Today for the testing of prototype and road ready vehicles the MIRA proving ground would probably be the first establishment to come to mind. This facility was of course used by Armstrong Siddeley, but back in the hay-day of post war car production the company had its own test track and facilities at Ansty. Illustrations of cars being tested and checked before being dispatched to dealers have appeared in earlier jottings.
The pictures featuring in this jotting entry have surprised us by revealing that they were taken at Dunlop’s own, Halfpenny Green, test track. Armstrong Siddeley had a long lasting association with the Dunlop Rubber Company which was formed in the mid-1890s. By the time a youthful John Siddeley’s business interests had progressed from bicycles, through Clipper tyres, until when by 1902 he graduated to constructing cars, the Dunlop Tyre was an obvious choice. Right to the end of car production the wheels were of the Dunlop type and as standard fitted with Dunlop tyres. (At the risk of appearing biased we must point out other brands were available and could be fitted on request.)
Click on image to enlarge.
The pictures show an Armstrong Siddeley, Star Sapphire saloon and a Bristol Siddeley, 407 sports saloon, being subjected to an extreme wet road holding test. Surprisingly, the Star saloon, though showing more lean, is adhering to the tracking line every bit as well as the 407. The fitting of a ‘D’ shaped buffer manufactured by Dunlop’s Metalastik Division as a component of the Star’s rear suspension certainly contributed to its sporting road holding while giving a promenade ride as required.
Today Halfpenny Green is known as Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport and is home to privately owned planes, business jets and helicopters. There are the usual services, helicopter flights, flying lessons, and a café. It has been described as a well-kept aerodrome and a delight to visit.