Archive : Riding on water

From TIME magazine
Autos: Riding on Water
Friday, Aug. 31, 1962

Whether or not Britain goes into the Common Market, British automakers hope to capture a larger share of the expanding Continental market for cars.

Their most ambitious entry is British Motor Corp.’s new four-door Morris 1100, which is about a foot shorter than a Volkswagen. To smooth the ride on Europe’s cambered roads, the Morris introduces a novel suspension system called “Hydro-lastic Suspension,” after its two key components, rubber and water.

Set over each wheel is a springlike rubber cylinder filled with a “cocktail” of water and antifreeze. Thin tubes connect the front and rear cylinders. When a front wheel hits a bump, the shock compresses the front cylinder, which squeezes the fluid to the rear, expanding the rear cylinder. This lifts the tail slightly to “ride” with the bump. After the rear wheel passes the bump, the fluid returns to the front, cushioning the overall shock.

The Morris was designed by B.M.C.’s Alec Issigonis, who says: “My job is not to design fashion accessories or status symbols, but motorcars—things that travel as efficiently as possible from A to B. A car should take its shape from the engineering that goes into it.”

The 1100 speeds up to 77 m.p.h. on a 48-h.p. engine placed up front. In Britain, its basic price is $1,372. When the car is exported to the U.S. in about six months, it will probably be sold under the sporty marque of M.G., another B.M.C. brand.

B.M.C.’s competitors are rolling out new racy models. France’s Renault has introduced the R-8, which looks like a squared-off Dauphine but is roomier and quieter. It also costs more ($1,400 in France for the R-8, v. $1,000 for the Dauphine). Speeding to 80 m.p.h. on a 48-h.p. engine, the R-8 is faster than the Dauphine, has four sports-car-type disk brakes.

Germany’s Opel, a subsidiary of General Motors, last week brought out its new Kadett, which is priced at $1,269, v-$1,245 for the small Volkswagen. The two-door Kadett speeds to 75 m.p.h. on a 46-h.p. engine, and. like the Morris 1100 and the Renault R-8, gets about 35 miles per gallon. It has a bigger luggage compartment than the Volkswagen, but no major styling or mechanical innovations. Up at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg. the Volkswagen people did not seem worried.

Keith Adams

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