I read with great interest the article by Mr. Cooper, in the January issue, on the 12/50 and 12/60 Alvis car, and have been intending to drop you a line on the subject ever since.
It would appear impertinent of me to disagree with him on any point, in view of his connection with the manufacturers of the cars; however, there are several points where we differ, so that I will take his paragraphs in order :—
Engines: The TE had a stroke of 110 mm., and was the standard touring engine of 1926. The gudgeon pin clamp bolt was altogether an infernal device, and provided everything was a really good fit, I found it best only to tighten it half a turn more than finger tight; even so, it would invariably break, if the engine was taken over 4,700 r.p.m. By far the quietest and best wearing timing gear combination was all three gears steel, the camshaft one being the standard built up arrangement to stop ringing. To Make the gears as quiet as possible, one must bed in the main bearings, so that the timing gear teeth are practically bottoming; they will whine for a bit, but will be quite all right after about 1,000 miles. It is entire waste of time to put the compression ratio over 6.3 for the small port head, and 6.9 for the big port, as even with Discol the car will only go slower. I do not agree with removing the “mask” in the plug hole, and never did so on my own car. For this reason, perhaps, we disagree considerably over the ignition timing; I always used, and understood to be standard, 13½ starter ring teeth before TDC (points just opening, control fully advanced), which I work out at approximately 42 degrees. With everything in first-class order 25/30 lbs. oil pressure can be maintained, but for touring, I found 10 lbs. the minimum for safety. The normal cause of poor oil pressure is a worn centre main bearing, which wear was far too rapid, and was the worst point in the engine. It is well worth while boring out all the pipes on the suction side of the oil pump from 5/16 to 3/8 inch. The easiest place to take a drive for a revolution counter is from the front of the camshaft and timing case; I recently saw one made out of a gearbox rear cover, which made a very neat assembly.
Clutch: With any close ratio gearbox, it is essential to use the full twelve springs, at any rate with a four-seater car. There is no disadvantage from their use. An aluminium clutch body must have steel inserts for the locating pegs for the withdrawal gear to slide in.
Gearbox: Mr. Cooper knows far more of the different tooth formations than I do, but provided all the gears come from a box with four lug mounting they will work together. My own assortment consists of standard close ratio 1st and 2nd, standard wide ratio 3rd, and special constants of 19 and 30 teeth. I do not bother about reverse, although one of its gears is 1 tooth out, it works perfectly satisfactorily, even with the power of my 20 h p. car. No 12/50 or 12/60 will really pull this very close assembly for restarting in hilly country, but the standard “S” box is very reasonable; even though bottom is distinctly tricky on really steep hills, unless one can keep going fast. Incidentally I first had the idea of my assembly from Mr. Powys-Lybbe, who used it long before I did.
Propeller Shaft: The Timken affair was quite impossible unless brand new. A cheap way of fitting a Hardy Spicer is to have one off an American car shortened to suit, which is not expensive. One must either obtain the gearbox flange from the works, or machine the old fork to take a flat plate for the Hardy Spicer to bolt on to. The bevel end is sometimes obtainable from scrap heaps, but I forget off what car. One of the greatest troubles with any propeller shaft is that it hits the chassis cross member between the front mounting for the rear springs. This can easily be overcome by welding an arch into the cross member, and bending an arch into the brake cross shaft rod (which entails packing out its bearings to suit the shorter effective length). The post-1930 cars have had this trouble dealt with in their design.
Rear Axle: All the touring cars had a 4.77 axle ratio, and the big port cars, a 4.55. I do not think the wide tooth gears were used before 1929, and anyway it is easy to bore out the diff. box to take their larger bolts. I do not think the 4.33 was used after 1925, certainly never with the wide tooth gears. All the post-1930 cars had the 4.77, which is really quite as high as they will pull adequately with standard tyres. Oil finding its way on to a rear brake is generally caused by something being slightly bent, and can usually be stopped by having a thou. or two machined off the oil thrower, at the inner end of the axle shaft, as this thrower must have clearance.
Chassis: The sub-frame was definitely not used after 1925, and never with a positive drive dynamo engine or plate clutch. I cannot imagine why Mr. Cooper is so down on the 21 in. straight-sided wheel. I always found them most satisfactory, and the tyres much easier to change than a well base. The old type wire wheel with the “open” hub is far better than the later type, which is always breaking both spokes and hubs. Springs were not by any means all the same, nor were their mounting. The earlier cars had shorter front springs with less leaves in them, and they were much more inclined to break. The mounting of the shackle was altered for the better at the same time, about 1929. The rear spring mountings were altered twice; in 1929, the front bracket had more than the original three bolts to hold it on to the frame, and in 1931 this bracket was mounted higher on the frame to lower the back of the car slightly. Prior to 1931, there was a wedge shape plate between the spring and the rear axle, and the shock absorber bracket was below the spring. Afterwards the plate was flat as was also the Hartford bracket; the top shock absorber was also altered at the same time; it is not possible to use one of each type together. The 1926 cars had single Hartfords, and had for the front axle bracket a plate between the spring and the axle—a not too good arrangement. Nineteen twenty-eight, I think, saw the bracket forged on to and below the front axle, which incidentally was heavier section. Nineteen thirty-one, and onwards, the bracket went through the axle beam, which once again was different and had more “drop.” In 1926, the outer front brake cable was held by a clip on to one of the shackle bracket bolts, and invariably fell off. Afterwards it had its own bolt through the frame. The 1931 brakes were altered considerably, as the rear cross shaft was done away with, and the front outer cables were much longer. The radiator of 1931 onwards was mounted in a much more satisfactory way, but had no noticeable cooling effects. All the cars ran their water permanently and normally at 100 Centigrade, but they did not lose water, and the earlier type radiator ones never boiled in normal circumstances, not even in traffic. The oil also ran extremely hot when raced, frequently at 100 also, but this never mattered at all in my experience.
Generally: It is interesting to note how to tell the date of a car:—Prior to 1926, fixed starting handle, sub-frame and belt driven dynamo. Nineteen twenty-six, low radiator with CAV headlamps mounted low on the radiator brackets. Nineteen twenty-seven, Lucas headlamps mounted still on the radiator brackets, but higher. Nineteen twenty-eight, headlamps mounted on separate brackets, which also held the wings. The touring cars had a taller radiator. Nineteen twenty-nine was the same as 1928 as far as I can remember. Nineteen thirty-one, chromium radiator with dummy shell. Nineteen thirty-two, knock-off wheels as opposed to bolt-on for all other years.
I trust these notes may be of help in addition to what Mr. Cooper so admirably said. If any reader is interested in the 1931 and earlier Silver Eagle cars, I shall be pleased to give any information I can. I have two of these cars myself at the moment, and my brother has one also. I include the 14/75 in the general category of Silver Eagles, although this is, perhaps, rather an insult to the latter!
I am, Yours etc.,
MICHAEL W. B. MAY.
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I wish to buy an existing G.N. Special, and improve it as time and facilities allow, so I am writing to find out if you happen to know of any sprint specials in need of a new home?
I have never before paid an annual subscription to a paper, but I should hate to see MOTOR SPORT go under.
Don’t you think Mr. Wike is a bit libellous in calling the 1,100 c.c. H.R.G. “an admirable commercial traveller’s hack”? True it is very docile, and its starting (on Pool) and pulling from cold in the recent 30º of frost shamed every car in Ripon, but its behaviour on snow and ice (without chains) is exemplary, and its handling is real fun. His figures are about right, though my tendency to hill hunting gives fewer m.p.g. than his. Pool petrol is quite usable, but the Tapley pull is now 150 (recently decarbonised) as compared with 170 on Discol, so it is not above reproach, apart from its low octane number.
The Royal Engineers is definitely no place for an enthusiast, but there seems to be a good number of sports-cars on the road here: M.G.s, a 4/4 Morgan, two Lagondas, a lot of closed Talbots, S.S., and Riley. When I get week-end leave to London I go by rail from York, and regular neighbours at the Station Hotel Garage there are a T Midget, Lancia Aprilia, o.h.c. Norton, and Riley M.P.H. (all taxed), so the sport is not quite dead up here.
A recent discovery in Ripon was a (laid up) six-cylinder torsionally sprung open Lagonda Rapide, only 7,000 miles old. There is some Discol in the tank, and when the owner gets over his measles it is going out once again . . . I should be interested to hear if other folk experience my 10 per cent. drop in power on “Pool,“ also about the G.N. specials, if any.
I am, Yours etc.,
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I was sorry to have to admit that my M.G. Magna was laid up, but it had to be so owing to financial difficulties. I have now sold the M.G., and the new owner intends to use it for the whole year. I have a Rudge “Ulster” motorcycle combination, which is also laid up, but I hope to use it for three months this summer.
During the last two years I have also owned a 250 c.c. B.S.A. cycle, 172 c.c. James two-stroke, a 1928 Austin Seven Special, an M.G. “M” type Midget and an Austin “Ulster,” which I consider was a very fine car with remarkable road-holding and excellent acceleration; it was not everybody’s car, but I dusted up many a car of greater capacity, and I was never anything but pleased with it.
I would like to get hold of an old Frazer-Nash with s.v. Anzani engine, as I have a very high regard for them. I have noticed several fast cars out lately, i.e., S.S. 100, Lea-Francis, Alvis, Bentley, B.M.W.
Incidentally, the Orpington A.R.P. have had a “Big Six” Bentley converted into an ambulance, and I have seen it travelling at a very fast rate on the Orpington By-Pass, driven by a tough female.
My father used to run a Riley “Redwing” (1925) sports, and I would be pleased if anyone could supply any details of this car, as it was a little before my time, but I always remembered that it had a fine performance, and was very economical.
I am, Yours etc.,
A. J. D. BROWN.
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I am very interested in the scheme of the Vintage Sports Car Club for a limited resumption of motor sport, as I am sure are all enthusiasts. I have, however, one suggestion to make, and that is that to get on the good books of the Ministry of Mines it would be good policy to include in any proposed races or rallies a special class for vehicles running on alternative fuels, i.e., producer gas, calor gas, coal gas, creosote, etc. I make this suggestion because my father’s company holds one of the twenty-five licences issued for the manufacture of the Government producer gas plant, designed by the Fuel Research Station, Greenwich, and I know how tremendously keen they are to encourage the use of any alternative fuels. As you may know, a committee has been appointed under Lord Ridley to investigate all forms of alternative fuel, including, I believe, steam cars.
However, in reference to the above suggestion, I would like it clearly understood that I put it forward only as an enthusiast (who has been one of your readers for eight years) and not on behalf of any commercial interests. I should myself make a point of entering my Terraplane if such a class was provided.
In answer to query from H. L. Biggs, the Spikins Hudson Special is to be seen in Maidenhead almost any day, being used for shopping. I immensely enjoyed your article on the appeal of Vintage sports-cars, but was sorry not to see the name of Lea-Francis mentioned, verily a worthy vintage motor, if there ever was one!
I am, Yours etc.,
J. P. GROSSCURTH.
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Please accept my compliments on your excellent journal, and on your courage in continuing it during the trying times now at hand. It makes very excellent reading in. spite of the fact that there are few races and trials to report these days. It occurred to me that you might be interested to know about our organisation, the Cord Owners’ Club (Illinois), for while groups of enthusiasts for a particular make or variety of car are quite common in your country, here they are decidedly the exception. Unfortunately, most Americans regard automobiles simply as a means of transportation—as prosaic and commonplace as the kitchen stove, and not one whit more exciting.
When production was discontinued on Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg motor cars in August 1937, many enthusiasts felt the loss very keenly, and a few months later this club was organised. I am enclosing a copy of the constitution which sets forth the purposes and form of organisation. Among these purposes, you will notice, is to work for the production of a front wheel drive car, with genuine sporting characteristics to replace the Cord. The Club is at present engaged in development work along these lines, under the direction of Mr. W. J. Muller, designer of the Ruxton front wheel drive car, and is about to build an experimental chassis. In this connection, we would like very much to secure from abroad a number of English and Continental front drive designs, for study and experimental purposes. Your help in locating suitable cars and suggestions for procuring and shipping some to this country would be very much appreciated. Among the cars we have in mind are: —
B.S.A.; Alvis front wheel drive 1929 or 1930; Tracta; Citroen; Adler; Stoewer; and any others you think might be of interest to us. We would particularly value your help in securing the B.S.A. and the Alvis, as well as any of the others that might be available in England.
I am, Yours etc.,
D. CAMERON PECK.
Cord Owners’ Club (Illinois).
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I forgot to send you particulars of my car last month for your census.
Well, they are as follows : Bentley 1926 3-litre, taxed by the quarter, supplementary allowance gives me an odd good “blind.” Last week we had a wonderful run up to Cheshire and back in the day; average going, including stops for petrol, 46 m.p.h. and, not so good coming back owing to poor illumination.
I wonder do you know of a very great Vintage enthusiast who lives in the south of Ireland, Mr. Punch. He owns a 3-litre Austro-Daimler and a 3-litre Bentley, both in very excellent form. He is a big man, aged about fifty, and I met him when I had stopped at the side of the road near Cork to consult my map. He drove up with a friend older than himself in the Austro, sans hood, and adorned as to the head with bowler hats. A remarkable sight. He strode over to my bus, picked up the bonnet, and started taking down the engine number while my wife and I sat gaping at him. Having satisfied himself that all was correct, there followed a long and detailed conversation about the works, and about modifications that he had carried out on his Bentley. Later on during the same month, we came across a type 44 Bug. and a 4½-litre Bentley. The Bentley was a 1929 model literally unmarked, and was for sale in a little garage in the north of Ireland.
P.S.—Your paper is about the only bright spot in these months. The more vintage reports, the better.
I am, Yours etc.,
Sqn.-Ldr. R. I. SHIER.
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I would very much like to obtain an outside exhaust manifold for a J.2 type M.G., also could you put me in touch with a reader who has tuned a J.2 M.G. for speed trials?
I am, Yours etc.,
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I perused Mr. Cecil Clutton’s valuable contribution, “The Appeal of the Vintage Sports-Car,” in your March number with ever-increasing interest and pleasure. Particularly, I liked the view that a decade or so since witnessed the debauch—I had almost gone the length of saying the Americanisation—of the production side of the British motor car industry, the salesman usurping the functions of the designer. On the other hand, there is the question what constitutes “respectful treatment” of a twelve or more years-old rear axle? Should it extend to towing heavy loads about the country at high speed?
Gearbox ratios are, I think, more clearly presented when divorced from rear axle ratio. Thus, those of both the Bentley “D” and “A” boxes (the former a later and more robust version of the latter) are 1.23, 1.63 and 2.64, and of the “C” box 1.375, 1.823 and 3.364. Though termed widely spaced by Mr. Clutton, the latter ratios are materially less so than those of the “30/98” Vauxhall’s box, indeed the second and third speeds provided by this box are so low in relation to top as to be hardly worthy of a true sports-car, though possibly explaining better times at events such as Shelsley Walsh than the 4½-litre Bentleys, and—some blow-ups!
Though now ancient history, may I refer to the report in the “skeleton” October issue of my 8-litre Bentley’s British Class B standing start mile record at Brooklands on August 29th.? The cause of the car running so wide at the bend on the clockwise trip was not its refusal to pull off the banking, but its not having been taken on to the banking sufficiently. My idea was to steer a short course, cutting the corner into the Railway Straight, but speed proved too high, with the result the car was called upon to negotiate the bend with no banking assistance, and it did so in one long four-wheel slide, which, naturally, had a slowing effect. Even so, the finishing line was crossed at fully 130 m.p.h. It had been my intention to make the attempt later in the year, but being convinced by mid-August of the imminence of war, I booked the track for the first available date despite personal indisposition and the risk of hot weather, which never suits the Bentley (I now attribute this to insufficient bonnet ventilation). As I feared, the day proved excessively hot and “stuffy,” which, coupled with my own poor showing, leave no doubt in my mind that the old 8-litre has something still in hand over the standing start mile. As reported, except for the “stripping” the car was in its everyday touring trim even to the sparking plugs (K.L.G.s).
I am, Yours etc.,
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In my copy for March of your excellent paper I see a photo of Ralph de Palma on an alleged 1907 Fiat (G.P.). With all due respect to the American Press, I am very much inclined to doubt the vintage of the car shown as being 1907, and suggest it is 1913. Doubtless you remember Bruce Brown, Ralph de, Palmer, and (wasn’t it?) Wagner drove these elephants in the 1913 G.P.—Bruce Brown later taking his car to America where he did himself in on it, if my memory is correct, and to me this looks to be his or one of those three cars. (Another one may have gone to America for all I know.) The ’07 Fiats differed particularly in the shape of radiator, having the old square type and not the narrow-top one. They also had inside exhausts, but of course, these could have been changed, and obviously the tyres have to a more modern type.
I do hope you keep on with articles on the older cars, and I should like to see more on these old G.P.s, if possible. They certainly had a fascination of their own, or was it because one was so very much younger then? They certainly were “he-men” cars. Anyway, I shall always keep on with my MOTOR SPORT and hope for happier days.
I am, Yours etc.,
H. W. BUNBURY
[Capt. Bunbury was at the 1908 French G. P. and bought a postcard of an ’07 Fiat on the course.—Ed.]
* * * * *THE APPEAL OF THE VINTAGE SPORTS-CAR
MOTOR SPORT reaches me every month where I am stationed “somewhere in England.,” and this month I was very interested to read the above article by Mr. Cecil Clutton; I was particularly interested in the detailed description he gave of the E-type 30/98 Vauxhall, and to learn of the high opinion he had of this model, because some years ago I owned one—Engine No. E-373—and I have always considered it to be one of the finest cars I have owned or driven.
As Mr. Clutton states, these cars had a very definite personality, and were, until one got thoroughly accustomed to their little ways, rather a “tough” motor to handle. E-373 was, I think, rather a good specimen of its breed, for its performance by stop-watch was better than the figures quoted in the article. The maximum speed ever attained under strictly fair conditions was 87.8 m.p.h., and 66 m.p.h. was quite possible in third.
A friend had a similar, but one-year-older, car than mine, the number of which was, I believe, E-212, and the performance figures tallied very closely with those Mr. Clutton gives. Both cars were in first-class condition at the time, and mine had a much “brisker” performance all round, though I was never able to find out why. Gear ratios, timing., and so forth were all identical, and it would be interesting to know if any differences in cam contours or overlap were introduced during the production of this model–perhaps Mr. Clutton or some other E-type enthusiast would know.
I still have the original handbook and maker’s blueprint supplied in August 1921 with E-373, and in both the valve clearance is given as 62 thous. and not 48 thous. as Mr. Clutton says. As can be imagined, the resultant noise was distinctly reminiscent of a thrashing plant at low speeds, but the whole unit was entirely free from periods and much more tractable—when one had mastered the “tricks of the trade”— than anyone only accustomed to the modern engines can appreciate. Twelve m.p.h. in top gear with spark fully retarded was quite possible—and that with a 3:1 top gear, but considerable skill was needed to accelerate away without changing down, at such low revs.
When I bought E-373, it was about thirteen years old, and was reputed to have done about 160,000 miles. In spite of that, it was in marvellous condition mechanically. No major replacements had been made during its lifetime, and bearings and transmission were really as new. At some time prior to my buying it, a f.w.b. axle had been fitted—a gigantic affair with a five foot track and 18 in. brake drums, the front brake mechanism operating by rods through a universally jointed camshaft placed under the beam, and the whole layout resembling exactly in design a 14-60 Lagonda beam. At the same time, the roadwheels had been rebuilt with wellbase rims to take 21×5.25 covers, and the chassis reinforced at appropriate points by channel sections welded and rivetted in, to take triple Hartford “shockers” all round. The original hand and foot-brake controls had been changed round, so that the outside lever now operated the transmission brake, and the footbrake operated on all four wheels. Although the area of the front brakes was about double that of the rear, so that braking on tricky surfaces provided some thrills if one trod on things too heartily, these modifications entirely did away with the failings as regards braking and road-holding which these cars showed in their original form, and for riding on any sort of surface my car was probably the steadiest I have ever driven—cornering as a result of the high-geared and sensitive steering and firm suspension was 100 per cent.
Apart from these alterations, E-373-(it bore the registration number AK-9359, in case it is still on the road—I cannot imagine it ever wore out in fair use)— was completely standard even to its rather sketchy three-door tour-seater touring body with cutaway driver’s side, and was a grand example of the old-time fast touring car. If I had had room to keep it when I found it necessary to get a smaller and more economical car for everyday running, I should never have parted with it.
I believe E-373 originally belonged to a Mr. Pollock Conn of Almondbury, near Huddersfield, and if this gentleman or anyone who owned it before about 1934 could give me any details of the various conversions, and the car’s past history, I should be very glad to hear from them.
I am, Yours etc.,
NEVILLE, H. FOWLER.
41, Wensley Road,
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First of all, please let me congratulate you on your valiant efforts to keep things going for the duration. I have only written you once before, but am roused to dig out the old machine by the article on page 36 of the March issue.
The following comments may possibly fail to clear up any of the points raised in the article, but here they are, anyway.
First of all, the question of Yank spelling on page 234 of “Wall Smacker.” Peter de Paolo says that he was driving a Mazzeratti car in practice for the Barcelona G. P. 1934. So, if the driver of a car can’t spell, how can one expect a mere journalist to spell correctly?
And adverts. in American papers for their queer idea of motor racing proudly announce that racing will take place Monday nite, Tuesday nite, and so on.
As regards the engine speed in 1920, compare de Paolo, page 221 as above, “my engine was winding up 8,500 revolutions.” This was in 1928.
Ray Keech was killed in a multiple crash at Altoona, but it was in June, 1929, and not in the early 1920s. See “Motor Racing and Record Breaking,” by Eyston and Lyndon, and other authorities.
Frank Lockhart was killed at Daytona Beach in April, 1928.
Jimmy Murphy was certainly killed at the Syracuse track, when his car got out of control, and crashed into the guard rail, but I cannot trace the exact details. The crash occurred on September 15th, 1924, but the last races on both the Fresno and Charlotte (North Carolina) tracks did not take place until 1926. The Culver City board track did not open until 1925 or 1926. (De Paolo as above.)
I have a copy of the official programme issued on the occasion of the Silver Anniversary 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis in 1937. This gives the following information in respect of each race from 1911 to 1936 inclusive :—First ten cars home (number of cyls., bore and stroke in inches, piston displacement, time taken, and average speed), names of all others “still running,” list of retirements with number of laps covered, and list of all other entrants who did not start.
In respect to the 1911 race, Tetzlaff drove a Lozier and retired after 20 laps, Disbrow drove a Pope-Hartford and retired after 45 laps. I cannot trace Joe Jaggersberger, but there were two Case cars in the race, driven by Jones (ret. 122 laps) and Strang (ret. 109). I cannot trace Knight and his Westcott, but admit that Greiner’s Amplex retired after 12 laps, whilst Tower’s Jackson was still miming at the finish. The Apperson, by the way, was driven by Lytle, and retired at 82 laps.
I am, Yours etc.,
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I was very interested in the article by Mr. F. J. Ames, in your March issue of MOTOR SPORT, concerning the prospects of forming some kind of club to carry on sporting events “for the duration.”
I would also like to give as much of my spare time as would be possible, and would be required.
I feel that a recognised club would have more chance of success with the “Powers that B,” than a few enthusiasts who have clubbed together, and are trying all they know to persuade our un-motor-minded Government that horse-racing, football, and all the other so-called sports, are not the only sports which afford recreation and pleasure to the public.
I am, Yours etc.,
R. S. BROWN.
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RECONSIDER YOUR VERDICT
Continued from page 3 (Magazine Page 53)
R.A.C.’s attitude. To say that basic fuel rations must only be used for “necessary domestic purposes” is a distorted statement, very unfair to owners paying the 25/- a h.p. tax on cars run solely, for driver-relaxation—and the MOTOR SPORT Census showed that lots of people are continuing to tax such cars. To say that trials and races have lost their technical and military value is another sweeping statement. So far as we know, the opposition from the public and the clubs exists only in. the R.A.C.’s imagination. That great motoring writer, Humfrey Symons, once attacked the old gentlemen on the Competitions Committee of the R.A.C. on their apathy of outlook. Their war-time outlook is additionally both pessimistic and distorted. We hope they will reconsider their verdict.