FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 1950
The Horizon Widens
WHILE it is important not to
over-estimate the significance of the turbocar demonstration last week,
it is equally important that there should be no under-estimate. It is
our belief that the gas turbine can be overestimated only in the duration
of the development time necessary before it reaches the hands of the public.
The Rover engineers have warned that this period is likely to be four
or live years, but it will be noted that they have not shown any considerable
doubt of the turbocar's eventual arrival. "It is obviously the Rover
company's intention to produce a gas turbine car as a marketable proposition
if and when that becomes practicable," said Mr. Maurice Wilks, the
chief engineer, and the company must be applauded for the spirit that
lies behind the statement.
The motoring horizon widens indeed. If the reasonable assumption is made
that the gas turbine car will come, the effect is difficult to visualize.
Already there are suggestions that the oil refining programmes of the
various countries are excessive judged against future world demand. What
effect is the gas turbine, which is satisfied by low-octane fuels, likely
to have on such programmes? And what of road design, inadequate for present
traffic, in the face of a vehicle of such potentialities?
The influence on world automobile design might well be unprecedented.
For instance, great ingenuity has been spent throughout the years in developing
hydraulic transmissions, coupled with automatic gear boxes; needless to
say, such devices are extremely intricate, heavy and expensive. The gas
turbine, when successfully developed, would attain a similar ideal in
far simpler fashion.
It is early for conjecture, but it is the opportune moment for giving
credit to British engineers for turbine triumphs. Many years ago Parsons
invented the steam turbine; under the stress of war Whittle developed
the gas turbine for aircraft, and now the Rover company are well on the
road to success with gas turbines for production cars. It is a great story,
continued in. this issue by further details of the new turbocar and by
driving impressions, recorded by one of the few people outside the Rover
organization who have enjoyed the privilege of taking the simplified controls
of this revolutionary vehicle.