by Edwin Campbell in The Graphic Motor Supplement, November 4, 1922
THE Sixteenth Annual Exhibition of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders opened yesterday, Friday, November 3. As was the case last year, the major portions of the exhibits are housed in Olympia and the balance in a section of the White City buildings at Wood Lane. It had been intended to avoid the inconvenience of a divided show by utilizing the new additions to Olympia, but owing to unforeseen causes it was not possible to have these ready in time, so that the older arrangement had to be resumed.
In all, there are something like 550 separate exhibits, of which over 150 are cars, and, with the exception of German and Austrian designs, I do not think that any. European design of importance is absent from the collection. Owing to the institution of uniformity in stand spaces, there is considerable cramping in the exhibits of many of the more important firms, and in several cases a selection out of their ranges of models has had to be made. Most firms possessing London show-rooms, therefore, are running concurrent exhibitions of all their models at the latter, and cars are in attendance to convey visitors to these depots on request. As was the case in previous years, the admission fee covers entry to both the Olympia and White City sections, and the management has organized a nonwaiting service of comfortable motor vehicles to enable visitors to pass from Addison Road to Wood Lane, or vice versa, with the minimum of inconvenience.
Avowedly with the idea of deterring the merely curious sightseer, whose presence at previous motor exhibitions in embarrassing numbers was a handicap to business and a discomfort to those, genuinely anxious to inspect the exhibits for the purpose of placing orders, the admission fee has been set high. On this (Saturday) morning and on Wednesday and Saturday next, the price of admission is half-a-crown, but on all other days it is five shillings. As a concession, the public is offered admission this afternoon after one o'clock-at a shilling. There is no denying the trade inconvenience attendant on the great popularity of the Show with the London public, but there is a danger in charging such high prices. How far, the dislocated political situation will affect the attendance it is impossible to say, but I do not think it will amount to much in the end, if only because politics do not now absorb public attention and energy as they were, wont to do.
The keynote of the Show is economical motoring. Car prices have declined for the past two years until they are now from 35 to 50 per cent less than the case in 1920: the prices of tyres have returned to the 1914 level and below it: the prices of fuel and lubricant are lower than at any time since the end of 1914. In addition to lowering his prices, the car maker has marketed a considerable number of small models of such excellence and high technical efficiency that, but for the necessarily restricted body space, one might almost claim that motoring to-day can be enjoyed as cheaply and yet as comfortably as at any previous period but for insurance and taxation.
Never were carburetors so efficient and engines so economical; never were tyres so cheap for the service yielded. If, as is generally expected, there is to be a remission in motorcar taxation for 1924, it may be that when that year dawns we shall have entered on a fresh boom in motoring. Probably the most notable feature of the Show is the number of really serviceable small cars that are on offer at from Â£250 to Â£350. They do not, it is true, possess the roominess, or possibly the appearance, of the cars at those prices of 1914, but in all else they are distinctly ahead, more economical, more speedy, better equipped for the driver's and passenger's comfort and convenience.
Another feature is the return to prominence of the most serviceable and acceptable of all types-the 15-26 h.p. cars. Small cars are all right, and we are thankful for them in these difficult financial times, but when the political sun shines again, and trade and prosperity return, no sensible motorist can doubt that larger cars will return to popularity. With all due deference to those who are entirely satisfied with the small car, I suggest that there is little comparison between it and the fullsized full powered model in touring comfort, and although enthusiasm will enable people to be satisfied with less of this than the average person demands, it is, in point of fact, the average person whose custom is the great support of the British motor industry.
There are singularly few Innovations likely to interest the motorist. This is all to the good. Engineers know that the efficiency and reliability of any device like a motorcar are not struck with a single blow, so to speak, but are molded and fashioned out of experience tempered with brains. Exactly what is the proper worth of over head valves for the ordinary purposes of motoring has not yet been decided definitely nor has the front wheel brake been sufficiently tried to determine its value. Although changes of this character invariably secure a momentary fashion, they cannot continue unless their intrinsic worth is proved. The old side valve has long since ceased to trouble, and the sleeve valve has won a limited but sincere acceptance on merit. The overhead valve has yet to win such recognition, but it is undeniable that designers are adopting it though as convinced of its superiority.
Front wheel brakes involve so much that, unless they are proved to be indispensable, they will remain the characteristic of the fast and powerful big car, and the speedy and expensive small car. There is no doubt concerning their great efficiency; where the doubt arises is that anything better than the orthodox transmission and rear wheel brakes is required 90 percent motor cars. Suspension finds a partial return to the semi-elliptic. Last year the quarter-elliptic had a boom, but there are signs of a declension due to liability to body swing at fast speeds if a sudden turn be taken. I expect that there will be a considerable run on shock absorbers next year, as they appear to be particularly desirable on these fast and light small cars. I do not know how many small cars are on view, but r would hazard a guess that there must be well over fifty separate designs. Almost every stand carries one, and in their main features they are singularly alike, evidently 1923 is expected to be a boom year for the small car, and I hope it will be, but I confess that I have doubts concerning the ability of all these cars to win through.
Much will depend, of course, on the manner in which they are handled, but if one named about twenty marquees I think that one would not leave much more than 10 per cent of the market for the remainder. There are eight entirely new ones to me- the Ariel, B.S.A., Aster, Hands, G.N., Trojan, Lea Francis and British Ensign. The Trojan is an attempt to touch rock bottom not merely in price but in running cost. It has a dozen novel points, all of prime importance in design and, finally, it runs on solid tyres. The others are orthodox types, and I have no doubt will be carefully scanned, for their credentials are good.
All 20 pages of the 1922 Motor Exhibition supplement
source: Edwin Campbell in The Graphic Motor Supplement Nov.4,1922