Recent Releases

New, revised, refurbished cars.

As that gigantic eyesore in Earl's Court Road prepares once more for its annual four-wheeled beanfeast, the MOTOR SPORT office is subsiding gradually beneath a sea of new car/face-lifted car/new ash-trayed car Press Releases which can be doing little to help the alleged worldwide paper shortage.

Fortunately most of it can be consigned to that basket in the corner where begins the paper reclamation cycle. This year's Motor Show features nothing of particularly world-shattering significance and perhaps because their Press Release Kit is of the highest quality as befits an esteemed British marque, Jaguar's up-dating of the XJ series can take pride of place in this resume of manufacturers recent announcements. Several other pre-Motor Show releases await our next issue, including an interesting, very fast small sports saloon from one of our Big Five manufacturers which owes more than a hint of its performance to America, Holland and Norway. But though we have driven it on a closed circuit we continue to respect embargo dates.

Jaguar Coupe and Series 2 XJ

Jaguar's updating of the five-year-old XJ series exterior and interior is of less consequence than the long awaited arrival of the two-door coupe version, the British answer to the BMW Coupes, still at a fraction (albeit now a very large fraction) of the price. We saw, but didn't drive the coupe during an exceptionally pleasant 24 hours spent in Aberdeenshire to try the Series 2 saloons and must confess to finding It exceptionally attractive. Presumably it will prove similar driving characteristics to the mechanically identical saloons.

Available as an XJ6C, XJ12C. Daimler Sovereign 2-door or Daimler Double-Six 2-door, the coupe is based on the standard wheelbase saloon shell and a more accurate description is "2-door, pillarless saloon". The roof line is identical to that of the saloon, so unlike the BMW coupes, rear seat headroom is not sacrificed in the interest of aesthetics. Rigidity lost by removal of the central pillars is replaced by widening the wrap round rear pillars. When the electrically operated door windows and rear side windows are open the complete glass area above door level is open and doubtless the effect if a sunshine roof were to be fitted (should Jaguar recommend such a thing when pillars are omitted) would be almost that of an open car.

Front and rear seats are identical to those of the saloon and rear seat knee room corresponds to that of the short-wheelbase saloon. Ingress to the rear seats is not particularly easy though the doors are wide.

All appointments and mechanical details are identical to the saloons and a vinyl roof is standard equipment. Prices start at £4,260 for the manual XJC and rise to £5,181 for the XJ12C, this last model including air-conditioning and tinted windows as standard.

The coupes share all the same modifications which have been put into the Series 2 saloon, of which the most noticeable is the front-end treatment. The bumper bar has been raised to 16 inches to conform with American standards and the grille has been reduced in depth accordingly, which makes the car look much lower. A wide grille beneath the bumper bar ducts air to the oil cooler. Increased side impact resistance has been effected by building W-section metal strengtheners into the doors.

Inside the most noticeable alteration is the removal of the traditional confusing row of switches in favour of multi-functional steering column switches. The new system may be easier to use, but It leaves the fascia far less imposing, a gaping stowage tray taking the place of that impressive switchgear. Also centrally mounted in the fascia is a new fresh air vent (there are also vents either end of the fascia), a clock and the heater or air-conditioning controls.

All instruments arc illuminated by the new system of fibre optics, a central light source feeding illumination through a system of cables, each containing some 500 or so strands through which the light beam is refracted. All the instruments which this system feeds are now mounted directly in front of the driver, whereas subsidiary instruments on previous Jaguars have formed a row in the centre of the fascia.

A less attractive but safety-conscious steering wheel boss is fitted, the bulkhead has been redesigned to assist serviceability, specially moulded floor coverings are added to the bulkhead and floor to decrease noise transmission from the engine compartment and laminated windscreen and heated rear screen become standard on all models.

A useful modification which Mercedes have long since employed is a central locking system, but unlike the Mercedes system, which includes the boot also. Jaguar can contrive to lock only the four doors.

The XJ6 Series 2 is fitted with the ventilated disk brakes previously employed on the Series 2 E-type and XJI2.

The new Jaguar range has also been rationalised. The 2.8 model has been dropped except for certain overseas markets where the taxation system makes it attractive, and the V 12 engine is no longer available in the short wheelbase saloons.

Rather more quietly, the fixed-head E-type has been phased out, production being restricted to the 2-seat drophead for which a hardtop is optional.

Impressions of the new Jaguars in Aberdeenshire were of a noticeable decrease in the already low level of noise which accompanies the "grace, space and pace". The front quarterlights are now fixed, which has removed virtually the last vestige of wind noise from these superbly comfortable and relaxing cars. Attempting to drive the XJs on the limit continues to be hampered by the light steering, lack of feel and on the XJ12 with its steel-braced Dunlop SPs there is a noticeable lag before the back wheels follow the command of the steering wheel. Jaguar engineers suggested that this is because the steel radials give more lateral side-wall movement than do the rayon tyres fitted to the XJ6. However, ''driving on the limit" is not a habit employed by many XJ drivers — indeed we are amazed at the number of 40 m.p.h. white-line hoggers to be seen in XJs - and driving fast but sensibly is a remarkably satisfying and relaxing occupation in either 6 or 12 versions. The new Delanair air-conditioning is £304 which no XJ customer would regret purchasing. All that the driver has to do is to set one dial to the temperature required and the second dial can be set to automatic, so that the required cool or warm temperature will be maintained whatever the ambient temperature.

Owen Sedanca

A Jaguar XJ6/XJ12-based luxury four-stater touring car on the lines of the Lamborghini Espada has been announced by H. R. Owen Ltd., the Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar etc. distributors. The Owen Sedanca, named after the same firm's coachwork on Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis in the '30s, has a hand-built, aluminium body of exotic lines, yet its two doors are so wide that rear-seat passengers can climb in without moving the front seat backrests and 25.38 cu. ft of luggage can be swallowed up through the rear tailgate without piling it more than 18 in. high or without lowering the rear seal backrests. With the seat back laid flat it is claimed that 34.56 cu. ft: can be accommodated, so this is a functional as well as exotic car. If its mechanical components are not so exciting as say a Ferrari or Lamborghini they should at least ensure that London owners (where most exotica seem to be wasted) should not have to endure plug and maintenance problems. while the V 12 option should leave very little to be desired in the way of performance. Automatic is standard on the V 12, which sells for £9,500 while presumably manual or automatic can be specified on the £8,500 4.2-litre straight-six, in line with the XJ6
The floor pan and running gear is identical to that of the XJ6/12, but even better roadholding and handling is claimed because of the lower polar moment of inertia.
Design was carried out by Chris Humberstone of SAC Designs Ltd., a member of the SAC Group in common with H. R. Owen. The body is said to exceed all known safety requirements, the entire passenger compartment being protected by a tubular space frame incorporating a double roll-over bar.
Interior appointments are lavish, to say the least, upholstery being in suede, Bridge of Weir leather, and DrayIon, while lambswool carpets are fitted. A stereo radio/cassette player and recorder is numbered amongst the long list of standard equipment, along with silver-backed hair and clothes brushes and note-pad!

Rover 2000 replaced by 2200

After a run of 10 years the Rover 2000 is no more, superseded by the 2200. The existing Rover owner will not feel too inferior when his old model is parked alongside the new, however, for other than the badges and a door-mounted rear-view mirror there are no obvious exterior changes. Mechanical changes are the most important features of this revised model. The 10 per cent increase in capacity has been achieved by increasing the bore size from 8.75 mm to 90.5 mm. Other modifications are larger exhaust valves and SU H1F6 carburettors, single of course on the SC and twin on the TC. The TC has an automatically controlled hot/cold intake on the air cleaner. Compression ratios are now identical at 9:1 in both engines, that of the TC having been reduced from 10:1 to enable the use of lower octane, low-lead content fuels. This exhaust emission-controlled 2,204.4 c.c. engine gives 98 b.h.p. DIN at 5,000 r.p.m. and 126 lb.ft. torque at a modest 2,500 r.p.m. in SC form and 115 b.h.p DIN at 5,000 r.p.m. and torque of 135 lb.ft. torque at 3,000 r.p.m. The improvement is thus quite marked for comparative figures for the 2000 are 91 b.h.p. DIN at 5,200 r.p.m. and 112 lb.ft. torque at 2,700 r.p.m. for the SC and 113.5 b.h.p. DIN at 5,500 r.p.m. and 125.8 lb.ft. torque at 3,500 r.p.m. for the 10:1 compression ratio TC. Indeed, the optional export e.g. TC 2000 with 9:1 compression ratio gave only 98 b.h.p. DIN at 5,150 r.p.m. and 114.2 lb.ft. torque at 3,5.00 r.p.m.

Fascia treatment is unchanged, with a ribbon— type speedometer on the SC and round instruments including tachometer on the TC. Front seat backrests have been reshaped and are now thinner to give more rear seat knee room, while upholstery can be had in box pleated-style brushed nylon or leather. Manual gear levers have been extended by 2 in. At last a reasonable field of vision safety mirror has been fitted, though the glass remains convex and this licence and life-protecting item has no dipping facility, an odd situation when one is told the export model mirrors have flat glass and are capable of dipping.

Improved sound-deadening material is fitted below the fascia and around the transmission tunnel, a modified intermediate box has been fitted to quieten the three-box exhaust system and the 3500's system of attaching rear suspension links to a rubber-mounted cross member has been adopted to cut down road noise.

Rover have given in to the long-standing wishes of 2000 owners for a longer fuel range: the 12 gall tank has been increased to 15 gall (as fitted to the 3500) including, as before, a 2 1/2 gall reserve operable from the driving seat.

All the interior modifications, which include the fitment of a heated rear screen as standard, are shared by the 3500 and 3500S. Other modifications to this V8 model are the lowering of the compression ratio to 9.25:1 to allow the use of lower octane fuels, vinyl roof and quarter panel trim become standard on both automatic and manual versions and Sundyrn glass and headrests also become standard fitments.

The new Borg-Warner Type 65 transmission is fitted to the automatic model, said to give smoother changes and a cable operated selector lever replaces the rod linkage.

Rover become the first motor manufacturer in the world to introduce, as an option on power-steered versions of both the 3500 and 3500S, the new Dunlop Denovo safety tyres. For this one pays £47.66 for one wheel less (though a spare wheel is available to special order at goodness knows what cost) and faces the possibility of having to complete an overnight journey abroad at reduced speed on an uninflated tyre.

Updated Cortina

Ford's best-selling Cortina Mk III range has received endless improvements since the original lemon fen off the Dagenham tree and the net result is a good, comfortable and roomy family saloon. For 1974 Ford have made further useful improvements to handling, interior design and ventilation, and introduced a 2000E model into the 18-car range. The Capri's 1600 overhead camshaft engine replaces the pushrod unit in the 1600 version of the Cortina saloon and estate, from which one can assume that he days of the 1600 cross-flow pushrod engine are numbered, for the Mexico is the only car remaining in the range to use It. Both the 1300 c.c. and 1600 c.c. models have a new closer-ratio gearbox. That of the 106 m.p.h., o.h.c. 2-litre models remains unchanged, a Borg Warner 35 automatic gearbox is optional on all models and a two-piece propshaft becomes standard equipment. Much better ride and handling is claimed for the revised models. Whereas a front anti-roll bar was fitted previously to the GT and GXL saloons only and no rear bar was fitted all versions now have front and rear anti-roll bars, the front being incresed in diameter to 16 mm. As a result Ford have found themselves able to reduce spring and shock absorber rates to improve the ride. Steering geometry has been revised, more responsive steering without kickback being claimed as a result. Bigger bushes between the front crossmember and body and microcellular polyurethane bushes for the tie bar bushes are said to reduce the transmission of road noise to occupants.

A redesigned, padded fascia has large, easy to-read circular dials, rheostat lighting and illuminated controls for the more powerful heating and ventilation system, which we are pleased to see employs the original Corona's excellent eyeball vents. Three new steering-column levers control lights, flasher, indicators, horn and dual speed wipers. Other features include rectangular halogen headlights on the E, XLs and GT's, coachlines (incorporating a plastic rubbing strip on the 2000E). and a modified front grille.

The 2000E is an obvious attempt by Ford to recapture the success of the ifs 1600E from the Mk II Cortina range, which still contrives to command inflated second-hand prices. This latest 'Executive' Cortina boasts real veneer trim on the fascia and door caps, deep pile carpets, a new type of nylon-based cloth trim (named Savannah) for the seats and door trims, said to resist stains completely, centre console unit with electric clock, push-button radio, vinyl roof, sports road wheels, side mouldings and identifying badges.

Miscellaneous

Mercedes-Benz claim a gain of 4 per cent maximum torque at 12 per cent fewer engine revolutions and consequently improved flexibility and smoothness for the new 230-4 model which replaces the 220. The new 2.3-litre, 4-cylinder o.h.c., carburettor engine is an amalgamation of the earlier 2-litre and 2.2-litre engines, the bore being 5 mm. larger than the 2.2, combined with the shorter 87 mm, stroke crankshaft of the 2.0. Top speed is about the same as the 220 at 105 m.p.h. and 0-60 m.p.h. in 13.7 sec is claimed. Outwardly the latest lower, wider radiator grille is fitted below the flatter bonnet and 3-pointed star, an aerodynamic cowling fitted under the front bumper and also fitted are the dirt deflecting window blades and ribbed rear lamp lenses of similar design to the 'S'-type devices. The price has not been announced.

Jensen Motors have made detail improvements to the Jensen-Healey for 1974. Most of them are aesthetic ones, designed to make this 16-valve Lotus-engine machine less of a Plain Jane than in its original form.

Bristol Cars have installed a slightly larger version of the big Chrysler V.8 in their latest 411, the Series IV. Capacity is increased from 6,277 cc. to 6,556 cc. and the new engine is designed to run on 3-star fuel.

Aston Martin have dispensed with the Bosch petrol-injection system used previously on the DBS V8 in favour of quadruple Weber carburettors. They have found that the 42DCNF27 carburettors give more power and torque than the injection, make it easier to meet forthcoming emission regulations and should generally lead to far less temperament. This latest product from Newport Pagnell can be recognised by a large air .scoop in its bonnet.

Citroen have introduced a 2-rotor Wankel-engined GS. Top speed is 109 mph. UK sales commence in late 1974

C.R.