A REMARKABLE RAILTON
AN EIGHT-CYLINDER CAR WITH OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE AND ROAD-HOLDING QUALMES
T . HE term Railton is synonymous with high performance, as, indeed, is only
fitting, for Reid A. Railton, of Messrs. Thomson and Taylor, Brooklands Track, is one of the best known designers in the country. Apart from the production cars which bear his name. he has been responsible for many high-speed cars, including John Cobb’s latest record machine now in the United States. The 28.8 h.p. production Railton, as is well known, is a close relation of the eight-cylinder Hudson, but any idea that the Railton is merely a Hudson chassis with a British body and British this-andthats is totally incorrect. It is not even correct to imagine that the Railton is a Hudson chassis altered in various ways by the manufacturers in England. This was certainly the ease when the cars were first produced some years ago, but the
arrangement wr : found unsatisfactory, and now a spc .al chassis is produced to the British s:.ecification of the Railton, and is specially assembled right from the start. American cars have certain charac
teristics, popular with a great body of motorists, but while the Railton retains all the best of these, such as smoothness, rapid acceleration, comfort, and top-gear performance, no one, placed in the car without knowing what it was, would suppose that they were in a car of transatlantic origin. The car feels thoroughly British, except that the eight-cylinder engine develops a degree of power and flexibility rare in British cars of a moderate price. The car tested was a Cobham four-door
saloon, the personal property of Mr. C. A. Holbeach, of Messrs. Thomson and Taylor, distributors for Railton cars. One was prepared for tremendous acceleration, by the very reputation of the cars, but the first thing that struck one was the remarkable road-holding. The road surface was wet when the test began, but it was found possible to slam on power on quite sharp corners without provoking the slightest skid, and. on a bumpy surface there was no tendency whatsoever, even with corners taken fast, for judder. The body did not roll, and there was
no fore-and-aft pitching, as often experienced on cars with soft suspension. Even on coming to a sudden stop, there was none of that tendency for the nose to dip and for the tail to rise, which has on certain machines with comfortable springing so often called for facetious comments from sporting motorists. The Railton, in fact, rides like the best
type of British sports-car, and the secret of this lies in the fact that special British springs are fitted, damped by Andre Telecontrol shock-absorbers. With these adjusted quite loosely, no shocks were felt, but greater damping was quite unnecessary until the car was tried over rough roads in the mountains of North Wales. liven on the ascent of rough hills like
Allt-y-Bady, which, in common with many other Welsh tracks, has a number of cross gullies, it was only necessary to turn the adjusting knobs, just under the dashboard, quite a slight amount.
A local inhabitant met at the foot of one Of these hills, regarding the size and resplendent appearance of the Railton, sa:‘. cautiously that it would be better to go round another way. He May have Known his onions, or rather leeks; but he did not know the Railton, and on being carried up the hill at great speed, a large part of the way in second gear, revised his opinion, ” whateffer.” The Railton is, indeed, a big car, but
handles in most tractable fashion. On narrow lanes with only just sufficient width for the wings, one felt at no disadvantage, and could keep up a good speed. Similarly, when reversing in and out of narrow openings, no difficulty was experienced. The excellent steering lock is largely responsible for this, for the car is listed as
possessing a turning circle of 42 feet, but feels as though it would turn in much less. The steering is a trifle low-geared, but only by sports-car standards, and this feature, by no means more noticeable than on the majority of car* not produced expressly for sporting purposes, helps the easy manceuvrability. On the open road the steering matches the road-holding leaving little to he desired.
In one point alone difficulty was experienced, for if the car was left stationary on a steep gradient, it was not easy to restart the engine, a feature in common with Many other cars with down-draught carburetters, which have a tendency to flood when tilted. The double carburetter has a pump, for purposes of rapid acceleration, and thus one must not on any account move the pedal up and down, or the mixture becomes far too rich. Eventually it was found that the -trick is to move the throttle gently full open, and leave it open till the richness has cleared away.
A hand throttle was not fitted, and it was felt that this fitting might be an advantage, in order to prevent the :engine stalling when ticking over on a gradient. The foot throttle is of the hinged flag type, which gives a. very comfortable touring position for the foot on the ()pen road. The mixture is controlkd by a thermostat, and thus no choke or other contrivance has to be operated when starting
up from cold. This was always quite easy. The water temperature is also regulated by a thermostat, and, at a fast cruising speed of over 60 m.p.h., ran at about 75 to 80° Cent. So far little has been said about the acceleration, for Railton acceleration is proverbial. The car tested was not the special light model, but even the corn
.fortable Cobham saloon weighs but 27 cwt., and with an eight-cylinder 4,168 c.c. engine, the power-weight ratio is extremely favourable.
At 60 m.p.h. there was still so much power in hand that it was possible to accelerate as on a supercharged machine, while at lower speeds, especially if second gear was used, one could get away like a rocket. The power showed up particularly at roundabouts, where one could slow down, change quietly to second if desired, and leave any following machine standing. It is by no means necessary to change gear at all, for the flexibility on top leaves ample margin, and, except for sonic of the Welsh trial’s hills which were tackled, it was never necessary to change down for any main road hill which was encountered
during the test. The gear ratios are nevertheless very high, with 10 to I fast, 6.6 to 1 second, and 4.1 to I top. Some fine acceleration figures were recorded at Brooklands track, as follows :
to 20 m.p.h., 3 sees.; to 30 m.p.h., 5secs. ; to 40 m.p.h., 8f secs. ; to 50 m.p.h., 10f secs. ; to 60 m.p.h., 15f sees.; to 70 m.p.h., 211 sees.; to 80 m.p.h., 29 secs. The best maximum speed timed over a quarter of a mile, on a day with little
wind, and such wind as there was against the car, was 88.24 m.p.h. The speedometer was only a little fast, showing a maximum of 92 m.p.h. at this speed. Mr. Holbeach’s car, it may be mentioned, has covered some 18,000 miles, mostly in strenuous demonstration work, and during this period it has only been
decarbonised once. It seems likely, therefore, that if one made any attempt at tuning, the figures shown above might be exceeded.
The brakes have Lockheed hydraulic operation, and the shoes work on the selfservo principle, so that the result is extremely powerful, and if the brakes are to be applied really hard at speed, it is advisable for the occupants of the car to brace themselves ! At the same time gentle pressure on the pedal is all that is necessary for open road work.
A pistol-type pull-on hand-brake is fitted under the dashboard on the righthand side, an ,arrangement which, together with the short remote control gear lever between the seats, makes entry and, exit on either side of the car easy. However, a hand-brake of this kind is chiefly used for parking purposes, and it needs a certain amount of knack to operate it to the best advantage when restarting on. a steep gradient. Petrol consumption, if the car is driven easily at a cruising speed somewhere round 60 m.p.h., works out at about 18 m.p.g., but if the gears are used and a cruising speed of 70 m.p.h or more is maintained—a speed at which the car
is still running well within its capabilities— one is likely to obtain about 15 m.p.g. The petrol tank holds 131 gallons, and has a reserve tap controlling a supply of about a gallon. A fuel gauge is fitted on the dashboard, which gave accurate results. An ethylised petrol was used
throughout the test, and, even with vigorous acceleration from low speeds on top gear, there was no sign of pinking.
Altogether the Railton is a remarkable production, extremely suitable for longdistance touring whether in this country or abroad. It has the appearance and running qualities of a car twice its price. The cost of the Cobham saloon tested is 4:698.