Much has been written in your columns about the shortcomings of new cars. Most of this criticism appears to be directed against the general standard of workmanship and finish rather than design and specification. In my own case this is so.
I bought a new Riley 1.5 saloon on October 1st, 1960. The general finish of this car was poor and many things were wrong, as follows:
Engine.—Noisy. Deep hollow knock which can be felt as well as heard.
Gearbox.—Ditticult to engage gears, particularly reverse. Jumps out of third on the over run.
Suspension.—Car leans to off side. If steering wheel is released on straight level road car goes to the right.
Body.—Undercoat showing through on leading edge of boot. No polish on the boot lid—query no final coats of paint. Dust in paint round boot handle. Blistering of paint on near-side side rear wing at the waistline and along lower edge of the wing. Blister appearing on near-side front wing. Marks in paint on bonnet. Blistering down leading edge of off-side front door. Rain gutter paint lifted off (this has been touched-in). Inside of driver’s door already resprayed by the quarter-light catch (badly). Off-side rear door leading edge badly chipped and touched in by hand, window surround paint lifted. Inside of door paint cracked and lifting. Poor finish to wheel arches inside doors. Rust on off-side one. Rough finish above off-side rear wheel. Exposed stopper in underside of rain gutter. Stopper mark on boot lid. Bonnet not on straight (was much worse at first). Rust creeping up windows. Pitting of chrome, especially on bonnet strip, both side strips, near-side side/flasher unit, rear light. Near-side window winder very stiff (front). Draught up back seat, and gear-lever.
Leaks.—Inside boot both sides on to wheel arches. Off-side carpets wet (from where ?), front and rear. Leaks through both front quarter-lights even when tightly closed.
Body rattles.—Untraccable rattles in the back, particularly near-side end of rear seat.
Carpets.—Now have tide-marks from original leaks.
Sundry.—Main beam of headlights not connected up. Reversing light did not operate when reverse was selected. Bonnet not on straight, would not open or close properly. Gearbox jumped out of third. Indicator switch grated whenever the wheel was turned. Dampness in headlight—unit exchanged. Throttle jammed wide open.
On a trip to London to the Motor Show there was two inches of water above the carpets in the back of the car! The leaks were dealt with up to a point but the carpets still get saturated under the driver’s feet.
I dealt with the local Agents for the first month or so but it soon became apparent that they were not in a position to do much for me. I then wrote to B.M.C., who instructed me to take the car to the Main Distributor 40 miles away. I did this the same week. The car was looked over; I was told that the finish was substandard and that it should be seen by a B.M.C. Service Representative, who would decide what should be done. The engine is to be stripped and examined. The gearbox is to be replaced, and the body is to be resprayed completely, The chrome strips on the body sides, bonnet and side-lights are to be replaced. As the leaks are still present after three attempts to stop them, the front is to be undersealed. The door flanges have to be re-set and the sealing rubbers to be adjusted. The torsion bars have to be adjusted.
I am sure you will agree that for all these faults to exist in a vehicle, efficient inspection cannot exist. If it takes four months to inspect these faults in this country, what happens if you live abroad ?
I have experienced well over 4,000 miles of frustrating motoring and can well appreciate the reluctance of overseas buyers to order British cars if this is an example of the service they may expect.
I am, Yours, etc., H.W.I. Hanan. Mevagissey
[The most conscientious of manufacturers is but a pawn in the hands of his workpeople and inspectors, particularly the latter. Let this sad example be a warning, for bad workmanship, unchecked, could be the end of British prosperity.—Ed]