Be not afraid!

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We had the unique experience the other day of being told, by someone who is engaged on work of distinct importance to the R.A.F. and who runs a Frazer-Nash in connection therewith, that the Editor of Motor Sport was a silly —–. Rather naturally we enquired in which particular respect we qualified, and were told that to mention in print sports cars as still in use on supplementary petrol rations is doing the owners of such cars a serious dis-service. We have since conducted a thorough self-examination, and obtained the opinions of several of our friends, to decide whether an apology might be due to those whom we desire only to serve in any way a specialist publication can. The conclusion is that we are blameless, and, moreover, that this is a subject which it is as well to bring even further into the open. What possible objection can the issuers of petrol rations for vital purposes have to a sound, practical sports car? Such a car is the very best for the important job it now has to do, even though that task is transport pure and simple. It is able to go fast in emergency, yet is more efficient, i.e., more economical, than an over-bodied, low-geared utility car at present-day cruising speeds. It is essentially able to conserve energy, consequently, it runs for really big mileages without valuable time and labour having to be devoted and diverted to maintenance and repairs, or virtually unobtainable spares being needed to keep it in service. It is better braked, steers better and offers better visibility than a glasshouse, and is, therefore, safer under black-out conditions, an important factor in reducing wartime road casualties. If its owner derives pleasure in manipulating it, then he or she is so much better fitted to go on doing regularly and efficiently all-important war-winning chores. We believe that the strain of driving to and from war toil in fume-ridden little boxes that try the occupants’ nerves sadly on icy, pitch-black nights or on torrid summer days, results in a serious loss of man-hours through sick leave.

The only possible apparent argument against using a sports car for important war transport purposes is that in holding cruising speed round bends and corners the tyres may wear out more rapidly than they would on a utility vehicle. How false this is must be evident when you consider the number of times the utility device howls its tyres while the sports car corners perfectly, and the much longer periods of braking required when sprung suspension and leisurely steering figure in a specification. So we can see no possible reason for the Frazer-Nash owner’s assertion. Indeed, such an outlook alarms us. If technicians with talents valued highly by the nation in time of war are reluctant to admit using the most practical type of car for their work, merely because authority calls such cars “sports cars” and might dislike them on quite false grounds, what prospect have we of using sports cars for harmless pleasure purposes in the peace and going unmolested?

Is Authority to have the power to measure ex-Battle of Britain boys’ external exhaust pipes and ex-war workers be hauled before magistrates for “driving dangerously” at 75 m.p.h. on the completely open road? Are other nations again to show us the value of building Grand Prix cars and aircraft of Schneider Trophy conception while we refuse to play ball? It will be so if owners of the most practical type of car for war transport are afraid of Authority, lest the term “sports car” should imply a 1914 Blitzen-Benz. This is a mechanised age : and we should be prepared to educate Authority. Be not afraid!

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