I read with the greatest interest your report on the Lotus Elan, having wavered over the purchase of one for many weeks. My final choice fell on the Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider, at almost exactly the same price, specification and performance.
It is a delightful conveyance with superb controlability and comfort; fast motoring never seems to incommode the passenger, who is well settled in a comfortable seat with abundant leg room. It is free of draughts and leaks, quiet at 5,000 r.p.m., the heating arrangements very well found. The five-bearing engine with 5-speed gearbox are a perfect pair, the former having that pleasant Continental unthrashable feeling. Seat adjustment is immediate and other accessories are both numerous and ingenious, not often found on British makes except as extras, in particular the wiper/ washer gadget operated by the foot.
It is incredible that a car built to be drivers with enjoyment (I nearly said elan) should have a handbrake of umbrella style which is virtually unusable unless repositioned, luckily a simple task. My wife found it impossible to hold on an incline whilst wearing a skirt. Almost as thwarting as its predecessor, a Jaguar XK150 for which I had a great affection, particularly for weekend runs to Wales. The Alfa is as quick from house to house.
I dare say that the Lotus would see the Alfa off if both were being driven really keenly, but I feel that on an average 250 mile run in 5 to 5-1/2 hours the Alfa would be the less tiring.
Sam Clutton’s article brought back nostalgic pre-war memories of Notting Hill Gate and Little College Street where one could park in peace and dignity. I saw that Guy Griffiths took the pictures; I have not met him since prep school days in the late twenties, and if my memory serves, his birthday fell on 9th July (a splendidly useless piece of information).
Henley-on-Thames. – Lewis T. Spittle.