Having just read Mr. R. Smith’s letter, I should like to add a few comments on the subject of British small cars as opposed to the German Volkswagen. That the Volkswagen has a long-lasting engine, excellent gearbox and suspension is undeniable, but this is where its features end. Its roadholding resembles an empty doubledecker ‘bus, its body is downright ugly, and although there Is a rear seat, it is only capable of being occupied by infants or pygmies.
Although I hate admitting it to any friends. I was considering purchasing a Volkswagen a few months ago, but, liking a reasonable performance from my car and not wishing to pass into the next world yet, I thankfully chose a Morris Minor 1000. I realise that the engine will probably not cover the same mileage as a Volkswagen, but, having spent £125 less, I can replace it several times before the cost of the car reaches £758 17s. Od., the cost of the Volkswagen.
A glance at performance figures (taken from road tests) shows that the Minor reaches 60 m.p.h. no less than 5 sec, before the Volkswagen, is capable of 72 m.p.h. as against 66 m.p.h., and will give nearly 40 m.p.g.. compared with 31 m.p.g. Figures for other British-built small cars, the Anglia, A35 and Standard Ten are 6, 5 and 2 sec. quicker to 60 m.p.h. These cars have a maximum speed of 70, 72 and 69 respectively, and a fuel consumption of 31, 36 and 35 m.p.g. Incidentally, the Volkswagen engine of 1,192 c.c. is larger than those in any of the British cars mentioned above.
Owners of cars having a sporting instinct and wishing to compete in races, sprints. etc., can, if necessary, obtain more power by fitting a “factory-approved” conversion, but, alas, the poor Volkswagen owner would quickly require new engines. I have a letter in front of me from the main Volkswagen agents in London, stating that no modifications to the Volkswagen engine are recommended by the “Werke” as, when tried a few years ago, it led to “unusual wear of component parts and the breaking of the crankshaft.” I am aware that a few miles from here there is a firm who provide a costly conversion for the Volkswagen, but, I wonder, does this firm also undertake to pay the funeral expenses of the unfortunate driver, which must surely be imminent?
In closing, I would add that the Volkswagen is probably a reasonable buy for a person who has never experienced the performance and handling qualities as provided by the small cars produced in Great Britain.
I am, Yours, etc.,
F.A. Shaw – Great Baddow.
[We wonder where Mr. Shaw obtains performance figures for what, throughout the original letter, he called a “Volkswagon”? We dealt with VW versus Minor 1000 on page 368 of our issue dated July 1957 and quoted the VW as 0.3 sec. slower from 0-60 m.p.h. than the Morris and a couple of m.p.h. or so slower in top gear.—Ed.]