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10,000 Miles ... Non-stop! Not seeking to set up international records, but to carry out an extremely searching road test under constant scientific supervision, the Experimental Department of the Nuffield Organization last week did what has never been done before. A series production Morris Minor four-door saloon, with the latest o.h.v. 803 c.c. BMC engine (first fruits of the arrangement between the Austin and Nuffield organizations) was driven for 10 days completely non-stop, covering 1,000 miles per day. The run commenced, not on a circular banked track where speeds can be kept constant, but on the well-known Goodwood road circuit, where corner succeeds corner, on 1 October at 6 a.m. and finished at about 11 a.m. on October 10. The little car, which is an "export only" model, was driven by a team of six drivers, taking turns at the wheel, and was averaging all day and all night something over 45mph, at a fuel consumption which grew steadily better after the first 4000 miles and at no time fell below 40mpg.
(This article appeared in Motor magazine, 15 October 1952)
Naturally, the car was well prepared for its task of covering a year's motoring in 10 days, but except for a larger petrol tank and special seat hinges to allow drivers to clamber in and out of the car while it was still in motion, nothing was altered on the vehicle. Where this performance differs from normal record attempts (which this was not) is that throughout the run the engine never ceased driving the car and the wheels never stopped rotating. This remarkable feat was achieved by the use of a truck and an articulated trailer as a tender. The trailer was in the form of a hollow cage on wheels, with platforms at the sides where mechanics could work and a frame-superstructure overhead, floodlit at night, and coupled to the pilot vehicle so that the Minor's "pulse and temperature" could be taken by technicians sitting at instruments in the pilot car.
Located thus, and with the hand throttle set, the car was left to the mechanics. Fuel and oil were put in, and by raising one wheel at a time on a block and tackle (there being hand brakes to each rear wheel) the wheels could be changed while the car was still motoring itself at some 15-20 rn.p.h and the non-stop run was uninterrupted.
A very detailed record was kept of the car's performance, its fuel consumption and its tyre wear, which, on the Goodwood circuit with its corners, were far higher than would occur during a 10,000-mile run on normal roads. Indeed, the engineers discovered that appreciable horse-power was consumed in the constant cornering alone, and petrol consumption was elevated by nearly 8mpg. in the process equivalent to covering 15 per cent more mileage on a straight road and requiring 807,800,000 ft./lb. greater energy output! Tyre wear was in ratio. Tyres were worn with the constant cornering, day and night, at six times the normal rate of road wear. In actual figures, it was found that at the set average speed of 45mph, tyre wear on the front wheels was at the rate of 1mm of tread depth per 250 miles on the Goodwood circuit. This compares with 1mm per 1500 miles at the same speed on ordinary A and B class roads.
In normal record-breaking runs of this nature, of course, the car stops at the pits while maintenance is carried out, but in this achievement, the Morris was never stopped at all, and the reliability and endurance of the engine were stressed to the maximum possible. The run was extended to slightly over the exact 10 days, providing a margin to allow for possible errors in measurement. In all, 10148 miles (4264 laps) were covered at an average speed of 45.3mph. and with an average fuel consumption of 43mpg.