Part of Kenneth Sharpe's memories
KS2114: Dave Lloyd checking the car over
after unloading from Queen Elizabeth in New York
Crossing the Atlantic
A little later in the year the car was fitted with instrumentation for heater and cold starting tests in Canada. Rootes normally did not send cars to Canada for tests, so I think part of the exercise was to allow Mr. J.T. Panks of Rootes New York and Mr. W.A. Paterson of Rootes Canada to assess the car.
This was a difficult test to arrange, because in those days aircraft were not available that could fly a car to Canada and the St Lawrence Seaway is frozen over in the January test period, so the test team of David Lloyd and myself were booked on the Queen Elizabeth the day after Boxing day 1961 to start a 6 week test (including 5 days each way on the ship).
In case anyone should think we were travelling in luxury: we had been booked the lowest class of cabin down in the bowels of the ship. An urgent complaint to the Rootes dept that made travel arrangements, achieved a 1 class up-grade - very slightly better... and remember the North Atlantic in December is not a nice place to be.
On arrival I remember receiving a note to report to Rootes' New York office. After finding the place we were greeted by Lord Rootes who told us to stay in New York until the weekend, to allow John Panks to try the car. Feeling we could be pressed for test time I rather cheekily pointed out that we had a test programme to carry out. I got a rather old fashioned look and was asked "Sharpe, who's company is it ?" - Needless to say we spent the next few days driving around New York vastly over-shadowed by the huge American cars of that period and watching our hotel bills greatly depleting our allowances.
KS2122: The Imp at the Niagara Falls
After completing this phase of the test work, we went to Montreal to carry out low temperature commuter tests. Our base was several miles out of the city centre and the idea of the test was to check out the starting and traffic driveability with a typical week of driving to work and back on a daily basis.
There were no problems with the engine, but there was a major source of trouble with the battery. On these early prototypes the battery was mounted by the near-side front wing, this helped with weight distribution and accessibility (but being adjacent to the petrol tank was perhaps not such a good idea). The problem was that in a cold climate the battery was so cold, it would not accept a charge with the result - that after some 3 or 4 days 'commuting' - the engine just stopped due to a flat battery. This was under quite stiff test conditions of maximum electrical load (wipers on, radio on and of course heater on).
The rest of the test was uneventful and we returned from New York on the Queen Mary busy writing reports and thinking of the installation of a combustion heater as on the Corvair.
KS2201: The test team
L to R Dave Lloyd, Fred Howletts (Solex) and George Blain (Rootes Canada)
KS2204: The motel at Kapuskasing, Ontario
Motels were good because we could store spare batteries etc near the car.
Not sure what town
The Imp bonnet has been taped over to prevent snow and dirt entry.
KS2194: The arctic watershed
- from here all streams flow north to the Arctic Ocean - 1060 feet above sea level.
Reg. 5846 RW
|Test Route||that day||cumulat.|
|Dec. 27||Ryton on Dunsmore to Southampton||121||121|
|Dec. 28 - Jan. 2||Travel to New York|
|Jan. 3||City driving in New York||75||196|
|Jan. 6||New York
|Jan. 8 -
|Heater testing and cold start testing
|Jan. 13||North Bay
|Jan. 14||Kirkland Lake
|Jan. 15 -
|Heater and cold start testing around
|Jan. 21 -
|Heater, cold start and commuting
tests in Montreal
|Travel to Southampton|
|Feb. 7||Southampton to Coventry||120||3,491|
Development of the Imp / Ken Sharpe
Testing the Imp
The Imp Site