THE NEW RAILTON-TERRAPLANE
Modified Chassis and Special Coachwork give enhanced performance and impressive appearance.
THE road-test of the Essex Terraplane published in this issue of MOTOR SPORT reveals it as a car of exceptional performance at a reasonable price. Many sports-car owners are willing to pay a price higher than the normal figure for a body differing in line from the standard production. The Railton Terraplane possesses that distinctive appearance, and also embodies alterations which still further improve the performance.
The engine, gear box and transmission are those of the standard Terraplane Eight, but the chassis has been lightened at several points. Flat springs replace the cambered ones and this lowers the chassis by 2 inches. Andre friction shock absorbers are fitted and in addition a set of Andre Telecontrol dampers on each axle. This gives plenty of adjustment without putting too much strain on the hydraulic controls. The scuttle is dropped 5 inches and the radiator lowered and brought forward. The radiator and bonnet line is most effective, and is not unlike that of the early Invictas. A single-piece screen is fitted, and can be folded forward. Lancegape safety-glass is standard. The body has a wide door on each side, and is cut away to give elbow-room for the driver and front passenger, though actually they sit well within the car. The body panelling and wings are carried out by the British Aluminium Co., Ltd., and the material for the exterior paint-work is supplied by Goodlass, Wall & Co., Ltd., The front seats have high pan backs with
excellent support and the back seats are comfortable with good foot-wells.
Both are provided with Self-Controlled Air Cushions and Leveroll fittings, while the leather is supplied by Andrew Muirhead and Sons. The hood, its envelope, and the tonneau-cover are the work of Boyriven, Ltd.
Driving comfort is ensured by the fitting of a Brooklands steering-wheel, manufactured by the well-known sports car equipment firm, Frank Ashby & Sons, Ltd. Being fully flexible the wheel allows hard driving over long distances to be accomplished without fatigue. A neat dashboard layout has been
evolved with a large Smith speedometer and rev. counter. A combined petrol and oil guage is a feature. Two ignition coils are fitted ready-wired, and the change over is effected by moving a single wire.
The straight lines of the bonnet with its almost vertical louvres, the sweeping lines of the front wings and the sloping rear wheel all combine to give the car a thoroughbred appearance in keeping with English sports-car tradition.
Fitted with the Railton Terraplane body, the Essex weighs just over 20 cwt. against 23icwts. for the standard fourseater. The frontal area has been reduced by lowering the body and so forth, so that now the car is capable of putting a higher top gear, giving a maximum of about 90 m.p.h., or alternately the 4.1 ratio can be retained when the already good performance of the standard Terraplane Eight will be further improved.
In the course of a short road-test, we found the acceleration figures were materially better than on the heavier car, but the greatest improvement was found in the brakes, which could be applied with full force without locking or swinging. The flat road-springs may partly account for this. The suspension was excellent and could be hardened sufficiently for the most violent cornering by adjusting the telecontrols. Lowering the centre of gravity has further improved the feel of the car.
Detail improvements are still to be made, and a lower cut-away on the driver’s side will give more room when lockingover the steering wheel. A valance underneath the front wings will balance the straight lines of the bonnet shoulder. Another thing which might be done is to lengthen the clutch pedal as the gears are difficult to disengage unless the pedals goes right down, entailing a fairly long movement. Apart from this we had no criticism to offer.
The Railton Terraplane combines American silence and acceleration with English sports-car stability and lines and should find favour with a large circle of sports car drivers. It costs £499 and is marketed by Railton Terraplane, The Fair Mile, Cobham.