Basic motoring

The Evolution of the Modern Ultralight Economy car.

Chapter 9 European Divisions

Morris Minor MMMorris Minor MM
Throughout the nineteen forties auto-mobile manufacturing had been suspended throughout the world except for the United States or for military use, neither of which had any interest in small economy cars; some manufacturers and their designers had been thinking of creating designs for the future and in some cases producing prototypes, others had designs that were ready but had not entered production due to war. They knew that the potential market was great for almost any type of car, as the majority of cars is service were worn out and it was essential to resume production as soon as possible to capitalise on this fact. Unfortunately shortage of materials, damaged factories and political changes created difficulties. Europe had been split into two economic zones; an Eastern zone and a Western zone and Germany had been divided, one half in the eastern economic zone  becoming the DDR and the other half in the western economic zone becoming the Federal Republic. All the factories of the Auto Union group of companies which include DKW and the BMW factory at Eisenach were located in eastern Germany and were taken into state ownership. The British manufacturers were the first get back in production although there was limited iron and steel and supply was allocated by government to maximise export potential. Many of their factories had been damaged or destroyed; but there were large new factories that had been used producing war material now available and were turned into car producing plants. What they lacked were modern designs so they began by producing pre-war models that were dated when first produced in 1945, Austin with the Eight in production until 1947, Morris with the series E  in production until 1948 and Ford with the Anglia an re-bodied Model Y in production until 1953. The Wolseley Eight an up market version of the Morris series E had been ready for production in 1939; but it was not produced until 1946. It had an overhead valve version of the series E engine that produced an extra 4 brake horse power and was an indication of the way forward. Only just over five thousand were produced in its two year production life, it being a dead end. The first new small car from the British motor industry was the Morris Minor, it was designed towards the end of the end of the Second World War, in the Cowley works of Morris Motors and was the work of Alex Issigonis. He had been developing his ideas on independent suspension and unitary chassis-body construction, which was not then in general use, and when he was allowed to design a completely new car he incorporated his idea's in to it. The Minor front suspension was of the wishbone type, using a lever type shock absorber operating arm as the top link, a pair of steel pressings as a lower link with a torsion bar attached to their inner end. Torsion bars had been chosen as the layout used gave lots of room for a proposed flat four engine that didn't make it to the final design. A forged upright connected these links and had the steering arm and the stub axle attached.

Austin A35

                                                                                                                                                                                          Austin A35
An unusual method was used for steering pivots in the form of screw trunnions top and bottom, similar to a nut and bolt arrangement. The final component a steel tie rod that linked the bottom of the upright forward to the chassis, versions of the latter component were used in various Issigonis designs. The Minor was in production by 1948 and due to its front suspension, rack and pinion steering which was another departure from current practice, and a forward weight distribution it's handling was a great step forward. The engine, gearbox, transmission and rear axle fitted in the final design were those used in the Morris Eight series E, and were of pre war design, this turned a potentially great car into merely a good car. It was not until after the Morris and Austin merger that an engine of modern design was fitted to the Minor Series 2 in 1953.  With a modern design of engine fitted, the Minor remained in production until 1972 and almost one and a half million examples were produced. Austin after not marketing a very small car since the demise of the Eight in 1947 began producing the A30 in 1951 a completely new design. When Austin designed the new 803 cc engine for their A30 model, no one could foresee that one of its many version would still be in production in 1999 and around twelve million examples made before it was finally discontinued. Designated the A, the smallest in a series of new engines  introduced by the company after the war, the A30 was a miniature and cramped version of the family saloons of the time, complete with four doors and a boot, a two door and an estate version came later. The specification of the car was also similar to it's larger contemporaries, with coil spring i.f.s. and a live rear axle with half elliptic springs. A first for Austin, it had a unitary chassis. The A30 was replaced by the A35 an updated version with a 948 cc engine in 1956 that was made until 1959. The Standard Motor Company in England reintroduced a small car into their range with the Eight, in 1953. The Eight, was an all new car of conventional design. The chassis/body unit was of unitary construction with four doors, and at first a none-opening boot. With coil spring IFS and a live axle with half-elliptic springs, an 803 OHV water-cooled four-cylinder engine that gave it a top speed barely past 60 M.P.H. In 1954 the Eight was joined by the Ten, the same basic car fitted with a 948 cc engined version and an opening boot lid. An up graded version of the Ten, the Pennant, joined them in 1957. But by 1961 all the small Standard models had been discontinued, after three hundred and fifty-thousand examples of all types had been made.

Standard 8

Standard Eight
There was another division in European ultralight car manufacturing; that was in design philosophy, the British sticking to the outdated System Panhard while throughout  mainland Europe other more advanced layouts were used for all the completely new designs that go into production, only Fiat repackaging the 500 mentioned above, until their first up to date design was produced in 1955. Three French  manufacturers foresaw the need for an economy car when peace eventually came, Renault, Citroen and Panhard.
Louis Renault was pioneer of motoring who constructed his first car in a garden shed in 1898,at his parent’s home at Billancourt, near Paris. His company that he rules in an autocratic manner prospered becoming one of the great carmaker in France. During the Second World War when France was occupied by German forces, his factories were under German direction and he produced trucks for the German forces. His main preoccupation at that time was not freedom or France, but the preservation of his factories ready to resume producing cars when the war was over. To that end in 1941 he had his staff with Edmond Serre as head of project design a new car and produce a prototype. Fernand Picard, Serre's deputy, played the leading roll in design of the car.The car that emerged was unlike any previous Renault model but externally bore a passing resemblance to the Volkswagen prototype that had been revealed to the world before the war. But the car had a specification completely different to the Volkswagen with the exception of rear engine location. The 4cv differed in many ways from the Volkswagen, first it had a unitary chassis, and it had a water-cooled inline four-cylinder overhead valve engine of 760cc. Wishbones were used for the independent front suspension with coil springs used all round and rack and pinion steering. The performance was modest with a maximum speed of 57mph (92kph). Later prototypes also had their own distinctive body that would become well known in time. Louis Renault had made many enemies during his years of autocratic rule and having been seen to cooperate with the German invaders only compounded his crimes to his enemies. At the end of the war he did not live to see his new car go into production, because his countrymen imprisoned him. Dying in mysterious circumstances, his assets and his factories were seized by the state. Citroen had started work on the 2CV in 1938 and had  300 prototypes running in France before the country was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. It took until 1948 before the car was first shown to the public at the Paris Show.Renault 4 cv

                                                                                                                                                                                               Renault 4CV

Citroens aim was to provide rural France with a car that would replace the horse and trap, as Henry Ford had done for America with
his model T thirty years before. To carry up to four people at speeds up to 40MPH along French country roads in a car that needed a minimum of maintenance at minimum cost, required an exceptional design and the 2CV was that. Every part of it was new from the power train to the basic almost crude body. Initially the air-cooled flat twin engine was of only 375cc producing 9bhp. It was at the front of a platform chassis, with the drive going to the front wheels with at first, simple universal joints at both ends of the drive shafts. This didn't matter at first due to the low performance and the need to keep the cost down. The drawings also show the unique suspension devised to deal with those country roads. Long travel leading arms at the front, were linked to long travel trailing arm at the rear by rods that operated on coil springs located at the side of the chassis. Suspension movement at the front was transmitted to the spring and then to the rear by the linkage, leading to a smother ride. To make the car as usable for it's designed purpose, the body was very simple with most components removable to provide access and space as required.    The 2CV at first glance could be taken for a crude car but looks are deceiving and where it mattered everything was produced to a high standard, with hydraulic brakes, inboard at the front and rack and pinion steering. The engine was increased to 424cc in 1954 and later 602cc, but performance wasn't what the 2CV had been designed for, it was as a work horse. Total production was 3,872,583 of 2CV's alone by 1990, not counting the models derived from it. The "Dyna" was the Panhard version of the Gregiore designed "Aluminium Francais-Gregiore". J. A.  Gregiore sold drawings of the A. F. G. to Henry J. Kaiser in the United States, and to Hartnett in Australia, but neither took it any further and submitted prototypes to Simca and Panhard in France. The Dyna Panhard, was based on the A.F.C, but Panhard made many changes to the design while retaining the principle features of the Gregiore design. First produced in 1946, with a 610cc engine that produced 25bhp, weighed 1052 pounds and could reach 60mph. In 1950 the engine size was increased to 750cc producing 33bhp and a top speed has risen to 71mph despite a weight increase of 220lb. By 1954 an 850cc engine was standardised on all models. Also that year the original Gregiore devised chassis that had been made for Panhard by Facel Mettalon was replaced in a new model, the Dyna 54, but it was still constructed of aluminium, as was the body. The Dyna 54 was a six-seat car and could reach 80 mph, on 42bhp. In 1957 the aluminium construction was replaced by steel with an increase in weight of 440lb.The Dyna 54 was replaced by the PL17 in 1959, the most prolific model, with one hundred and thirty-thousand examples produced by 1964. The last of the breed the 24CT, which was the last Panhard car produced was a 2+2 coupe made from 1963 until 1967. Citroen had taken over the company in 1957 and from 1967 Panhard only produced armoured cars. Despite it's advanced layout the Dyna had not been properly developed and was expensive to produce never reaching mass popularity.
Citroen 2CVCitroen 2 CV

SAAB was and is a Swedish aircraft manufacturer. In the early nineteen forties they felt that with only one customer, the Swedish government they were very vulnerable. Their solution was to diversify, to manufacture cars. Before the Second World War Sweden only had one motor manufacturer Volvo and most cars were imported. Until the flow of imports stopped due to the war, DKW cars were becoming increasingly popular in Sweden, so SAAB decided to design and produce a car similar in principle to the DKW but incorporating the latest design thinking. The first car the "92", designed by two Swedish engineers Gunnar Ljungstrom designed the car while Sixten Sason designed the body. Having limited manufacturing capabilities Ljungstrom opted for a twin-cylinder two-stroke engine, located in front of the front wheels, transversely with the gearbox in line and the final drive behind, using the minimum space inside the wheelbase, which could then be utilised for passenger space. (This was the layout used in the Trabant, produced by IFA in the DDR for thirty plus years). The car had a low drag unitary chassis/body, rack and pinion steering and all independent suspension with torsion bar springs. Just over twenty-thousand SAAB 92’s had been produced in six years when discontinued in 1956 after the introduction of the SAAB 93 in 1955. Jawa in Czechoslovakia had been working in secret throughout the German occupation on a new model, but with the advent of peace came a new communist government, state direction of industry dictated that that the new car would be called the Aero Minor and be produced in a Skoda plant. It had the 615 cc, twin cylinder two-stroke engine mounted longitudinally at the front of a backbone chassis driving the front wheels. Independent suspension front and rear, was by transverse leaf springs. In production from 1946 to 1952, over fourteen thousand were produced. The DKW plant at Eisenach in Upper Saxony, Germany, was now in a new state the DDR, also a communist state and the factory was nationalised. Production of the F 8 was restarted in 1948 as the IFA and continued until 1955. The AWZ P70 "Zwickau" was a car made in East Germany by VEB Automobilwerke Zwickau (AWZ) between 1955 and 1958. After 1958 AWZ was united with the former Horch factory to the VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau and called Sachsenring P70. It succeeded the IFA F 8 using the same 684 cc two cylinder, two-stroke engine but with a completely new glass fibre body. An estate version was introduced in 1956 followed by a coupé in 1957. It was replaced by the Trabant P50 in 1959 after about 36,000 had been made. The total output of AWZ P70 was 36,151 cars.
Saab 92                                                                                                                                                                                     Saab 92 Automobile production in The German Federal Republic took until 1950 to resume and included a number of very light cars. The pre-war management of Auto Union set up in business in Ingolstadt, West Germany after the war, at first making spare parts for the remaining DKW cars produced before the war. But by 1950, began producing new a DKW car in the form of the F-89 New Meisterklasse. It was made in Düsseldorf also in West German. Based on the pre-war F-8 but with the 684cc engine moved ahead of the front wheels in a new chassis and clothed by the body designed for the F 9. This was in production from 1950, by 1954 when production of the F 89 ceased 59,475 had been made. Goliath-Werke Borgward began producing the Goliath GT700 in 1950. It had a 688cc water-cooled, two-stroke, inline twin cylinder engine, mounted transversely as the DKW f-89. It was located at the front  with the drive to the front wheels.  About 1952 the fuel system was changed to Bosch fuel injection. Thirty-six thousand were produced.  From 1955 an 886cc version the GT900 was  produced, both twins were discontinued in 1957. The small Gutbrod Superior model was produced from 1950 to 1954 using the company's own, front-mounted twin-cylinder two-stroke engines initially of 593cc. In April 1953 the engine size was increased to 663 cc for more expensive 'Luxus 700' versions of the car, while the standard model continued to be offered with the original smaller engine. Claimed power output was 20 hp (15 kW) for the base version, while for the larger engine 26 hp (19 kW) or 30 hp (22 kW) was claimed according to whether fuel feed came via a carburettor or a form of Bosch fuel injection. 7726 cars were produced before the factory was forced to close.Lloyd Motoren Werke GmbH of Bremen, Germany, began production of the Lloyd LP 300 in 1950, it had a twin cylinder two-stroke engine of 293cc. located at the front of a tubular backbone chassis, driving the front wheels, suspension front and rear was by twin transverse leaf springs and the steering was rack and pinion. The body was of wood and fabric. There were also LK estate and  LC coupe versions. 18087 were made before it was replaced by the LP400, with a 386cc engine In 1953 now with a steel body. A total of 109,878 examples of the LP,LK and LC versions of the 400 were produced between 1953 and 1957. In was joined by the LP,LK and LS 600 models in 1955 with a 596cc engine, and then in 1957  the 596cc Alexander model . The company became bankrupt in 1961 with 176,524 of the larger engined models produced. Poland’s first economy car the FSO Syrena 100 later 101/102/103 was designed and manufactured by the Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych (FSO) in Warsaw, from 1955-66. They had a twin-cylinder, water-cooled, two-stroke engine of 746cc, mounted longitudinally at the front driving the front wheels. 177,234 were made by FSO and  during its remarkably long production run it underwent only minor modifications.

Lloyd 600

Lloyd 600
In 1955 Fiat in Italy began producing their latest ultralight car. Giacosa and his team had designed a replacement for the Topolino the last version of the 500C had been discontinued the previous year 1954. The 600 was a totally new car, and for Fiat a new layout with the engine at the rear as well as unitary construction. When the 600 were introduced in 1955, rear engine cars had been produced for well over a decade and their advantages and disadvantages  by then well known. Giacosa used the advantages to produce a four-seat car, although with limited luggage space, that had a reasonable performance from an engine of only 633cc, due to its low weight of eleven and one half hundredweight and also compact dimensions. Capable of almost 60 MPH and returning a fuel consumption of 45 to 55 miles per gallon and the ability to cruise at 50 MPH. He overcame the stability problems associated with other rear engined design's by identifying that the problem was not the weight distribution of the cars, but the simple swing axle rear suspension used in those designs. His answer was to use a semi-trailing arm type of rear suspension that eliminated the large change in the camber of the rear wheels that was inherent with the simple swing axle suspension system.The ultralight people carrier may seem to be a concept of the twenty-first century, that is not so. Within a year of the launch of the 600 a six-seat version was in production, the Multipla. By replacing the transverse leaf spring used in the front suspension by upper links and coil springs, the mechanic components of the 600  utilised in a forward control unitary body with zero crumple zone and only a small increase in wheelbase to accommodate three rows of seats. Over seventy-six thousand of this first version of the Multipla  produced by 1963. The 600 was replaced by the 600D in 1960.The engine size was increased to 767cc, with a maximum speed up to 70 MPH. Production ceased in Turin in 1970, but carried on in the Seat factory in Barcelona. Before then the 600 had been produced by NSU/Fiat in Germany, by Fiat Concord in Argentina and by the Zastava company in Yugoslavia as the Zastava 750 and later as the 850 with a larger engine that was made until 1985. Over two and a half million  were eventually produced.
Fiat 600

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Fiat 600

Links to Chapters