I think that Mr. Lansdell is unaware, primarily, that most vintage tyres are made at Fort Dunlop by hand. They are made, literally, on vintage machinery by a few dedicated people, many of whom have spent all their lives in this specialised trade. These worthy individuals, who are few in number, are working with what equipment now exists: For instance, in the 26 x 3 beaded-edge range, the original machine which is still used for building the tyres is over 45 years old. Each size presents a production problem and a production headache—each tyre is virtually a one-off; the operatives make steadily and readily but are only able to turn out so many units a year, working first on one size and then on another regardless of what is used or bought.
The cost of their personal labours and raw materials they use rises steadily year by year.
I feel that the price of tyres to users of vintage cars should be pitched at a level at which it is economic for the manufacturer to remain sufficiently enthusiastic to continue production of these sizes of tyres which are, to say the least, not economic, else we shall be faced with the fact that we shall have no tyres for our vintage cars.
Incidentally, Mr. Lansdell has his figures wrong; the increases he notes in his letter in your February issue, which do seem extreme, are not between Spring and Winter last year, but between December 1970 and November 1972—a period of just under two years. The actual increases between Spring and Winter 1972 average out at about 5%. I am told on reliable information from Dunlop, that it is not their intention in the foreseeable future to cease manufacture of veteran and vintage sizes, despite the relatively small sales, and I think that the debt that the vintage and veteran movement owe to them is not sufficiently acknowledged.
I cannot comment on the policy of the National Motor Museum, but no doubt Lord Montagu will wish to do so when he returns from his tour abroad.
P. S. Pollock,
Vintage Tyre Supplies Limited.