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  Test Conditions
Weather: fine; Wind: 10mph
Temperature: 20 °C. / 68 °F
Barometer: 29,75in.hg.; Humidity: 50%
Surfaces: dry concrete and asfalt

Clan Crusader

New-look second car from a new town

Small sporting car with well-tried mechanicals from new British manufacturer. Fast, with excellent handling and brakes. Very economical and quite comfortable, but strictly for two.

AutoCar 23 September 1971

At a time when various factors are conspiring to make the 1971 Motor Show a far from spectacular one, it is pleasant to note the appearance of an interesting new British car.

Clan Motors Co. Ltd.
Crowther 3
County Durham

The Clan Crusader hails from Washington New Town, where it is produced by a small and enthusiastic team with a considerable background of experience. Their factory, like the car, is new and well planned.

  Maximum speeds
  Gearmph / kphrpm
  Top - mean
Top - best
100 / 161
102 / 164
77 / 124
49 /   79
27 /   43

The Crusader depends to a very large extent on the mechanical components of the Sunbeam Stiletto. The little all-alloy engine with its Coventry Climax ancestry is one of the most suitable possible power plants for a small sporting car. Its specification -high compression ratio, overhead camshaft and over-square dimensions- is an attraction in itself, but so is its light weight and the low line which can be achieved because the unit is canted over at 45 degrees.

The Stiletto engine and transmission, and also the Imp suspension, are mounted in the Crusader's neat and ingenious glassfibre reinforced plastics body. This is made in two sections, top and bottom, which when joined together become an effective monocoque.
Kerb weight 11.4 cwt (1,278 lb, 579 kg) (with oil, water and half full fuel tank).
Distribution, Front 39.8%, Rear 60.2%
Laden as tested: 14.0 cwt (1,568 lb, 711 kg)
Some strengthening diaphragms and local tubular reinforcement are then added, and the result is a car which is spectaculary light: two and a half hundredweight lighter than the MG Midget, for example, and three and a half hundredweight less than the Stiletto itself.

The Crusader is a sports coupe in the modern image, but a considerable effort has been made to keep it practical. Clan's idea is that the Crusader should appeal more to the family looking for a smart little second car than to the out-and-out sportng enthusiast. It is made strictly as a two-seater, so that the accommodation in front does not have to be compromised by the need to squeeze anyone in the back. Its wheelbase is the same as the Imp's, so this design approach means that the two occupants have plenty of room.
The styling of the body by John Frayling, looks quite long and low but in fact the Clan car is only 7in. longer than the Imp and it is by no means as low as some of the more extreme sporting exercises of recent years.

Lively performance

The very low weight and clean aerodynamic shape of the Crusader ensures that the performance is good even though this was not the primary aim of the design. Clan make no attempt to tune the engine, but fit the whole assembly in its standard Chrysler-produced form (except that an alternator is substituted for the generator used in the Stiletto).
  Maximum Speed
Clan Crusader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MG Midget III
Fiat 850 Coupé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Triumph Spitfire IV
Sunbeam Stiletto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Clan Crusader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MG Midget III
Fiat 850 Coupé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Triumph Spitfire IV
Sunbeam Stiletto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Standing ¼mile
Clan Crusader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MG Midget III
Fiat 850 Coupé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sunbeam Stiletto
Triumph Spitfire IV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Clan Crusader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fiat 850 Coupé
Sunbeam Stiletto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Triumph Spitfire IV
MG Midget III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



With most of the weight over the back wheels, traction is excellent in fact rather too good to make a clean standing start, since the wheels refuse to spin and die engine 'falls of the cam' for a second or so.

A measure of what can be achieved by weight reduction is the Crusader's time of 12.5 sec to 60 mph which is nearly 4sec quicker than our recorded time for the Imp Sport.
At higher speeds, where the low drag starts to play its part, the improvement is even more marked, with 80 mph coming up in 25 instead of 37sec.
At the very top end of the range, the Crusader recorded a mean maximum of 100 mph on the MIRA high-speed track, with a best one-way leg of 102 mph. This compares with the Imp Sport's maximum of 90 mph.

Gearing - further development?
At this sort of speed, the Crusader's engine is turning over very fast. With its normal Imp gearing and wheels, the mph per 1,000 rpm figure is a modest 15.1 so that at the 100 mph maximum the revs are a fairly staggering 6,620 -a long way over the power peak.
(with 155-12in. tyres)
mph / 1000rpm
There is little doubt that the Crusader would go faster still if the gearing was slightly higher, and it might well be worth Clan's while to look into this. Higher gearing would also raise the maximum speeds in the intermediate gears, bringing 30 mph within reach of first and 50 mph of second. With so little weight to get off the line, there would still be no problems in starting.

(at contstant speed)
30 mph
40 mph
50 mph
60 mph
70 mph
80 mph
90 mph
 Typical mph
Calculated (DIN) mpg
Overal mpg
Grade of fuel
40 (7.1 ltr/100km)
33.6 (8.4 ltr/100km)
34.3 (8.2 ltr/100km)
4-star (min. 98rm)
The same factors which give good performance also mean that the fuel consumption must be reasonable, and so it is.
As is often the case with cars whose engines have generous inlet tracts, the Crusader proved slightly more economical at a steady 40 than at 30 mph, with a figure getting on for 6O mpg in each case. It was still bettering 30 mpg even at a steady 80 mph. For once, too, it bettered the DIN calculated touring figure to give us an overall contumption figure of 34.3 mpg, one of the best returned by any test car this year.

Handling and brakes

One advantage of any rear-engined car is that the steering can be made light and high-geared, and Clan have certainly done so. With just over two and a half turns of the wheel between extremes of a 30ft lock, the Crusader feels almost in the go-kart class on first acquaintance. The feeling soon wears off, however, and one comes to appreciate that most of the time the car is remarkably stable; the only thing which upsets it is a sidewind, in the manner of almost all rear engined vehicles.

  Turning circle
Between kerbs: L, 32 ft 9 in.; R, 28 ft 8 in.
Between walls: L, 34 ft 5 in.; R, 30 ft 11 in.
Steering wheel turns, lock to lock: 2.6
Figures taken at 2,600 miles by our own staff at the Motor Industry Research Association proving ground at Nuneaton.

The steering is medium-weight, but most of the time the car responds to pressure on the wheel rather than actual movement and this makes driving a delight down twisting country roads. It was noticeable that the wheel hardly had to be moved at all when lapping the banked MIRA circuit. Only when trundling slowly round town do die driver's arms as well as his wrists have to work, and then a half-turn of the wheel is sufficient to cope with almost any corner.

As might be expected, the handling is reminiscent of the Imp, but better. Spring rates and damper settings have been changed to suit the lighter car, the tyres are of generous section considering the weight they are carrying and the centre of gravity is low.
The Crusader stays on the driver's chosen line almost exactly with a slight tendency for the tail to hang out in the later stages of a really tight corner. The cornering limit is very high indeed, and when it is reached, it is the back wheel which lose their grip first.

Altogether, the Crusader's handling approaches the standard set by the Lotus Elan. Like the Elan, its relatively soft springing means that it rolls quite a lot when driven very hard.
Although the steering is generally well insulated from feedback, large bumps occasionally overcome the damping and give the wheel a violent wrench.

Distance (ft)
  Max. gradient: 1 in 3
(braking from 70mph in neutral)
Pedal load for 0.5g stops
 first up to fourth stop
fifth stop
sixth up to tenth stop
35 lb
35-40 lb
40 lb
It may come as some surprise to find a relatively quick and undoubtedly sporting car wearing all-drum brakes in this day and age. But again the Crusader's brakes are standard Imp Sport items (complete with servo) and have so little weight to cope with that they are entirely satisfactory.
Ultimate stopping power is very high. We recorded well over 1g for a 6Olb pedal effort, but there is plenty of feel to the system and it is always possible to stop the car smoothly.
There was a slight rise in pedal effort, accompanied by a smell of linings, half way through the fade test, but the brakes remained effective.
The handbrake recorded an exceptional stop on almost ½g when tried on the level, and held the car very easily on the 1 in 3 test hill.
A restart was just possible on this hill with the aid of a little clutch slip.

Comfort and convenience

The soft springing already mentioned means that the Crusader rides better probably than anything else in its class. It covers normal surfaces very smoothly, and the main effect of rougher roads is to betray the short wheelbase as the car starts to pitch. In this case, some sharp vertical shocks are also fed through the structure.

The two seats look a bit on the thin side but are actually well shaped and comfortable for long periods. Their range of fore and aft movement is considerable and even our biggest driver found he was able to achieve a good driving position. Entry and exit through the wide doors present no problem although inevitably it is not up to saloon car standards and might deter some elderly passengers.
Headroom is somewhat restricted for long-backed occupants.

The very small, leather-covered steering wheel was set at just the right height and rake to bring praise from our drivers, but some women drivers might prefer a larger one.
The pedal cluster betrays its Imp ancestry by being offset to the centre of the car, but none of our testers reported finding the wrong pedal by mistake.
Pedal 40 lb and 3 in.
While the accelerator and brakes are light in operation, the clutch is quite heavy but needs only a small movement to free it.
The delightful Imp gearchange is a big plus point for the Crusader. If anything, it feels even better when one is sitting alongside it, rather than above it, as in the saloons.
The handbrake is placed between the seats.

Imp Sport instruments are used and for the most part are entirly satisfactory. Our taller drivers however, reported that the row of warning lights above the centre instruments was completely obscured by the upper edge of the glareshield. A good job has been done on the minor control layout, with a column stalk for the wipers and washer as well as the usual indicator/flasher/dip one. The two rocker switches on the centre console, one for the lamps and one for the heater blower, might be better with some form of identification.

Heating and ventilation are relatively poor points in the Crusader. The heater is the water-valve one from the Imp, and has a good output, but is difficult to control accurately, especially with the rather crude push-pull knob provided. There are two face-level eyeball-type vents, but they do not seem to provide very much fresh air except at higher speeds with the windows partly open.

The noise level is much better than one might expect. Most of the noise is mechanical, which is not in the least surprising when one considers how close the occupants are to the engine and especially the transmission. Some gear whine can be heard most of the time.
Road noise is very well insulated -even the notorious 'tyre noise' stretches at the southern end of the M1 failed to produce any rumble- and the low level of wind noise, except at the highest speeds, speaks well for the aerodynamic shape.

The front and rear 'lids' are both released from inside the car, the former revealing the petrol filler cap for the six gallon tank and the brake fluid reservoir and battery; while the engine is undoubtedly more accessible that in the Imp itself. There are no obvious snags, and servicing should be very straighfforward. The spare wheel lives In the extreme nose, and any lugage carried in the front compartment would have to be removed to get it out. There is quite a lot of space there for soft luggage, but the shape is iiregular and anything more than a small suitcase would have to be carried in the fair-sized well behind the seats.

A special appeal

  Clan Crusader
MG Midget III
Fiat 850 Coupé
Triumph Spitfire IV
Sunbeam Stiletto

Clan have been bold in going for the second-car rather than the sports-car market, but the approach may well pay off. At the moment there is not much opposition there. The Fiat 850 Coupe which is perhaps the class arche-type, is very difficult to get and waiting lists are long.

The Crusader's price of £ 1,399 looks high, but it includes a respectable equipment standard and the cars we have seen are exceptionally well finished. It offers the appeal of a new body shape which as we discovered, attracts a lot of attention (most of it, seemingly favourable), with good peformance and excellent road manners, while sticking to a well-tried mechanical formula.
To a large extent, whether it succeeds will depend on the reputation it manages to establish in the coming year. If the quality can be maintained and a reasonable service network established, the Crusader has sufficient good points to do well.

rear engine; rear-wheel drive

Main bearings
Cooling system
Valve gear
Compression ratio 
Fuel pump
Oil filter
Max. power
4 in line
water; pump; fan; thermostat
68.0 mm (2.68 in.)
60.4 mm (2.38 in.)
875 c.c. (53.4
single overhead camshaft
10.0 to 1; min. octane: 98 RM
2 Stromberg 1.25 CDs
AC mechanical
full flow; replac. cartridge
51 bhp (net) @ 6100 rpm
52 lb.ft. (net) @ 4300 rpm
Reversing lamp
Screen wipers
Screen washer
Interior heater
Heated backlight
Safety belts
Interior trim
Floor covering
Jacking points
Underbody protection 
12 volt 32 Ah.
Lucas 27 amp a.c.
Lucas rectang. 90/120 watt
standard; electric
not available
extra (£10.50)
PVC seats and headlining
Srew scissor type
1 each side under body
grp material
Gear ratios
Final drive
Laycock, diafragm-spring, 6in. dia.
4-speed, all-synchromesh
top: 0.85
third: 1.17
second: 1.83
first: 3.42
reverse: 2.85
hypoid bevel 4.86 to 1
Chassis and Body
Wheel dia.
independent; swing axles,
coil springs,
telescopic dampers
independent; semi-trailing, arms,
coil springs,
telescopic dampers
GRP monocoque
rack and pinion
13.0 in.

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