N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them—Ed.
Further Citroen Enthusiam
I purchased a 1952 Light Fifteen Citroen in March this year. For the last twenty years we have had American cars in our family —three Fords, one Chevrolet and a Buick. When I sold my 1947 Ford station wagon it was with the idea that I would purchase a new Ford sedan. I was on my way to the local Ford dealer when I saw a terrible-looking car standing in West Street, Durban, it was rusted to such an extent that it was impossible to tell the original colour of the body. The fenders were dented and the front bumper was missing. The owner of this rather battered Citroen must have seen my look of amazement, for he promptly waylaid me and told me that looks were deceiving. He went on to stay what a fine car the Citroen was. It turned out that this Citroen was from Uganda, a 1948 model, having done 60,000 miles over dirt roads. From its appearance I believed the owner when he said he hadn’t exactly nursed the car.To cut a long story short, my new friend drove me to the Citroen agents and I departed a little while later in a Light Fifteen. I tell you this chap from Uganda should be the Citroen sales manager down at Slough!
Before leaving me he suggested that I go to the nearest newsagent and buy a copy of Motor Sport, which he assured me would give some “dope” on the Citroen. I have now been reading your excellent magazine for the last four months and really enjoyed your May issue which gave the road-test report of the Citroen Six.
At 1s.6d. Motor Sport knocks spots off the 3s.9d. journals published in America which seem to think Yankee cars are the goods. Thanks to my Uganda pal and your magazine the English car can have my money any time.
I am, Yours, etc., Colin B. van Zyl. Durban.
Defending the Honour of R.R.
I read with interest the letter in your August issue concerning Rolls-Royce and Cadillac.
It is difficult and I think rather silly to compare two products of such differing nature; however as your correspondent places the emphasis on performance I would like to point out that it should be obvious that performance is considered of no great importance in the R.R. To state that its low maximum speed is due to lack of skill on the part of the company of engineers that produced the Merlin engine (fitted to American fighters) and the world’s leading jet engines is heresy. If any proof is needed of the possibilities in this design let us turn to the Bentley, which with the same basic engine, out-performs the Cadillac and the Chrysler (the highest-powered American production car, I believe) both in speed through the gears and acceleration in top only. Its maximum falls short of that of the Chrysler by only 1.2 m.p.h., while it is 20 lb. heavier. This using an “old-fashioned” gearbox. Perhaps R.R. purchased the Buick in order to discover why Americans favour a transmission which wasted a percentage of power “making it easy.”
No doubt to satisfy your correspondent’s desire for performance, a Bentley Continental saloon would be an appropriate conveyance. This again has the same engine modified a little. Perhaps he is aware that this car lapped Montlhery at 118.3 m.p.h., and is not exactly a stark sports model at 3,700 lb. weight. I also believe that the Cadillac cannot be regarded as high-powered, producing only 160 b.h.p. from 5.4 litres.
I am sure I have said enough to impress that R.R. do not need to fit a new Buick with a “square” radiator for their 1953 models, and personally much as I admire the Cadillac, I cannot believe that those who favour craftsmanship in walnut, leather and steel in place of plastics and steel, are either “senile” or “jibbering.”
If my views could possibly be brought to the notice of my fellow enthusiasts I would be most grateful.
I am, Yours. etc., Alan H. Middleton. Paris.
Back-Pat For “Hot-Rod” Roadsters!
I was rather amused at the remarks of Messrs. N. J. White and “P.B.” in your April issue, as it is quite obvious that neither of these worthy gentlemen has ever tried to catch one of the maligned “Hot Rods” or Ford Roadsters with a “genuine sporting car.” I have, and with no less machine than the original Light Sports Railton (DPA 231) to which Mr. Newton assigns an acceleration time of 9.2 sec. from 0-60 m.p.h. I hate to contradict Mr. Newton so bluntly but in the Motor Road Test (November 12, 1935) the time from 0-60 m.p.h. is given as 8.8 sec. The same time is given in the Motor Sport Road Test of December, 1935, and in spite of an intervening period of seventeen years hard work the “old warrior” has not become any slower, but has in fact bettered the time for the standing ¼ mile by 0.38 sec., and has managed to hold her own in all types of events against all sports cars (XK 120s included), but has always had to give in to the Ford-based roadsters and “Hot Rods.” Apart from the age of the car the only real disadvantage which I have suffered has been the lack of the 3.3 to 1 rear axle ratio and the very worn condition of the present 3.5 unit. If any reader knows where spares of either or both of these ratios can he obtained I should be delighted to hear from him.
I hope that Mr. White and his following will not be quite so sceptical about roadsters and “Hot-Rods” in future; even if they are not a very attractive form of motor-car they are at least quicker than lots of “pukka” sporting cars.
I am, Yours, etc., R. C. Shand. Christchurch, New Zealand.
Outsize Cars, Etc.
With reference to Mr. Scott-Moncrieff’s letter concerning “the biggest car in the world,” I take the liberty of contributing a translation of a small paragraph from the Swedish Motor Encyclopaedia (1926) by Mr. J. Neren:
“ELIZALDE. Spanish marque, made by A. Elizalde, Barcelona. The products of this firm created a big sensation at the Paris Salon of 1920 when a car of truly gigantic proportions was exhibited. The wheelbase was over 14 ft., more than 3 ft. longer than on the largest contemporary passenger car. The bonnet was taller than a fully grown man.”
It would indeed be interesting if some more comprehensive details and a picture could be unearthed of this monster car. The 23½-litre pre-Kaiser-War Benz must also have been one of the mightiest cars of all time. “Baladeur” surely is the man to throw some light upon this intriguing matter?
I am, Yours, etc., Tom Brahmer. Estuna, Sweden.
Mention of the Bugatti Royale and the McFarlan last month prompts me to ask about other motoring freaks or monstrosities, real or fabled.
I have heard it said and, I think, once saw a press cutting to the effect that the late Wallace Beery once owned a 24-cylinder Pierce-Arrow some time in the early nineteen-thirties—but have never been able to find out if this was so, or even if there ever was a 24-cylinder Pierce-Arrow, either in production or “one-off.” Also, I wonder if you or any readers know whether or not there was ever (a) a Voisin with a 12-cylinder-in-line engine, shortly before the war, and (b) a Marmon with a 16-cylinder engine, either in production or as prototypes.
Finally, I sometimes see an old Franklin saloon, with a big air-cooled in-line motor and a wooden chassis (teak?) in the King’s Road, Chelsea, area. These must be rarities now!
I am, Yours. etc., A. E. Hardman. London, N.16.
[Yes, all these cars existed but did not rank as outsize, either in respect of engine dimensions or chassis size as did the Bugatti Royale.—Ed.]
Regarding the Sunbeam and Star companies, I was employed by both makers and so far as I am aware there was no connection between them. The Star company was of course a family concern of the Lisles, whilst Sunbeam was a public company.
The general arrangement of both Star and Sunbeam was broadly similar in those days but their layouts were shared by many other makes.
Sunbeam fitted a tall narrow radiator during the 1914-12 war, when they were built by the Rover Co. at Coventry. It was some few years later that Star followed suit. Star also had a much wider range of models, ranging from the 10-h.p. Briton, made by the Briton Motor Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Star’s, to the 18-40-h.p. six-cylinder side-valve. I never heard of any designer joining Star from Sunbeam though one or two draughtsmen left Sunbeam with Mr. Sidney Guy (who was works manager) to design the first Guy commercial vehicles. Incidentally, just after the first world war Guy Motors made a very advanced V8 car with automatic lubrication of shackles, etc. This car was a delight to drive and had for those days a most definite “urge.”
With regard to the letter of Mr. Scott-Moncrieff, I believe a Spanish company marketed an enormous car in 1920-1922 called the Elizalde. This, if my memory serves me correctly, had a 13 ft. 9 in. wheelbase and a six-cylinder engine of 195 by 210 mm. bore and stroke, somewhat like the Fiat 300-h.p. racer of 1911-12.
I am, Yours, etc., A. P. Geddes. Sudbury.