To the strains of the National Anthem and the fluttering of unused sales literature floating down from the first floor gallery, the 1969 Earls Court Motor Show came to an end, and it hardly seems possible that 12 months have passed and the 1970 Show is upon us, bringing with it several new models which will be on view to the general public for the first time. One model with many variations, which of the new cars on view will be the best-seller of the coming year, cannot be written about yet as the release date of this car has been arranged to coincide with the opening of the Motor Show, and another model which has been officially made known to the public, the Volkswagen K70, will not be exhibited on the Volkswagen stand as the water-cooled front-wheel-drive car will not be available in this country until later next year. By the time this issue has gone to press we will, however, have driven the K70, and our impressions of this model will appear in the near future.
Given below are brief details on some of the new cars to be seen at Earls Court, and we take this opportunity of welcoming to our stand both readers of MOTOR SPORT and our many advertisers, who will find us on stand No. 4 on the ground floor adjacent to the Gilbern Cars and BMW Concessionaires’ exhibits.
The Ginetta G21
The brothers Walklett of the Witham, Essex-based company Ginetta Cars Ltd., have for many months been burning the midnight oil in order to complete their brand new two-seater fastback sports coupe— the G21. The G21 will be of tubular steel construction with a fibreglass body section. Unlike their current model, the G15, the engine will be mounted in the conventional manner at the front of the car, with two engine options available. Either the 3-litre V6 Ford unit can be installed or the 1,600 c.c. Ford cross-flow engine to Ford GT specification, with a Salisbury “Diff-Lock” back axle, the ratio of which will be 2.88 (the back axle as used on the Jaguar E-type), although there will be five back axle ratios available. Independent suspension on all four wheels is utilised with disc-braking fitted as standard, the rear brakes being mounted inboard. The 5-1/2J x 13 in. wheels will be of the magnesium-alloy type, shod with radial-ply tyres, and the G21 will be a little over 8 in. wider than the present G15. A tuning pack costing approximately £60 will be offered as an optional extra on the 3-litre version, which will also offer Borg-Warner-type automatic transmission, with overdrive being available on the manual variant.
Interior comfort has been well catered for with full instrumentation, reclining seats, electric windows and air-flow ventilation incorporating face-level rents, whilst the windscreen is of the laminated variety. Tentative prices of the G21 in component form are £1,795 for the 3-litre-engined model and £1,395 being the price of the 1,600 c.c. version. The Hillman Imp-engined G15 will still be available, and we understand detail modifications are being made to this car, which will be announced later. Ginetta Cars Ltd. can be found on stand No. 88.
The Gilbern Invader Estate
The largest and only Welsh car manufacturer, Gilbern Cars Ltd., will be exhibiting an estate version of the Ford V6 3-litre-engined Invader. The estate version has a modified bodyshell as well as a new chassis, which a spokesman for Gilbern Cars informs us improves the roadholding considerably, and also leaves provision for the installation of a much “beefier” engine if necessary. Gilbern Cars Ltd. are on stand No. 98.
The Simca 1204 Special
A better equipped and more comfortable version of the Simca 1100 can be seen on stand No. 96—Simca Motors (GB) Ltd. The 1204 Special features an engine increased to 1,204 c.c., with the output raised to 75 b.h.p., which has been obtained by the use of twin Weber carburetters on new manifolds. The 1204 is available in either three- or five-door versions which have servo-assisted brakes and a load sensor on the rear wheels, a heavy-duty clutch, an alternator, electric fan and radial-ply tyres fitted as standard equipment. Internal standard equipment includes a mock wood-rim steering wheel, reclining front seats with built-in headrests, and the prices of the two versions are £999 for the three-door model and £1,039 for the five-door.
The Volkswagen K70
Some three months ago, and quite suddenly, Volkswagen announced their new K70 model which to all intents and purposes was to have been released back in 1969 as the NSU K70. As Volkswagen own a large interest in the NSU-Audi company internal politics featured very strongly in this announcement which sees the introduction of the first VW with a water-cooled engine, and the first with front-wheel-drive. The NSU Ro80 influence is plain to see and indeed the chassis is a shortened version of the aforementioned model using the same front and rear suspension, and the same transmission layout which features the engine sited directly over the front wheels. The four-cylinder in-line water-cooled single-overhead-cam engine is entirely new, the 82 x 76 mm. engine giving a capacity of 1,605 c.c. which develops 90 b.h.p. (DIN) at 5,500 r.p.m. The mainly die-cast aluminium engine is canted over at an angle of 30 degrees and has the manual low-speed gearbox mounted at the rear.
Independent MacPherson strut suspension is used at the front, whilst the rear suspension layout is also independent with a coil spring/telescopic damper arrangement with trailing arms and an anti-roll bar. Brakes are of the disc/drum variety with a vacuum-type servo fitted to the dual circuit system.
This car will not be featured on the Volkswagen stand as deliveries of right-hand-drive models are not expected to commence in this country until later next year, although the new factory at Salzgitter is already producing the K70 for the German market.
At the time of going to press Vauxhall Motors intend to release to the World their new range of Viva cars at the Paris Show. However, with a change in the companies’ top management and positively no wheels and other vital parts forthcoming from GKN-Sankey, we shall stand corrected if it does not appear. We have had a brief look at all seven models, which include two-door and four-door saloons and the estate versions, plus badge-swapping. The completely new body design is still very much Vauxhall, even Viva, with the look of a bigger car. The large steering wheel and greatly improved all-round visibility (no quarter-lights), gives the driver the feeling of a big car. There is, in fact, more room for the driver and all passengers, although a six-foot-tall driver’s head does touch the roof. Semi-bucket-type seats at the back are comfortable but make it difficult for even a small third passenger in the back. It is quite easy to get into the rear seats of the two-door variety and the release mechanism to collapse the front seats for access is most sensibly located at waist height about half-way up the outside edge of the seat backs. The facia is finished in non-reflecting vinyl trimmed with safety padding and the three rocker-type switches for headlights and wipers are sensibly placed in the dial recess.
During our 200-mile run over some fairly mountainous roads the gearbox behaved very smoothly, but in the left-hand-drive models 3rd and 4th gears were uncomfortably beyond arm’s length on the floor gear-lever. The doors shut reasonably quietly and confidently, however; the manufacturers are very proud of the completely new lock which they say should not allow the doors to burst open if you experience a head-on collision. The brakes on all models seem adequate; drums on the standard version, replaced with discs on the front of the other models. Some models have vacuum-servo assistance all round, all models have a hydraulic system with a tandem cylinder which will isolate a fluid leak to enable either the front or back brakes to continue to operate.
The engines are the same as before; the 1,159 c.c. four-cylinder engine has larger inlet valves and a twin outlet exhaust manifold, the overhead cam version is an optional extra. Also optional is the GM automatic transmission for £104, and the “1600” overhead cam engine for £31. The basic price of the standard version of the Viva is £783 Os. 4d. (including tax)—this is a £30 increase, but the Viva SL90 four-door is £995 16s, 6d., so with a few necessary optional extras it is over £1,000. Perhaps with the impending price increases that are bound to come this is not too much. The Viva is a family car, it’s not exciting-0 to 60 m.p.h. in 24 seconds with a top speed of 75 m.p.h. It is predictable, safe, gives a reasonable ride, fairly quiet, much improved on the present HB range (the new range coded HC), and it should more than satisfy the present Viva owner if he can afford the increased price. It can be seen on stand No. 113.