TtlEitr. is a curious impression that ears are letting so
alike that, within price-limits, •it does- not- matter which you buy, that we arc appioaching what- is quite erroneously called American standardization. The motoring world is, and always has been, full of superstitions, fixed ideas and general prejudices, but this latest example—it has been quoted to me time and again ever since the last motor show—is the least com- prehensible. - It is true that in appearance, not only of coach- work but of radiator-line, there is a sheep-like adherence to one or two designs, but beyond that I have found, in the course of some ten-months'.. trial • and inspection of most cars sold in this country, 'that the differences between the various examples of each type arc Very marked.
Performance is, I agree, levelling up, chiefly because the smaller =whines are now,.. so efficient that not only their average but their' easy 'maximum speeds arc little below those of the big ones. A mile a minute is the expected maximum of any car of over 10 h.p., and when you consider how very seldom and for what a brief moment that, pace can be reached on British roads today it is not surprising that power is wanted much less for speed than for load-carrying. Engines are gradually getting bigt.;ktr, but only because it is at last being realized that, within sane limits, the bigger your engine the more comfortable your car is to sit in and to to drive, often the more economical to run over long
In all other respects I find the 193(i cars differ a good deal from each other. Some are astonishingly quiet in operation, some pretty noisy ;, some—not manyfiave bodies in which every inch of space has been made use of, some mere apologies for adult accommodation. At about the same. price, you can buy Fours and Sixes of ,10, 12 and 14 h.p.. and even higher, all of which produce the general effective standard in different ways and by differebt. methods. Quite 'lately I 'drove a new Ten, with a very small 4-cylinder engine, that had a per- formance at least equal to that of any five-year-old 16-h.p., fitted with a saloon body in which four full-grown people could sit in reasonable comfort all day at the very high speeds of which the car was capable. Another (the exception) of a generous 12-11.p., with a better-finished but far less roomy body that really accommodated three only, was at least 10 per cent. less efficient and cost over £100 more. Another 12-h.p. gave a better result than either, had better accommodation and cost the same. Design is still very far from being standardized in engines.
If we accept the belief that the public get what they want and that it is they and not, the makers who determine the trend of development, it will be a very long time before British car-design reaches anything approaching the present American general similarity, which is still very far from standardization. If the sort of letters that reach me from Spectator readers from all over the world is any criterion, the ear-buying public is getting more and not less discriminating, certainly more anxious to get the right value for its money. Again and again I get long lists of cars from which I am, asked to name a choice of one or more, and against each car are set the various points in which it falls short of the ideal. It is a perpetual wonder to Inc that the catalogues of Great Britain, America and the Continent remain equal to the demands made of them. So far there has always been a ear that meets the most important requirements of every reader, whether he is paying 1150 or £1,500.
One such letter reached me last week, with which was en- closed a sort of crime-sheet. Seven foreign cars (six of them Americans) and ten British were reported upon for their performance in an African colony, their virtues and their failings faithfully recorded—a formidable document, from which one draws rather depressing conclusions about the suitability of our products for wild work. .Another reader writes from a different district of the same colony to 'tell the' that no ear as designed today is really satisfactory, for the American fails as ingloriously as the British. If there is comfort to be extracted from that., I suppose we may have it, negative though. it be. An Indian reader wants a ear that does 'not, so far as I know, exist. It is a very sensible sort of car and I dare say it could be assembled, the chassis from this factory, the body from that, the special features arranged for, but the result -would cost a great deal more than the price my cor- respondent is prepared to pay. Perhaps these three readers
are difficult to please should they not be ?), but it is oplease
obvious. that. the great majority of those who ask for adViee, particularly from countries indifferently provided with roads, do know whaCoonStitutes a well-designed car, what the differ- . ence is between toys and essentiali. If they insist upon this or that form of ignition, upon a certain width or length, upon - a Particular material for body-work or upholstery, it is because they, know what they are talking about.
In this connexion another reader asks me on what results I base the brief ,reports published in The Spectator. The car under review is driven over a set course which includes some twenty miles of London and suburban traffic, one stretch of ordinary main road on which, if conditions permit, very high speeds can be reached, several miles of new and perfectly surfaced by-pass which provide excellent opportunities for fast cornering and the general testing of road-holding, a few hundred yards of broken surface, and two hills, one long, -,with an easy gradient and three hairpin bends, the other short, but very steep. The first hill is taken in the ordinary way of driving, the second from a standstill, against the clock. The total distance is under 60 miles and for nearly a year there has lint been more than 10 minutes' difference between the times
ove taken' rthe run by
any ear,--from 7' to 50 h.p.-
Obviously on such a trial it is impossible to judge of the probable durability of ally car, but all other useftil information icliVailable, front the behaviour of every part under heavy load and at high speed to the poyirer of the brakes and the accuracy ?of the steering. The cars that have been dealt with and recommended so far include the 10- and 12-h.p: Austin, 12-h.p. B.S.A., 12-h.p. Citroen, .15-h.p. Daimler, 111-h.p. Ford, 12-h.p. Frazer-Nash, 10-11.13. and 16-4. Hillman, 12-h.p. Humber, 7-h.p. Jowett, 12-h.p. and ' 28-h.p. Lancia, 27-h.p. Oldsmobile, 12-h.p. and 15-h.p. Riley, 10-h.p. and 14-h.p.
Rover, and 11-11.p. Singer, 10-h.p. and 16-h.p. Standard, 12-h.p. Triumph, 14-h.p. and 20-hp. Vauxhall.
[Readers' requests fbr advice from our Motoring Correspon- dent on the choice 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.— En. The Spectator.]