Matters of moment, September 1962

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91

B.M.C. takes the lead

A dozen or so years ago the editor of Motor Sport leapt out of a British small car and rushed into the house shouting to his wife “At last Britain has a car that holds the road as well as any Continental model.” He had just driven fast from Cowley to Fleet in the then-new Morris Minor. With standards based on Lancia, Fiat, D.K.W., and other road clinging European small cars he realised that the road-holding and cornering of the torsion-bar-suspended Morris Minor was every bit as good, or better.

That Morris, still in production to day, was the inspiration of Alec Issigonis, whose suspension theories were race-proved through the medium of his Lightweight Special that was entered for Prescott as recently as August 19th.

Issigonis famous B.M.C. Minis are now known round the World as fantastically safe and spacious small cars. To the demand for a slightly bigger, revolutionary front-drive, disc-braked Morris 1100, of which a description and driving impressions appear in this issue.

With this carefully developed new model it is safe to say that B.M.C. lead the World in small-car design. The most exciting feature of this brilliant new car is the Dunlop/Moulton hydro rubber, variable rate, self-damping, self-levelling, all-independent suspension. On our hack Editorial Morris Mini Minor, now into its third year of hard labour, this rubber springing has never given a moment’s trouble, although it has sometimes been sadly neglected by the grease-gun.

That Issigonis insisted on 12 in tyres for this ADO16 design when these had to be made specially, and that he has tested the new suspension even to the extent of exploding the coupling pipes to see what effect sudden and unexpected release of the water would have on driving safety, shows painstaking thoroughness which is the hallmark of genius and augurs well for the success of the system. And in view of the learned thought and calculation behind this outstanding new car it was appropriate that it was revealed to the technical Press of the World within the precincts of an Oxford college. So this new application of Alex Moulton’s ingenious suspension, with water-filled inter-connecting pipes, should be 100% reliable and certainly gives extremely effective results on the road, in terms of both comfort and stability.

In respect of its suspension alone, apart from other unusual but very practical design features, the Morris 1100 is well ahead of other small cars built by Britain’s “Big-Five.” Standard-Triumph recognise the need for all-round independent suspension on modern small cars, which pose special springing problems, and the Triumph Herald and Vitesse have it. The rear-engined baby car that Rootes have on the stocks will almost certainly incorporate i.r.s.

So only the American-sponsored Dagenham Ford and Vauxhall companies make cars with cart-springs and beam back axle. There is some excuse, perhaps, for the medium-size Vauxhalls, none at all for cars as small as the Anglia. Dagenham has just realised that its Consul Classic and Capri were under-powered and has upped them by 159 c.c. but rumour whispers of a new 1.2-litre small Ford to be released later this month.

Surely this must at last have a new chassis conception, with all-round in dependent suspension and elimination of leaf rear springs? Clearly, such is not beyond Ford’s engineering forces – have they not already conceived organisation on the mud flats of Dagenham, which, following in the tradition of the model-T, or “peasant’s transport” supplies more cars to working class families than any other British manufacturer, vide the survey to which Motor Sport referred on this page last month, will drop back in the fierce battle for World sales.

Whether or not this happens, B.M.C. are nicely in the lead technically with their Mini cars and the great little Morris 1100. Whether or not Britain enters the Common Market, we should, one and all be thankful to Alec Issigonis, Alex Moulton and the British Motor Corporation for having introduced yet another design which, given sufficiently high standards of production and inspection, and Shop Stewards permitting, will ensure prosperity in this Island in the face of foreign small-car competition,

Crypton equipment

Crypton Equipment Ltd., ask us to point out that the price of their Scopemaster electronic engine tester is £235, or £270 with exhaust-gas analyser and that their total output of this class of equipment is about £750,000 of which roughly £250,000—worth goes overseas.