MORE LETTERS, April 1948
Mr. J. G. Fairman raises a most interesting point relating to B.R.M. drivers. B.R.M. must be successful to gain the international prestige so necessary for this country, and of course should be handled by British drivers. Unfortunately, there is not a single driver in this country who has ever driven a modern G.P. road-racing machine at more than 150 m.p.h. Our more successful drivers proceed in the orthodox British style, a style which can be likened to a foot-forward speedway rider who sticks rigidly to the white line; but I feel that they lack just that something displayed by the Continentals when they are at the wheel of a softly-sprung modern car, so different from the usual British hard suspension. According to Mr. Berthon the B.R.M. should do 195 m.p.h. “plus,” and unless prospective drivers are trained on the continent by a first-class foreign driver a few people are going to be more than disappointed.
The great difference in handling old and new types of sports cars at comparatively slow speeds is very noticeable to anyone used to an Aston-Martin, on suddenly being asked to drive a Healey, to quote two typical opposite examples. When it comes to driving at over three miles a minute on a road circuit it will be a matter of “leg trailing,” to return to a speedway analogy.
A large number of fighter planes were cracked-up by pilot trainees during the early part of the war; one must remember that the number of B.R.M.s available NV I 11 be somewhat fewer!
I am, Yours, etc.,
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I want to register a mild protest that the H.E. in the last Vintage gallery is not the “14/40 ” dual ignition model, but the ordinary 2-litre.
I enclose a photograph of my own “14/40” (taken a good many years ago). You will see the different bodywork (tail that opened with dickey, full wing valances, opening windscreen. etc.). The 4-wheel brakes I had fitted. This car had the twin coil ignition with two plugs per cylinder. It had no self-starter, but started easily on the handle, unless the coils got damp (which they not infrequently did, in which case it was a case calling for a hot oven!). It had a very nice device that I have often wished I had on other cars’,when touring strange lands, namely, neat Yale locks which were fitted to the bonnet, and also to the scuttle which hinged like the bonnet — in here was a very good tool shelf. I wish that I could remember more details of the car; it was the first real car that I owned — with rev.-counter and all! It would travel along at 70, if given enough space. It was a remarkably well-built car, if a bit heavy. In my energetic youth I once drove from here (Sussex) to Perthshire in one day (over 500 miles). Quite hard work with that old steering, it was not quite like the B.M.W.! The only break I had with it was a rather expensive disaster when the worm-drive axle ran low in oil, coming down from Scotland, and chewed up.
I often used to go over to the works at Reading and found all the people there very nice. I remember there was always a very exciting racing H.E. there, all polished aluminium and scarlet, in the current sporting fashion!
I am, Yours, etc.,