Letters from readers, April 1943
No “present” existing for motoring save only to a few, it is only natural that scribes, amateur and professional, should deal with past or future; therefore, no apologies are given for an entirely conjectural effort.
Some years ago the average sports car was as different from the touring car as the proverbial chalk from cheese. Latterly, however, these types have become merged, and should be more accurately typed as “sports” and “sporting”.
The former has certain characteristics essential to its being; in one word, “performance”. Pleasant as this word sounds, it was not so easily obtained, for the simple reason that it was constituted by certain contradictory features. Outstanding amongst these were speed, which depended upon the road qualities of the vehicle, an engine capable of holding its tune, and reasonable economy.
Banning of blown engines in the T.T. somewhat damped sports car development in this country. It was general knowledge that a Tourist Trophy car would be far quicker than the “replica” you could buy. A 4-seater touring body for a sports car is neither one thing nor the other. What is required for development is a 2-seater with week-end luggage space seating two in comfort and capable of giving reasonable weather protection. A multi-cylinder engine is preferable to propel this vehicle, but by no means necessary.
What type of racing track is going to develop this car, and to a certain extent what type of race? Presuming that when racing starts again there will be the usual opposition in the usual quarters one must be prepared to continue with the enclosed circuit. But no longer should we be confined to Brooklands and Donington, for to-day there are Government sites quite suitable for car racing. Whether the Government could be persuaded is quite another matter; doubtless their attitude will be the same. Therefore, it becomes necessary to improve the public’s opinion towards the Sport. This would mean putting motor racing on the same footing as football. Naturally, the whole thing will depend upon the old bogey, the cash register. It is rather essential that any serious racing programme should have the full backing and support of the manufacturers. No company will be prepared to spend large sums of money on what is to a considerable extent a gamble, when he can obtain the same publicity without the same risk by advertising. Therefore some encouragement should be given. The writer is all against State interference in anything. Therefore some financial aid, for example, tax reduction, is necessary, coupled with some form of starting money. In order to avoid clashing of dates, some form of points scheme should be instituted culminating in a championship race, by invitation, according to points won. This would seem the only way to keep serious motor racing going. It seems very probable that when the war is finally over, very few people will have the cash to carry on racing. Motor racing, and, indeed, any form of motoring competition, cannot be made less expensive than formerly, owing to the conditions and labour involved, particularly with post-war conditions as they will be. One cannot hope for International racing for very many years to come. The true sports car is born from arduous working conditions, be it on the track, or, as at present, in the air. That the present aeronautical knowledge will be put into the future motor no one can doubt.
The future sports car should be a very fine piece of work, developing a very high horse-power, upon an improved or higher-octane fuel. Whilst the manufacturer must have learnt a great deal about suspension from the North African campaign, let us hope that he will put six or more cylinders into his engine. Some years hence we shall probably see engines bred from the compression-ignition engine, or, rather, the semi-diesel engine, working on hydrogen or a mixture of hydrogen and air. This would certainly be a very potent mixture and would do away with the need for a blower, perhaps even leading to some sort of turbine. Coupled with a correctly streamlined body, there is no reason to doubt that such a sports car would eventually be reaching the speeds attained by the Grand Prix cars one saw in Europe during the last years of peace.
I am, Yours etc.,
Clive Edwards, BT.
3 N.C.C. Company.