OF the novelties introduced into motor-car design within the 3ast
few years none has had a more sudden success than inde- pendent front-wheel suspension. I use the word sudden and not swift. For a good many years various makers have been flirting with the notion, but until recently not one, except, of course, Lancia, whose system was the first of all and is, so far as I know, uncopyable, has made a real commercial success of it. One heard of all sorts of difficulties and drawbacks, of high costs, of lack of reliability and, with very; few exceptions, makers in this country seemed to be reconciled to marking time. America, often the first to drop, as to adopt, new methods, was doing some valuable experimenting; three or more factories in Germany, Citroen and Peugeot in France, were putting different versions of the idea into production. It was for once in away the moment to wait and see. With so many divergent opinions on the value of the system no great harm could result even. if Great Britain were the last of all to take it up seriously.
She is by no means the last to do so and, to judge from the examples I have had an opportunity of trying, she is likely to stand among the first when it comes to comparing merit. And her success has been sudden andlmexpected—unexpected, at least, by the general public accustomed tb long• waiting before new ideas become practical. Two years ago there were not more than two English cars so fitted ; only one, to the best of my recollection, in regular production, and no Con- tinentals, sold here. Last year, with the news that America was adopting the system wholesale, we heard a little more. This year it is a " selling point," and apart from the Americans there are German, French and British cars, of low as well as high price, winning newgood opinion for the new suspension.
Two of the more popular types I have tried are the 6-cylinder 14-h.p. Vauxhall and the 4-cylinder 9-14. Singer. (I apologize for that generic- word " popular." It is no more than a euphemism for inexpensive, and a perverted one at that. If
we are to be snobs, is it not better to brag of our cheap car rather than of our popular car ? Cheap implies perspicacity ; popular the reverse.) In both independent front-wheel sus- pension is an outstanding success, through oddly enough I thought I detected a difference in their respective behaviour over the sante surfaces. Coiled springs are used in both systems, but there are differences in detail and design in which, how- ever, the owner -will not be likely to interest himself. -The important fact is that both these cars are twice as comfortable to drive and be driven in as their immediate predecessors with normal springing.
The new Vauxhall has undergone a number of changes, mostly for the better. The engine has been shifted a little further forward, and although I do not.think this improves the car's general appearance, there is no doubt that it has afforded increased body -comfort; The power has been augmented a little by raising the compression ratio, the gear-change has been made even easier than it was last year, and the rear sus- pension, of the normal -type, seems to have given. imprOved riding to the back axle. The makers claim that you'can read or write in comfort at fifty miles an hour in this car. I never want to -do eithiq in any- car, but I should not be Surprised if this is a justifia boast; My notes on -the trial are emphatic on the subject of comfortable riding behind as well as in front. It is certainly one of the best-sprung cars of its weight and length I have ever driven. It will do more than. 65 miles an hour on top, 45- on third, and over 30 on second.. The gears
are exceptionally quiet in action. • The engine runs with commendable smoothness and as noiselessly as anyone can reasonably expect. It is practically inaudible below 40 miles an hour on top speed. The only criticism I have to make is an the lack of caster-action in the steering. It is very light steering, firm and direct, but it has to be straightened up after cornering. This is, I admit, a purely personal criticism, as many drivers have no objection to what they call a hand-steered car. What matters• is that- the - Vauxhall steering is perfectly steady, easy and safe. The car has an excellent top-speed hill-climbing perfOrmance- and an obvious reserve of power-on the lower gears. The brakes- are very good and the finish throughout neat and worlfmanlike. The weight of the 6-windowed saloon is 22 cwt., the engine size 1,781 c.c., the tax £10 10s., and the price £225.
The springing of the Singer feels different, but the result is much the same. It is very good. Over my special stretch of broken surface, which is a nightmare of deep potholes, the speedometer rose to 35 miles an hour, a very high figure indeed. Normally sprung cars seldom reach more than 25 here without bouncing and crashing so formidably that travel in them is impossibly uncomfortable. The Singer took it all with exem- plary calm. In ordinary circumstances one would not have driven at 35 miles an hour, but it would have been comfortable at about 30. The steering is excellent, light and firm and not
too low-geared. The cornering at high speeds is good, and the car holds the road in a way that does not suggest so small a car. The wheelbase is only 7 ft. 91 ins.
This is a pleasant-mannered little car. It has considerable liveliness and quite enough speed for its size and weight. It will do about 57 miles an hour if required, and it reaches and
lholds 53 without strain or effort. It will' do about 35 on :'third and nearly 30 on second. It has a long, steady pull
' against the collar on top, and it picks up very well after a slow-dovin. It is anxious to 'oblige. The gear-box isof the Singer " Permesh " type, with quiet intermediary gears.
Gear-changing is quick and easy. For an extra £10 the car ' can be fitted with the " fluidrive " hydraulic coupling, closely resembling the Daimler design. The body is well equipped with necessities and for its size is comfortable. It costs £180, the tax is 16 15s., and the weight a little over 18 cwt.
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