N.B. – Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them. – Ed.
The Silencer Fiasco
As a Formula Ford 1600 competitor, I feel I should comment on the recent silencer fiasco.
In November 1978 the RAC announced that silencers were required in this formula. This gave us plenty of time to fit them during those long winter nights. However, the RAC were to specify which silencer to use to retain the “equality” of the formula. The first official announcement appeared in the motoring press on January 31st, 1979. ensuing problems were threefold:
i) According to one of the top engine firms, the pipe diameters are different to those of the previous unsilenced exhaust system, complicating the fitting of such devices.
ii) The lack of notice means that such engine firms have insufficient time to design a safe mounting causing a race to become an obstacle course avoiding dropped silencers improperly mounted.
iii) On February 6th, 1979 my local Ford Rally Sport dealer informed me that he had ordered 1,000 silencers but RS dealers had been allocated only two each and they had not yet arrived.
Consequently, since the first official meeting at which the RAC were going to enforce the rule was on February 18th, 1979, panic broke out.
The final comment must go to the RAC. Having announced their decision at the end of January, they informed me that they were enforcing this rule from January 1st – how can they enforce a rule before its announcement?
Bromley. Tim Garland
Customs Duty & Taxes on Reimports
I would like to refer to Mr. C. A. Mann’s letter in the December issue, where he complained of customs duty and VAT levied on reimports to this country of British-manufactured vehicles.
Unfortunately this recent ruling covers reimports of all previously exported products and is part of the standardised EEC customs regulations governing our nine member states.
We have been bringing back such vehicles to this country for a number of years and now find these new regulations in respect of duty quite the imposition Mr. Mann describes.
However, the present situation is not completely so penalising as some may interpret. Indeed even a few small compensations are perceivable.
All vehicles, if not brought back to Community territory by the original exporter within the three-year period, are certainly now assessed at 11% duty.
With regard to VAT, a local United Kingdom tax: this is not subject to the foregoing time limit and, although stipulations vary slightly for other vehicles and motorcycles, where it is applicable to reimports of motor cars, VAT is still calculated as before at 8% on a sum figure, including the duty rate (ad valorem duty), the identical method as in the past, even though no duty itself was actuaiiy charged in previous years.
Nevertheless, even VAT as well as the 10% car tax are waived on reimports of unaltered motor cars on which – broadly speaking – these taxes are fully paid during their ownership and use in the UK before original export (verifiable by original sales and registration papers etc.)
Furthermore, car tax is neither claimed on motor cars, on which the old purchase tax was paid, nor on cars of more than 20 years old.
I have steered clear of using customs vocabulary in the above, but one must differentiate between “motor car” and “vehicle” for precise rulings. Additionally there are numerous small qualifications to each regulation, which prove every import must be judged individually, in order to achieve a precise assessment.
For example: private vehicles, imported as or part of legacies, are still admitted free of customs dues, as too are vehicles brought in as private effects, though under strict ownership conditions.
One advantage is of course, that now the whole EEC territory can be regarded as a source for duty-free imports. With this gain, however, we and our Continental counterparts have had to sacrifice that earlier advantage of being able to bring back from more distant continents at the former privileged rates valuable and historic examples of our own nation’s motor engineers’ achievements.
Since these new circumstances affect all, perhaps Mr. Mann and other enthusiasts throughout the European Community might consider it worthwhile mobilising their efforts within all nine countries in an attempt to have the customs rules relaxed, if at least in respect to imports of special category vehicles or of vehicles requiring considerable restoration, etc.
Charmouth. C. S. Bullen
Bullen Shipping & A. S.
100 m.p.h. from 750 c.c.
I was most interested by your article, “100 m.p.h. from 750 c.c.”, particularly your point that the Morgan achieved this speed unblown. I wonder if this is as surprising as it appears at first glance?
While my knowledge of ICE design is only that of the interested layman, I have always understood that the disposition of inlet and exhaust tracts in the motorcycle type of engine permitted one particularly beneficial result; that is, spray cooling of the exhaust valve by the incoming charge. This would evidently be difficult to arrange in an engine such as the Austin 7 or the MG where all the valves are in line astern.
I seem to recall an article by L. Mantell, in the Light Car, in which he stated that the effect of such exhaust valve cooling was to raise power output by about the same extent as supercharging.
Presumably the normally aspirated Morgan would take advantage of this phenomenon, not to mention the greater crankshaft rigidity and lighter weight of the unblown V-twin unit.
While this might go some way towards explaining the Morgan’s remarkable performance, it doesn’t help me decide which frightens me most – 100 m.p.h. by Morgan, Austin or MG.
Lincoln. Stuart Ulph
Requiem for the Midget
I think that what I have to say in the next few paragraphs will echo the resentment felt by many fellow MG Midget enthusiasts.
Having owned two ’73 Midgets and at present owning a ’78 model, I can do nothing but praise this fine little car. I was looking forward to seeing the Midget in production well into the 1980s, until I heard the news that it was going to be phased out later this year. Having found that hard to swallow, I nearly choked on the following statement read by the newscaster, in which he told us that the Austin Allegro Vanden Plas is to be produced at Abingdon in place of the Midget. What an insult to have that built on the hallowed soil of Abingdon.
Just what are Leyland Cars playing at?
The MG Midget as we all know was changed drastically, back in late ’74, so as to comply with various American laws. This was done because the demand for the Midget was greater over there, than it was here. Consequently we too suffered the big bumpers, raised suspension etc. Now after four years of having got used to the different appearance of the Midget, and in my case liking it, Leyland see fit to axe it.
The reason behind this seems to be that the Triumph Spitfire is more popular with our Trans-Atlantic cousins than the Midget. Therefore it appears that Leyland can’t justify production of the Midget any longer, although there is still a good home market for it. Thus, this action not only deprives the Americans of choice between the two marques but us also.
Comparing the Marina and Allegro just for a moment, I see that Marina sales figures outstrip those of the Allegro (both cars being aimed at the same sort of market, as too are the Midget and Spitfire), but I don’t hear any rumblings at Leyland about chopping the Allegro because its sales are second best.
While I’m on the subject of Allegros, why go and produce the Vanden Plas at Abingdon in place of the export-earning Midget?
Don’t Leyland need as much foreign income as possible from their cars, more so now than ever before as the home market becomes swamped with imports?
I clearly think that they do. So why axe a car popular both here and stateside, offering no replacement for it, and leaving us with Hobson’s choice of the Spitfire?
The burning question remains. Can we afford to lose a soft-top sports car, which above all is traditionally British, cheap, cheerful and bags of fun to drive, especially with the hood down?
It seems to me that certain people don’t like you having fun any more, or personal choice.
I urge any MG enthusiast feeling the same as I do, to write to Michael Edwardes or Derek Whittaker at Leyland Cars, and let them know how you feel.
Evesham. I. P. Rainey
A Cantering Colt
After following the letters regarding RS2000s with considerable interest I feel I must put pen to paper.
Two and a half years ago I was considering buying an RS2000 but due to poor availability and experiences concerning replacement parts for a rally RS Mexico I decided against it.
After considering other alternatives I decided on a Colt GTO 2000. This car has been the RS owners dream. The performance was as good as if not better, its looks were better (it was noticed wherever it went) and the smoothness of the engine had to be experienced to be believed.
The car covered 43,000 miles in 2½ years which was not an easy life by any means. It was run in on a 12 car rally, driven into various lakes and on most weekends was seen hurtling across the Pennines towing a powerboat.
In the time that I had it replacement parts needed were two fuses and one stoplight bulb, and a set of tyres at 40,000 miles! . Its bodywork still glistened as new having had only two polishes in its entire life. The biggest problem was selling it two months ago. You guessed it, nobody wanted it. They all wanted RS2000s.
Would anybody like to explain why?
Newton Aycliffe. P. Whally
Referring to the article entitled “My Year’s Motoring”, page 167, February 1979, edition. With regard to “these rugged Volvo barges”, I would like to point out the following: –
The Volvo “wired-to-the-ignition running lamps”, are not strictly sidelamps. As you will know sidelamps are 5 watt value but the Volvo running-lamps are 21 watt lamps, reverting to 5 watts when the headlamps are switched on. Please do not assume that you are speaking for all drivers – the Volvo wired-to-the-ignition running lamps have proved their point with you – you have at least noticed them.
Newton Abbot. P. J. Warne
(I knew about the Volvo running-lamps I used the description “sidelamps” loosely. – W. B.)
Five Star Concern
As a motorsport competitor I view with some concern the news that all major petrol companies plan to cease production of five star petrol.
We ourselves run an Escort with a full rate Cosworth FVC engine in rallycross which would obviously come to very great harm were it run on four star petrol.
In the light of this I have recently been in touch with Esso Petroleum Co. to enquire if there is any way in which I could improve the octane rating of four star or find a retail outlet for aviation spirit. I was put in touch with a Mr. Crossthwaite at Esso Regional Office, Aldridge Road, Little Aston, Birmingham, who, although he did not in any way promise anything, was very sympathetic with my motorsport query and hinted very strongly that Esso are deliberating this problem in no small way and are considering various ways of continuing to fulfil the needs of the sport, namely, maintaining small scale production of five star and different ways of getting it to the competitors such as a few central garages, tanks or tankers at major circuits etc. He did emphasise that I write to him stating my needs as the more letters he receives the stronger the argument becomes.
May I through your pages suggest that everyone who is concerned with this problem write to Mr. Crossthwaite stating their concern and needs and hopefully Esso Ltd. will come to the rescue of serious motorsport in Britain.
Lichfield. W. J. Chatwin
I read the March issue with pleasure till I came Upon C. R.’s review of 1978 motoring, page 322 referring to motorway overtaking on the inside lane. This gave me the “willies”.
I have just had two months in New Zealand hiring cars to tour both Islands and found the minor two lane roads a joy because of lack of traffic, but city motorways a nightmare. The three way and six way lanes running through Auckland are fraught with peril because of the inside overtake and outside overtake. To be glued to a middle lane is asking for trouble as one’s eyes are constantly searching the mirrors from port to starboard. There is no discipline as it is a case of every man for himself.
This breeds a certain kind of Dad, nice chap off the road but 8 a.m. he is demented.
I command you Sir, never to mention the subject again for fear that a Whitehall Twit might think it a good idea.
St. Briavels, Glos. T. Tufnell
(The prospect of allowing overtaking in all lanes gives me the “willies” too, but so does my daily experience at the southern end of the M1 of cars overtaking illegally in both slow and middle lanes and chopping across all three lanes willy-nilly. The real answer as I said, would be to enforce proper use of the outside lane as an overtaking lane and not as a mechanised, slow-moving crocodile while the other lanes are comparatively empty. – C. R.)
Mighty Minor Mileage
As a Morris Minor 1000 owner, I was interested to read in the February Motor Sport of a 1961 Minor 1000 which has covered only 311 miles, with the claim that this could be the lowest mileage example existing.
My 1958 example, which I have owned for the past 14 years, has covered 332,000 miles, and I wonder if this might be the highest mileage Morris Minor saloon.
Romsey. M. J. Smetham
Further to the sketch “Tailpiece”, page 208 February issue of Motor Sport, and the interesting questions of Mr. E. J. Warburton re KMB 300 of which from 1946-50 I was the proud owner. This car was considered to be the Rolls-Royce of Trials Specials, also in my hands, one of the most successful, and was a great pleasure to own and drive.
It was a well designed and beautifully finished car of several parts, Trials Specials and Sprint (timed 6.8 sec. to 60 m.p.h. and 7.2 sec. to 70 m.p.h. to give some idea of the acceleration). I always drove the car to and from events, and it was fully roadworthy, waterproof and clean. I took my wife on many occasions to car club dinner dances in the car.
This car was beautifully finished in battleship grey with real leather upholstery, mohair hood, side curtains and tonneau cover, fully equipped, engine turned dashboard, Hartford adjustable shock absorbers. Even the engine compartment and bonnet were engine turned also and it was a pleasure to keep in concours condition.
Mr. David Gandy, who knew the car well has given some details, but if the car had been kept in the condition when I sold same, it would now be a very highly priced Collectors’ item. I wish the new present owner every success, and maybe I shall have the pleasure of seeing him at some event.
My wife and I have many happy memories and photographs and awards to think over as we get a little older. I enclose some photographs showing the car in various events and giving some idea of the finish in which the car was always presented for an event.
Chelford, Cheshire. R. E. Holt
* * *
I enclose a poor photostat copy of “Ford V8” referred to by Mr. Warburton (no relation of mine). The original one taken by Lancashire Daily Post and the notes on the back of the photo were written by J. H. Toulmin and Porter Hargreaves, both well-known competitors with M.G. and Fraser Nash in the 1930 period.
The Ford V8 was built for H. C. Symonds by an aero engineer. I purchased it from Symonds Registered GMDI and after a time sold it to Reg Holt who re-registered it KMD300.
Auckland, NZ. Guy Warburton
(We were pleased to hear from Guy Warburton with this additional information. If the reader in South Africa who currently owns Mr. Warburton’s well-known Vauxhall 30/98 and wishes to contact him would care to write to us again, we shall be happy to forward Mr. Warburton’s address. – Ed.)
More About Specials
Mr. Warburton’s letter in your February issue reminded me of happy hours spent with Leslie Bellamy at his garage in Caterham in 1945 looking at the laid up LMB V8 and dreaming of trials to come.
This car has lived in the Croydon area for the last couple of years but now carries an AC radiator badge and a 2-litre AC engine. It is again green. Does any reader know the fate of the Jaguatti, a special I used in Autocross in 1954. It comprised a Bugatti chassis, 2½-litre SS Jaguar engine with a 1½-litre Le Mans Singer body. The registration was OKN 15 when I bought it and GNO 2 when I sold it.
For the sake of true records may I add that I bought Allard CLK 5 in 1948 and with the help of Sidney Allard and Reg Canham restored it to exactly its original specification including the removal of the limited slip diff unit which had caused a certain amount of bad feeling in the trials world. I enjoyed many happy trials in it and sold it in 1949. I saw it again about four years later in a used car dealers with a hideous home made “streamlined” body. Other V8 engined specials I used competitively were the ex-Imhof Allard “Orrible Orror” KLD 5 in 1949, the ex-Appleton Allard JYH 613 in 1950 and the ex-Northway Mercury engined Nash “The Spook” which I sold to someone in Jersey.
If any readers want details of these or the many other smaller engined specials I have owned I will be pleased to correspond. Incidentally I have read every issue of Motor Sport since 1938, even when it meant a trip to City Road in the forties to be sure of my copy on the first of the month – was it ever late?
Crawley. Tony Rumfitt
* * *
I refer to the letter in your March issue from David Gardner.
The Cripps Special was a hairy beastie (and apparently may well become such once more) which was devised by the Cripps brothers. Many photographs of the car being raced by one or the other adorned the walls of Southampton Motors, the Cripps’ car Sales business (I purchased a Wolseley Hornet Special Eustace Watkins Coupe from them in 1957 and later looked more than once at an SS1 for which the asking price was £95!) and the car was usually in residence in or near the showroom.
I first saw the car in competition at the BARC South-Western Centre’s Brunton Hill-climb, which I believe was towards the latter part of the Cripps’ racing career.
One of the brothers is now the landlord of the “Globe” in Bernard Street, Southampton.
Southampton. D. E. Bishop
* * *
Mr. Heseltine’s letter January issue (vol. LV No. 1) “Hairy V8 Specials”.
Yes, there are still some around. I have owned two for many years viz: 1. A Riley-based two-seater with English Ford V8 engine (pre-war built) – very hairy! 2. One of the V8 Grenfell specials – superbly built!
Twickenham, Avon. M. H. Eason
* * *
Recent correspondence in your columns on the subject of Ford V8-engined trials specials brings to mind an example seen in a semi-derelict condition in Cheshire some four years ago. This was apparently built either just pre-war or shortly afterwards by Blakes of Liverpool and followed the usual pattern of cycle wings, sketchy bodywork and twin rear-mounted spare wheels, it may possibly still be there if not gone beyond total recall. Details could be passed on if anyone wishes to try and mount a rescue attempt.
Another Ford V8 Special of a later era was discovered by a friend, Stuart Entwistle, lurking in the corner of a Ford main dealership in Wigan around 1968. This car was built up in the late 1960s from a surplus of mainly new V8 Pilot parts. The constructors solved the body problem by the simple expedient of obtaining an open proprietary fibreglass special body of the 1172 ilk, which was too narrow, cutting it in two down the centre line and letting in an extra piece. The result was reasonably light and highly accelerative. My own car at this time was a TR2/3, itself no sluggard, but the V8 had a definite edge.
We entered it for a local autocross but the excitement proved too much, both fan belts breaking in twain and the car retiring in a cloud of steam. It was disposed of soon afterwards in an incredible part exchange deal involving around seven vehicles! I often wonder if it survived but regret I have kept no record of the Reg. Number.
Keep up the good work.
Daventry. M. A. Hill
As an American Sees Us
Your recent articles on the downward trend of the British motor industry has prompted me to write to you on the performance of this same industry in the US or at least in the North Eastern part, being an Englishman who has lived in the US for nearly 20 years and has seen us, “first with our foot in the door”, now hardly ever mentioned in articles relating to foreign car imports. We are now seeing vast imports of German and Japanese cars, and increasing amounts of French cars. Our advertising in a country that lives on the nose is to say the least second rate. Here, I cannot see why the government who is now so deeply involved cannot help out in a much greater campaign. Even if Rolls-Royce and Jaguar sell all the cars they can build it would still help the industry all round to tell of the excellence of these British built products. I can assure you that very few here know that the Indianapolis cars last year were British engineered, or that Mario Andretti drives a British car. This may surprise you, but it’s true. As regards mechanical innovations, it makes one mad to see the Japanese cashing in on front-wheel drive, transverse engine design, going ahead with 5-speed gearboxes. Also the Germans and Japanese are now getting deep in diesel cars; they are now one of the biggest sellers in Mercedes and Volkswagen. How is it we as one of the earliest users and one of the biggest producers of diesels are not into this field at all? Where cars are concerned, I cannot at all understand, why are we not importing some of those excellent Ford and Vauxhall products I saw when I was at home, why aren’t we pushing four-wheel drive that is a tremendous seller here now. Small pick-up trucks and vans are among the hottest items? Where are we in this fieId? And on a slightly different note I’m seeing more and more Mercedes and Scania/Volvo small commercial vehicles and buses and not one BL product.
I am a Jaguar E-type owner and like many others think this was a terrible mistake for Jaguar to drop this type of car. The XJ and above all the XJ-S are excellent cars, but I’m sure there is a market for a real exotic two-seater Jaguar front or rear engined. Ferraris can seem to sell all they export of the 308s at over £30,000 a time complete with all the US modifications. Mr. Editor what is wrong? Is it in management who have lost the initiative and drive so needed in such a competitive industry? Or they cannot seem to be able to feel the pulse of what is wanted in this vast North American market? Or is it the shop floor who really don’t care so long as the wages are there? Where is the British craftsman of old? Where are the Lyons, Morris, Lords who are so sorely needed now? Is the British car industry going to go the way of the motorcycle industry? I still think British motor engineering is the best in the world, but I think if it doesn’t wake up soon it will be too late, and I speak for many on the North American continent saying we await in great expectation for fine British automotive products to come here in force again. I would like to add that I cannot conceive how the great name MG has been allowed to deteriorate.
Holliston, USA. R. C. Foster
Big Healey Numbers
Many thanks for publishing the letter regarding the Austin-Healey Club’s 100/6, 3000 Register in your March edition of Motor Sport, from which we are having a good response.
One rather disturbing fact which has come to light when owners have returned their forms, is the validity of the various numbers entered in the log book or the vehicle registration document.
It would seem that approximately 80% of forms received to date have either incomplete or incorrect numbers listed, in terms of car/chassis, body and engine numbers. This soon came to light when the forms were compared, showing an absence of certain details. When owners checked the details on the vehicle, the correct numbers were found. My own BJ8 log book is an example, giving the same number for the body and engine numbers, though I had known for some years.
The important point here of course, and this would apply to any vehicle, is if there were any legal entanglement, and the car numbers vary, a lot of unnecessary explanations may have to be made. It is therefore strongly advised that all car owners check their vehicle identification numbers match the registration document.
As a guide to all big Healey owners, the following numbers can be found in the engine compartment, as viewed from the front of the car: –
Car/chassis no. On a metal plate fixed to the left-hand side of the bulkhead, near the regulator box.
Body no. On a metal plate fixed to the bulkhead to the upper, right-hand side of the car/chassis no. plate.
Engine no. To be found on a metal plate, to the front, right-hand side of the cylinder block situated near to the timing chain cover.
Little did I realise when compiling the registration form that such a problem would arise. However, the register is growing steadily with some interesting cars showing up, along with interest from the overseas clubs.
Should owners have any problems, please do not hesitate to contact: – John Masefield, 52, Greenwood Road, Oxley, Wolverhampton WV10 6DL. Telephone Wolverhampton (0902) 23463.
Wolverhampton. John Masefield
100/6, 3000 & MK 2 Reg. Sec.
The 328 Remembered
As fine as their products are today – and they are indeed very fine – I do wish BMW made a modern equivalent of their Type 328 which was so successful before the last war. I first saw a BMW 328 in 1938 (I was living in America at the time). It had been imported by a man who wanted to substitute it for a very nice Type 44 Bugatti fitted with a pretty four-passenger fabric body built in England. I thought the fellow was out of his mind! Anyway, I found him a customer for the Bugatti (who I later found out had left the little gem out in the rain and five months later it looked as if it had been stored at the bottom of a swimming pool), and was thus permitted to sample the BMW. It was a revelation! The BMW might not have had the hand-finished look that was expected of a first-rate sports car but it weighed only 1,800 lbs., and it went like the clappers – (100 m.p.h.; 0-60 in 11 seconds). It handled like a dream and held the road as if screwed down to the bitumen.
At the time it felt entirely different from the rather brutal sporting machinery we were used to. It was, in fact, a precursor of a type of car which we would not see until the fifties, and then never again.
London W11. Orville J. Baltimore
(There’s always the Sbarro 328 replica. – C. R.)