Thursday 15th October 1936
The 30th International Motor Exhibition opened in London, England, at Olympia. The following review of the show appeared in The Spectator the following day:
“One of the few real surprises of the show is the new 12- cylinder Lagonda, designed by Mr. W. 0. Bentley. It was only announced a week before the opening, a very brief warning of what is only the second British Twelve in history, apart. from the sleeve-valved Daimlers built to the order; of the late . King. The new Lagonda has its cylifsders set’ ià the two banks of six each, V-fashion. The bore and stroke are 75 by 84.5 (very nearly “square “), the cubic content is 41 litres, the rated power 42 and the tax 2.31 10s. It has a four-speed synchro-meshed gearbox, with central change, and it is built in two chassis lengths, 11 ft. and 11 ft. 6 in., both with a 60-inch track. There is independent front,wheel springing and in most respects the design follows the most recent trend.
Another new model which might almost be called a new car is the 8-cylinder Sunbeam, a notable addition to the respectable list of British luxury cars. It is two years or so since any Sunbeams have been built, and there is no question but • that the company are re-entering the market with a striking car. The engine has its cylinders in line, but in spite of that it is one of the shortest units of its power made. It is much shorter and more compact than either the last 8-cylinder Sunbeam or the better-known 3-litre Six, which, with the original Bentley and the ” 30-98 ” Vauxhall, led the world in high-performance ears. The power is a nominal 30, an actual 150 hp., the cubic content being 41 litres, from a bore and stroke of 80 by 112. It is a beautiful piece of work, admirably laid out and superbly finished. The chassis costs £750 and £800, according to length, and the complete car costs from £1,195 upwards.
The new 6 h.p. Fiat is interesting in that it is the smallest 4-cylinder car in existence andAprohably the. smallest eves made. The bore and stroke are 52 by 67, a shade over 2 in. by 21 in., which gives a capacity of 570 c.c. and a 13.11.p. of 13. It has a. 4-speed gear box with synehro-meshed third and fourth, and except for its minute dimensions the whole ear is exactly like any other. It is, as it were, a made!, the only difference, which incidentally is not noticeable with the bon- net down, is that the radiator and axle are behind the engine and-not in front. ‘A single transverse spring provides independent suspension in front, while the rear axle is sprung on ordinary quarter ellipties, and the whole is assisted by hydraulic shock absorbers. The wheel base is 6 ft. Olin., the track 3 ft. 71 in. and 3 ft. 61 in. in rear. The body is a 2-seated saloon-with the usual ” occasional ” accommodation behind, and, considering the very small .dimensions – of every- thing, entrance should be fairly easy through the very wide door.
Apart from these new models, the new editions of existing cars all show that steady advance which distinguishes the whole Exhibition. “Armstrong Siddeley make an impressive display with _no . fewer. than nine cars, -two examples of the
14 three of the 17 h.p., three of the 20-25 and one of the Siddeley special. The particular improvements which apply to all these models include increased power and more vivid acceleration. There is no-noticeable change in any of them, but there is. a better single-plate clutch which is stated to give very smooth. engagement for the pre-selective gear- box, and all models now have’ centralised chassis-lubrication and permanent jacks; In all these cars, the back seats are well forward oft he axle. Of the cars shown I like best the 14 h.p. 4-window-saloon, the 17 h.p. touring saloon, and the 20-25 h.p. Atalanta. saloon. These are all excellent examples of first-class British coach-work of plain and unostentatious design.
Nine Austins in-all are shown, the 20 11.p. Mayfair limousine, the 10 h.p. York saloon, the 14 h.p. Goodwood saloon, the 12 h.p. Ascot saloon, the 10 h.p. cabriolet and. aaleon, and cabriolet and saloon on the 7 h.p. The principal changes in all the Austin cars is in their bodywork, which no*: has decidedly flowing lines:- Perhaps the model that ‘is likely to be the star turn of the stand is the new 14 h.p. six-cylinder “• Goodwood ” saloon, a very good-looking car that sells for £235. I had a special opportunity of examining this car when if was shown at the first ” Television Motor Show” at Alexandra Palace last week, and I was impressed then with its sensible design and the comfort of its body. The newest Austin product is the ” Conliay ” cabriolet, shown on the Ten chassis. There is plenty of room in it and the hood can be left open at full or half-dropped positions. This car costs £182 10s. The New Ascot” Twelve has a 4-cylinder engine of 11.9 h.p., mounted on rubber, and looks excellent value at £210. Altogether a good display.
Daimler are showing seven different models, of which perhaps the 15 h.p. is the most interesting, in that the power of the engine has been now increased to 17 h.p. Of the two examples shown I imagine the sports saloon at £475 will attract the most attention. Its lines are excellent.
There is a Light Twenty with a 6-window saloon, a light straight 8 with a sports saloon (this is the car that has done 94 m.p.h. at Brooklands), and a decidedly impressive example of the 41 litre straight 8 with a limousine body by Hooper, costing £1,510. With the exception of the 15 h.p. there are no changes worth mentioning in the Daimler design for 1937.
The chief exhibits on the Rolls-Royce stand are naturally the new Phantom III 12-cylinder, which made its first appear- ance last year. The engine of this, it will be remembered, consists of two banks of 6 cylinders each ; the treasury rating of this is 50.7 h.p. Minor improvements have been made throughout, but in general the car remains the same. It is shown in two types of limousine costing £2,605 and £2,650. The other exhibits are two limousines on the 20.25 h.p. 6-cylinder chassis, one by Thrupp & Maberly and the other by Park Ward, costing 11,572 and £1,767 respectively. In this chassis also there is no change to report.
Rovers are showing their new 16 h.p. saloon and their new speed model, which is a 20 h.p., the remaining cars shown being a Ten, two Twelves and two Fourteens. Very little change has been made in the Rover chassis for this year, and what there is is chiefly in the line. The radiator guard has been brought a little further forwards and, as far as I can see, there is rather more room in the bodywork. The roof and the rear panel cantours of the Ten have been redesigned and the front door is now hung on the centre pillar. The prices of the cars Shown arc, tha-Ten-A248, the two Twelves 1285 and £295, the two Fourteens £305 and £315, the Sixteens 1345 and 1355. and the
sports, a good-looking car finished in two shades of greed,: at £415.
Vauxhall’s new car, the chief exhibit, is their 25 h.p., which sells at the remarkably low price of £298. The 6-cylinder engine has a bore and stroke of 81-94 by 19L6, with a cubic capacity of 3215 c.c., and a very remarkabl’ performiuice is claimed for it. The maximum speed- is stated to be 80 ‘ while the claimed acceleration is as follows. In top speed it takes 7 1/5 seconds to reach 30 m.p.h.’from 10 m.p.h., and 53/5 seconds on third speed ; 50 m.p.h. is reached in 16 seconds, using all gears. The Vauxhall independent suspension is used in front, and, in general, all the familiar features of the make are incorporated. The makers consider that this car is the fastest they have made since the famous ” 30;98 ” of distinguished memory.
The chief exhibit of interest of the Lanehester stand is the new 18 h.p., which is shown with a saloon No. 581. The bore and stroke of its engine are now 72 by 105, which gives it a treasury rating of. just -under g0 h.p. The price complete of the ear shown is.£595. Another very interesting-looking ear, which I hope to try for report in The Spectator in a few days, is the 14 h.p. 6-cylinder ” Roadrider.” This has a bore and stroke of 00 by 90, with a wheel base of 8 ft. 7 ins., and sells as shown on the stand for £330. The 11 h.p. remains much the same as last year, and an example of it with a neat saloon body is shown.
To experienced motorists, one of the main points of interest in the Morris display will be the fact that practically no alterations have been found necessary—or if they have the makers have not considered it worth while to mention them. A strict adherence to approved design is always, to my mind, the best advertisement any car can have. The entire range of the six Morris cars is shown from the £120 8 h.p. open tourer to the £280 25 h.p. saloon. The new features of the 8 h.p. include a spring steering-wheel, a carburettor silencer, a fume exhaust-pipe and needle bearing universal joints. The 10 h.p. and the 12 h.p. are fitted with a permanent jacking system, the accommodation in the rear compartment in the saloon has been improved and a new, type, of external oil filter, which can be easily dismantled for cleaning, has been adopted.
Officially speaking, the centre of attraction on the Riley staiakii-nep. Monaco, which has been reintroduced after a lapse of a year. Bodywork has been considerably improved and there are six windows instead of four. For my part I consider the 14 litre Falcon, which I recently tried for The Spectator, of greater interest if only because it is more powerful. This chassis is shown with the Falcon and Adelphi saloons, the Lynx tourer and the two-seater Spright. Perhaps the most attractive-looking car on the stand is the 15 h.p. 6- cylinder Kestrel, which has what is called aero line coachwork. The new V8 Ninety is shown with a very agreeable saloon body finished in what looks like transparent green. , : All the Humber models, the Snipe, the Pullman, the 18 h.p. and the 12 h.p., are represented in the eight cars displayed. While it is not exact to say that the :bigger Humber is a new „ car, the engine’s dimensions have been increased, bringing the capacity from 34 litres to just over 4 litres, and- the rated – h.p. to 27; and the 18 h.p. -has _now-: a 2-ilitre ingine.1 In. Other respects the design of the HUMber remains much the same as before, the two larger cars having:the even-keel front- . Wheel suspension, while the 12 h.p. is fitted -With -the normal type. The Snipe and 18 h.p. can be fitted with the de Nora-am- -vine quick-changing gear which was recently described in The Spectator, while the 12 h.p. uses the normal type. The display of cars is a notable one; the Snipe is shown as a Pullman limousine, the Pullman Sedanca de ville as a saloon, and as a sports saloon, the last being fitted with the de Normanville gear-box. The 18 h.p. is shown as a 4-window saloon with a division and as a particularly attractive grey foursome coupe, while the two 12 h.p. are the standard saloon, which has been reduced in price to 1258, and the Vogue, which is now sold for £298. The latter, it will be remembered, was what is called ‘7 inspired ” by’Molvneux, the dressmaker.
• B.S.A. again show their Scout front-wheel drive 10 h.p. car in six different forms. – There are no differences between this tear’s and last. year’s model except in detaiLand,also in a.slight increase in power. Steering has been greatly improved as I have been able to prove for myself, and, all things considered, I regard this car as one of the most interesting in the Show. One regrets: that the idea has not been; adapted to a larger machine. There is a stripped chassis; that very rare and-wel- come thing in these days, two 2-seaters, two 4-seaters, and a , coupe de luxe. The prices range from £150 10s. to £189. A’ Point of interest is that for an extra five guineas twin car- burettors can be fitted to any model.
: Ford has his usual impressive display at the Albert Hall; a_ display. _of _such_variety…this music by a band called the V-8 Shadow Symphony Or-
: iiiestra,”1–that there. in some -danger- of the. principal per- forthers being overlooked. The new car this year is the 22 h.p. V8, of which several attractive examples are shown. The original 30 h.p. V8, the Eight and the Ten, are displayed in various forms. 4 As in tlie case of the.standard productions, the special coachwork shcivis signs. of steady progress. Among the problem, that have been studied more particularly since last -year is sound-isolation, and there are various ingenioui methods by which noise- is kept away from the inside of the body. In some cases much trouble has been taken to reduce as far as possible the noise caused by wind-rush—a problem as difficult of solution as any, one would imagine. Ventilation has also advanced a good. deal – and it may be taken that from now on the ordinary well-built closed car will be free from ” draughts and always fresh. -Several; leaves seein to have been taken out of the American coachbuilders’ book in- the matter of the disposal Of luggage, and throughout the special coachwork section you will see’ quite remarkably neat methods of carrying considerable quantities of suitcases and other kWard things protected from the weather and withoUt detracting from The ‘lines of the car. These lines, by the way, are perhaps the best we have seen since the insane craze for what was called streamlining reached its peak and began to subside. There are _ very few examples of absurd designs and, on the ,other hand, nearly all the English coachwork has returned to dignity. There is a certain lightness of touch even on the largest and heaviest cars, which is very pleasing to the eye.
Park Ward show some attractive work on Daimler, Bentley and Rolls-Royce chassis, Of Which I thought the four-wiudg, :nv saloon on the Bentley the most interesting from the. con- structional point of view. The frame, usually made of wood, is in this case made of 22-guage aircraft steel. The company show a division window which is decidedly novel. When the winding handle is turned the window rises Eat with the rOof where it is concealed by a flap. It is extremely neat and one of its advantages is that it gives more leg-room.
Barker and Company show. some fine examples of their best Work on one straight-8 44 litre Daimler chassis, on two Rolls-Royces and one Bentley. Of these, the touring limousine on the 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce is perhaps the most striking,
bat the Sriorts on the 44 litre Bentley, painted in light yellow, a colour that will remind_ old nuttorista_Qf cheerful days long past, runs it very close. The limousine has a special ‘compartment for golf -Clubs which is likely to be one of the most popular innovations in coachwork generally. • Hooper and Company, show -a very agreeable sports saloon on a 25 h.p. Rolls-Royce, finished in grey, and a cream-and- black ” Sedanca ” on a 40/50 chassis.
The Burlington Carriage Company have fitted an Armstrong Siddeley with a Town Brougham of attractive design, and Martin Walter has an excellently designed cabriolet on a Daimler-light straight 8. I do.not think there are any more open cars than there were last year, but there are quite a number on various stands, and most of them are certainly viry alluring.”:.:In-the medern open 4-seater you sit consider- ably lower down than in the old-fashioned type, and, with Proper screening, there is no reason why,.in any weather but a raging north-east gale,–the ‘occupants’ Should not be well , preteeted. *There is an ‘- all=weitber. “tourer on two small WOlseley chassis Which’ will explain what I mein.. Vanden Plas show an interesting :example of the pillarlesa saloon on the new Alvis 4.3: litre. ,–Jt is a matter. for some surprise that this design has not progressed any faster. It is not of any great importance on a big car, but on a little one it makes all the difference in the world. There is every reason to be well satisfied with the trend of coachwork design as well as with the improved workmanship.
In spite of the fact that punctures and bursts-seldom happen to modern cars, old-timers (perhaps for the good of their souls)- are generallYitill slightly obsessed’ by their possibility,. , or, if you prefer it, suffer a distinct inferiority complex on the subject. A de,ad’tyre ‘will immobilise the best car as completely if not as long as will a petrol-shortage. At every motor-show therefore I slink round to that part which .houses the tyres, beautiful, new, tightly blown-up, obviously good for a. year’s driving, and feast lay eyes on them. It is a senseless procedure, but I like it. This year I-am specially taken with,the Dunlop show, where they have all kinds Of dark, gleaming tyres toeheer me up, including the new ” Cruiser ” cover and- the _” Sports,” which has a ferocious-looking.tread. Here, too, you can see all the kinds of wheels Used, centre-lock; ordinary detachable, Magna and disc, Also a very intriguing pressure-gauge.”