ON THE GERMAN INVASION
GERMANY has, within the lifetime of many of our readers, twice attempted, unsuccessfully, to invade our shores. Now SILO is -commencing to invade us, not with tanks, troops and aircraft, but, by way of trade.
Before I discuss this German itivasion. I had better explain that I am not biased one way or the other. My father was blown to pieces by a German shell in 1916, which shOuld, I soppose, render me anti-German, but that was -a long time ago and I have never been particularly interested in polities. Moreover, 1 have is warm admiration for engineering efficiency and German motor manufacturers seem to be less muddle-headed than many of their com.. petitors–witness the racing successes of Meree&S-Benz and AutoUnion in the Grand Prix fixtures immediately before the war (compared with our post-war B.R.M. tieback), the sweeping victories of the new 300SL Mercedes-Benz in last year’s sports-car races, and the Volkswagen’s systematic invasion of European family-car markets.
German ears did quite well from a sales point of view in this country before the war. Mercedes-Beuz. always has been warmly respected, front the days of their immortal 33/180, 36/220 (which I sampled at the age of 11 and in which 1 as near is dammit experienced the magic century for the first time) and 38/250, until the war drove the dignified Types 170, 220, 320, 540 and 510K (ete.) from the Grosvenor Road Showrooms. Today, many of their finest models are owned by members of the flourishing Merc6desBenz Register.
The little two-stroke D.K.W. secured a big following here amongst seekers of simplicity. (COMUlly, and room to Stretch the legs which was lacking in most of Britain’s abbreviated Eights. It may be remarked that as a result of Auto-Union racing dernonStrations, a large quantity of D.K.W.s was sold in South Africa Wore the war the D.K.W. being one member of the Auto-Union family-, completed by Audi, florch and Wanderer. Laurence Pomeroy. M.S.A.E., the erudite Technical Editor of our respected weekly contemporary The Motor, did not scorn ii D.K.W. as transport during the petrol-coupon era; it is a design of which nearly 2.000,000 engines have been built. The astute Aldington brothers discovered the B.M.W. while competing in the Alpine Trials of the rnid-nitteteen-thirties. The B.M.W. was the only car able to beat the Aldingtons’ chain-cleive FrazerNoshes in these tough mountain contests, just as the Porsche wiped up all opposition this year. Instead of crying over it fallen marque and resorting to excuses, the AldingtOns mopped up the spilt milk hy arranging to import 13.M.W.5., to England, realising, 1 sospeid, that as each year went by the old Frazer-Nash was getting filorP obviously vintage, anyway. The 13.11.W. Ste,-rl cm 0:ms.’ tI mcif side and a badge reading ” Frazer-Na,h-B.M.W. “a inserted in the
radiator shell, and very many ,s issiw.1 forth from Isleworth. to the delight of their own.. r,, In. I the Alding.ton, They were ears with beautifully smooth, light ,.1,,critig and very eager six-cylinder
engines in light tubular chassis ha, using a transverse leaf spring which had been inherited in the dim and distant past from the Austin Seven. Today, there is a Register of B.M.W. owners with 170 members and theType 327/89 is a very nice motor car indeed, well worth contemplation by those who would like a Bristol but do not possess a Bristol-buyer’s bank balance. The Opel became known in this country more as an American than a German car, because it was pressed out in large quantities by General Motors and sold by Pride and Clarke and Sr. was something Of a bastard. It had the rim or fashionable short-stroke engine which iesisted wear. soggy Dulionnet-style i.f.s.. and at pretty spartan interior, but it waa far front slow hark–ask John Eason GibSon if he remembers the averages lie put up in his ” Cadet ” before the
war The Second World War put a stop to sales of German cars in England but this year permission has been granted for 22,000,00.0 worth of them to be imported, providing. Western Germany takes £2,700,000 worth of British ears. This policy is explained as-giving our car manufacturers a badly-needed opportunity to get a footing in this particular European market, to establish servicing facilities for tourists using their ears and generally to provide scope for Coventry and Birmingham to sell their products abroad. Germany may well feel that she has just RS fine an opportunity in England !
The main arms of this trade invasion are the products of Volkswagen, Borgward.lIansa, Goliath, D.K.W., Porsche and MereevresBenz. Of these., Volkswagen. Porsche and MerciltRS-Beuz have already signified their intention of exhibiting at Earls Cotirt next month.
A significant aspect of the German imports is that each one represents a product possessing outstanding engineerine. talent. The Volkswagen, built to the design of the great Dr. Ferdinand Porsehe for military use, has emerged as a compact family saloon with excellent handling qualities. it low-stressed 1,131-e.c. horizontallyopposed fiatsloor engine. polling a WI, gMIT ratio as high as 3.S to I awl air-cooled to mitigate worry On frosty occasions, torsion-member mill-independent suspension, weatherproof synthetic finish, and rear location of the propelling mechanisth.
The D.K.W. returns, not as the good but somewhat outdated I wo-cylinder two-stroke we knew before the war but as a post-war. devised three-cylinder, 896-c.c.. full five-seater car of most handsome appearance. Naturally. I have twit yet driven one of these new It.K.W.s, but I have heard excellent reports of thetn.
rarr’s Motors of Liverpool are dealing in a K.W.s, and their 1.1r. Brian G. Wolfson tells lite that he went over to Dusseldorf recent ly and drove the three-pot D.K.W. Re says it, is a very lively little vehicle with an outstanding synchromesh gearbox, a MI five. seater saloon hotly and very good cornering and roadholding properties. Ile puts its maximum speed at over 78-m.p.h. and fuel consumption down to 18 m.p.g. under favourable conditions.
The design incorporates the very compact anti fascinating threecylinder two-stroke with dynamotor starter-coin-generator. alloy cylinder head, and it cooling fan for the rear-placed radiator, the farm’ shaft running in a long tunnel on the cylinder head with belt-drive from the front of the engine. The gearbox is in unit with the power unit mid the drive goes to the front wheels, which are sprung independently by means of a transverse leaf spring, a similar Spring being used for the ” dead ” hack axle. 11 is expeeted that this attractive little economy car Will sell for
less than £900, inclusive Of duty and purchase tax, which, if this can be achieved, puts the D.K.W. in a similar price class to our Austin A70, Jowett Javelin, li-litre M.G. and Morris Six cars.
The Borgward and its companion the Goliath cover, in one range of vehicles soon to be seen at a Kensington showroom, the economy two-stroke engine, smaller than anything in British ears, diesel engines, and medium-size petrol engines in cars incorporating automatic transmission in the largest model, petrol injection being available for the larger of the two-stroke engines. Porsche represents a very highly-developed sports version of the Volkswagen, able, by reason of an efficient low-drag body of beautiful form and the excellence of its air-cooled, rear-placed, ” boxermotor ” power unit, to achieve performance on 11 litres normally
expected only from far-bigger-engined cars. Porsche won the 11-litre class at Le Mans, formerly the preserve of a British ” boxermotor ” car, beat all-comers in the strenuous Alpine Rally this year, and won all the sports-car races at the recent Nurburgring meeting.
Mercedes-Benz, with their 300 aml 3005 cars, compete at one and the same time for the luxury-car and high-performance markets, and few of us fail to covet this beautifully-made 3-litre single o.h. camshaft commodious saloon, which is capable of exceeding 100 m.p.h., and of handling like a first-class sports car by reason of good weight distribution, all-independent coil-spring suspension (Mercedes having pioneered this type of i.f.s.),and those less-apparent factors which add up to good, safe roadholding.
How do these German-built cars compare with our native products ? Import duty naturally places most of them in exotic price classes, and the 300 Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and the sports Borgward which is intended to see off the Porsche (but hasn’t yet done so). will appeal only tothose who are able to place price last on their list of points to be considered when buying a motor car. The Volkswagen is a different proposition. The standard saloon costs £649 in this country, plus a few shillings and pence, with duty and purchase tax paid. It cannot compete in price with established small ears like the Austin A30, Ford Anglia, Renault 750 and Morris Minor, but in the medium-size saloon-car field it Costs anything from £13 to £74 less than the equivalent British family saloon. If it is less well appointed than these cars, I venture to suggest that it may be found considerably more practical and decidedly more acceptable
in respect of ” which has replaced ” R.A.C.-h.p.” as the financial arbiter in these days of a flat-rate tax. Moreover, the de luxe version, with better interior finish and appointments and the new synchromesh gearbox, costs approximately £739, which is only £16 more expensive than a Morris-Oxford or Standard Vanguard saloon. In order to get the Volkswagen in some sort of perspective I set down its place amongst similar-class, though larger-engined. English saloons under different performance headings, using reliable standardised figures taken from a contemporary. In doing this I do not think I am being unfair to our national products, because the Volkswagen tested achieved neither the speed nor the economy claimed by many enthusiastic users. I understand that these cars will wind-up to 70 or even 75 m.p.h. (although the makers sagely claim an identical cruising and maximum speed, namely 65 m.p.h., knowing that the ” over-square ” flat-four engine is geared very well within its limits—for emphasis, 2,500 ft. per min, piston speed equals no less than 144 m.p.h. !) Yet the figure I shall use for speed is only 62.8 m.p.h. Then many owners get over 40 m.p.g. and the used example I drove last year and so greatly enjoyed gave a genuine 38 m.p.g. driven hard ; yet I shall set down in the table a figure of 37.1 m.p.g. Moreover, I have been unable to get figures for the Hillman Minx saloon so have used those appertaining to the !Tillman Minx Convertible, which I should expect to perform somewhat better. On this basis, here is the result, each column representing order of merit :—
Having set the matter nut like this, it will be seen that British cars are capable of at least putting up a straight fight, the excellent handling, long-wearing qualities and practical aspects of the Herrenyolk’s ” People’s Car” having to be set against quality of finish and greater space in the interiors of our British medium-sized and priced saloons.
In Europe, where duty does not elevate its price, the car for which so many Germans waited in vain in 1938/9 is now selling like the proverbial hot cake from the big new factory at Wolfsburg. 500,000 Volkswagens have been sold to date and they seem to give every satisfaction. The Fiat 1.100 would appear to have the Volkswagen licked on performance for only very little less economy of fuel, but I should doubt if this very clever new Continental can compete on a purchase-price basis. The first new-series Volkswagen arrived in England on July 10th and it is an instance of the aforementioned German thoroughness and efficiency that there arrived at Dover, soon afterwards, Herr K. II. Muller of the VW Service and Technical School and his mobile
Service School. This consists of a big van driven by a standard 1,131-c.c. Volkswagen air-cooled engine, pulling standard gear ratios and situated in a cupboard at the back with a few louvres in the van’s side to let air into it. Maybe it is painfully slow in places, but it has a far bigger floor area than our similar-sized delivery vans, can be converted into a young ‘bus if occasion arises, and does 33 m.p.g. Its function was to tour Britain for the purpose of training mechanics who will have to work on Volkswagens after that genial Irishman, K. J. Dear, has signed on their firms as agents for these German invaders. After a Press function to introduce the Volkswagen, Herr Muller and his VW Travelling Service School set off through the night for Glasgow, where Cameron and Campbell will handle VW sales. Clearly, VW Motors intend to go flat-out to sell Volkswagen, and to provide satisfactory service for the cars sold, in this country. Already they have opened an office in Regent Street, showrooms in St. James’s, have a publicity service operating front Dover Street, and a snares depot in Davies Street, in London’s West End, and Mr. Dear has signed up such well-known British dealers as Newton of Huddersfield, Wm. Arnold of Manchester, Croall & Croall of Edinburgh, and the Service Garages of Colchester as Volkswagen agents: I only hope British manufacturers are getting a similar move on in Western Germany. They need not despair, for a further table will show that, amongst economy vehicles, our cars are running close on the Volkswagen’s mechanised boot :—
for this Type 1953. The diesel version is of the same size, gives 42 b.h.p., 63 m.p.h. and 44 m.p.g. on inexpensive fuel oil. There is also the 2,400-c.c. Borgward with 78 by 81.5-ram, six-cylinder petrol engine which develops 80 b.h.p. at 4,200 r.p.m. on a compression ratio of 6.9 to 1, and is available with either a three-speed gearbox or hydraulic torque converter transmissMn. The Goliath and Borgward-Hansa cars are being handled by Metcalfe and Mundy Ltd., who expect an excellent performance
The Goliath GP700, avalable in saloon and cabriolet forms, has a 688-c.c. two-stroke, two-cylinder, 80 by 74-mm. engine developing 2.5f b.h.p with carburetter and a compression ratio of 6.4 to 1, and 29 b.h.p. with the carburetter replaced by a Bosch injector pump and the compression ratio raised to 7./ to 1. The centre-tube frame incorporates double transverse-spring
and hydraulic four-wheel brakes. The maximum speed is about 62 m.p:h. and fuel consumption is 38 m.r.g. with carburetter, 48 m.p.g. with fuel injection (per agent’s literature). The Borgward-Hansa passenger ears comprise the 1,800 stationwagon, two-door saloon, four-door saloon and convertible. With 1,800-c.c. petrol engine 60 b.h.p., 87 m.p.h. and 32 m.p.g. are claimed
from the Hansa 1.800 sports cabriolet, which has a high-efficiency engine with two Solex 32 PBJC carburetters.
‘rho Borgwards range in price in this country from r.1.314 to £1,840. and thus compete with such British cars as the A.(:.. Allard. Alvis, Armstrong.Siddeley. Austin Shecrline. Citro6i Six. Daimler Con. quest, Healey, Humber Super Snipe. Jaguar Mk. A II. Lea-Francis,23-litre Riley and Rover 75, although the 1,800 is really a mediumsize car. The sports liorgward, like the Porsche, costs over £2.000. and the standard Type 300 Merce’des-Benz saloon at a shade above £3,300 in this country. These are high prices, but, as I have said, buyers of such cars are not likely to be influenced over much by this factor. In Europe,
of Course, prices are about halved, when the Porsche at around £1,100 is a formidable 100-m.p.h. small car and the luxurious Type 300 Mercedes-Benz Costs about the same as a Mk. VII Jaguar does here; it has an almost identical performance, in spite of having one o.h, camshaft instead of the Jaguar’s two., a capacity of 2,996 e.c. against 3,442 c.c. and a weight nearly one hundredweight greater. Even at the price for which the Mercedes-Benz sells when import duty as well as purchase tax has been met, it costs, as far as I have been able to ascertain, over £1,000 less than the standard Mk. VI Bentley saloon and around £3,000 less than a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. As representing Germany’s idea of a modern 100-m.p.h. luxury saloon its specifiCation and that of the Type 300S sports version are worth quoting :—
In conclusion, I have tried to present an unbiased survey of the ” arms” with which the German motor intIngtry is about to invade the British market. There is no denying that we have nothing quite like the Volkswagen 60-nt.p.h., 40-m.p.g., £650. 1.100 four-seater saloon, with in-built heater and rainproof finish, high-geared for long wear (up to 40,000 miles before needing a rebore is claimed), aircooled to combat frost. and With all wheels torsionally-suspended for comfort and plrasure of control. There is no denying that Germany has paid more attention than Britain to air-cooling. rear
engine location, all-independent wheel suspension, front-wheel drive,
I he two-stroke cycle, petrol injection and diesel propulsion applied to production cars. The fact that ears incorporating these features are now available in England cannot fail to interest engineers. Whether ordinary motorists will display similar interest to the extent of unfolding their cheque-books and whether wealthy purchasers of high-performance ears will consider the Porsche. sports Borgwerd Hansa and Mercedes-Benz 3005 to tlie detriment of British sports cars, are two questions with+ will confront our manufacturers when Earls Court opens its doors next month to dollar and steeling purchasers.— W. 13.