10 MARCH 1939, Page 32


A People's Car Very enviable publicity has been given to the German Vo_kswagen which Herr Hitler has ordered for his obedient followers. New models of old-established makes generally have a good Press for a few weeks before their first appear- ance in their respective countries of origin, a reasonable amount of ballyhoo, a perfectly legitimate advance boost, but not one that I can remember since the War has occupied space in the dailies and weeklies at frequent intervals, at least two years before it is likely to appear on foreign markets. The Leader is singularly fortunate in his press agent, though whether the shareholders in the factory which is to turn out the car are equally enthusiastic remains to be seen.

The German Invasion However that may be, and whatever the car may be like, I for one do not share the alleged terror of our industry that the 6 h.p. Strength-Through-Joy will seriously affect the sales of our own cheap cars. A great deal of fuss was made and is still being made over the brief " invasion " of a small foreign car, but apart from the actual sales of it to people who might have bought British cars instead, I have not heard that its arrival has made any lasting difference to the market. It is a good little car, but even at its competitive price (which is still, in its cheapest form, higher than the cheapest form of the new 8 Austin, the 8 Standard and the 8 Morris) I do not suppose that its highly experienced sponsors ever imagined that it would sweep all rivals from the field. Nothing in the manner of its appearance suggested a mass attack on an established industry.

The Necessary " Difference " I do not believe that a People's Car, whether home-made or imported, would ever go down with the motorists of this country, at any price. We are far too individualistic to accept anything so blatantly standard" for a possession which the great majority of us regard as very personal. One cannot imagine a combine of British makers on the lines of American ventures, but if such a thing were to happen and all the cheaper cars, from 8 to to h.p., and from £125 to £150, were merged into one inescapable standard car, it would be even money that a market for something else would immediately open—something inevitably from abroad, pend- ing the home production of what every owner wants, the car that is "different." We are a nation of motorists rather than users of mechanical transport, and uneconomical as a multiplicity of designs may be, it is what we like.

An Individual Car There is no sort of connexion of ideas, but that word reminds me that the strong individuality of the English is nowhere more clearly shown than in the building and con- tinued popularity of such cars as the smaller Rover. It is, above everything else, a car of the most pronounced national characteristics. To the best of my knowledge no other country produces a car of its very special qualities at that price or in that power-class. I daresay one or two of its essentially English qualities, such as its suaveness and silence, would make no special appeal to certain French, Italian and German motorists ready to spend the equivalent of £275 on a Ten. Generally speaking they care less for the graces of motoring than we do, are more impressed by the outward and audible signs of sturdiness than ourselves—more im- pressed or less sensitive to them. Anyhow, whatever the reason, the Rover has no "opposite number" anywhere. It is, in addition to being the sort of car that England alone produces, an individual in its own class and country—like every first-class English car.

Polished Performance Its four-cylinder engine, rated at to h.p., develops 4o h.p. at only 4,000 revolutions, and at well under that crankshaft- speed gives you 65 miles an hour on top and 45 on third. It will " cruise " on half-throttle at 50, climb very steep hills as fast as most cars I have driven of half as much power again, and do these things very quietly and without any vibration at any point. The gear-box is now synchro- meshed on top and third, but I consider it a needless luxury as the controlled freewheel insures faultless gear-changing. Other outstanding points I liked in it were its very powerful Girling brakes, its springing, its automatic chassis-lubrica- tion, its sump-level indicator, and, typical of the whole car, the fine finish of everything under the bonnet and floor- boards.

A Well-found Car The saloon is roomy, comfortable and very well-uphol- stered, the finish here, too, being of the first grade. There is a very large luggage-compartment, the lid of which con- ceals the spare wheel and can be used as a grid. Visibility is good, though I think it would be improved if the front edge of the roof stopped a few inches short of its present line and the screen were more raked. (I am thinking 3f tour- ing in mountainous country.) The instrument-panel is well planned, with all the dials in plain sight, there are two deep cubby-holes and a sliding drawer under the shelf holds the tools, bedded in rubber. I have never seen a more prac- tically-equipped car, or one on which more thought has been expended by people who do their motoring on the road and not on drawing-boards. It reflects great credit on the British industry.

Holkham Bay It is only at this end of winter that you see Holkham and Brancaster Bays, on the north coast of Norfolk, at their best. At least that is how it struck me the other day when having missed my way quite inexplicably I drove along the road be- tween Sheringham and the Wash. In summer there are tar too many people and cars and, in point of fact, there is much less to see than now. As a summer resort I should imagine it to have modest ambitions, particularly with the more re- sounding attractions of Hunstanton only a few *riffles further on, but whatever they may be nothing you get in August should compare with the peace and charm of that sea-road on a cold February day.

Obviously you must have hard weather or the thieat of it, not only because it is the proper weather for that grey and wintry corner of England, but because with frost at hand there is a reasonable chance that you will see the colony of wildfowl which inhabits the marshes next Stiffkey and Wells and Brancaster. There really isn't much else, when you come to add it all up, but it is a very pleasant place to be in after the din and squalor of towns. The North Sea lies on your right beyond the reeds and mudbanks, a vague grey threat; close at hand the waterfowl, the constant stir of wings, the endless chorus of indignation; inland the wide flat countryside of Norfolk, rising just a little above sea-le,, .:1. Wells has a real village-green and in winter in its chief ,:ar you are as likely as not to meet a shooter from the marchs. Even if his bag is empty he will have plenty to tell you about the day's doings along the edge of the estuaries. The :t time I was there in January the morning's walk had brought a goose, and the sight of it under its owner's chair at luncheon cheered one immensely. It is a road for people of simple [Note.—Readers' requests for advice from our Motor: Correspondent on the choice of new cars should be acco? - panied by a stamped and addressed envelope. The higiu 1 price payable must be given, as well as the type of bchiv required. No advice can be given on the purchase, sale ,'r exchange of used cars.]