Although the American motor industry obviously hopes her ‘compact’ automobiles will stem sales of imported cars, the makers of the foreign invaders intend to put up a fight, judging by the advertising we studied in a current issue of a specialised American sports paper. Full page insertions had been taken by, or on behalf of, Lancia, Citroen, Sunbeam, Alfa-Romeo, Austin Healey, Triumph and Porsche, while Peugeot and Fiat both had double-page spreads, D.K.W. the inside back cover, M.G. the inside front cover and jaguar an extremely effective colour advertisement on the back cover proclaiming the advent of the 3.8-litre ‘sports sedan’. The sole American maker to fight back was Studebaker, to publicise the Lark.
Scanning these advertisements reminds one that the type of approach required in wooing American customers differs from that which is effective here. Thus the M.G. layout refers to “high spirited new horses champin’ at the bit, rugged new disc brakes to keep ’em in hand” in pushing the M.G.1600. Here’s how others seek to attract the dollars:
Lancia: “…born of a half-century of restless probing, of successive triumphs. It is shaped to dimensions of thinking far beyond the rigid reduplication of second-hand ideas, or stamp-press concepts. It is machined to win the admiration of engineers and motorists the world over. Its standard is excellence. Its view point is the future. Its name is LANCIA.”
Citroen: “The weightlessness of the sky, the restfulness ofa tranquil sea, a feeling of floating along on a cushion of clouds.., this is the Citroen ride.”
Peugeot: “Some people say ‘Peugeot’ like this : ‘Pooj-Oh.’ Others avoid the question and just say ‘103’. Use whichever you like when you visit your Peugeot dealer. (After all, one English agent is apparently inclined to say `Peugot”? Ed.) While there you may also wish to drive the Peugeot Station Wagon America’s largest imported station wagon.”
Sunbeam: “Ou of famous European rallies roars a great new car that makes all other sports cars seem ten years old!!! – new Sunbeam Alpine.”
,strong>Fiat: “Over sixty years ago, the Fiat heritage was born. Since that time, a long line of fine automobiles has added lustre and distinction to the Fiat name.”
Alfa-Romeo: “Now added to the distinguished Alfa-Romeo family is the exciting and beautiful new 2-litre roadster styled by Carrozzeria Touring. You will be amazed at the lightning acceleration and silent power of this new great Alfa-Romeo model. See and drive it to confirm that ‘Italians Build Such Exciting Cars’.”
Austin Healey: “Odds-on Favourite. The sky’s clear, the air’s like wine. You’re ready for fun, and ready to go. And so is this spirited performer. The Austin Healey ‘3000’ is the fabulous successor to the famous Austin Healey 100-Six which has dominated competition in its class… Take this beauty out on the road, and you’re really living. For as low as $3,051 (two or four-seater).”
Triumph: “The living is easy in a Triumph TR3 Grand Touring Model (witness this lucky Las Vegas driver) (Who seems to have his hard-top in a very dubious place from which the London police would sure, have soon removed it! Ed). . . Everything about the Triumph TR3 Grand Touring Model is ‘grand’ but the price… The soft life begins at your Triumph dealer.”
Porsche: “A host of engineering advancements distinctive styling refinements and a timeless heritage… that is the new 1960 Porsche.”
D.K.W: ‘Designed to make ‘impossible’ driving possible! Pulls you over mud, sand, ice or snow. (And does it on three cylinders and seven basic moving engine parts)… Do you know what D.K.W. means? It means Dos Kleine Wunder and it’s famous throughout Europe.”
Jaguar: “Open it up! The growl of a new Jaguar is heard in the land. The 3.8 Sports Sedan is here. With classic surety the 3.8 incorporates the exhilaration of a race-bred sports car within the modem dimensions of a distinguished five-passenger sedan.”
The compacts are coming
A compact is no longer merely the thing which your girl friend uses to make herself smell nice. In America it is also a motor car. There was a race for compacts at Sebring last autumn but the first and more serious contest for them was a six-hour race held earlier, at the Continental Divide Raceway. The field was limited to 20 strictly-stock compacts and foreign economy saloons. Rambler refused officially to run because a top limit of 3,500 cc kept out their V3 and no Chrysler Valiants appeared because they had only a single car to field, although this had made the Ford Falcon and Chevrolet Corvair entrants think hard on practice times. Corvairs were driven by well-known Porsche and Ferrari drivers. After an hour the order was Rambler, Falcon, Corvair, Corvair, Falcon, Volvo, Corvair, Falcon (in trouble), VW the respective engine sizes should be borne in mind. The Corvairs then required tyres. A Riley shed a wheel tell that to Les Leston! After two hours it was Rambler, Falcon, Falcon, VW, Corvair, Corvair. A Renault Dauphine had overturned at a 90deg. comer, upholding its reputation for unsafe road -holding. A Falcon experienced gearshift trouble.
After three hours two Falcons led, because of a leisurely Rambler pit-stop, with the VW fourth, Volvo fifth, a Corvair sixth. At four hours the Rambler had resumed its lead, with a 59m.p.h. lap. In the end the Rambler won, averaging 55.5m.p.h. for just over 333 miles, never having had its bonnet opened. The Volkswagen was second, 50 yards ahead of a Ford Falcon, another Falcon having gone sick.
The Chevrolet Corvairs were hampered by the need for frequent tyre changes, which their manager W Martinez attributed to a combination of suspension characteristics and the tyres they used, of which apparently the Goodrich covers far outlasted the U.S. rubber tyres. This had the humorous repercussion that in order that this excuse should not detract from the victory of Ford Falcon over Chevrolet Corvair, Falcon manager Pauline claimed that his Fords were consuming as much rubber as the rearengined Chevrolets. He certainly used a remarkable variety of covers Firestone, Goodyear, Goodrich, Continental but it said his claim to have beaten Chevrolet purely on performance is not borne out by the official schedule of the cars’ respective pitstops; and it seems that both makes were equally matched through the corners.
An American contemporary’s summing up of this droll situation was “If Ford wants to advertise that a Falcon can chew up as much rubber as a Corvair any day, we doubt very much that Chevrolet’s Ed. Cole will argue the point.” And we like this paper’s comment that if the Chrysler Valiant enters a future race it might prove to be as hot as its Press releases!
In this opening clash between the compacts the Rambler had it all speed, reliability and low tyre wear.