An article by Munro Donald on the model described by "The Autocar" for 28th September 1934 as "A car of useful but economical size, able to carry roomy coachwork of modern design, and essentially sound in the development of its design."
ARMSTRONG SIDDELEY 17 hp
Armstrong Siddeley cars had a reputation for quality, reliability and, perhaps a reflection of their performance, sobriety! They were never fast cars and Armstrong Siddeley made very little impact in the world of racing although they produced many "sports" models including a version of the 17hp. Armstrong Siddeley motor cars were however, popular with professional people and favoured by bank managers, solicitors and clergy etc.
"The Autocar" for September 28th 1934 described the Armstrong Siddeley 17hp on its launch at Olympia as "A car of useful but economical size, able to carry roomy coachwork of modern style, and essentially sound in the development of its design"
These refined remarks seem a million miles from the hard hitting comments appearing in today's motoring press. It clearly was bad form to be either too cutting in one's criticism or indeed too effusive in one's praise!
Under the direction of John Siddeley, Armstrong Siddeley also developed and manufactured aero engines and perhaps this was sufficient outlet for their aspirations toward speed and excitement. Many of the cars manufactured by Armstrong Siddeley following the second World War were named after successful military planes powered by Siddeley engines; Hurricane, Whitley, Lancaster etc. In addition they made engines for military vehicles and indeed developed a number of military vehicles in house. Adverts for Armstrong Siddeley cars of the day often drew attention to their aircraft associations. This was less to suggest speed but rather the car's reliability. An advertisement appearing in "The Autocar" for August 11th 1933 announced another Armstrong Siddeley model as "A car of aircraft quality"
article already referred to in "The Autocar" of September,
1934 said of this new model:-
Illustration of engine to be added.
The article goes on to say, " At the forward end of the crankshaft a double roller chain distributes the drive to the camshaft, which is in the crankcase, and to a shaft driving the dynamo, the oil pump, fuel pump and ignition distributor being driven from the camshaft itself. Above the latter are tappets or followers, grouped in pairs operating two big overhead valves in each cylinder through push-rods and rocking levers. The rocking levers are hardened at the valve end, and provided with adjustable, hardened, ball ended screws at the push rod ends. There are two large coil springs for each valve, and an interesting sidelight on modern design, it is the valve diameter which governs the engine length as much as anything else."
"The number of necessary auxiliary drives has been reduced ingeniously by placing the centrifugal water pump on the end of the dynamo armature spindle. The flexible hose in the water pipes allowing the pump the necessary movement when the dynamo is swung to take up any slack in the timing chain. A new type pump gland has been adopted, tests having proved the gland to possess unusual durability"
last sentence rather glosses over the advanced nature of the water pump,
which featured a radically new design of seal. This uses a spring-loaded
carbon thrust ring, rather than the traditional stuffing box. This design
became commonplace in the post-war industry.
The car is fitted with the usual Armstrong Siddeley feature of a "Wilson" pre-select gearbox and from 1936 a "Newton" automatic (centrifugal) clutch was also fitted. The Wilson pre-select gear box was a common feature on Armstrong Siddeley cars of this time and continued to be used well into the 1950's. The gearbox is a separate component. The drive from the engine passes through a short very stiff shaft to the box which is itself slung between cross-members on a special mounting in a position where it interferes least with the seating in the car. Unlike some of the more expensive models produced by Armstrong Siddeley at this time the gear select pedal is not power assisted. This however is not a problem and the pedal is only a little heavier to operate than the clutch pedal on a modern car.
Driving using the Wilson pre-select gear box is reasonably effortless, if not terribly exciting. The combination of pre-select gearbox and automatic clutch was very advanced for its day and very attractive to many drivers who were at that time preoccupied with the often difficult task of changing gear quietly.
The gearbox itself is very robust being built to an extremely high standard and requires little attention other than checking the oil periodically with the dipstick and cleaning out the oil filter and changing the oil every 2,000 miles.
Specification for the Armstrong Siddeley Long 17hp:
*Armstrong Siddeley altered this for models from 1938 to a VI Downdraught.
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