Matters of Moment, April 1968

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• Motorway Accidents Increase In Spite Of 70-Limit
The Ministry of Transport’s reply to our anti-70-m.p.h. Petition, published last Month, has proved unacceptable to many of our readers. They are not prepared to accept the figures given by the Road Research Laboratory, yet it is these figures to which the Ministry keep returning, in arguing that accidents have been reduced since speed-limits.

A very serious criticism of speed-limits is that they create much bunching of cars, all travelling at nearly equal speeds. We have always maintained that this is a dangerous practice, and recent developments clearly bear this out. We quote from The Times of March 5th:

“The 70-m.p.h. Motorway Speed limit is no longer reducing casualties on the M1, according to Mr. Eric Turton, road safety officer for Bedfordshire. On the 19-mile stretch of the motorway in Bedfordshire last year, 186 people were injured in accidents, compared with 133 in 1966, he reported. The number of accidents increased by six.”

This alone would make the Road Research Laboratory’s figures look distinctly lop-sided. It caused us to check with another County involved in motorway patrols. The County we chose was Buckinghamshire, whose County Constabulary is well known for its hat-less policemen in a Jaguar E-type. This constabulary has sections of the M1 and M4 running through its territories. On the M1 the total number of accidents rose from 45 in 1966 to 54 the following year, and over the same period the number of casualties rose from 91 to 92. On the M4 in Buckinghamshire the number of accidents increased from 50 in 1966 to 69 in 1967, while the increase in casualties over the same period was a staggering leap from 98 to 126. The figures, which were supplied to us by the Buckinghamshire Constabulary, show upward trends in the totals of accidents and casualties throughout the years from 1964 to 1967. These figures surely speak for themselves. Yet we have heard that a 60-m.p.h. speed limit may become compulsory on all roads other than motorways! How much longer do we have to accept this infringement on our liberties? If any impartial body could produce figures which show clearly that the 70-limit is beneficial in reducing accidents, then Motor Sport will stop campaigning. But when figures such as those given above are available 60/70-m.p.h. speed limits are becoming increasingly difficult to accept.

• Kill Transport Bill
The un-Parliamentary way in which Mrs. Castle and her Ministry of Transport are trying to push through the Transport Bill is most upsetting. Although the passage of the Bill can be held up—indeed, it is possible it will not get on to the Statute Books until after this Parliamentary session has ended—there is little that can stop this self-acclaimed, power-obsessed woman from gaining her way. The contents of the Bill itself are galling enough, for it is nothing short of nationalisation, but almost as bad is the way in which the Bill has been handled. Perhaps it is best summed up by Mr. Peter Walker, the Opposition Front Bench Spokesman on Transport, who said in a statement on March 7th:

“The Government will be unable to produce any evidence that there has been any filibustering in debating the present Transport Bill. I defy them to find one Bill this century in which, in the first 19 sittings of the Committee, the Committee have considered 450 amendments, 35 clauses and five schedules. The average time for each debate has been than 15 minutes and, in many sittings of the Committee, Government spokesmen have taken up more time than Conservative spokesmen.” Mr. Walker finishes his statement by saying: “It is a bad Bill and the Government want to avoid being debated. I believe they underestimate the public out-cry that there will be at the use of such tactics. I call upon all of these organisations, drivers, road hauliers, garage proprietors, farmers, industrialists and housewives who will be adversely affected by this Bill to organise protest meetings throughout the country.”

How right Mr. Walker is in condemning the Bill itself and the way it has progressed. If the Government get it through by the use of the guillotine, then who knows what could follow! It could push through a Bill which confiscated any part of each individual’s personal belongings and no one would be able to stop it. Once these sort of tactics are tolerated they will be difficult to stop. It is a grave warning of the way our National Heritage could be usurped by an irresponsible minority, who, having gained office as a majority, bulldoze through legislation for which they have no mandate. Act now—write to your M.P.! Public opinion, when forcibly directed, should still be feared by those given authority to act on its behalf.
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The Things They Say . . .
“I don’t want a psychedelic Mini. I want an elegant grey Park Ward convertible Bentley with a chauffeur in pale grey to match.”— Anne Edwards, criticising the taste in worldly goods of millionaire George Harrison in her column in the Sunday Express last month.
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A Thought For Concours D’Elegance Judges
” . . . elegance means Elegance, and no twistings of its meanings can ever bring into it such details as ‘accessibility of batteries or tool-kits’; while some of the postulates, by which the judges were expected to be bound, were entirely out of accordance with the main idea with which, I presume, both these arbitrators and their victims first leapt happily into the competition.”—Owen John (see page 282) writing in The Autocar about the Bournemouth Concours d’Elegance of 1927.
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Thruxton Opens
It was not the fault of the B.A.R.C. that a fierce and bitter wind thrashed across Thruxton circuit for the opening (Members’) meeting on March 17th, sending clouds of dust from the safety-banks and confining several B.A.R.C. wives to the sanctity of their cars.

In spite of the unhappy meteorological circumstances a very impressive attendance was obtained. The racing ran slightly behind time but seemed to entertain the spectators, particularly the closely-fought F.3 race, with the lead frequently changing and Tose’s Brabham-Ford just leading to the chequered-flag. And when this opening meeting at the resuscitated Thruxton is history, there will no doubt be those who, long after the cold, the wind, the mild congestion in Andover that evening and the drivers’ names have been forgotten, will recall that the first race at the new circuit was won by a Hillman Imp, two of these rear-engined, rear-driven Rootes cars beating the f.w.d. B.M.C. Minis. There was drama, too, when a marshal noticed the n/s rear tyre of Fry’s Ford GT40 deflating in the starting-area—it was changed in time for Fry to win the GT race.

The programme was confined to six 10-lap races. The spectators no doubt had a fine view of the racing and certainly most of the undulating circuit can be seen from the Paddock area. It is a pity, however, that the very fast bends “out in the country” are out of bounds for safety reasons. Also, unless equipped with Track passes, those who buy Paddock transfers see very little close-up racing, being confined behind wire-mesh, with their vision interrupted by deep crash-barriers which may effectively protect the aircraft petrol pumps but which blank off any sort of view of the cars taking the chicane.

A gate left open near the aircraft park resulted in spectators, including a child in a pram, circulating towards the unfenced sections of the course. This was just one of those mistakes which can be easily eradicated, and that wind must drop one day! The unsheltered Paddock and lack of a bridge over the course are more serious shortcomings.

But we predict an enormous crowd on Easter Monday, enjoying fast racing. Whether the car parks will empty expeditiously and Andover’s bottle-neck proves a myth, we are not so sure.—W. B.
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Rapide Steering Wheel
One of our staff photographers recently had a Super Accessories Rapide leather-rimmed steering wheel fitted to his Austin 1100. The wheel has polished alloy spokes and boss, and the fat, 13in. rim is covered with hand-stitched Connolly hide. Now that it has been on the 1100 for a couple of months, the leather is nicely worn in and feels quite soft. Being of such small diameter, the wheel clears the knees of the driver, whereas the standard unit rather gets in the way. The Rapide is available for the Mini, 1100, Spitfire, Sprite, MG.-B, Anglia, Cortina and Imp at the very reasonable price of £5 15s. (plus 7s. 6d. post and package) from Super Accessories, 367 Lewisham High Street, London, S.E.13.
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An Eazi-Eater
Have you ever sat in a car, usually with the rain falling outside, and tried to eat a chicken and ham pie, without having the plate fall off your knee? Or perhaps you remember that buffet supper when all the seats and all the level surfaces have been taken, and the food has to be cut and eaten is politely as possible. Well, the new, stainless steel Eazi-Eater takes care of situations like this; simple cutting, forking and spooning can all be done with the right hand while the left hand firmly grips the plate. The serrated cutting edge is not sharp enough to cut the mouth, so dealing with tough steaks would be difficult, but for normal, tender meat and vegetables it is adequate. Not a “must” for the motorist but something which can make picnics in cars more comfortable. Obtainable from any hardware shop or from the importers, Richard Groves & Sons, Ltd., Sydney Works, 111 Matilda Street, Sheffield, S1 4QF.—M. J. T.