Rumblings, October 1958

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We have, in the past, referred to the extremely light and pleasant steering of a certain rear-engined German small car. After driving the latest Ford Consul for over 500 miles we are able to state that this has, if possible. even lighter steering, although control is not quite so sensitive or accurate, and the Consul’s steering is low-geared, requiring 3.5 turns, lock-to-lock, compared to 2 on the German car.

But the new recirculatory ball, worm-and-nut steering adopted for the Ford Consul last October is excellent steering, transmitting no kick-back, possessing useful but not vicious castor return action and being, as has been said, outstandingly light in action. It is geared 18 to 1, instead of 16.8 to 1 as on the earlier Consul, and provides a turning circle of 35 feet.

The latest Consul has other merits. The 1,703-c.c., 59-b.h.p., “over-square “four-cylinder engine possesses excellent torque, which reaches its maximum at 2,300 r.p.m., providing good top-gear acceleration that considerably offsets that mean design feature, a gearbox possessing only three forward speeds.

This Consul is a full five/six-seater saloon, with a decently large luggage boot in which, however, Goodyear-shod spare wheel sits naked, unashamed, ready to nudge the luggage.

Remembering the modest price of this quite fast, not over-petrol-thirsty car, the springing, although promoting some up-and-down motion and roll, can be described as commendable, while the 1.h. steering-column gear-lever, although having a noticeably small movement across the gate, is quite satisfactory and even pleasant of its kind. There is a r.h. stalk for actuating the ” winkers ” and hooks for coats in the rear compartment—two useful items stolen from Continental designers, even if coats hung on these hooks tend to obstruct the back-door windows, and you are still required to fumble on the facia for the lamps-switch and blow the horn with a horn-ring.

The umbrella-handle brake-lever is purely utility, being stiff to operate and with a set-screw placed strategically for tearing my lady’s glove ! Suction screen-wipers are another feature we do not enthuse over, the Consul’s minor controls deserve no praise, the under-facia parcels tray lacks a lip, so that oddments are showered on the floor as you enjoy the Consul’s brisk acceleration, and the ordinary model has no back-seat centre armrest. There is a useful facia cubbyhole, closed by a rather odd lift-up lid.

On ” our ” car the exhaust pipe rattled alarmingly if the engine was allowed to rook on its mountings and there was the faintest suspicion that the throttle wanted to stick open. The brakes are light, progressive, have a tendency to faint squeal and are only just adequate in an emergency. The engine is an extremely willing worker and, as it consumes petrol at the rate of about 28 m.p.g. there is a range of nearly 300 miles provided by the 10.5-gallon tank, which is filled by hinging down the back number plate to reveal the central filler cap.

In over 500 miles this Consul consumed no oil or water, gave no anxiety and, as a roomy, willing, easy-to-drive and very spacious family car, providing that undistinguished but effective performance for which Ford cars are noted, is an impressive proposition at the modest price, in normal form, of £818 17s. inclusive of purchase tax.

* * * * * *

Amongst the more impressive of a so far notoriously dull batch of new British cars announced prior to the Earls Court Motor Show (which opens on October 22nd), is the new 3-litre Rover. As this issue of MOTOR SPORT goes to Press before the official release of this new Rover, we content ourselves with quoting some details from its maker’s hand-out :—

The six-cylinder 3L 7 engine has a bore or 77.8 mm. (3.063 in.) and a stroke of 105 mm. (4.13 in.), giving a capacity of 2,995 c.c. The engine layout resembles that of the Rover 90 engine in many respects. It has overhead inlet and side exhaust valves and a similar combustion chamber. The unit incorporates a number of innovations which enable the engine to run up to 5,000 r.p.m. and gives a high performance in the intermediate gears. Seven copper-lead bearings carry the counterbalanced crankshaft. Roller-type tappets of the type recently introduced in the Rover 2-litre diesel engine permit reliable operation at high engine speeds. The compression-ratio is normally 8.75 to 1, with 7.5 to 1 available to suit variation of fuels in different markets. The hydraulically-operated timing change tensioner used on all Rover engines is retained.

A welded-steel chassis unit carries the engine, gearbox, front suspension and steering and is attached by six rubber mountings.

The body is of welded-steel construction with doors, bonnet and boot-lid of steel. The whole of the underside of the body is painted in a slipper bath and then sprayed with an additional coat of chassis black. The underside of the body is then given a coating of anti corrosive sealing compound (usually known as ” undersealing “). All mating body panels below a line 15 in. above the bottom of the body are treated with zine dust primer on assembly to give additional rustproofing. Soundproofing is by bituminous deadening compound, and soundproofing and absorbing felts. The bonnet and boot-lid are counterbalanced by spring-loaded hinges. All four doors are hinged towards the front of the car. The boot floor is flat and the spare wheel is mounted underneath in a separate compartment. The battery is mounted in a special container at the side of the boot to remove it from the heat of the engine compartment. A number of road tools are also stored in the boot. The hydraulically-operated clutch is a 10-in. Borg and Beck type, the driven plate incorporating cushion-drive springs and damper and axial compression springs. The operation is by pendant pedal with Girling master cylinder hydraulic system assisting. Rover’s four-speed gearbox, with synchromesh engagement on second, third and top gears, is fitted, with Laycock de Normanville overdrive available as an optional extra. Change from overdrive to direct drive is effected either by a kick-down switch under the accelerator pedal or by an over-riding switch on the steering column. Overdrive operates on top gear only.

Automatic transmission by Borg Warner is available as an optional extra. This is the normal Borg Warner box incorporating various special features to meet Rover requirements. The gear-lever is mounted on the steering column with an illuminated quadrant. The front suspension is by laminated torsion-bar. Top and bottom suspension links are connected at their outer ends to the stub axle forging by means of ball joints forming both swivel pivots and suspension pivots. Both upper and lower ball joints are sealed against the entry of dust and water and against loss of lubricant. The upper joint is a plain spherical bearing and incorporates controlled friction loading. The lower joint, which forms the thrust bearing carrying the weight of the vehicle, incorporates a ball and anti-friction bearing.

The upper link is pivoted on the chassis unit on rubber-bushed bearings, requiring no lubrication. The axis of the inner bearings of the top link is inclined downwards towards the rear of the car to prevent “nose dive” on braking. The upper link carries a stop to limit the rebound movement of the wheel. The lower link is pivoted on the chassis unit on a rubber-bushed bearing requiring no lubrication, and its inner end is attached to the forward end of a laminated five-leaf square-section torsion-bar. The rear end of the torsion-bar is anchored to the rear cross-member of the chassis unit by an adjustable lever. The lower link also carries mountings for a bump stop, an hydraulic telescopic shock-absorber and an anti-roll bar.

A tubular strut, rubber-mounted to the lower link and to the subframe, transfers fore and aft loads from the lower link to the chassis unit. The links are arranged to place the roll centre of the suspension at a height of 5.5 in. above the ground to provide stability and to reduce roll. The rear suspension is by semi-elliptic springs of progressive rate attached by rubber-bushed bearings requiring no maintenance. Rubber bump stops and hydraulic telescopic shock-absorbers are also provided. A roll understeer effect is provided by the inclination of the rear springs.

The steering connections are by three-piece track-rod mounted forward of the front axle centre-line. Rover design sealed steering ball joints are provided, requiring no maintenance apart from periodic inspection. A Burman recirculating ball steering box is used.

The brakes are two trailing shoe with power assistance provided by the use of a Girling vacuum servo of the suspended vacuum type. The propeller shaft is in two parts and has a flexible mounting to the floor of the body at the centre. The rear axle is a spiral bevel type; 4.3 to 1 when used with manual gearbox overdrive; 3.9 to 1 when used with automatic transmission or with manual gearbox without overdrive.

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