AT THE MOTOR SHOW
Steady Improvement The chief thing about the Motor Show that strikes the practical motorist is the plain evidence that there is now really a form of accord between the maker and =the buyer, that both are beginning to realise, to put it roughly, that cars are made for men and not men for cars. For the last three or four years each Motor Show has been distinguished, if one can use so important a word, by the coachwork improve- ment, and although when you go round the stands and corefal:y examine the new bodies you are apt to think that they are rather bigger than they really are, there is no doubt at all that they have been gradually increasing in dimensions and comfort. This year this excellent improvement has certainly been taken a step forward.
Wider Bodywork Bodies are not only longer than they have been up till now—this has been made possible by putting the engine still further forward in the frame—but what is of far greater importance, they are a little wider. I still do not think that any but the larger sizes are really wide enough for true comfort, and it is still a matter of astonishment to the ordinary experienced motorist that people will put up with sitting so close together in a carriage that occasionally goes so fast. Presumably the majority of users today are either novices or of only•short experience, and to invert the usual phrase, do not really know what is bad for them. It is really far more important to have proper elbow-room than to have leg-room, uncomfortable as is the lack of the latter.
Better Luggage Space • Luggage accommodation is very much better than it was, and I am glad to see that many makers are abandoning the wasteful habit of housing the spare-wheel in the luggage compartment, and are reverting to the more practical and sensible plan of mounting it outside. Con- siderable trouble has been taken again to keep out fumes and noise, either by means of double dashboards or by fume-extractors or by both, or alternatively by patent inter-lay in the panelling and in the floor. There is also an increase in the number of cars in which there is heating as well as cooling and air-conditioning.
More Four-cylinders As I forecast last week, there are no startling novelties in general design, but throughout the exhibits you may remark that power has increased as well as body-size. In engine-design there are slightly more fcar-cylinder models than there were ; the six-cylinder type seems to be approximately at the same figure, but I did not see quite so many eight-cylinders as I did last year. There is not much moral to be drawn from this except that the four-cylinder continues slowly to regain its old position, which is an excellent thing for all concerned. There is nothing much new in transmissions except that there are more cars fitted with overdrive; the latest recruit to this pleasant deviCe is the Bentley. More boxes are com- pletely synchro-meshed, but oddly' enough, the free-wheel, which is so admirable a substitute for the more-complicated forms of easy gear-change, has made no progress to speak of Rovers continue to fit it, although they, too, have adopted synchro-mesh this year, but I do not think any other car in this Show has it, with the exception of the Frazer-Nash B.M.W., which has free-wheel on first and second speed. Pre-selective boxes have no new adherents, and it is interesting to notice that one of the new Lanchesters with the Daimler fluid fly-wheel transmission is sold with a normal gear-box as an alternative, at a reduced price.
Special Exhibits Independent suspension in front is on the increase (the new 25-h.p. Rolls-Royce " Wraith " has it), and one of the features of the new year's designs is the employment of torsion rods either as springs or to assist in checking side-sway... The Americans and the Continentals use the independent system proportionately far more than we do. Although in general, as I said, designs of body and chassis continue as before, there are one or two exceptions. One is a body com- pletely made of steel-tubing, electrically welded and panelled in aluminium, the framing of which for a four-seater, two-door saloon, only weighs 8o lbs., while the total weight of the coupe is over two hundredweight less than that of the same body built by ordinary methods. Then there is the car which is driven fore and aft and steered fore and aft, presum- ably something on the lilies of Captain Eyston's six-mile-a- minute car, and although it is of less general interest, there is a car with a completely streamlined, all-metal, body mounted on the same chassis, which won its class in the Ulster Tourist Trophy Race.
The Accessory Galleries show the usual and attractive variety of gadgets of all sorts, from the extremely useful, such as a battery-charger which does its work without remov- ing the car, non-dazzling headlights, and a type of upholstery trimming which does not make one's clothes shiny and can be washed with soap and water, to the less practical, such as driving-gloves made in five different colours to suit the interior colours of British cars.
Taking the larger cars in alphabetical order, the first is the ARMSTRONG-SIDDELEY, of which there are three new models, the " Sixteen " (a two-litre, six-cylinder), the 20 h.p. and the 25 h.p. These, like the other Armstrong-Siddeleys, have the new balanced drive, and in various points show a marked advance on last year's models. The 14 h.p., which is perhaps one of the most successful they have ever made, is shown with an attractive saloon at £335, while the new " Sixteen " carries a coach saloon and a touring saloon, both at £380. A decidedly impressive stand.
ALVIS.—On the Alvis Stand will be found the new Speed Twenty-Five in two closed body forms, the Crested Eagle Twenty-five, the Seventeen-h.p. Silver -Crest, the 12/70 Four-cylinder, which is now being built on more generous lines, and' the 4.3-litre, four-door saloon, the highest priced car exhibited, which is finished in a very striking metallic grey. Save in small details, there is no cha age in the Alvis for 1939• BENTLEY.—The chief point of interest in the new Bentley is, of course, the over-drive which now raises the top speed to 3.6 as compared with the old 4.1. Anybody who has had experience of over-drive, hitherto practically only in American cars, will agree that this adoption of Bentley's is an important one. It makes an amazing difference to one's comfort in driving long distances, whether at high or , moderate speeds. Another interesting point about the new Bentley is that it has now been built lighter than the old model: Comfort has been increased by the fitting of considerably larger tyres, while the -steering has been im- pro,ved. The four -.cars shown inctude a four-door saloon by Park Ward with fitted suitcases ; a very fine drop-head coupe by. the same makers; in which the head, is so arranged as to provide for another. window behind the door and improve the vision of the back passengers) and a most attractive open four-seater by Vanden Plas.. This is one of the more striking of the encouraging number of open cars exhibited. - _ DAIMLER.. There are two . new Daimlers to be seen, the new 2i-litre " Fifteen,'? and the new four-litre " Straight Eight." Apart from the increase in the engine size, which, by the way, is very considerable, there is no special change in the design of the " Fifteen." Like all Daimlers it is fitted with the fluid fly-wheel transmission and with the new coil spring independent front-wheel springing. It has a maximum speed of over 75 miles an hour, and the
(Continued on page 63o.)
(Continued from page 628.) brake horse power at 4,000 revolutions is sixty-six. It is shown with a very comfortable saloon, priced at £485. The new four-litre " Straight Eight," which costs £1,135, is presented as one of the world's fast cars; its maximum speed is claimed at 90 miles an hour. The overhead _ _ _ valves engine hai a capacity of just under four litres, the R.A.C. rating being 29.8 and the tax £22 los. This model and the large Straight Eight," which has a capacity of over 44 litres, are -the only 'two British Straight Eight cars shown.-- There are altogether seven ears exhibited, re2re- senfing the complete range.
HUMBER.—On the Humber Stand where there are seven cars shown, the chief:object of interest is, of course, the new Super-Snipe, a car which, if I may be forgiven for saying so, carries the American methOd of attack straight into America. It is a four litre, six-cylinder engine, developing over one hundred h.p., and it weighs not much over 31 cwt. An exceptional performance is claimed for this car, including the ability to climb a hill at one in six on top, and in the old familiar and long disused phrase, to go from 5 to 85 miles an hour on top. In addition to this, on top speed it will accelerate from to to 3o miles an hour in 6} seconds. I have had this car out on the road, and hope to give a report of its behaviour in The Spectator before long. It is, of course, a rather smaller car than the ordinary Snipe, having a shorter wheel base, but it is none the less a roomy carriage. The saloon costs £385. The other cars shown are the Pullman, Limousine and Landaulet, the normal Snipe sports saloon in an attractive colour called Aero-Blue, and the Sixteen Saloon in Royal Blue.
LAGONDA.—Lagonda have made no outstanding change in either their remarkable twelve-cylinder model or in the :six, but the display is none the less one of the most interesting' in the Show, if only because of the success of the V.12. This chassis, which I regard as one of the principal achievements of the British industry, is shown with one of the new four-seaters, in which three sit abreast in front and one across the car at the back. It is designed mainly for touring on the Continent and certainly combines the attractive with the practical. The price is £I,600. The other two V.12's are a four-door saloon and a Limousine, both rich examples of. the highest class coachwork. The six-cylinder is displayed as a drop-head .couj3e and as a salon de vine: All these bodies, with the eiception of tfie liniousine, are built by Lagonda themselves: .. - Routs-Rovcx.—.The new Rolls-Royce for 1939 is the improv- ed edition of the 25/30-h.p: six-Cylinder Wraith. The chief change in this car is the adoption of independent front-wheel suspension, on the same syStem as that fitted on the-4o/50-h.p. Phantom III, but a considerable improvement has been effected in the steering, several parts' of which have been redesigned. The gear-box, which is now synchro-meshed on second speed, has. been further silenced and the gear-lever has been so set 'as to allow free entrance from the ofkide. The brake and gear-lever are still on the righthand side as before. The engine is suspended on a new system, for which it is claimed that the occupants are completely insulated from all vibration and movement. The body work is' larier, and I understand that the performance has again been - improved, particularly as regards the comfortable cruising speed. The Wraith is shown as a limousine and a sedanca de ville, and priced at LI,6io and £1,965, while the Phantoni HI appears as a five-seater saloon with division by Thrupp and Maberly at £2,960 and a sedanca de ville by Hooper at £2,970. This last has an electrically operated division window, con- trolled ventilation and a heater. It is entirely finished in silver.
[Note.—Readers' requests for advice from our Motoring Correspondent on the choide of new cars should be accompanied by a stamped and addressed envelope. .The highest price payable must be given, as well as the type of body required. No advice can be given on the purchase, sale or exchange of used cars.]