LETTERS FROM READERS, April 1970

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A MAN AND HIS MG-B

Sir,

Whist not wishing to inaugurate a slanging match, I take extreme exception to Mr. Mills’ “well-known woman’s shopping car” remark, and I feel that cudgels must be taken up on behalf of the MG-B and those to whom it offers just as much as 4562 DG does to Mr. Mills (why such a phrase in an otherwise coherent and intelligent letter I will never know, but, anyway, you’ve asked for it). Firstly realise, dear Mr. Mills, that the MG-A and MG-B alone have as many, if not more, devotees than the entire Triumph TR breed put together, that there is already a thriving MG register and that, in the end, seniority of the make tells. Secondly, a visit to Messrs. Downton, Taurus, Nicholson or Brabham will soon eliminate any marginal difference in acceleration that a standard TR3A may have over a standard MG-B at a very reasonable cost, and, thirdly, that erven if the owner of a standard MG-B cannot afford any form of tuning whatsoever, he can reasonable expect to leave a TR3A in a heap of aluminium and Isopon at the first roundabout encountered, with the minimum of skill

Perhaps when you have rebuilt, rewired and generally overhauled your poor man’s Ferrar, Mr. Mills, you might care to try a few laps around Brands or somewhere against my MG-B? (About which I’m not boasting; I know it goes, and so do local TR owners.)

I do not appreciate that with such obvious deterioration you are attempting a major work of reconstruction which will take you a long time, but I would request just one favour. Please, please, please make sure that you use enough Sellotape on the bodywork – I would have to read of an MG-B being damaged by a flying front wing or door (??) as you zoom past.

All in good fun, though, Mr. Mills; I appreciate your devotion to your machine, but you shouldn’t make nasty remarks about a car which, after eight years, is still selling in vast numbers despite but minor detail alterations. I like it anyway!

Worcester Park, J.L. PAYNE

A GIRL AND HER MG-C

Sir,

What a fascinating selection of letters; especially entertaining the one from Peter E. Fisher, who, I hope, is not in retirement again.

However, le someone speak up for MG, even the MG-C GT. If you manly men want a really arm-aching one and a half minutes (or less) you won’t be disappointed if you try taking it round Brands Hatch; compare this with the each with which the TR5 can be taken round the same circuit – no effort required, only petrol.

Cruising at 90? This isn’t going to impress one who has become accustomed to cruising at 110, at only 4,500 revs. in overdrive and still plenty in reserve. Alpine passes? The TR6 petrol injection doesn’t work at altitude because it hasn’t been designed to cope; whereas the MG-C doesn’t even notice alpine passes unless they are blocked with traffic. Furthermore, its overall petrol consumption (traffic jams, passes and autostrada) is 23 m.p.g. and only 4-star.

True, the various TRs have virtues, among which, it seems, is uncatchable final oversteer. Well, the MG-C can be unpredictable, too, although not as readily, and it’s never as easy to steer anywhere (??) the TR except in a straight line when it is as steady as a rock however bumpy the road. On Dunlop SP Sport tyres in the wet it is really stable, but on other road tyres you can have fun.

I would have liked a TR to play with in England if I could have afforded more than one car. But for getting across ther Continentn (or up and down the UK) fast, Im glad I had the MG-C; plenty of luggage room and lockable; a practical proposition for a one-car person with a penchant for passing large and small cars of International renown on the autobahns, and now with 38,000 miles on the clock.

And may I dissociate myself utterly from, and on behalf of my sex apologise for, the views of Veronica Papworth mentioned in your editorial? Who reads the paper she writes for, anyway?

(??) MARY B. GODDARD.

A GIRL PRAISES THE TRIUMPH TR

Sir,

I feel I must protest against the assumption on the part of many a your readers that no woman is capable of appreciating the delights of the Triumph TR breed.

My husband and I own, drive and are at present rebuilding a 1958 TR3, which we bought for £190 18 months ago. We have enjoyed many miles of exciting and economical motoring since then, and certainly would not wish to exchange this excellent motor car for any other, except possibly another TR!

Incidentally, we bought this car from a woman, who was only giving it up because of impending motherhood, and was very sorry to-see it go.

Sheffield. JANICE HENNEY. (Letters in praise of Triumph TRs continue to pour in. supporting the two pages of TR correspondence published last month. But the subject must now be closed.—ED.

AGAINST TRIUMPH TRs . . .

Sir,

Some of your correspondents appear to hold some rather strange ideas concerning the desirability of a car with hopeless road-holding. I refer to the TR2-3, etc.

After a series of safe cars, MGs TA, TC, Twin-Cam and B, I prefer not to look back upon my 18 months with a TR2. True I once covered the 700 miles from Ostend to Denmark in a day, and over the 4,000 miles’ holiday it returned 32 m.p.g. of petrol and 800 m.p.p. of oil.

However, this is a poor substitute for road-holding. If I am driving quickly across country the car must enjoy it as much as I do—not a TR. It either tries to run back the way it has just come or goes straight on at the first Corner. As for blowing off E-types—what a joke !

Your readers will all have heard of tennis elbow and housemaid’s knee, but they may not have heard of TR neck. This is a complaint suffered by TR drivers caused by the rapid side-to-side movement of the head due to the antics of the car as it goes down a straight road. Next time you follow a TR watch the driver’s head. Incidentally, my next car will not be an MG but a Triumph GT6 Mk. II.

Vienna. J. BRAISFORD.

THE MOTORISTS’ LOT

Sir,

Your correspondents who come under the “Motorists’ Lot” heading always make me feel sympathetic towards them. Then I forget all about them and think it “can’t happen to me”.

Well, at last, it has and I feel I have to tell you of the “cloak and dagger” circumstances. The location: Devon; time: 0430 on February 15th and everybody in bed except the competitors in the Bristow Rally. Approaching an important time-control was a fast, straight section and at the end of the straight was a police radar patrol. We were “done” and joined a queue of ten cars which were being booked by one constable who made sure that spot-lamps complied with the law, etc. As a result most of the unfortunate crews incurred “fails”. Other crews saw at least three other radar patrols and two patrols stationed at halt signs to make sure everybody stopped, when all that was needed was a quick glance for oncoming headlights. The police of that county had given their permission for the rally to take place and so was this premeditated ambush really fair? Rallying is the only form of motor sport we can afford, but if it’s going to cost an additional £10 and endorsement I shall have to stick to reading your excellent magazine and dreaming of bygone days when a police constable was a nice, jolly fellow an a bicycle and not a goon in blue with enough electronic garbage to shame the flight-deck of Concorde This sort of thing does not happen on the RAC Rally, but I suppose the police are wary of incurring the wrath of motor manufacturers who make their police cars.

To quote your magazine, “When are we going to revolt ?”.

Leicester. B. J. GRINDALL. [As I said last month, we simply have not become used to living with the motor car.—ED.

Sir,

The article by P. G. Williams, “The Motorists’ Lot”, in your January issue expressed my own views and experiences exactly. It would appear that I am not alone in condemning the attitude of “those goons in blue” to the motoring fraternity.

A few weeks ago my blood was “boiling” and, in fact, it still is today! My wife returned home one evening to say that a police inspector had accused her of driving through traffic lights while they were showing red. Now, having been accused of such an offence it is up to the motorist to prove otherwise—not as the law would have us believe; that you are innocent until proved guilty.

The circumstances leading to this accusation were similar to those which most motorists find themselves in from time to time. That is: approaching the lights while showing green; finding that they turn amber when your vehicle is a matter of feet from the white line and then making a “snap” decision on whether to broke or, providing the road is clear to the right and left, drive on safely. On this occasion the road was very wet from thawing snow. My wife continued through the lights, still on amber; parked the car approximately 200 yards further on, and then went shopping. The police inspector was waiting at the other set of lights when he said that he saw the MG; he then lost sight of the car before spotting it again parked on the side of the road. The moral here perhaps was not to own such a distinctive-looking sports car! Had it been a saloon he would not have been able to spot it because he was unable to take note of the registration number.

However, the fact remains that the accusation had been made and a court case was to follow. No witnesses were present on either side and it was very evident that there was a gross lack of evidence and extreme doubt in the minds of the magistrates, who retired for 30 minutes before returning a verdict of guilty, with a £10 fine and an endorsement on a clean licence. A stiff penalty indeed for a totally innocent motorist.

It is no wonder that police relationships with the motorists have deteriorated badly, and certainly seem doomed to continue.

We both felt proud a few months ago When the head of the police transport division asked for the loan of the MG TF for a demonstration, as MG TFs in fact were used as patrol cars. We co-operated with pleasure—but, as I said, that was a few months ago, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then!

Preston. F. P. ABBOTT.

Sir,

I fully endorse the sentiments expressed by reader Peter Roddis. There is a vindictiveness about police prosecution—or persecution—of motorists which does not seem to be .exceeded in any other form of offence, civil or criminal. Mr. Roddis cites the use by North Herts. and South Beds. police of a car marked “Accident Tender” to trap unsuspecting motorists into exceeding the speed limit. Here in the West Riding a favourite trick is for a patrol car to latch on to a lone motorist late at night or in the early hours. The unsuspecting motorist becomes aware of another car’s dimmed headlights in his mirror, the following car makes no attempt to pass, then approximately one mile before entering a built-up area the following headlights are suddenly full on at dazzle level. The unsuspecting motorist slows down and waves on the car behind, but, of course, it stays behind keeping its distance, with lights dazzling the motorist in front through his mirror. Eventually unsuspecting motorist becomes exasperated and steps on it, to pull away from the “Joker” behind. Alas, he realises too late that he is now in the built-up area and with clanging bells and flashing lights the patrol car reveals itself and our unsuspecting, exasperated and now rueful motorist is booked.

One assumes that Mr. Roddis and other motorists—including thyself —have reported such incidents as these to the court, to no avail of course, and one cannot but wonder at the calibre of magistrates who aid and abet the police to obtain convictions in such circumstances, and who take a more severe view of a parking motorist than of a thug. Neither the AA nor the RAC seems to be interested these days in doing anything about such police abuses and the various forms of hidden radar trap. The average motorist seems to be too apathetic, otherwise there would be in existence a militant and effective motorists’ protection association. No doubt there are other methods used to trick motorists into committing road offences in different areas and it would he interesting and useful to hear of other readers’ experiences. Finally, may I also say that I very much like Mr. Scott’s idea of a National drive-to-rule day.

Upper Popplet on. L. KENT.

A BAD LAW

Sir,

During the last few weeks I have made several long trips in my S1 Bentley, and on my way to Nottingham recently along M1 I put precisely 70 miles into the first hour. As there was nothing of interest on the radio I amused myself by keeping tally of the cars which passed me. The total was 89, of which about a quarter were doing a good 110 m.p.h. Any law which is flouted so flagrantly is a bad law; only one of the 89 cars which passed me was driven badly.

During two hours on M1 once again I was quite baffled by the fact that there are frequent accidents on it. I saw only half a dozen cases of really had driving, each one being a car .a few yards away from the one in front at about 60 m.p.h. Much the worst was that of two white Police Jaguars in convoy, which passed me at well over 100 m.p.h. with a distance of 30/40 feet between each. In conclusion, I thought the letter with the heading “A policeman replies” in your February issue one of the most pathetic you have ever published. Your Editorial footnote, however, at least put it in its proper perspective, in the gentlest possible manner!

Bromley. W. J. D. CLARKE. [We endeavour to give both sides of an argument; over 250,000 of our readers have signed that petition against a 70 m.p.h. speed limit on our Motorways.—ED.

THE BBC AND MOTOR RACING

Sir,

In the Radio Times for February 14th-20th the BBC publish the list of sporting events they intend to televise during the summer. It will be noted that not one Grand Prix is included. It is ‘apparently intended only to broadcast on them on sound radio.

I suggest that you ask your readers who are unable, like myself, to go to the Grands Prix, to write to the BBC protesting against this amazing omission. I have.

Cheltenham. A. CRICHTON (CAPT.).

PORSCHE POINTS

Sir,

Over the last couple of months or so I have read four or five reports on the Porsche 911 series, and only in Denis Jenkinson’s was there the slightest hint of criticism. Experience with three 911s over the last three and a half years makes me feel that someone should nudge Porsche a bit to fix some irritating details.

Regarding the “splendid gearbox”, all three cars have suffered the same troubles—after five or ten thousand miles the synchromesh of second gear has become very weak and that of first gear virtually non-existent. (Each car having been I.h.d. I can only imagine first gear selection must be a bit unhandy in a r.h.d. car.)

The other main niggle is with the doors. The locks freeze and jam in the winter, no matter how improved the normal operation may be and the door frames around the windows pull away from the seals at high speeds. D.S.J. mentions excessive noise above 100 m.p.h., which is true, but 120 m.p.h. in still air is heralded by an almighty buffeting as the frames lift off the seals altogether. Four years on and it is still the same with the latest 2.2-litre model!

Having almost no E-type experience, I can still well imagine D.S.J.’s comparison of long-distance driving being valid. The 911 is a satisfying car to drive, and, on the Continent, not too demanding up to quite high speeds, but it must be a frustrating thing to have in England. The urge being where it is, even under the mildest conditions, one does not move into fifth gear willingly at much below 80 m.p.h. In a hurry, fourth is good for a bit over 120 m.p.h. and fifth is geared “out of sight” at about 150 m.p.h. at the rev, limit of 7,300 r.p.m., whilst fuel consumption will increase to about 16 mpg.

Oh, and the ignition key D.S.J. was so ecstatic about—watch the facial expression of the driver of a new Porsche—or an older one for that matter—as he struggles to get the key into the ignition slot! Symmetrical it may be, but it is quite a job to use it until it gets well smoothed down—and, incidentally, Ford have had symmetrical keys for years, and they go straight in.

These things apart, though, it is a great car, each model having had different characteristics, largely due to variations in rim width and tyre make. The 1966 model with Webers was the most flexible at low r.p.m., the fuel-injected ones being fitted with a “clean air” set-up that fiddles with the injection on the overrun and can make things get a little out of step at light throttle openings. Having wider rims, the 1968 and 1969 models have not been as tail happy as the first one (on Continentals). Dunlops gave pretty neutral traits in a corner and the Michelin VRs on the latest model now allow you to go off a corner either nose or tail first! Under light throttle, the car understeers considerably, and a sudden application of the loud pedal will send you straight off unless you manage to twitch the tail around a bit. A bit too fast into a long corner, with a bit of throttle, to keep things going, and the rear end wishes to have a better view of the progress.

Still a great car, though—just a pity Porsche don’t understand doors.

Camberley. F. H. BATEMAN.

THE ROVER 2000 GEARBOX

Sir,

With reference to your article “My Year’s Motoring” in the February issue, I was mieSt interested to hear Of the fault experienced with your Rover 2000 TC, namely, difficult selection of first gear.

As I am employed at the local Rover agents, I may be able to be of some help. This complaint is quite common with the Rover 2000s.

If, as well as using .excessive force to engage first gear, it also grates the gears when engaging reverse, then the fault almost certainly will be rusting of the clutch friction disc splines to the gearbox first motion shaft splines. This in turn restricts movement of the disc allowing it to continually be in contact with the flywheel. This means the first motion shaft is rotating all the time and driving the gearbox layshaft. The only remedy for this is replacement of the clutch (which can be done quite easily without removing the engine).

Another fault may he misalignment of the gear-lever shaft selection pin which moves the three selector shafts. This can be aligned by removing a rubber grommet on the right-hand side of the transmission tunnel forward of the driver’s seat.

When neither of these faults apply, the first gear and synchro hub would appear to be faulty.

Finally, I would like to add that I have never heard of the gearbox and engine being out of line on the Royer 2000s and neither have my colleagues.

Brierfield. MICHAEL BLAKEY.

THE ONLY REAL SPORTS CAR?

Sir,

Real sports cars. There is only one—the AC Cobra. All others, including the three-pointed star wonder SL, pale into insignificance beside this magnificent vehicle.

Unfortunates, who have only experienced the wishy-washy mass-produced products of today that are passed off as sports cars, would do well to beg a ride in a Cobra, after which they may have some conception of a real Sports car,

Tavistock. J. H. MATTHEW

AND NOW—THE AUSTIN-HEALEY

Sir,

I really cannot allow all this TR talk to go on without some retaliation on behalf of the good old Austin Healey 100s. Since the early ‘fifties, a rivalry has existed between TR and Healey men, and is, perhaps, as strong today.

My Healey career started a couple of years ago when I had a little more than £100 to spend on an old sports car. I considered TR2, TR3, MG-A, non-running Morgan, and even a clapped XK140 before going for a BN1 Healey 100/4 … mainly because of its very pleasing lines and the fact that it is one of the few cars in which it is illegal to do as much as 3,000 r.p.m. in overdrive top gear!

I bought the car, 973 CVW, with a damaged rear spring and seized overdrive, but after I had put right these details, I had several thousand miles of trouble-free motoring (if you forget about patching up the exhaust system every now and then—an occupational hazard of running any big Healey). Eventually, I tried to squeeze the 4-litre six-cylinder version Of the BMC “D” series engine (of Jensen 50 fame) into it. Actually, it would have fitted if my bank manager hadn’t objected to being used as a shoehorn! So poor old 973 CVW got broken up. She was replaced shortly by another BN1 which, apart from changing the king-pins immediately after buying her, gave me equally good reliability, better performance on account of a 4-speed gearbox, and quite incredible fuel economy for a 15-year-old 2.7-litre sports car . . . 28 m.p.g., to about 24 around town! Sad to say, the bodywork left much to be desired, and I am at present trying to get hold of a pair of new rear wings. All being well, I hope to be burning off MG-Bs and TRs galore again by the end of April, with a shining new coat of paint!

It is interesting to note that when the 100/4 first appeared, in 1953, a well-known motoring periodical quoted the following performance figures :

0-50 m.p.h. …7.6 sec.
0-60 m.p.h. … 10.3 sec.
0-70 m.p.h. … 13.6 sec.
Best maximum … 119 m.p.h.
Best mean … 111 m.p.h.

These are very creditable figures even by today’s standards, and made the 100/4 the second fastest road car of its day (Second, of course, to the XK120).

However, where Healeys really have it over TRs is in both handling and road-holding. Both my cars were shod with Cinturatos and performed in a most acceptable way under all sorts of conditions. TRs have often been accused of having sports-car performance and family saloon handling—an accusation nobody could level against the 100/4. In my experience, the handling characteristics are absolutely neutral if you go round a corner under power, provided that it’s not too much! Body-roll is negligible, and if you do go mad, it’s not too hard, if a little hairy, to retrieve the situation.

Fair enough then; the TRs are great sports cars, and will remain part of our proud heritage; after all, we Healey people must have something to play with when we get fed up with MG-Bs. However, nothing would ever persuade me that for reliability, looks, and performance, in a straight line and otherwise a TR is a better buy than an Austin-Healey too.

St. Helens, Lancs. C. M. THOMPSON

Sir,

I am an avid fan of the “Big” Austin-Healeys and having owned a 100/4 and just recently a 3000, I reckon that these cars were one of the best sports cars BMC ever produced.

The 10044, with its beefy long-stroke engine, its fold-flat windscreen and twitchy steering, was truly a car with a vintage feel about it. (If I may be forgiven for using “that” phrase!)

The 3000, with its far superior road-holding and performance, has not lost any of its character and remains for me at least a very likeable motor car.

‘rile only drawback to both cars, as every good Healey owner knows, is the daft water traps under the wings which also seem to nurture any rust bug that is looking for a good home!

Anyway, one must carry on the battle somehow, whether ’tis with aerosol or spray gull, with the thought that with every squirt another Healey is being saved! May they live loud and long.

Steyning. TONY BROOKS.

IN FAVOUR OF SUNBEAM-TALBOT 90s

Sir,

Having observed with enthusiasm the comments over the last two months about Sunbeams of the “90” ilk, I feel I must ask a simple question. What did the Editor say about these vehicles which seems to have inspired such an impressive defence by the various correspondents?

Reading back issues of MOTOR SPORT I can only find a very enthusiastic road-test report on this model which would make me rush out and buy one. Although I don’t wish to sound up in arms, when did the adverse, or otherwise, comments arise and why? That over and done with, I will now proceed with the obvious.

Ten months ago I bought a 1957 Sunbeam Mk. III. This was the result of searching for a car which would he cheap on capital cost and have conventional mechanics so that repairs and servicing would be straightforward. It had to be comfortable for long journeys— leather upholstery a must. It had to have a striding performance which it would go about .quickly, quietly and without any fuss. Reliability was top priority—it must start promptly in all weathers without any of this intolerable under-bonnet condensation bother. As old cars are prone to rust, it must have a chassis to hold it all together. Last but not least, the car must be a motor car and not a pressed-silverpaper upholstered roller-skate.

After those ten months of ownership and 10,000 brisk miles, my old Sunbeam, which cost £50, fits all these requirements and more. Small details please me as well. The dashboard is ergonomically styled and comprehensively instrumented. The simple operation of changing the points doesn’t involve a minor knuckle-skinning grovel in the depths of the engine compartment. The distributor is immediately accessible. All the accessories oh the vehicle seem to be engineered rather than stuck on, and the heater is truly excellent.

For a heavy saloon the steering and road-holding are remarkable and it can be cornered at quite alarming speeds, at the expense of the front tyres. When I purchased TYN 431 I had only a hazy idea of the sporting ancestry of these cars, and on being informed of their successes in the Monte Carlo Rally and others, I was delighted to think that my old barrow has a “pedigree”.

On this score, I wholeheartedly agree with the Editor’s comment about according these cars classic status. Whereas I would say that they have a place in motoring history, and should be treasured as such, the thought of them all going to the States and being priced out of impecunious enthusiasts’ reach is flattering but worrying.

These Sunbeams represent very enjoyable motoring which can be had on a slim budget, if one can live with tyre-hunting and rear wheel arches and door bottoms which seem to disappear overnight.

Thank you for a Splendid, informative magazine.

Rickmansworth. NICK HARDEY.

Sir,

I have read with interest the recent correspondence on the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 range, and perhaps my own experiences may be of interest.

In late September 1969 I acquired a 1956 Mk. III saloon from a scrapyard for £5, the original intention being that it would provide spares for an Alpine. After a cursory check it was decided to make the car roadworthy, and on October 4th an MoT pass was obtained. I now have a car which has cost me somewhere in the region of £40, has quite a smart appearance (although the door sills and the rear-wheel arches are a trifle rough) and runs well, using virtually no oil between changes, and on a recent run to Southampton, covered in 7 1/2 hours, it returned 27 m.p.g. (no overdrive). The car is used daily, and to date my only troubles have been a broken throttle cable, a sticking brake piston, and the steering idler is now due for replacement.

Like Mr. Parrott, I find the ST 90 a comfortable, well-finished car, which I prefer driving to most moderns. The performance is good, although not as good as a 1951 2 1/2-litre Riley I once owned. The Riley’s steering and road-holding were vastly superior, but the Sunbeam-Talbot scores on fuel consumption, heating, demisting, windscreen wipers, and having a sun-roof. As to looks, that is surely a matter of opinion, but my choice goes to the Riley.

In reply to Mr. Brimblecomhe, I find a Jowett Jupiter a more practical and desirable Gran Turismo motor car, having excellent weather equipment—it must surely have been one of the first British sports cars to combine wind-up windows and a well-fitting hood which can be Speedily erected and stowed? Erecting the Alpine hood can be a bit of a bother, although it is better than, say, that of an MG-B. Surely, in 1934, there were no Sunbeam-Talbots, the STD combine still being in existence. There may have been a 1,944-c.c. Humber engine in 1934 but it would surely be a side-valve, as the Hawk valve gear did not go upstairs until the advent of the Mk. IV in 1954. 1 would have thought that the 2-litre o.h.v. unit first came in the ST 90 Mk.1 in 1948.

On the subject of Sunbeam ruggedness, it presumably missed the transmissions, the gearbox being the Achilles’ heel of this model, and back axle trouble is not unknown, but otherwise the cars are quite tough, and I feel people would be better advised to buy a Sunbea,-Talbot than to waste money on the average modern car with a life expectancy of five years. Finally I would advise all Sunbeam-Talbot owners to become members of STAR (the Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine Register. Being a member (apart from the other advantages) has saved me money, and had I joined earlier it would have saved me more,

Newcastle-upon-Tyne. GEOFFREY BROWN.

. . . AND FOR THE SUNBEAM ALPINE

Sir,

There has been a considerable amount of correspondence in your columns recently from Triumph TR enthusiasts and I think it is time that someone put in a word for another sports car that has many features to recommend it, despite the fact that it has never been in the “hairy” class—namely the Sunbeam Alpine.

I have owned two of these cars—a 1960 Series I with 1,494-c.c. engine and, currently, a 1963 Series III GT with 1,592-c.c. engine and overdrive. I3oth these cars have given me great satisfaction, though I cannot claim that my present one has been trouble-free.

Alpines have always offered a standard of comfort unusual in this class of car, and later models especially have many features to enhance their appeal—fitted carpets, courtesy lights, reclining seats, adjustable steering wheel, etc., etc.

Although performance is not outstanding, I regard it as being quite adequate—who needs to be first away from the traffic lights every time ? . . . it achieves very little apart from higher petrol consumption, increased tyre wear and frayed nerves.

Both my Alpines have proved very economical on petrol, up to 37 m.p.g. on a run, and one never experiences excessive noise from the engine or exhaust. Admittedly handling is not one of the Alpine’s best features, and care is necessary when cornering on wet and greasy roads. With this in mind, I consider radial tyres to be a necessity and accordingly I have fitted Pirelli Cinturatos to my car.

The Sunbeam Alpine is not so much a sports car as a comfortable fast touring car, and to support this opinion one has only to look at the generous boot space (by sports-car standards> which was available on the Series III, IV and V models.

I, for one, regret the demise of this excellent car and look forward to replacing my present one with a Series V 1,725-c.c. model. Were it not for the prohibitive cost of spare parts for the Sunbeam Tiger (e.g., replacement gearbox £240), I would be very tempted to combine the virtues of the Alpine with 4-litre performance, by changing to a Tiger. Alas, I cannot risk such large repair bills.

Incidentally, does anyone know why the Sunbeam Owners Club was disbanded and whether any of the latter have formed any new club? If so, I would be interested to hear.

Crow borough. J. C. EVERIST.

THE STUDENT’S LOT

Sir,

I am a student, and would also like to think of myself as a car enthusiast, like so many in my position. However, it seems to me that in order to run a car today you either need a very deep pocket, or else be able to drive, without fear, a death-trap. I have had a van and a car in my brief motoring career (three years) and each was maintained properly, with regular services and checks What with high insurance premiums and the £25 a year I paid the Government so they could buy anything but roads, it seems that we (motorists) are becoming like dope addicts, paying anything with hardly a murmur. (Oh yes, the RAC did have a scheme where I put a sticker in my window and everything would then be all right.)

The fact is, an enthusiast would pay almost anything to keep his car, and the Government (any Government, LAB, LIB or CON) know it. As far as I can see, nobody will ever cut car taxes, they will go on for ever and ever upwards. There will be more cars on the road every year. It is a goldmine, they can’t go wrong. Accidents will rise as well, but who really cares: MIRA? RAC? AA? BBC? I don’t think speed limits are the answer. Why make faster cars, and then lower the speed limit? It doesn’t make sense logically.

Anyway, I shall buy a moped, or scooter, and retire, for the meanwhile, from the world of the tin box.

Manchester. ALAN PAGE.