Those Veicle Tests

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Sir,

In deference to the wishes of Mr. Marples I submitted my Singer Le Mans for test at the garage where I used to buy 90%, at least, of the petrol and oil I use, thinking that I would be given the same courteous service that I normally received.

The mechanic who had been allocated the job examined the tyres, and tyres alone, before deciding to drive off on a brake test. Having seated himself in the driving seat and moving the passenger’s cushion out of the way to allow the decelerometer to be placed on the bare floor (chromium wire legs on shiny plywood), he tried to release the hand-brake but failed, due to the fact that he would persist in pressing the button on the top of my fly-off hand-brake. He then asked where the ignition switch was, although a bunch of keys hung from the lock. When this was pointed out to him he drove off amid grunts and squeals from the crash box, ignoring all my advice of how to use the very savage plain plate clutch.

He returned, to my very great relief, with the car intact, announcing, however, that the hand-brake had failed. Knowing full well that he did not understand the working of the hand-brake, I touched the drums and almost took the skin off my fingers—the drums were red hot.

At this stage I was almost in tears at the thought of what else might have happened and offered to pay the fee and leave. This was refused, and the mechanic said that he would punch my face in if I complained further.

The car was then jacked up and steering and lights tested. It was pointed out to me that the car had failed on another count, i.e., the off-side headlamp had gone out when the dip-switch was operated. This, naturally, was the last straw and, taking the Refusal of Certificate notice, I drove home and consulted the police who assured me that the lights broke no regulations but they were sorry they could do nothing about the threats.

Having an engineering training, I tested the hand-brake now that the drums had cooled and obtained a figure of 52%g by measuring my stopping distance from 20 m.p.h. The calculation, for anyone not acquainted with simple dynamics, is:

%g = 860/2g x distance x 100%, derived from U2 = u2 + 2as

I have appealed and the M.O.T. tester is coming to my home to do the re-test but I have now lost the use of my car for over a month, plus the loss of tax and insurance.

Can’t the post of Postmaster General be made vacant again, where idealistic people like Marples can blunder away without doing great harm. With his present scheme he merely places another financial burden on the poor motorist for a test which even the Ministry admit in “Vehicle Testing” only guarantees compliance, on the day of test, with the requirements of the Act.

“Vehicle Testing” (from H.M. Stationery Office, price 2s.) makes interesting, and laughable, reading if it was not so pathetically serious.

The garage address is available to anyone who craves this fine service!

I am, Yours, etc.,  Ian G. Colquhon.  Linlithgow.