I have counted ten before replying to the article by Charles Gretton [In The People.—Ed.] on Rolls-Royce cars—and perhaps it’s as well that I do so.
It appals me to think that a reputable motoring correspondent should be allowed to print such piffling criticisms for the world to read about a car that he handled for a weekend. Let me quote his grievances—not one of which has any bearing on the mechanical perfection of the car.
(a) The battery. A component accessory made by a firm of worldwide repute, and passed by R.-R. designers as perfectly adequate to do the job intended for it. The fact that a Silver Cloud refused to start has nothing whatsoever to do with R.-R. as a car, but to the clot who sent the battery out on test in a flat condition or, alternatively, to the driver who could not, or would not, see the red warning light denoting dynamo not charging.
(b) The mascot. Since when has a mascot had anything to do with the mechanical perfection or otherwise of a motor vehicle?
(c) The self-locking hub cap. No mystery to the driver-mechanic, but a bugbear to owners having had no instructions on how to remove a wheel, and now superseded by a standard wheel assembly universally tried and tested on cars throughout the world.
(d) Marles-type steering. This is fitted because R.-R. engineers, who have some slight knowledge of these things, decided for it as against the worm and nut—good as it was.
(e) The electrically-operated ride control. This functions perfectly when used under conditions for which it was designed, but if Charles Gretton, or The Autocar, expects rigor mortis to set in at the flick of a switch on a road like a billiards table, both The Autocar and he would be disappointed.
(f) 19-in. wheels. These went out when low-pressure tyres came in, and the modern tyre is so nearly perfect that it would be superfluous to manufacture tyres exclusively for R.-R.
(g) Rubber fan belt. The use of rubber today is universally practised by all motor manufacturers and allied industries. If a superior substitute were available, R.-R. would use it—irrespective of price.
(h) Hydraulic jacks. Now discontinued, were made by Smiths Accessories, and functioned perfectly when properly used. Instructions issued with these jacks requested the owner to use them once a week, and not wait years for a puncture before he was reminded that they were fitted at all. No car manufacturer can be blamed for such negligence.
(i) The automatic gearbox. This is indeed a General Motors product with improvements, and was tested for 500,000 by G.M. before going into production. It is the best box in production today and, after initial bedding-down adjustments, quite trouble-free—one of the reasons why R.-R. use it. For over thirty-three years as a professional driver, I have driven every R.-R. model from the Ghost onwards, and this includes its sister car, the Bentley, logging over 500,000 miles up to 1954, when I stopped counting,
Over half of this mileage has been covered on long continental tours and business trips, with influential foreign visitors; journeys from New York to California and return, through blizzards and Arizona heat, showing average speeds that would shake “C. G.” into incredulous disbelief. Over fifty runs to Monte Carlo and as many again to Rome and back, with visits to most of Europe’s capital cities thrown in, many times over roads given that name through courtesy only. These were trips to try any car, but only the best could survive them all without one solitary breakdown that I could not deal with myself.
There is only one car for me, and I have handled the pick of the world’s best products, and it is still described as “The Best Car in the World.”
With my employer’s permission, who, incidentally, is quite unconnected with Rolls-Royce, I should be glad to give “C. G.” a real test run in our Continental, and despite its poor old-fashioned rubber fan belt, and lack of a mascot, its easy 115 m.p.h. in silence, comfort, safety, and without fuss, plus unfailing reliability, may bring forth a revised version of the car of which he takes such a poor view.
I am, Yours, etc.,
T. E. Hetherington – Roehampton. (Chauffeur-Mechhanic. R.-R. Badge No. 4706).
[Further letters on this subject will appear next month.—Ed.]