6 NOVEMBER 1936, Page 38

THE two cars I have for discussion this week, the

Hillman 21-h.p. " Hawk " and the 14-h.p. Lanchester Boadrider." can both be called new models but for different reasons. The smaller car is new from.end to end, an enlarged edition. strictly speaking, of a previous Model, but none the less a fresh issue with a special selling point of its own. The bigger ear is of that large section of British ears in which small change is made from year to year. but which has, in the form sent to me for trial, a type of bodywork that was new many years ago, abandoned as a popular type for a couple of decades and now re-introduced as one more suggestion for the ideal all-purpose carriage. They share one particular virtue, travelling comfort.

I ant not sure which of the two. if either, should come first in this respect, but because its coachwork was of much less common design, I take tl e Hilhnan. It was a cabriolet. a ear I have always regarded as the nearest working solution of the problem, how to build a ear that will give you the essential protection from bad weather as well as the supreme advantages of roofless driving. There have, from time to time, been designed a variety of bodies called " all-weather," some of them moderate in price, most of them rather-dear, very few of them successful. They have usually been of the ordinary open tourer sort, with special side-screens, and the idea hes been to make them look like two different ears when open and closed. For obvious reasons, such as the instability of the hood-frame, the compromise was only fifty per cent. efficient.

The original cabriolet, prochteed amid some excitement a year or two before the War, used carriage leather for its folding head and by that choice sealed its fate. It was heavy, clumsy, and began to look shabby almost at once. Also the machinery for raising and lowering it was cumbersome and given to. maddening rattles. The finished product had all the faults of a landaulet and of an open ear and none of the simplicity or comfort of either. PraCtically no progress was made with it for close upon twenty years. during which time the public were 'persmided nr perhaps only told that the proper sort of car for general purposes was the permanently closed saloon. For those who could afford it there was the

drop-head coupe, which cost and still costs a good deal (,f money if built as it must be to withstand the special strains, but the rest of us had the choice of the box-ear and the tourer.

The new Hillman cabriolet is a very interesting pattern for the all-purpose car of the future. In the prime essentials, protection from rain in its closed and from wind in its open state, with open car " visibility '7 and closed car draught- lessness, it is notably successful. For the first time I was able to " have it both ways," to drive what amounted to a saloon as well as a real tourer. In addition, it looked like an open car with the hood down and like a closed one with the hood in position. In each forni it is, with a few exceptions, what most of us want when we talk of an all. purpose ear, but in time to come, if this design has the success it deserves, the makers' ingenuity will be exercised upon the devising of what we used to call " one-man " action. I have no idea how this will be done, but it is plain that future editions will be more "- automatic " in their opening. and shutting. This is not to say that the Hillman roof is not very workable, for it is —unusually so. It is only a forecast of probabilities.

For the rest it is a car of the modern type, with a high maximum speed, excellent hill-climbing powers and, what k far more important today, first-class acceleration and general liveliness. The side-valved 6-cylinder 3-litre engine will give it nearly eighty miles an hour on top, over forty-five on third and sixty very quickly. It does all this with no per- ceptible vibration and with hardly any noise. The gear-box is synehromeshed, which means a scrapeless if not particularly quick change. The suspension is independent in front, on the " Evenkeel " system which gives one excellent road- holding and improves the general springing throughout. That is a notable comfort-point. The steering is good and the brakes are up to their work of controlling a car capable of seventy-five miles an hour. The price is £435.

The Lanchester is called the " Roadrider " for under- standable reasons. As a- rule I look with suspicion upon aspiring nicknames, believing that a plain description carries most conviction to the buyer's mind, but Roadrider " is perfectly justifiable in the case of the new Lanchester. It is, beyond doubt, much better sprung than its predecessors. In fact I think it is the best-sprung Lanchester I have yet driven, thugli it is never easy to remember exactly how com- fortably a car rode with you even after only a few months. The main point on which I am peffectly clear is that the spring- ing in front is greatly improved and that the car holds the road admirably.

The 6-cylinder engine has a capacity of 11 litres, the bore and stroke being 60 by 90. There is nothing new in the design which is of the familiar Lanehester overhead valved pattern, with the cylinders east in one piece with the upper half of the crank-case. It is beautifully finished in the style of.the old days then. brass-ended copper pipes, all kept in a high state of polish, were the pride of owners. A point to be remarked is the Quite exceptionally quiet running. At • all speeds you have to listen carefully to hear, what the engine is doing. A modern virtfie,.this, and one-of the best of them. There is the usual- Daimler transmission, the fluid flywheel With' the Pre-Selective geaiglok, the 'ratios- of Which are top 5.4 to 1, .third 8.5 to 1 and only -13 to 1. First is an emergency gear Which heed Only -bCuSedin abnormal circum- stances or when-ye-starting on a- hill. The box makes very little noise on any gear. The maximum speed-shown on the -gauge was about sixty-four mileS an hour,- with -forty-two on It. is a thoroughly Coinfortable car.- The. steering "is light and -firm, the brakes swift- in" action.' The engme runs with Special smoothness' (soh sinocithly, indeed, that you might get the impression that it- is Italf-hearteili-whiett it is notY, and it gets away in sprightly fashion- and- takes long easy rises very commendably. The saloon, -called Model '401, is zoomy, com- fortable-and-well -finished.-. c It has fkirLsized luggage-grid, as i fitted to Model 402, a •wholly steel-panelled car. Model 403. selling at £340, is a fourwindowed " sports " saloon, with an inbuilt luggage-boot which goes well with the lines of the car. The • last model is the coupe, a two-doored, two- windowed " closecoupled " car of decidedly attractive [Vole.—Ileaders' requests for advice from our lifolociug E'orrespondent on the choice.olnew 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 son. be given on the purchase, sale or e.rclumge of usectears.1