Matters of moment, April 1959
A fine British achievement
There have been many high-speed runs and endurance demonstrations but few as convincing as the long-distance test of a Hillman Minx saloon which the Rootes Group staged in Belgium, and which concluded last month. This inexpensive 1-1/2 -litre British saloon was set to cover 25,000 kilometres, or 15,534 miles, over a 110-mile circuit of rough pavé, at an average speed of 41 m.p.h. The car was driven by an all-women team, consisting of Nancy Mitchell, Sheila Van Damm, Mary Handley Page, Pat Ozanne, and Francoise Clarke. The Hillman ran continuously apart from driver changes and replenishment stops, and thus motored after dark as well as in daylight. It covered a distance which normal drivers would not do in a year’s motoring, at about twice the average speed they would be likely to do over roads of the sort which Rootes chose deliberately as a test for the Minx. Under these conditions it is truly creditable that the only replacements required were a set or shock-absorbers, two speedometer cables, two screen-wiper blades, a spring rebound leaf, a rubber bush and a headlamp bulb. The run was properly observed by the R.A.C. of Belgium and the car will be stripped for detailed examination at the Coventry factory.
With Ford output threatened by strikes and the B.M.C. having perhaps backed the wrong horse, judging by correspondence in this and other journals, over its application of a common Farina stying shared between five different makes, which enthusiasts seem to find no more acceptable than they did the earlier Morris/Wolseley/ Riley permutation of basically Minor parts, it is nice to be able to put on record this public demonstration of the durability of the good-looking and deservedly popular Hillman Minx.
As a matter of fact, Motor Sport has recently had its own demonstration of the ability of Rootes Group products to stand up to hard work. As recorded in a leading article in this issue, we covered 1,700 fast miles on the Continent in a Sunbeam Rapier which was in no way specially prepared and which we neglected to pamper or even to service regularly. Since its return to this country we have continued to use this Sunbeam for urgent journeys in England, when its petrol consumption has decreased to 29-1/2 m.p.g., satisfactory for a two-carburetter 1-1/2-litre engine. The car has now covered 3,000 miles in our hands in three weeks and has proved mechanically trouble free, while the engine has required but five pints of Castrol.
It is nice to be able to give praise when it is due to British cars.
Savage motoring sentences in Ayr
According to the Scottish Daily Express, fifteen drivers lost their driving licences for a year and were fined up to £10, five of them because, when they were stopped in central and south Ayrshire last year, their cars were found to have faulty steering or brakes.
If this report is correct, one person lost his licence merely for allowing an employee to drive a car the steering of which was deemed to be faulty by the police. Another driver, with a clean licence for 22 years, had it taken away for twelve months for the same reason. The same treatment was apparently meted out to a person who, warned that his car’s steering was faulty, immediately put the vehicle off the road and purchased a new one.
For driving under the influence of drink and for flagrant examples of dangerous driving, even for repeated motoring convictions, loss of licence is to be expected. But these sentences, following reports by the police of mechanical defects in a vehicle, are outrageous.
Who imposed these savage sentences? They were imposed by Sheriff James Frame at Ayr last month, who also took away the licence of a learner motorist whose brakes were in order but who was caught testing them, after adjustment, when unaccompanied by a qualified driver and not showing L-plates. A fine of £10 was applied in this case also. A man who relies on his driving licence for his livelihood had it taken away for a year and was fined £5 by Sheriff Frame merely because he forgot to renew it while he was in hospital.
These driving bans are startling. Perhaps Scottish law differs from English law but however you look at it Sheriff Frame seems to dislike motorists.
We have been intending to visit Scotland again this summer and so, no doubt, have hundreds of other motorists. It would seem advisable to steer very well clear of Ayrshire. If loss to hotels, restaurants and garages results the blame might be laid at the feet of Sheriff James Frame, whose interpretation of justice is surely unique.
Good cars proved
The results of the recent six-week, 9,000-mile Algiers to the Cape Rally serve to emphasise the worth of some outstanding vehicles. The winner was Karl Kling, who drove a Mercedes-Benz 190D with the recently-introduced high-speed ohc diesel engine. Second place was taken by an ID Citroën, third place by that rugged, go-almost-anywhere British vehicle, the Land Rover. Fourth, and winner of its class, was a Volkswagen. The Team Prize and Women’s Prize went to Peugeot. Good cars all, duly proved.