Rally Review: "Motoring News" Rally Championship
On the fourth of December what has probably been the closest fought rally championship ever…
THE 30 H.P. SIX-CYLINDER LAGONDA AN IMPRESSIVE CAR ALLYING SHEER LUXURY WITH A FINE PERFORMANCE
THERE have been many arguments as to what constitutes a sports-car. One might further complicate the issue by asking a riddle, ” When is a sports-car not a sports-car ? ” but the answer might be, ” When it is a Lagonda,” the Le Mans models, which lapped Brooklands at Close on 120 m.p.h. on August Bank Holiday, being excepted. The answer to this riddle is really a high form of compliment, for though in performance both the modern types Of Lagonda must be granted ranking as sports-cars, in all their other character
istics they are luxury touring cars. So admirable a blend can seldom have been struck. Both the latest Lagondas have 1.-1itre engines. One model has twelve cylinders, and the other six. Apart from the
power unit the two chassis are practically identical. It was the Six-cylinder saloon which on the present occasion was tested by MOTOR SPORT. This is no place for com parisons, but the six-cylinder car is in no danger of being overshadowed by I he ” twelve.” It has many endearing
characteristics of its own, pulling a high gear smoothly and without effort. The engine is of a similar type to that used for some time past, though it now seems smoother than ever. The chassis, however, like that of the ” twelve,” is quite new, and embodies independent
front suspension of torsion bar type. The comfort of the springing is really outstanding. On all types of road it
smooths out bumps in a remarkable mmmer, and at the same time gives positive roadholding. The LagOnda is a large car, with 10 ft. 7-1 in. wheelbase and an overall length of 16 ft. 6 in., but it handles so easily that its size never obtrudes itself. There is a hard-and-soft control for the rear shock-absorbers, with a lever mounted on the steering column just below the driver’s right hand, This proved very
useful, giving luxurious ease for town work, and the only criticism offered of the suspension is that the ” hard ” control might go over a little harder for fast driving. As it is, the movement of the springs is damped quite sufficiently tor all ordinary occasions, and the roadholding must again be mentioned favourably, because one of the outstanding memories left by the test is that of swinging the big car fast round corners with certainty and absolute steadiness. But if with the back loaded up one comes :across an unexpected large bump at speed, then one might wish for greater damping, if this could be achieved without spoiling the remarkable comfort at the other end of the range, The Car tested, incidentally, was one of the 1040 models, which include various detail refinements such as a lever on each side under the bonnet for rapid adjust ment of the front shock-absorbers. It
was not found necessary to alter this setting at all.
Another improvement which has been effected is a series of slits round the interior of the shell surrounding the radiator honeycomb. These have been designed to overcome any tendency for heat from the engine reaching the driving compartment, and certainly no such heat was noticed.
There is to be a new type of radiator, not yet fitted on the model tested, eliminating the radiator shutters, which at present are operated by a thermostat. These certainly give quick warming-up, and may have contributed to the extraordinary ease of starting up in the morning, by retaining the warm air under the bonnet. However, they have been found to be unnecessary, and they tend to set up a kind of whistle in certain positions.
There are few cars on which from cold one can turn the engine switch, press the starter, and be certain of an absolutely instantaneous fire without use of mixture control, or ignition lever, even when the car has been left standing in the open for a prolonged period. Both mixture control and ignition lever are provided on the Lagonda, but evidently with English fuel, and even in an English summer (sic), they can be reserved for an emergency. For this the efficient system of ignition must be praised. There are two Scintilla Vertex magnetos, and each of the six cylinders has two sparking plugs, one on each side. The view from the driving seat is excellent, and the seat backs support the shoulders comfortably. It is possible that a short driver might have difficulty in seeing over the wheel, set in the pos ition in which it was. This could he adjusted, though not instantaneously. The short gearlever, in the centre, falls readily to the hand, while the hand brake is on the right, horizontally placed so that it does not impede getting into or out of the car. The handbrake lever has a
” racing ” type ratchet, which need only be touched when the car is being parked. The gearchange is delightful, and quite beyond criticism. Second, third, and top gears have synchromesh engagement, and are quite silent. It would be extremely difficult to make a clash when changing gear, even if the lever is moved rapidly
across. The car tested was still fairly new—it is said that the engine does not reach its maximum efficiency until 5,000 miles have been covered—and so no effort was made to reach maximum speed on the indirect gears.
The recommended maximum revolutions are 4,000 r.p.m., and it should thus be possible to attain about 30 m.p.h. on bottom gear, 60 m.p.h. on secomi,and just 80 m.p.h. on third. For one momentary burst, 80 m.p.h. on third gear was in fact attained, merely to prove that it was possible, and the engine, in spite of its comparative newness—it had covered some 2,500 miles,—remained quite smooth and free from fuss.
For the same reason, to avoid stressing an engine barely run in (though it must be admitted that there were no signs of stiffness in ordinary running), the car was not taken to Brooklands for a timed maximum speed test, and, instead, the speedometer was checked, and the car was given one short run all-out on the road. The speedometer was found to be almost accurate, having a negligble error on the fast side, but at high speed the needle tended to waver, swinging between 97 and 104 m.p.h. Comparing this with the rev, counter reading, which was steadier, at sonic 3,900 r.p.m. (4,000 r.p.m.-100 m.p.h.), one reaches the conclusion that the six-cylinder Lagonda is, in favourable circumstances and fully run in, capable of a good 100 m.p.h., or about 95 m.p.h. in give and take conditions. The clutch engaged very sweetly, and, with the help of the quick and certain gear change. the following acceleration figures were attained :—
Good as these figures are, it must be remembered that the engine was not being run up to its maximum revolutions on each gear. The weight of the car is 38f cwt. Thus the Lagonda is by no means light, and its easy and sensitive handling is the more creditable.
The fuel tank holds twenty gallons, and the consumption on a run of 250 miles worked out at about 15 m.p.g.
The car could scarcely be excelled for comfort on a long run, with its ease of control, soft upholstery, and fine springing. It has also-very handsome lines, and attracted a great deal of admiration wherever it was taken. This particular model was painted in battleship grey, with upholstery of a singularly beautiful soft shade of red.
There is an unusual amount of space in the luggage boot, hut if a full complement of passengers is being carried, with luggage to suit, an ingenious luggage grid, normally concealed by a hinged panel in the tail, can be folded out.
The spare wheel is carried on. the off side of the car in a domed cover recessed into the front wing, and balanced lines ar-.2 preserved by a similar dummy cover on the other side, which houses the tools, conveniently arranged in sockets, a set of spare plugs, screwed into holders, an inspection lamp, for which there is a socket on the dash, and, last but not least, the permanently installed hydraulic jacking system. To raise either the front or the rear pair of wheels, one has merely to screw up a valve and move a lever backwards and forwards. No groping about with long handles underneath the car !
The batteries and the duplex petrol pump are mounted under the scuttle in a most accessible position, and also mounted on the dash is the remote motor for the dual screenwipers. In rain the car is pleasant to drive, for the windows need not be fully closed, as they are protected by a glass valance, which also helps to exclude draughts. In. wet weather, too, the car keeps remarkably clean, through the deep, helmet-shaped wings.
The beam given by the enormous headlights, is quite up to the needs of a 100 m.p.h. car, and the dipping switch is foot-operated, on the left of the clutch pedal. The accelerator is on the right, and it is quite easy to use both this and the brake pedal together for a ” heeland-toe ” gear change. A centre-lamp or road-light is provided, and above the instrument panel there is a shielded map-reading light. The tone of the horn can be controlled by a two position switch. The loud note is excellent for the open road, while the softer note insists gently for town work. Other refinements include a reserve petrol tap, a master-switch to cut out the electrical equipment, and automatic chassis lubrication, operated by each
stroke of the clutch pedal. The price of this fine product of British engineering is .0,195.
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