Motor Show Notes
WRITING before the show, only a general summary of some of the most interesting exhibits can be attempted here. And that, after all, is what the average reader wants. New inventions are interesting enough to lbok at, but what the buyer demands is proved efficiency ; nothing less will satisfy him. Moreover, the days are past—for the time, at least— when we may expect any revolutionary change in engine design. Not until there is an internal combustion turbine or a light electric storage-cell can we hope for any startling developments. This year the tendency is to more cylinders, four-speed gear-boxes, simplified lubrication, " sunshine " roofs, general accessibility._ of working parts, and other conveniences for the owner-driver. Nowadays every engine —especially every British engine—will do what it claims, provided it is treated decently, but the diversities of body work are infinite, and it is largely on such details that attention will be concentrated.
Among the exhibits will be--the. world's most expensive car, costing £3,450 and capable of 115 m.p.h. But given unlimited means I should not choose the puesenberg, for both the Rolls-Royces and the Bentleys have more attractions. As regards the former, the new " Phantom II " has already been tested and reviewed by the leading experts, and has met with a unanimous chorus of. praise. It is faster, lighter, lower, better sprung, and easier to lubricate. The suspension is so perfect that it can be driven at either low or high speed over almost any road ; and the car is so well-balanced that it is " as appropriate to long-distance high-speed touring as to the congestion of Bond Street, as fitted for the Alps as for the English by-lane." The 20 h.p. Rolls-Royce has also new centralized chassis lubrication, involving only one minute of time for complete attention ; and a larger engine with increased acceleration. The price of the chassis is as before —£1,185.
The Bentley Silent Speed Six " is probably the fastest car in the world suitable for all purposes, combining as it does the luxury of a town carriage with the amazing power and buoyancy of a superb engine. The 61.-litre model (whose chassis price is £1,700) is capable of instant acceleration from 2 m.p.h., and will reach 90 m.p.h. with a full-sized saloon body. Although its Treasury rating is 88 h.p., it develops 160 at 3,500 r.p.m., and without any sacrifice of flexibility or smoothness. Both the 61-litre and 41-litre models can be run for 20,000 miles without decarbonization, and they are both easy to maintain : the chassis, for instance, needs only to be lubricated once every three months.
Among the higher-priced foreign cars, the Stutz and the Franklin are both very interesting. The eight-cylinder 36.4 h.p. " Black Hawk ' Stutz, with super-charged chassis and sports coupe body, sells for £1,565, and is one of the favourite very fast cars in the United States to-day. The Franklin is not so fast, but owing to its air-cooling system it has an amazingly flexible chassis and is an ideal car for those who study comfort of riding. The prices range from £725 for the short coupe to £995 for the long limousine.
* Messrs. Talbot are exhibiting six models—all six-cylinder and 14/45 h.p. : a tourer for £395, a two-seater for £415, a very neat Weymann sunshine coupe with room for three in front and two occasional tip-up seats in rear for £425, a coupe cabriolet and two saloons.
When a friend closely connected with aviation grows lyrical about a car, it impresses me with the worth of that make ; flying men are good judges of cars, for they know enough and yet not so much that they become cranky, like so many so-called experts. I have such a friend who is a Riley enthu- siast, and certainly I have rarely ridden in a sweeter or speedier conveyance than his Nine. The cost of this Riley is £298, and one of them—a standard open tourer without any accessory fittings—has just been -driven 13,000 miles from Singapore to London (over appalling roads- in Baluchistan and Persia, of course) in 170 days. Little change is being made in either the 9 or 14 h.p. Rileys for 1930, for they need no change. The car is so popular that the firm has orders that will keep its factory busy until far into the spring.
The Triumph " seven " for £115 10s., chromium-plated throughout and with safety-glass windscreen, is good value. Their fabric saloon (1179 10s.) is of an entirely new design, " fashionably low and pleasing," and the saloon-landaulette, with its dropping hood (£197 10s.), is another model which is sure to find favour. The Morris Minor coach-built saloon at £149 is a most attrac- tive little car in the same class, and its engine is a triumph of motor engineering. Seven models are shown of the products of this famous firm, which may justly claim to have made the roads of England British : the Minor (two models), the Cowley Coupe with opening head (£185) and saloon (£200) ; two of the 13 h.p. six-cylinder Oxford saloons (1285 and £299), and a Morris - Isis MI-steel saloon in royal scarlet and ivory at £395. This latter is a very interesting innovation, for the body and chassis are built in one, on a united girder principle, which ensures' complete absence of creaking and maximum longevity. • * * . *
The cheapest. straight-eight " to be exhibited is
the Hilhnan, costing only. £445: it is a standard saloon, finished in nutria, and wonderful value. A four-door coupe at £495 is also exhibited, specially designed by Sir Henry Segrave,_ and 'a drop-head coupe (1510), whose head is par- ticularly easy to fold, yet rattle-and-dust proof when raised. For. touring in this country no more convenient body has yet been designed. Of the smaller (14 h.p.) Hillmans three types are exhibited—a saloon and tourer at £375 each, and a Weymann saloon with sliding roof at £385. The Hillman company were the first to introduce "straight-eights " at a popular price, and the first in the field with a fabric sports coupe : they are more than holding their own in meeting the great demand for a flexible engine and light bodywork at reasonable cost.
* * * • The " Snipe " and " Pullman " numbers with their four- speed gear-boxes should be visited. They are both fast models, the " Snipe " being capable of 75 m.p.h., and their third speeds are claimed to be absolutely - silent. Gear changing is extremely simple, no double declutching being required. Prices have been reduced (1435 for the saloon and £485 for the four-door coupe with sliding roof), and there are many important improvements such as chromium plating, Triplex glass, and Servo brakes.
* * There will be five Vauxhall types exhibited at Olympia--a saloon (1330), fabric saloon (1565), sportsman's coupe (1595), roadster (1650), and seven-seater limousine (1695). The sportsman's coupe is a particularly attractive model, harmonizing well with the well-known radiator flutes, and the body work with its wide doors, high waist-line, and pleasantly proportioned windows is of a style that is becoming increasingly popular. It is provided with a sliding sunshine roof. Many improvements have been made in the 20/60 h.p. chassis : hydraulic shock-absorbers to front and rear springs, longer rear springs, rubber-block mounting for the engine, and a larger bearing-surface for the crankshaft. The Vauxhall has always had something of the greyhound about it : these new models combine luxury with speed.
* * * A very interesting car in the luxury " class is the new eight-cylinder Lancia Lambda, called the Dilambda, which sells for £1,175 with saloon body. The Lancia front suspension is famous : I have travelled at terrific speeds over the Roman Campagna—not on good roads, but across country—in one of these cars in perfect comfort. I doubt if any other chassis built could have withstood the strain so well, and I am certain that none could have carried its passengers in greater comfort. &ow the independent springing of the wheels has been strengthened and improved, and I know that there is no better car in the world for fast and adventurous touring.
* * * * In the same class the new Delage " straight-eight " with sports body is worth a most careful inspection. The cost is £625, and 90 m.p.h. is claimed for it.
Fiat offer a good-looking series of models—the well-known 9- h.p. ranging from £160 to £255; the 17/50 h.p. ; the 18/55 h.p. ; and the 20/70 h.p. six-cylinder costing £525 and guaranteed to do 75 m.p.h. with five adults in the saloon. I have heard many good opinions of this car, and know from my own experience, driving with friends both in Italy and England, what a wonderful performance it gives on hills. The third gear of the big car is as silent as top. Both the 17/50 and 18/55 models can be fitted with a sunshine roof at an extra cost of £15.
The sound and conservative Austin policy of placing effi- ciency before fashion is undoubtedly right, and will justify itself with the public. The craze for " new season's models ' has been overdone : cars should not be bought like a new
style of hat, simply because their shape or colour pleases the eye. When manufacturers have to lay down new plant and suspend production ddring.the alterations thetost is heavy and the public 'pa3is foi- it: MoreOver; it-is the public that bears the heavy burden of depreciation when a company brings out a new model each year. The Austins shown this year will be the Austins we already know and admire, with various improvements, such as all-chromium plating, Triplex glass throughout, larger wings, and a ball-type gear change for the 12 and 16 h.p. models ; all of ,which can be -fitted -to former models if desired. The Austin Company does not forget its old friends.
* I have long been an Austin enthusiast and have driven many miles in all models. A relative of mine has a 20, a 16, and two " babies " for his family ; they are all in constant use in all seasons and never give any trouble. I myself have had a baby " for three years, and in spite of a culpable lack of even necessary attentions it has never caused me a moment's anxiety or needless expense. The original tyres are still in use, she still does 45 miles to the gallon, and can still hold her own with any car on the road. I don't mean that she will pass a Hispano-Suiza on the flat, but up hill and down dale her average speed is as fast as any car should be driven in England ; moreover, she has the " pep " and brilliancy that many a £1,000 car lacks owing to unnecessary gadgets and weight of body. Another friend has had a 20 h.p. Austin for three years, and his opinion is the same as mine. There is a 16 h.p. model being exhibited at Olympia-a fabric saloon with sunshine roof-which is wonderful value for £385. I think this is the ideal light-six.
* Daimlers are exhibiting five models-a 50 h.p. double-six " Royal limousine at £2845 (plus extras), a 35 h.p. limousine, a 30 double-six " Sedanca," a 20 h.p. Saloon, and their new 25 h.p. model, with saloon body, specially designed for the owner driver (chassis price, with tyres, £700). There are all sorts of conveniences on this model for those who look after their own car, such as a green light on the dash, actuated from the sump, to show when the oil level has run too low, and a specially accessible distributor. The smoothness of Daimler engines are known all over the world : they are, and always have been, silent, long-wearing and practically fool-proof, owing to their sleeve-valve patents; but this design needs even less attention than the others. The engine will function as well-or better-after twenty thousand miles than it did When new. The Daimler " 25 is the perfect car for those who can afford to have the best.
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Of the six cars which the Sunbeam Company are showing, the 16 h.p. four-seater coupe with sliding roof should interest many buyers. The price with complete equipment is £695 : there-is a big boot for luggage in rear, and the sunshine roof can be locked in any position by two small levers within reach of the driver's seat. The 1...-mords Mr. Kaye Don has established on his " Tigress " (120.8 m.p.h. for an hour's driving, for instance) go far to prove that Sunbeams are in the van of technical efficiency. The care and thoroughness given to every detail of the 16 h.p. and 20 h.p. and 25 h.p. models is the same. Of the latter, the new seven-seater Weymann limousine should be seen, for £995 is cheap for a car of such accommodation and performance.
During the past twelve months Armstrong Siddeley have fitted self-changing gear-boxes to upwards of 40,000 of horse- power in various types of chassis, and every car to which this patent has been fitted has given complete satisfaction. The special plant for producing it can, however, only cope at present with the 20 h.p. and 30 h.p. models. Six models will be exhibited, a 30 h.p. limousine (with body by Hooper, £1600), three 20 h.p. closed cars, a 15 h.p. coachbuilt saloon (£410), and a 12 h.p. fabric saloon (1285). The 20 h.p. and 30 h.p. models can be fitted• with the self-changing gear-box at an extra cost of £35 and £50, respectively.