Having noted W.B.’s comments concerning the frontal aspect of the Panther Kallista in the January issue of Motor Sport and the subsequent letter on the same subject from reader Jordan in the February issue, it is good to know that beauty is still in the eye of the beholder and cannot be quantified like a drag coefficient or fuel consumption.
I am very pleased to be able to say that since the launch of the Kallista in October last year we have at the time of writing secured 206 deposited orders from UK retail customers and a further 76 from overseas dealers. Presumably these people think that they can live with the looks. In fact many people have congratulated us on the point that we have not attempted to copy anything in the styling of the Kallista and yet have produced an eyecatching, balanced looking car.
The Panther Centre Ltd.
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F1 seen from above
For me your regular article “The Formula One Scene” is an item not to be missed and indeed is generally read even before the opening editorial. The March 1983 issue of Motor Sport was no exception.
However, after reading the article and, in particular, the last paragraph, I simply had to put pen to paper. After suggesting, in not so many words, that the coming Formula One season will be of great interest and innovation D.S.J. imagines Bruce (McLaren), Colin (Chapman). Ronnie Peterson and Gilles Villeneuve looking down from “up there” and saying “we left too soon”.
It seems to me that “Jenks” has overlooked one thing. Surely the probability is that Bruce, Colin, Ronnie and Gilles already know the outcome of each and every Formula One race for 1983 and indeed of the World Championship as a whole! They probably know the same for next season and the next and so on beyond!
All I have to say on that point is how terribly boring it all must be for them “up there”. I can only hope that I, for one, live to a very old age indeed!
D. J. Farrow
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Could I raise the question of how to adequately illuminate vehicles, particularly from the case of recognition aspect.
For some time now I have considered the almost standard practice of driving on well lit roads, under good conditions, with dipped headlamps switched on, to be unsatisfactory. [I agree. — Ed.]
There is also, unfortunately, a growing body of drivers who consistently misuse hazard warning flashers and high intensity rear foglamps except of course for the correct purpose intended.
Personally, I find the frequently incorrectly adjusted and too powerful modern vehicle dipped headlamps often unnecessary, irritating and, on a long journey, particularly tiring.
The idea of perhaps a larger wattage sidelamp bulb illuminating the relatively large area headlamp reflector being my preference for town driving under good conditions while the possible alternative of polarised lamps and windscreens become accepted.
R. P. Bowden
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An Alfiste replies
I note with some surprise the comments of your correspondent Brian P. Whitcombe in relation to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and cannot allow them to go unchallenged.
I own a 1.6 version purchased new in May 1980. Fuel consumption over 28,000 congested Black Country miles has averaged 27.6 m.p.g., rising to 28.2 for the last 4,000. A not unimpressive record for a relatively heavy car with one carburettor per cylinder. It has swallowed a pint of oil every 2,000 miles or thereabouts. The engine, far from being “extremely sluggish'”, is delightfully crisp and pulls strongly from low revs., particularly in fourth gear. It has been described by a motoring magazine, the name of which discretion prevents me from mentioning, as “arguably the best four-cylinder engine in the world”.
Whilst the handling qualities per se may not be on a par with those of, for instance, the VW Golf GTi or Escort XR3, I suggest that the ride / handling combination is superior to anything of comparable price; I have to concede to Mr. Whitcombe that the gear change is not the Giulietta’s best asset. However, once the box has warmed up, a degree of finesse in its use will give satisfactory results.
I can only conclude that your correspondent’s vehicle was untypical. Its thirst for oil and petrol, and lack of performance, suggest perhaps a defective engine from new. One wonders why the car was not disposed of sooner, if indeed it was as unsatisfactory as stated.
N. W. Duckworth
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In October 1979 I wrote to you with a few “Lancia Reminiscences,” and also mentioned I was currently running a Beta 1600. I am compelled to send you some further continents by a recent Which verdict putting Lancia at the bottom of the class for reliability. I suggest this may be attributable to management failures by Lancia and their distributors rather than inherent design shortcomings.
Thus, in 1982 after the Beta had covered 46,000 miles with only a wheel-bearing replacement to record, I looked around for another similar model. I knew the Beta was being phased out so I looked for a favourable deal — and eventually got one. In due course I was advised the car (a Beta 2000 this time) was ready to collect and I did so on the morning of May 5th. Three minutes later I took it back to the dealer — the speedometer was not operating. Later that day, and two speedo cables having failed, I had to leave the car while a new speedo head was sought. On May 20th it was delivered to me with the reassurance that all was now in order. (I had suggested that the pre-delivery check could not possibly have been effected prior to May 5th, but now there had been plenty of time to do the inspection thoroughly.) Alas, there were six faults on the car requiring attention, relatively minor but inexcusable, the worst being a leaking rear-suspension unit and the most irritating a rattle which I eventually traced myself to a broken plastic wheel-arch guard.
It took a month, and repeated visits to a local dealer (not the supplier), to fix all these items. During this time I wrote to the Managing Director Lancia UK and after two weeks had a reply from his Customer Relations Manager suggesting that he was sure the supplier would “wish to contact me on reading of dissatisfaction,” but I never heard any more. All the problems were rectified with the help of a local dealer. None of them would have arisen if pre-delivery inspection had been effected conscientiously.
The Beta 2000 is excellent. and the extra c.c. do not seem to offset its economy. But a less patient buyer might well have condemned Lancia for all time on the above showing.
J. D. Frail
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After reading recent letters in your magazine from W. H. Batch-Elder and Brian P. Whitcomb, it seems to me that they must be either blind or take no notice of the obvious. The faults they describe with their Italian cars are repeated again and again in various road-tests and letters in different journals and would seem, to me, to eliminate these cars from the reckoning at the first post. Myself, I have a Capri 2.8i, which cannot really fault as a reliable, usable supercar.
D. C. E. Davies
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Belts & kit-cars
I wonder whether the Transport Department mandarins have looked closely at some of the vehicles into which they’ve strapped us? I had the misfortune to drive a Dodge (née Commer) PB van recently. (This is the van widely used by Telecom engineers and which was in quantity production until only last year.) The driver is separated from potential accidents by a single steel pressing and I quickly realised that survival would depend upon my being out of the vehicle before it hit anything solid. Not so easy if you’re belted in. I would imagine that VW transporters and any other flat-fronted vans are similar in this respect.
A different subject — your criticism of replicars (horrible word) in the January issue. You asked why anyone should be interested in kit-cars / replicars when the Morgan and Caterham 7 are available. Surely the fact that these two elderly and overpriced sports cars are still selling answers the question. The Morgan is cheaply built and finished — I’ve seen a four year old example with serious timber-rot and rusting. Remember that in the mid-sixties, when Morgans were unfashionable, the 4,4 was the lowest priced sports car available. As demand grew, Peter Morgan shrewdly increased prices to suit! The Caterham — superb to drive, no doubt — is an expensive and totally uncompromising toy.
Little wonder that kit cars are selling as never before. And, while bogus Bugattis with VW engines stuffed up their backsides are best not mentioned, many of the traditionally styled kits are attractive and fine handling motor cars in their own right. The Marlin and the NG TC tor example, both of which offer good value for money. Don’t knock them. Mr. Boddy; just be grateful that this country has a thriving alternative car industry able to counter the pangs of sports car deprivation.
David M. Landers
[Correspondence on seat-belts is now closed. — Ed.]