Some Notes on Performance.
NilOST sporting motorists are familiar with the extraordinary capabilities of the modern light car having an engine varying in capacity between L000 and 1,500 C.C. Those who have had experience of the 12/32 h.p. Coatalen-designed Darracq, can particularly realise what enormous potentialities lie before this type, not only as a family touring car, but as an exceedingly lusty sporting model.
Although the Darracq engine is so small as to demand but a modest contribution to the Treasury ; there has been no employment of the skimping principle in order to lighten its load, to enable it to be quick off the mark, to be fast up hills, or to show a good economy in respect of fuel consumption. On the contrary, the smaller Darracq is very definitely a full-sized car, with a magnificently robust frame, a well developed and commodious body, a complete electrical equipment, and last, but by no means least, those now almost indispensable accessories to combine speed and safety—front wheel brakes.
In view of the fact that all these things are included, the acceleration of the car, the average speed which one can attain with it under touring conditions, and its behaviour generally, constitute a most remarkable testimony to the unusual character of its engine. On lifting the bonnet one finds an extremely neat power plant, with push-rod operated overhead valves, pump cooling, force-feed lubrication, and all the most advanced methods of obtaining efficiency and durability. The engine is incorporated into a single unit with the three speed gear box ; and one of the points that are most to be admired about this construction is that whilst it is extremely neat and, from a technical point of view, pronouncedly correct, these objects have not been attained at any expense of the accessibility which should always mark the design of a car deliberately intended for owner-driver use.
Stability with Liveliness.
With respect to the ordinary touring model 12/32 h.p. Darracq, one might say that robustness was its outstanding characteristic. The car embraces many principles that are essentially British in design, but it is produced in France, and it therefore has to pass through the ordeal imposed upon it by abominable French roads. The Darracq can, in fact, be safely driven at high speeds over surfaces which would very soon prove too much for the ordinary light car. On a recent occasion an ordinary 12/32 four-seater touring model was driven in one stretch from Lyons to Paris. The car was well loaded with a second passenger and plenty of luggage, yet in spite of this, and more particularly, in spite of the villainous chains of potholes that had to be negotiated, there was no difficulty whatever in comfortably averaging a very high speed. It was noticed in passing over inequalities that might
well have seriously damaged a car of less strength, that the Darracq was, as the phrase goes, “all one piece.” No road shock, it seemed, could cause the frame to distort in such a way that strain was communicated to the body. On a previous occasion there had been sampled the qualities of an exactly similar chassis equipped with a saloon limousine body from which it was abundantly evident that the robustness to which reference has been made was a very valuable element in securing quietness and freedom from rattle. It may be added that the engine, which, in spite of its high efficiency, is extremely smooth and controllable, develops in its ordinary touring form ample power for pulling a closed carriage with its full complement of passengers and luggage.
As a rule the fact that a chassis is equal to any amount of hard work under difficult conditions is held forth as an excuse for its roughness, its noise, or some other undesirable attribute. In the case of the Darracq, no such apologies have to be made. Its power and its strength have been obtained by scientific means, and have involved no sacrifice in running qualities whatsoever. It is almost unnecessary to add that as a town vehicle it gains enormously by the lightly operated, yet tremendously powerful, front wheel brakes, which not only give an otherwise unobtainable measure of control over the vehicle under all ordinary conditions, but represent probably the best security against any tendency to skid or side slip that has ever been devised. These front wheel brakes, by the way, operate upon a system which embodies the principle of the Servo-shoe, whereby the effort demanded from the driver for the full application of the brakes is so small as to cause him no inconvenience at all.
An Attractive Sporting Model.
Whilst one may be immensely impressed with the standard 12/32 h.p. Darracq touring car, and not least, it may be added, by reason of its extremely low price, one’s enthusiasm for the make will certainly be aroused by the behaviour of the sporting type chassis. Trials have recently been made with this chassis equipped with
a light open four-seater body, and also with a Weymann flexible saloon limousine. The Darracq designers appear to have answered a riddle in this production which hitherto has been regarded as almost insoluble, that is to say, they have obtained from an engine which is quite ordinary in respect of detail design, a combination of intense power and smoothness of operation, this being done to such an extent that the best attributes of both a sporting and a touring car are found in remarkable combination.
In most sporting light vehicles the driver, in obtaining his performance, has to tolerate an aggressive coarseness and harshness of running, to say nothing of noise, which all too often reminds him of the compromise that has had to be made in his car’s design. In the 12 /32 h.p. Sports Darracq, it is impossible to find any trace of this compromise, for, in spite of its power (and the car will do well over 70 m.p.h. under favourable conditions), the engine retains all the desirable qualities which it exhibits so well in its ordinary touring form.
A Strenuous Tour. To a concrete instance of what this chassis
a concrete sports can do, it may be recorded that on a recent trip it took four full-sized people, with all the luggage that could be got into it, from Paris to Lyons at an average speed of 40 miles per hour. This journey was made with an engine that had never been run except through the bench and road tests imposed upon it by the routine of the Darracq works ; consequently for the first hundred miles it had to be “nursed.” In respect of quick getaway, good road-holding qualities, admirable braking, and the capability for sustained high speed, the Darracq proved itself a real thoroughbred amongst sporting cars. These satisfactory results from the Darracq are no doubt largely due to the persistent maintenance of strenuous racing policy on the part of the Darracq Company ; which, during the last two years, has brought many new laurels to the Darracq name. Of one thing it is easy to be certain, and that is, that although the Darracq in its sporting guise reflects the influence
of its racing ancestry, it only does so with regard to desirable qualities.
As a runabout, as an open family car, as a sporting three or four-seater, as a town car, as a coupe, or as a light weight sports type saloon it is equally able to exhibit its manifold merits.