Letters from Readers, April 1953

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N.B. Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them — Ed.

 

Nationalise Car Insurance?

Sir,

I feel that I must reply to Mr. Maurice Landergan’s letter in your March issue, as he seems to be ill-informed on the subject of insurance.

I think he is rather ungracious to the company who stood behind him whilst he drove the dreadful cars which he describes, but I must admit that he has cause for some annoyance over his present plight. However, his brokers will know full well that whilst there are a few companies who dislike pre-war cars, the vast majority of offices would be willing to give comprehensive cover on the Riley at reasonable terms. Motor insurance does not pay the companies, so it is unfair to call them “legalised blackmailers”, and I cannot imagine any advantage ensuing from nationalisation — a cover note is usually more easily obtained than a licence.

Mr. Landergan’s objection to engineers’ reports on old cars is hard to understand, for surely the request for these is a public service, tending to prevent accidents. Not all drivers are enthusiasts who maintain their cars to perfection. Often a company will be willing to arrange for its own engineer to inspect a car, and failing this most car owners can get a report, free, from a garage where they are well known, as this sort of service attracts custom.

I am, Yours, etc.,

R.E. Mason

Leeds.

(The objections to the present basis of compulsory third-party insurance are many. One is that a cover note valid for only a day will release a licence for a month or more’s motoring, which is no safeguard of the “third-party” against the impecunious unscrupulous. A licence disc incorporating the insurance would safeguard this abuse (or it could be forgetfulness) and, incidentally, would almost eliminate the driving of cars without licences. Another weak aspect of the present system is that the car is insured, not the driver, so that a clean driving record is not always taken into account. Old vehicles in very sound order can be kept off the road by companies who fear any pre-war car and never believe the driver’s claim to a good record and a clean driving licence. The Government has “come clean” at last with a flat-rate tax but mercenary insurance companies still operate under the antiquated R.A.C. h.p. rating when charging for premiums, although if speed worries them many an 8-h.p. sports car is faster and less stoppable than a good 25-h.p.vintage saloon, for instance. Presumably the Government could issue a large variety of licence discs to cover various cases, such as ownership of two cars, etc., as it already operates a complex tax system, and providing the form was then correctly filled in, and cheque enclosed, why shouldn’t the disc be received as promptly as it is today ? Moreover, what a useful way of employing still more State-paid persons, which seems the aim of every Government today!  

Other shortcomings of private-enterprise insurance occur to us —  premiums for third-party only claims for old cars “loaded” to allow for “knock-for-knock” settlements within the insurance ring; “sales” clauses about ” driving any car” on a cheap one-car policy which probably explains why motor insurance shows a loss, because irresponsible people with lots of spare time pay little but rush around in a series of borrowed vehicles; haggle over payment after a claim (“value of car has since decreased,” etc.), and legally dubious cover notes on which clerks have mis-spelt owner’s name or the make of the car, etc. We dislike Nationalisation but exploitation by private concerns is another evil.—Ed.)

***

Red X replies to Black X

Sir.

Your correspondent Mr. H. B. Davies is not strictly accurate in regard to the facts as outlined in his letter to you published in your March issue.

Mr. Davies wrote to us on September 29th last year, saying that he had added REDeX to the oil in his Sunbeam-Talbot and had noticed overheating and loss of oil pressure.

We replied to this, saying that some small mechanical defect in the oil pressure system could give rise to such symptoms, and invited him to call on our Premier Station in his home town for advice and guidance. You will agree that such a reply is neither suggestive that the engine is worn out, nor is it in any way startling — thus Mr. Davies has completely misled your readers on these points.

It is impossible for us to offer reasons for the drop in oil pressure without examining the engine, but we could name a few which would include: badly seated relief valve or incorrectly tensioned spring, foreign matter on the seating released by the detergent action of REDeX, or a faulty oil-pressure gauge. It is apparent that Mr. Davies merely added REDeX to his engine without first of all flushing the system as recommended in all REDeX literature.

The resumption to normal pressure when the REDeXed oil was drained off was probably due to the flushing action of the REDeX, having taken the foreign matter away with it.

On the matter of temperatures, we can only assume that these were not accurately checked, as our thermotester records temperature reduction in all cases on record. Either this, or the car was driven hard and the automatic rise in temperature misconstrued. One of the greatest assets of REDeX is the reduction in friction, frictional heat, and therefore wear and temperature.

At any rate, REDeX does not lower viscosity at working temperatures but, rather improves the film strength of any oil throughout the entire viscosity/temperature curve. Its liquid wax content gives added protection at high temperatures and high bearing loads where normal oil would thin out and break down. Yet it is non-gumming and permits a low pour point for conditions of extreme cold.

Our 20 years’ experience on specialised oil additive production and development and our present commanding position in this field both in this country and all over the world are accepted facts, as are also the outstanding records and results in motor racing and on all types of engines, including the heaviest diesel prime movers. For the interest of those of your readers who would appreciate greater detail, REDeX contains five main ingredients :—

I. An extreme pressure agent to improve oil film strength under all conditions.

2. An anti-oxidant to prevent the formation of sludge and gum.

3. A detergent to clear existing gums and carbon.

4. A non-gumming fluid wax to resist high temperatures and improve the viscosity of the oil.

5. Stabilisers to maintain chemical identity, prevent acidity and chemical

It follows that these multifunctional properties reduce friction and therefore lower frictional temperatures, reduce wear and give improvements in performance: all of which have been precision checked on thousands of REDeX conversion records all over the world.

“Conversion” is the term given to the conversion of the vehicle’s lubrication from conventional oils in the engine, gearbox and axle to the same oils to which REDeX has been added in the correct proportions. REDeX is also employed as a bore soak to free off gummed rings and valves, thus restoring and levelling out compressions. Quite recently, a £3,000 diesel engine which was to be stripped due to low compressions, was REDeXed, and its compressions fully restored.

Your Editor holds copies of records which he himself witnessed when we improved a Ford Anglia’s full-throttle acceleration from 20-30 rn.p.h. from 147 yards to 126 yards, its hill-climb maximum from 33 to 36 m.p.h., and fuel consumption from 44.9 to 50.17 m.p.g.

Compressions levelled out and rose from 101-101-97 and 95 to 101-104-103 and 102, and today are 104-104-105 and 104, and m.p.g. is maintained at 49.

It is obvious that REDeX oil additive blended after years of careful research makes a superior upper-cylinder lubricant, and, used in both Premium and Pool petrols, gives adequate upper-cylinder protection with increases in performance and fuel economy.

We invite Mr. Davies to call at our ‘Chiswick Training Centre’ when we shall be pleased to offer him a free REDeX conversion and show him that, properly carried out. the advantages we claim are substantiated in full.

I am, Yours, etc.,

W. J. Holloway, Sales Manager, p.p. The Wayne V. Myers Co.. Ltd 

London, W4.

***

British cars on the mat (and not a single comment from the P.R.O.’s!)

Sir,

May I, as an occasional contributor to Motor Sport, in times past, and, though now, like Ivan Cost, approaching my “half century,” still a very keen motorist, ask you to continue publishing letters such as those of Mr. D. H. Constable (Motor Sport,  January. 1953)?  If sufficient “pother” is made by us overseas motorists it is just possible that some British manufacturers will take heed, and make a real effort to repair the now rapidly-disappearing markets of the world — in which I do not include America for the purpose of this letter.

I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Constable out here, so I cannot be accused of collusion. His complaints regarding the shoddy and grossly poor workmanship of many British cars and components of today are, however, absolutely true — though hateful to admit. What has happened to British Quality ? To Pride in Craftsmanship and to After-Sales Service?  Case after case comes to one’s notice, where poor quality, appalling finish, and slip-shod workmanship are losing Britain potential buyers. These things cannot be hidden, and are naturally talked about by motorists. Such advertising blah as “All that’s best in Britain,” “You can depend on it !” and many others, today cut no ice with discerning buyers — and the buyers’ market has come to stay!  No longer can manufacturers foist their post-war rubbish on to a car-starved world.  Mr. Constable is not alone in his experiences. Here are some of mine :—

Car No. 1: A famous Eight, no longer marketed. (a) a burst header tank, (b) three cracked wheels, (c) sagging doors—all within 2,000 miles!

Car No. 2:  Continual and frequent petrol-pump trouble.

Car No. 3: A high-performance 1-1/2-litre.  (a) gearbox trouble, (b) steering trouble, (c) excessive tyre wear, (d) shipped from U.K. with valve timing one tooth out, by main agents after overhaul.

Car No. 4: (a) Broken shock-absorbers, (b) door handles “came away in me ‘and”  —  twice — and (e) starter pull-out once. (“You can depend upon it,” indeed !)

Again I ask, where is the traditional British quality and finish ? Has Socialism killed all pride in British craftsmanship ? I am no politician, but it would appear that from 1945 this terrible falling-off in materials and workmanship began — maybe excusable just after the war, but not today. Mr. Constable’s final paragraph sounds a warning to British manufacturers of cars which must be heeded — before it is too late —  or, as he says,” God help England” (and the British motor industry).

I am, Yours, etc.,

B. Gordon Graham

Ceylon.

***

Sir,

I have never before written to you and it takes a lot to drive me into doing so but the requisite spur has been supplied by your comment at the foot of the letter headed  “Hard Punching from Peru.”  I do congratulate you on having the courage to publish this letter but why, oh why, spoil the thing by making such a pointless comment ? As a member of the motor trade who deals solely with the repair and overhaul — and occasional sale — of British and Continental cars, I know as well as everyone else in the trade does, and as I believe you must do, that Mr. Poske’s comments on British equipment are completely true. I am an Englishman and it does not give me any pleasure to say these things but unless they are said, by more and more people and with ever-increasing emphasis, I see no future at all for the British motor industry. We are producing many basically first-class cars but one and all are spoilt more than anything else by the incredibly poor quality of auxiliary equipment, electrical and shock-absorbers in particular. If anyone doubts these remarks let him remove the cap and rotor from any post-war distributor of a famous make, and measure with a feeler gauge the maximum and minimum contact gap obtained when lightly pushing and pulling on the cam. Then remove the cam and look at the “finish” of its bore. One could go on endlessly dealing with equipment made by many supposedly-reputable manufacturers who supply practically the whole British motor industry.

What we need are many more factual letters such as that from Mr. Poske and a motoring Press with the courage to publish them. One can appreciate the difficulties involved in publishing derogatory remarks about the products of large and influential manufacturers but the true facts are pretty well known by now and I for one feel that we have had enough of the soft soap and fulsome praise which is showered around whenever a British car happens to do something worth while. Let us for a change have some hard words directed where they belong whenever a British car fails in competition with foreign makes. There was enough mud thrown when the B.R.M. had its series of failures — how about throwing a spot more when various “household name” manufacturers either make, or acquiesce in the use of, vital components which they know full well will be worn out in under 20,000 miles? 

And, finally, why do the majority of enthusiasts in England seem to heap scorn on American “hot-rod” efforts?  A number of “special” builders here and in Australia do obtain the most astonishing results from very homely American motors hotted-up to varying degrees with locally made or imported heads, camshafts, manifolds. etc.  I personally haven’t any time for these “specials” nor am I an admirer of American production cars but to deny that “hot rods” can go very fast indeed merely indicates ignorance of facts, however unpalatable these may be. When we can produce a car capable of winning the Mexican road race, or of even beating the performance of the Lincoln entered in last year’s race, we will be in a better position to criticise.

” Mark my words. England, we’re being got at ! “

I  am, Yours etc.,

P.B. Fowke

Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

***

Sir,

I feel I must congratulate you for your courage in stating facts in your Editorial in the March issue of Motor Sport.  We older readers regret that this is only too true. No longer are cars designed and built by an idealist who worked 24 hours a day and spends the weekends, not at golf, but testing to improve the breed.

With the passing of the founder went the personal touch, only the name remains, which is exploited by financial groups, who farm out a number of parts, then consult a body stylist to make a large quantity, each car left with a number only.

An excellent example, Mr. Roesch of Clement Talbot. Your detailed description of these suceessful cars was very enlightening and makes one feel that there is an individuality in each machine. How the makers were interested to hear of any fault developing after delivery, being anxious to rectify it in future models as they wanted perfection — they could not stand still.

I am told the only way to make money is to build a great number to pay for the jigs, tools. etc., and it is cheaper to purchase certain parts from specialist firms.

Myself, I would prefer to make my own steering connections, etc. I have always felt safe on the cars I have owned and find them a delight to drive; I expect I am old fashioned, but there it is.

Motor Sport is doing a great service by pointing out defects: such articles as that on the Jowett Javelin and Jupiter show that the makers are alive. May you long continue with the good work.

I am, Yours, etc.,

F.H. Hambling

Leeds, 3.

***

Sir,

I have travelled and lived in the tropics for a total of nearly six years out of the last ten, including East and Central Africa, Burma, Siam, Malaya, Indo-China and Indonesia. I returned from my last trip barely two months ago.

Before the advent of the post-war British car, my criticism was that, although we in this country had wider interests in tropical countries than any other manufacturing area, we consistently refused ever to make a motor car suited to Colonial conditions. Wherever one went in the “tough” motoring countries one found the English car sometimes used as a town runabout, but an overwhelming preference, as far as more normal motoring was concerned, for the cheap American Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge. The reason is simple, and was stated by one of your later correspondents when he said that the carefully-prepared stunt dash from London to the Cape meant precisely nothing. It doesn’t. What the Kenya farmer or the Malayan planter wants is a car that will go on standing up to the same sort of treatment day in, day out, in all weathers and in all sorts of inexpert hands, as a part of the essential domestic routine. On countless occasions I have set out on a trip of several hundred miles, over roads which were as often as not virtually non-existent, in a battered and-elderly V8, probably borrowed, and with no more preparation than filling up the petrol tanks: but it never occurred to me to write to the papers about it because it was just a part of everyday existence and taken for granted. We have never produced a car which would even remotely approach such long-term service under these conditions.

 Now, since the war, we have, as Mr. Poske points out, the added humiliation of producing cars which are not only unsuitable but which also fall to pieces. He exaggerates nothing, and in the eleven different tropical countries which I have visited since the war it has been the same story. Before, we just, for incomprehensible reasons, refused to recognise a huge and expanding market: we made good cars but nothing of suitable design. Now it is much more serious: it is the demise of ” British Made” prestige, which in the East, affects a great deal more than mere commercial considerations. And the car manufacturers, although by no means alone, have been the most spectacular failure. It is truly heartbreaking to see the visual evidence on the spot, and to witness the reactions to it.

You probably noted in the daily Press, a few months back, that Nigeria, which, like other British colonies, had banned since the war the import of American cars, found herself in such a desperate position for reliable transport that a special Government dispensation was made allowing the import of a limited number. If you did not, I recommend that you find it in the files of The Times. You could not have a more vivid example of the situation. And why has no British manufacturer yet entered for the Trans-Africa Rally?

Finally, I would state that I have on more than one occasion written in like vein to the weekly motoring Press after returning to this country from overseas. Such letters have never been published!

I am, Yours, etc.,

“Traveller”

London, N.6.

***

Sir,

The spate of letters supporting Mr. Poske’s views on modern British cars makes dismal reading, unfortunately only too true.

For a long time I have held the opinion that our motor manufacturers have traded on the good name built up by their predecessors, pre-eminent among whom were, of course, the Hon. C. S. Rolls and Sir Henry Royce.

For nearly 25 years I owned and drove only British cars; anything American was anathema to me.

In 1947 I went to South Africa, where, no British car being available, I bought, much against my will, a large American car. I was captivated by its performance, good riding and ease of handling, and its general roominess, though I was for a long time loath to admit it. The one thing I did not like, and disapprove on any car, was the steering-column gear-change. That car was bought new in Cape Town, and for three years was driven all over the Union on all kinds of roads, many of which are real “shockers.” Even some of the National roads would rattle the average British car to pieces. Many British cars were noted in the larger towns, but seldom seen on the open road.

My “Yankee contraption” is still with me, and after five years’ continuous use, is still giving first-class service. Replacements in that time have been one exhaust pipe, a headlamp glass and new battery. There is not the slightest rattle anywhere.

Even before the war I never experienced such trouble-free motoring with any British car excepting one, and that was the only one bought second-hand. They were all in the medium price range (£400 to £600 pre-war). They all gave constant trouble. The one exception was a 1927 Morris-Cowley, bought second-hand for £70 and sold five years later, after motoring 50,000 miles. It was a first-rate car, with none of the frills, and cramped space, of the modern counterpart.

I may add that my Yankee cost new considerably less than most British small cars.

Motor manufacturers, in common with manufacturers of nearly everything British in this post-war era, have lost prestige both here and abroad. No longer can it be said ” British is Best.” Where cars are concerned Britain is not running in even second or third place.

Apropos Mr. Carson’s remarks about the inaccuracy of American speedometers. The speedometer on my 1947 Mercury is as near accurate as can be. I have never seen the needle top 84. I believe the top speed for a 1946 or ’47 Mercury is 82. Most British speedos are also optimistic, Mr. Carson —  see the Autocar road tests. If Mr. Carson will drive with his accelerator foot through the floorboard, it is perhaps not surprising that he complains of a poor petrol consumption. I do not crawl along the roads, but can always get a genuine 20 m.p.g., which for a 4-1/4-litre engine compares very favourably with any similar sized British car. At 60 m.p.h. I find my right foot off the accelerator rather than on it.

I am, Yours, etc.,

C.A.L. Meredith

Ludlow.

***

Sir,

Congratulations on your Editorial but at the moment Mr. Manicoin’s view is the real one.

My own unhappy mistake is now two months old and its famous, or perhaps I should say infamous, manufacturers state firmly in their latest letter to me that they have in their opinion spent the money required to build the car to the best advantage. In excusing gross misrepresentation on their part, their letter further states that they are sorry if they “appeared to be misleading.”  The misleading figures are clearly printed in their own manual and were those quoted in the motoring Press for this model and must, I submit, have thus been uttered by the manufacturers in the first place. Doubtless many another “mug” has been misled by this sharp practice. My solicitor tells me I have no redress, the guarantee form being so carefully worded.

The product which earns my bread and butter is closely controlled, this control being enforced by an Act of Parliament of 1926. Some such legislation to protect the customer is long overdue in the car industry.

I am, Yours, etc.,

J.K. Roberts

Malpas.

***

Sir,

May I add to your growing correspondence arising from Mr. G. R. Poske’s letter and relate my recent example of spares service from the  —  Motor Co. of England ?

A fortnight ago I installed a factory-reconditioned engine in my car. It was driven five miles when a water leak was found. This was due to a cracked cylinder block, where a cylinder head stud had bottomed and so caused the crack.

The engine was returned and another obtained. After 100 miles of running the engine developed a miss on No. 3 cylinder, When the head was removed a distorted exhaust valve was found. This I replaced, and ground-in properly has cured the trouble.

The policy of just throwing an engine together with no test running, bad or no inspection, is the cause of the general low standard of British cars and components. What would have happened in some remote country abroad where another engine and spare valves would not be available for months ?

I am, Yours, etc..,

R.V. Base

Cheltenham.

***

Good for Crossley — and Ford

Sir,

May I, as a reader from the first number of Brooklands Gazette, be permitted to make a correction to your description of Mr. T. J. Roberts’ car on page 71 of the February issue of Motor Sport ?

This is not a 19.6 Crossley, but a 15.7 six.-cylinder of the same make. To the best of my knowledge the 19.6 was discontinued in 1929.

Many years ago my mother had a twin-cylinder Perrey. I remember this as a fine little car. Later on my father had a K-type 10.2 Belsize and this was followed by an O-type 15.9. The latter was a really beautiful car and certainly well ahead of its time. These were followed by a 1924 Wolseley Ten with its very noisy o.h.c. drive. Later still we had in the family a 19.6 Crossley Which was a nice, quiet motor car. This was followed by a 20/70 Crossley which was a very fast brute. I remember teaching my sister, then 17, to drive on this 20/70. Being able to handle the gearbox on this she has since become one of the best drivers I know. She now has a 4CV Renault.

I was interested, only last week, to see a Citroën Seven Clover Leaf going like a bomb. It is years since I’ve seen one of these.

I know it is fashionable to decry the qualities of post-war cars. Perhaps you would be interested in my experience of a 1952 Ford Anglia. Apart from slight teething troubles, promptly put right under guarantee, it has given wonderful service. I’m very critical and won’t put up with a car which is not just so. The mileage to date is 53,930 and the only replacements I’ve bought have been one replacement speedometer and one sparking plug. The original engine is still in use, though it is using rather a lot of oil. The original tyres and battery are also still in use.

I don’t usually exceed 45 as the steering on these cars is not, in my opinion, up to higher speeds. Soulless hack it may be, but as a commercial traveller I get a lot of fun out of my motoring. I find it can be taken through bends as fast as most cars and faster than some.

No rust has appeared on either the chronic or the black cellulose. It comes up equal to new after a wash. Consumption on Esso Extra is 41.5.

In conclusion, it has never failed to start on the starter even on the coldest days. Credit where due!

I am, Yours, etc.,

L.T. Booth

Brighton.