Brief Spell in a Connaught

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We have been able to take a short drive in the Connaught raced at Silverstone by K. McAlpine. It has the 1,767-c.c. 75 by 100 mm. four-cylinder Lea-Francis engine with Lucas magneto, Lodge plugs, four Amal carburetters and dry-sump lubrication with a 2 1/2-gallon oil tank above the passenger’s knees. This chassis has 1/2-elliptic suspension with 2 1/2 in. deflection, 13-in. Girling brakes, five-stud disc wheels and an 11-gallon fuel tank. The body is an all-enveloping two-seater without wheel covers, very handsome, particularly head on, and is intended to be functional and free from frills. Of light alloy on a tubular steel frame, the entire shell is removable in about ten minutes, while the front half hinges forward, or can be lifted clear of the engine in under four minutes. The bucket front seats are particularly comfortable and suited to fast driving, and the remote gear-lever and central handbrake very conveniently located. The facia carries a row of aircraft switches controlling individual lamps, petrol gauge, fuel pumps, etc. The Connaught scales 18 1/2 cwt. dry.

We tried the car on petrol/benzole, with 4.87 to 1 top gear and 6.00-16 Dunlops. The engine proved to have a real appetite for high revs. Indeed, the punch isn’t delivered until 3,000 r.p.m. is exceeded, representing some 50 m.p.h. in top gear, and 5,000 r.p.m. comes up in third gear in no time at all. We were encouraged to “go off the clock,” the rev. counter reading to 6,000 r.p.m., and it is a fact that the makers declare the safe maximum to be 6.500 r.p.m. Certainly no distress was evident, and 5,500 r.p.m. was used normally in the gears, while 5,400 r.p.m. came up along a short piece of clear road in top with both aeroscreens up. We understand that at the M.M.E.C. Silverstone meeting 6,000 r.p.m., equivalent to 100 m.p.h. was attained along the uphill straight. In traffic it is normal to employ second gear for long periods, while along traffic-infested main roads third is in use nearly as much as top. The close ratio between third and top permits a rapid change-down, even at high speeds (with the alternative 4.5 to 1 axle-ratio the indirects are 6.45, 10.64 and 16.2 to 1 or, close ratio, 5.46, 9.0 and 13.65 to 1) but the change to second requires an appreciable increase in engine speed, calling for correct judgment. Other aspects of the Connaught which became apparent were its ability to go round corners at very high speeds with no conscious steering action (the steering ratio is 13.4 to I, the wheel needing only two turns, lock to lock), its firm suspension, providing exceedingly good roadholding yet scarcely betraying the rigid I-section axle on “cart springs” at the front (which, apart from having few moving parts in comparison with i.f.s., has, in this case, rubber bushes, obviating greasing) and the willingness of the engine, the exhaust of which emitted a satisfactory rasp on opening-up after snap gear changes. The body offers plenty of elbow room and the air-flow is such that, in spite of low doors and aeroscreens, one is not unduly inconvenienced when dispensing with hat or goggles. The brakes had some tendency to fade, which air-ducts might obviate, but were exeedingly powerful under moderate pedal pressure; the engine started readily, oil temperature did not exceed 70 degrees C., there was no running-on, and pinking occurred only when those revs, were allowed to drop unduly. Altogether this car is a most interesting proposition and we hope in due course to be able to publish figures for performance against the watch. The price of the normal “Competition” two-seater Connaught is £988, or £1,275 with p.t., and we understand that delivery can be made in 4 1/2 months.

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