of 727.6 m.p.h. by Neville Duke in the Hawker Hunter means to the nation-and understand rather better the magnitude of the task Duke so ably accomplished.

Even t he Editor, who is apt to enquire where the biplanes are and if aeroplanes are yet as fast as land-speed-record cars, was warm in his praise of the very gallant young man who twice in a day attacked the record on which he had set his heart–he is willing to forgive Duke the supersonic explosions over his home close to the Farnborough flying field, and is confident his readers will wish to join him in congratulating so talented and fearless a pilot.

Motor-Cycle Beats Car at Brighton Diana in the

Diana Naismith in the Clairmonte, which has a Lea-Francis engine, was very hot stuff. She was only one second slower than the class. record and beat the owner of the car! Ted Lloyd-Jones made best car time in 24.55 sec., which was a shade slower than his own record for the class. The Triangle looked a lot smarter, and steered a great deal better this year. It made only one run, and was beaten, by George Brown’s Vincent-H.R.D. motor-cycle, which, clocking 24.27 sec., was 0.28 see. faster.

Wilcock’s Swandeatt Spitfire, with ltoll.s-Koyce liero-eagme,

made two ” demonstration runs” to satisfy the Stewards that it was safe, then did one timed run with only second gear in operation. It has a wheelbase of nearly 15 ft., looks fantastic, but does not (at present) perform as hoped. It runs much too richly, overheats rapidly, and accelerates sluggishly. Mrs. Millington drove Beart’s Cooper ; she made no less than four false starts during the day, hut drove well when once she got away properly. Lycett was unchallenged in the Bentley Owners’ Class. In this class, B. IL Bowring came back to the start after his second run with his car on fire, but it was soon dealt with. He stopped imme, diately opposite the fire engine, leapt out of his car and rang thefire bell I

It was a pleasant meeting, free of incidents.

Reemlis I Members’ Handicap a

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