covers are supplied for the home market. The packing was coming out of the rim of one wheel. The rather small fuel filler has a wire-held bayonet cap. Over rough surfaces the bonnet panels rippled slightly but the facia was always rigid.
The fuel tank holds 8f gallons, giving a range of over 260 miles under normal circumstances, and the sump, replenished via the valve cover, has a capacity of 71 pints. An excellent instruction book and additional servicing and descriptive data is issued for the car. During our test we spared the A40 nothing, yet the only failures were confined to one sidelamp bulb and the exhaust-flange gasket where manifold
meets pipe. The latter ” blew ” after about 300 miles’ driving, possibly because of flood water impinging on the hot pipe, and converted the engine from a very quiet into a rather noisy unit ; no fumes entered the car. A damp patch appeared on a coat rolled up on the rear parcels shelf ; conditions, admittedly, were tropical. Space precludes a technical discourse on this most likeable and advanced Ten, but it may be observed that the 10.6 R.A.C.-h.p. push-rod o.h.v. engine gives 40 b.h.p. at 4,800 r.p.m.,. has a maximum torque of 59 lb. ft. at 3,000 r.p.m., has a three-bearing camshaft and crankshaft, the former chain-driven, pump cooling with -fan and self-condensing radiator, a 12i-pint water capacity, a by-pass oil
filter, coil ignition with centrifugal and vacuum timing control, and an A.C.-fed Zenith downdraught carburetter. Stevenson jacking is used, the I-floating rear axle holds 2f pints of oil, and the pressedsteel chassis is of box-section. Other data is given in the accompanying panel. Lucas electrical equipment is used.
The Austin A40 is a very tine little car, and it is difficult to decide which of its many outstanding characteristics impresses most-its refinement, its high rate of travel, its spirited response to enthusiastic driving, or its economy and sheer A-to-B transport value. Certainly these good qualities combined result in the A40 being regarded by many discerning folk as today’s outstanding ” Ten.”W. B.
length of 10.54-10.64 in., combined with zinc interleaved, underslung, /-elliptic leaf springs at the rear aided by an anti-roll bar, and Armstrong double-acting hydraulic dampers all round, certainly provides this.
From a consideration of the A40’s immeasurable characteristics, let us study its measurable performance. Maximum speed is just in excess of 70 m.p.h. under good conditions—we got a reading of 72 m.p.h. on the road—but is of little moment in a car of this kind. Cruising speed is altogether more important, and this latest 10.6-h.p. Austin is definitely useful in this respect. 50 m.p.h. is seen almost all the time on the speedometer on straight roads, but if the driver is in a hurry 60 m.p.h. can be held for mile after mile. Actually, we maintained 65 m.p.h. for appreciable distances with no signs of distress. These are speedometer speeds, but the speedometer is creditably accurate at high speeds. Mile-a-minute cruising really gets a car along, and at this gait the A40’s engine is doing under 4,500 r.p.m.—its critical piston speed of 2,500 f.p.m. is not reached until the speed is above 58 m.p.h. At 60 m.p.h. and over for appreciable periods the oil pressure never fell below its customary 45-50 lb./sq. in. pressure, and only once or twice did the engine want to continue functioning sans sparks. Such stamina and speed from a £345 car is as praiseworthy as it is useful.
Actually, acceleration, too, is of a high order, although no performance figures were logged. Definitely the A40 ” loses ” other Tens from the traffic lights, while from 30 to 50 m.p.h. in top gear the pickup is particularly useful. The car runs up to indicated speeds of 15, 29 and 45 m.p.h. in first, second and third gears, respectively, the last-named speed representing all but 5,000 r.p.m. on the 8.38 to 1 ratio-5,000 r.p.m. can also be attained in top gear. Audible valvebounce precludes higher maxima.
The engine, which is a 65.48 by 89 mm., 1,200-c.c. version of the o.h.v. unit made famous by the briskness of the Austin Sixteen, pinks very little in spite of a 7.2 to 1 compression-ratio, is outstandingly smooth throughout its speedrange and devoid of flat-spots, and it pulls grandly up main-road hills in top gear. Naturally it is mounted on liberal rubber blocks, which allow it to sway when idling, as gear-lever movement testifies. Starting from cold is well-nigh instantaneous, with a minimum of choke. Something like 5 m.p.h. can be indulged in in the 5.43 to 1 top gear, pick-up from a crawl being clean but not really brisk until 25 m.p.h. is reached. Drivers who might indulge in such a practice are few and far between, but many there are who would normally change-up at 5, 12 and 25 m.p.h., respectively, in first, second and third. AVlien hustling it pays to employ the lower ratios, hold in on to third to 40 or more m.p.h., however. The clutch is fairly light but somewhat spongey ; it feels well up to its job, however. The gearbox is typically Austin, with excellent synchromesh for second, third and top, enabling rapid changes to be made with or without its aid, but asking considerable exertion to come out of gear. First gear was sometimes difficult to engage. The lever is long, reasonably
rigid, has a white knob, and is centrally placed—and we have absolutely no grumbles about it. It lifts to engage reverse gear ; the positions are moulded on the rubber gearbox cover.
The cruising speed is so much higher than one anticipates from a car of this size and class, the steering and roadholding qualities so good, that very satisfactory average speeds could be maintained were the A40’s brakes but mediocre. In actual fact the 9-in, drum diameter Girling hydro-mechanical (two leading-shoes at the front) system is not only entirely adequate to the car’s speed capabilities but is in every way delightful. The pedal action is light and really progressive, and no brake noise is evident. Crash stops produce a minimum of sliding and the car keeps dead straight until wheel locking is promoted ; nor did the car’s nose dip too viciously. Fading was not unduly evident, although the front drums get very warm after heavy braking. The pistol-grip of the hand-brake lies laterally, not vertically, the lever between one’s knees. This seems odd, but perfectly acceptable, this brake holding well and releasing impeccably.
Turning to more detail aspects of the A40, the appointments are simple and generally effective. The facia carries a central ash-tray, a big cubby hole with rather ” tinny ” unlockable lid, and centralised separate controls for panel lighting, choke-cum-engine speed, radio, ignition (key), Smith’s heater, radio selector, lamps and starter. The lamp control pulls out for sidelamps, twists and pulls again for headlamps. The choke was rather stiff to pull out, the pull-out starter control, as has been said, vibrated, and it was necessary to open the bonnet to change from hot to unheated air from the heater. The Ekco radio (a 181 18s. 10d. extra) would receive six ” home ” stations well but will not embrace any others ; it suffers from fading near trees and buildings, and some interference from bridges and h.t. cables, etc., but has ample volume. The volume control comes exactly to hand. A very nice push-pull switch set vertically below the facia operated the twin wipers, which ” parked ” efficiently. They also ran briskly but the screen still smeared, even in heavy rain, a shortcoming we have experienced on other modern cars. It was accentuated on the A40 because the top of the cream-hued steering wheel was reflected in the screen glass exaetly in the driver’s line of vision. The driver, however, sat a trifle low and a cushion might have improved both visibility and vision. In any case, we understand that the makers intend to darken the top of the wheel to obviate this rt.ilection. There is screen de-misting to the driver’s side only. Before t he driver is the instrument panel, containing oil gauge, ammeter, 70-m.p.h. Smith’s speedometer with “trip ” and total mileage recorders, fuel gauge calibrated *, /, 1, F., and radio and ignition warning lights. The speedometer needle “floated” disconcertingly and the fuel gauge said ” empty” before the tank ran dry. The ” push ” in the wheel centre sounded the very powerful horn, and the direction indicators control was above it, the indicators self-cancelling nicely. The steering wheel
has a nice grip, but there was 1 in. movement after 9,000 miles’ wear. Two vizors are provided, the large central mirror is ” blued ” to reduce dazzle as no rear blind is fitted, and doors and windows function conventionally, the driver’s door having a separate lock actuated by the ignition key.
A very good feature is the fronthinging of all doors, so that they trail, while they also envelope the concealed, shallow running-boards, thus protecting Paris fashions from dirt and water.
Small pockets are incorporated in the front doors, but are apt to be blanked by the front seat cushions if the seats are set forward. There is ample leg and head-room, especially in the front. The propeller-shaft tunnel is not obstructive. The inbuilt lamps are moderately powerful, but the aforementioned screen smear and reflected wheel-rim proved troublesome on a wet night. The foot dipper functions satisfactorily. A praiseworthy feature is the provision of twin ruby stoplights at the rear, which go out when the ignition is “off,” so saving current even if the brakes are applied. The wipers are also inter-connected with the ignition switch, as is now usual, while the panel lighting functions only if the sidelamps are on. A useful central roof lamp with adjacent switch is provided.
A rather low-set, full-width, parcels shelf is provided in addition to the aforementioned cubby-hole, the ducts for the hot air passing through it, and the release control for the alligator bonnet being located just above it on the driver’s side, which, on occasion, necessitates moving small objects to reach it. To open the bonnet a safety catch at the front has to be pushed in while the “jaws” are held open. Electrical details and the 12-volt battery are readily accessible when the bonnet is raised, and it has a very secure,. easy-to-operate retaining stay. The dipstick gets somewhat entangled with the ignition leads during removal.
Excellent quarter-lights enable rear seat passengers to gain a good view ; ” pulls ” are provided, and there are side arm-rests and a folding centre armrest. But we were surprised not to find. ash-trays for the rear-seat occupants. There-isno-scuttle -ventilator and as rainguards are not supplied for the windows the interior can get somewhat stuffy in wet weather. There is a parcels shelf behind the back seat but it is rather too shallow to accommodate coats or similar objects.
The Pytchley sliding roof was appreciated and functions well ; the handle locking it also rendering it flush-fitting. The rear doors are a trifle narrow and three people cannot really be carried in comfort on the rear seat, although we did motor five up, with no adverse effect on roadholding or urge.
Upholstery is in good quality leather and adds to the air of refinem.nt. Loose rubber mats supplement the normal mats in front. The exterior of thecar is modern and pleashig, the rear boot has a useful capacity and the lid, which locks with the ignition key, is designed to. act as a luggage platform if required, and the bumpers are substantial. It should be an easy car to clean. The disc wheels carried 5.25 by 16 Dunlop E.L.P.