Cars on Road &Track
J By 1Opoll 77-traffic)
No. 3. The Two-Litre Ansaldo. ONE of the most interesting types of cars coming
within the purview of the BROOKIANDS GAZETTE is that very considerable range which mark the borderline between the sporting car proper and fast touring vehicles. There is something particularly fascinating about these cars, because from their essential qualities they offer advantages which must appeal to an increasing section of motorists. Most people commence motoring with a sedate touring car, often, in these days of the successful light car, with quite a small one. Later they naturally take to a larger and more powerful vehicle. Having tasted the delights of speed and reserve power, they almost inevitably turn, sooner or later, a longing eye upon the sporting models. Many of them wisely admit that the ultra-sports car, stripped, all too often of everything but speed, is not for them. Family or other considerations keep them within the ranks of those motorists who must have comfort, weather protection, and perhaps more seating accommodation than the average sports car
With very few exceptions these people find all that they desire in one or other of the sports-touring models now so prominently before the public. In the realm of fast cars our friends of overseas countries can often show British designers a point or
two. It is only to be expected that they should sometimes produce a car belonging to that interesting middle category, which, for want of a better name, I will continue to call the sports-touring type. An example of this class has recently been brought to my particular attention.
I was asked a short while ago by Messrs. Watkins and Doncaster, Ltd., of 16, Albemarle Street, London, W.’, to take over for a road trial a standard sample of the two-litre Ansaldo, for which they are the sole concessionnaires for Great Britain. This car appealed to me as a particularly interesting proposition, both as a sports-touring model and as a product of an Italian firm that has won renown in other realms of engineering. The Ansaldo is manufactured by Messrs. Giovanni Ansaldo, of Genoa, a company already eminent as shipbuilding and general engineers. The car is, I understand, by no means only a side line of this company, but is produced as a specialised job in a specially equipped factory in Turin. On inspection one immediately appreciates the Ansaldo as a well designed and .competently built vehicle. The four-cylinder engine is a sturdy unit, integrally cast, and having a detachable head. Overhead valve gear and camshaft is adopted. The Solex carburettor is standardised, and ignition is by Marelli
magneto. Lubrication is by forced feed and water circulation by pump. Engine, clutch and gear box are built in one unit, and the gear box provides three speeds and reverse with central control. A tubular propeller shaft conveys the power to the spiral-bevel axle drive. Suspension is by semi-elliptic springing, both front and rear, the springs being of exceptionally generous length.
The Ansaldo is thoroughly up-to-date in being supplied with four-wheel brakes. The operating gear for the front wheel brakes is carried on the axle itself, and the whole assembly strikes one as being particularly neat and efficient.
The appearance of the Ansaldo is distinctly pleasing. One hardly likes to use the term ” foreign ” in respect of cars emanating from Italy, for whilst these have a distinct nationality of their own, they are generally so close to British ideals as not to contain any of that rather objectionable element which is often implied by the word. The Ansaldo four-seater open touring body supplied as standard by the Turin factory is really quite handsome and comfortable, but I understand that the choice of British coachwork is offered.
On the road the Ansaldo is a car of many pleasing qualities. Amongst the most attractive of these is the general impression of stability which it conveys. Although not unduly heavy, the Ansaldo holds the road in a very satisfactory manner. Whilst its steering is not over light, it is at all times positive.
The suspension is decidedly good, and pot-holey roads traversed at speed do not worry the driver or passengers so, much as is often the case on cars of this type.
In the very topical subject of four-wheel brakes one naturally finds a special interest, and much could justifiably be written in praise of the set on the Ansaldo. I found them quick in action, very powerful, and quite correctly compensated. It was, indeed, remarkable the short distance one could pull up in when travelling at high speed, and even a recklessly sudden application had no other effect than to gently retard the car without shock or sign of skidding. In descending steep hills, the Ansaldo’s brakes are all that can be desired, for with them one very soon gains confidence of an ample safety margin and is assured of complete ease of control. The hand brake, working on the back wheels only, I did not find in a very happy condition, and only used it to hold the car when at a standstill. I have no hesitation in saying, however, that the four-wheel set places the Ansaldo well ahead of certain similar cars that are not so equipped. Of the engine’s operation one could, also, speak in terms of much appreciation. The Ansaldo is, of course, largely a sporting car, and its sporting characteristics predominating to a considerable extent it is necessary to drive the engine sympathetically. No keen motorist will complain of that. Until we all drive about in steam cars we are not likely to find the engine with which one simply opens or closes the throttle for the desired result under all conditions. With such a car as the Ansaldo, one naturally expects to manipulate the spark lever intelligently and to make a careful use of the
gears. In respect of the spark lever, it was, in fact, quite fascinating to feel the Ansaldo pick up vigorously when the ignition was advanced at the correct moments. One could get quite a big variation of speed on the spark lever alone, thus showing that the Ansaldo engine was of such fine design that an intelligent driver could get the very best results from it.
The car I tried had covered many thousands of miles without garage attention and I did not, therefore, expect anything very extra in the way of speed from it. I found, however, that there was all one could desire for reasonable fast touring ; sufficient, indeed, to give one the assurance that a “hotted up “Ansaldo would be something quite special in the way of speedy fourseaters. The acceleration was positive, with a good pick-up from slow speed under all conditions. The car showed an excellent top gear performance, and on second speed was equal to practically anything except freak gradients. Indeed, I think a higher top gear could be adapted with advantage. The engine ran smoothly and without undue vibration at any speed. Quick to respond to throttle or
spark, it conveyed that assurance of always being well within its capacity which was an outstanding feature of the Ansaldo in general.
Another creditable feature was the springing, driver and passenger being excellently insulated from road shocks, although I took the Ansaldo over some roads decidedly not of the billiard table variety.
In general equipment and finish the Ansaldo left little to be desired. Lighting, starting, and other details were completely satisfactory. The general lines of the car are distinctly pleasing, artistic and utilitarian considerations being blended in the bodywork in an admirable manner.
The Ansaldo sells in this country at the following prices : 14 h.p. chassis, with four-wheel brakes, £425; 14 h.p. 4-5 seater car, with English coachwork, £55o ; 12 h.p. 4-5 seater car, with English coachwork, £485. There is also a 16 h.p. six-cylinder Ansaldo, chassis price, £555; complete 4-5 seater with English built torpedo body, £7io.