Readers' Letters, April 1984, April 1984

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Not “Cordon Rouge”

Your Continental Correspondent’s warning regarding replica and fake cars offered for sale (February’s “Not What They Seem to Be”) proved timely indeed. So much so that I almost suspected that he had had a sneak preview of the Small-Ads of that same issue, for there, almost heading the lists, was none other than “Cordon Rouge” itself, Raymond Mays’ first Bugatti, and one of the most famous sprint cars of all time. This revelation was somewhat surprising to me, as the researches I have conducted over recent years, fully recorded in “Bugantics” (available via the BOC), all confirm, without any doubt whatsoever, that this car was broken up well before the war, some parts being retained until later years by the final owner, others being disposed of in various ways. Many of these parts survive, some have been positively identified, and their present whereabouts are widely known. The car in question may be a very nice one but, believe me, it is certainly not “Cordon Rouge”, not a single nut or bolt of it. However well executed, it is nonetheless a “bitza”, built from mainly original major components on a replica frame.

So I would reiterate D.S.J.’s sound advice to prospective purchasers, do check with the Registrars of the various one-make clubs, or with the VSCC, before parting with your hard-earned pennies. Everyone is only too willing to help the genuine enthusiast, there is generally a wealth of information available to be drawn upon, backed up by long experience of the marque under consideration.

Finally, as for the “6,500 rpm+” quoted, well, when I last saw the car it had a standard Brescia cans installed, good for four and a bit, no more, so I would suggest that any would-be buyer first check the gearing of the rev-counter drive!

Bakewell DAVID SEWELL

Super Capri ,

Sir,

I really must take issue with you concerning your reference to the RS3100 in February’s article on the Tickford Capri, “… which hardly set new standards for reliability”. I Purchased an RS3100 in 1974 with 6,000 miles on the clock and ran it until 1978 during which time it covered some 80,000 miles. The car was used for local business runs during the week with a lot of city driving and long distance commuting at weekends. It was arguably one of the best driver’s cars of its time and certainly the most cost-effective four-seater coupe available. The cost new was £2,400; it consistently returned 26-28 mpg overall (29 on a run); would outperform most sports cars both in a straight line and on bends, and never once broke down.

The only replacements apart from consumables, such as tyres and disc pads, were an exhaust silencer tailpipe and a pair of front shock-absorber mounts.

When sold it was still on its original clutch, would still cruise at a steady 90, and its only sign of age was a tendency for the coolant temperature to rise a little when at high speed for some considerable time. I knew two other RS3100 owners, one of whom regularly towed a caravan; neither had any reliability problems with their cars. If the Tickford Capri is able to approach this sort of reliability record then, with its performance potential, it must be one of the best buys around.,

Fordingbridge ROY HARVEY

Flag Waving

Sir,

Your correspondent Sergio Ransford in the February issue has, of course, hit the subject right on the nail when he writes of the Italians having a better attitude to self-esteem and pride in achievement. So do the Americans, the French and Germans. My job takes me to many parts of the UK, frequently talking to directors and principals of garages, both large and small. Rarely indeed does one hear the topic of British International motoring successes even mentioned. Why is this? It must surely be that we do not bang the drum and sell ourselves anywhere near hard enough. It must also be, I regret to say, that there still lingers a vestige of the feeling that any kind of overt selling or flag waving is still not good form. How many people have even heard of Bob Tullius or what he and some of his compatriots have done to keep British cars and Jaguar in particular to the forefront of the tough American market? Where are the posters, showroom banners and other PR aids to shout out good and loud how a superb British product is fighting back? Honest value for money family cars are very worthy, but frankly their international image is hardly dramatic. There are people paid to sing the praises of Rover, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Range Rover which are each in their own style distinctly British and superior to anything the rest of the world produces. So here’s hoping for some belated and badly needed flag waving in the showrooms, on TV and in the Press.

I have great admiration for Porsche, BMW and Mercedes, but I want their users to cringe whenever they see the flag waved for every British success, which helps contribute to their own schools, colleges, hospitals, social services, pensions and general well being.

Leamington Spa JOHN EVANS

Taking a pride?

Sir,

I read with interest the letter from Sergio Ransford about the Lancias he saw in dealer’s showrooms in Biella, which he compares with the luke-warm publicity of this kind afforded to British cars, such as the Jaguar, in this country.

There is another side to this coin! Some time ago I was looking at a weekly magazine when a glossy Alfa Romeo brochure fell out, inviting one to take a test drive in the new Alfa 33 or one of the other exciting models in the range. As a proud user of a 2 1/2-litre Alfa Romeo which I felt might soon need to be replaced by a smaller car, I filled in the form, which I posted on December 15th last year, to the address in Berkeley Street. By early March 1984 I had heard nothing. One concludes that Alfa Romeo are indifferent about selling new cars!

“PLX 62W” (Name and address supplied).

The Lop-sided Maserati

Sir,

I was interested to see the letter from Innes Ireland, headed “Maserati 250F Facts”.

He is right, of course, the lopsided 250F was 2527. I dragged this car back from Italy in the winter of 1966, having scooped up the wreckage from a garage in Bergano and the Maserati factory.

However, just to get the facts even more factual, the history of the car is as follows:-,

It was a works car, mostly driven by Jean Behra until the factory gave up racing. It was sold not to Murray Rainey but to the Australian ex-motorcyclist Ken Kavanagh, and it was from him that Patrick Lindsay and I obtained the car. He raced it in the 1958 season and I remember him telling me that he once achieved 180 mph on the long downhill straight at Pescara at which point everything “was all light and wobbly”! I can well believe it.

Early in 1959 he wrapped it round a concrete post at Goodwood, took it back to Italy and stripped it. There it remained until we obtained it.

After the rebuild, Patrick drove it but was never really happy, and one day at Castle Combo, a friend and I with the aid of a bit of string, discovered the 1 1/2 in difference in wheelbase on one side. The news quite spoilt Patrick’s day! Incidentally, as far as I know, the cockpit was the same size as every other 250F, and 2526 was, and is, extremely straight.

Camberley RICHARD BERGEL

DVLC Misdeeds

Sir,

Reluctantly having complied with the DVLC’s November 30th ultimatum to present them with the log books of two vehicles off the road for many years I was taken somewhat aback by the makes and types the computer has recorded me as owning, eg a 1953 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine becomes a “Chrysler Alpine GL Sports” and a 1950 Sunbeam Talbot 90 Mk 1 convertible becomes a “Chrysler 2 axle rigid body coupe” (they should try riding in that one for a few miles to disprove the name!) OK 1984, I give in at last.

Bignor NICHOLAS BRIMBLECOMBE

Dream World

Sir,

I have once again opened the pages of your magazine to find that in the Readers Letters section there is more unfavourable comment on the speed of HGV and PSV vehicles.

Mr Trenerry from Essex states that a PSV travelling at 65 to 75 mph is running at almost twice its legal limit. This is not a fact but a figment of Mr Trenerry’s imagination. The limit for a PSV on the motorway is 70 mph and the use of the outside lane is quite legal. The limit on all other unrestricted roads is 50 mph, this having been in force since the nineteen thirties when some coaches were still on solid tyres.

You also had a letter some months ago from a member of the motorcycle fraternity who, in his own words, owned up to riding his machine at a speed of 100 mph plus and being half asleep at the time when “lo and behold”, he was passed by a coach doing comfortably more! Some people live in a dream world of their own.

Come on MOTOR SPORT readers, let’s face reality. I doubt very much if there is a coach capable of over 85 mph, and I have driven most makes of coaches and still do, and when this magic figure is reached it is probably downhill with a following wind. So next time you see us creeping up on you, Mr Trenerry, check your speedometer — ours are calibrated by law. Is yours? You never know, we may just be trying to avoid our half-asleep friend on his dream machine. Best of luck with the campaign to raise the speed limits.

Signal for everything!

Sir,

I must agree with Keith Jones, lane discipline or signalling has reached a low ebb in England. All road users should display their competence to drive by using their signals to change lanes, negotiate roundabouts and turn corners. Pedestrians — including school children — look for signals from road users before crossing the roads. Why risk their lives? Signals cost nothing to use.

I think that the Chief Constable of Surrey, who was criticised for organising random breathalyser / vehicle inspections, missed a golden opportunity. He could have used a suitable road junction and stopped the less competent drivers who were not signalling. Who could complain about that? A leaflet explaining the use of signals, written in simple language could be given to each driver, hopefully this would help make our roads safer.

Bexleyheath V. MITCHELL

Russian GP

Sir,

Congratulations on your Grand Prix report from Russia. Can you explain why Pravda, the official Russian newspaper said that the race was won by Ms Ludmilla Pozentikov, driving a Lada? Ludmilla is better known as the first women to have a child in space and is, of course, a Hero of the Soviet Union.

Pravda also says that this victory was a triumph of the peoples’ technology over Western Bourgeois Warmongers and that the engine fitted to the Lada may have looked like a Renault Turbo but, like Concordski this was a further example of parallel development. Why did they also refer to Comrade Balestre when all others involved were labelled as Capitalist Terrorists? Finally you might have given the race its correct title which was:

“The Aeroflot, Rouble-stretcher and Crimean Caviar Grand Prix sponsored by In-Tourist and the KGB (1984) Limited VAT No: 1984/1234567”.

Your magazine is still the best 70p’s worth on any bookstall.

Dereham GRAHAM J. ARNOLD

Climax History

Sir,

To round off your article on the “Westfield 7” (March Issue) you might be interested to know that the registration number 11 XPC was mated to a Coventry Climax engine long before it became attached to the Westfield. I have a photo of an early series one MG Midget taken in the mid ’60s, the car having its bonnet open at a concours, which clearly shows both engine and registration plate. It was of course one of the rare and expensive Brabham Climax conversions which Sir Jack’s garage business offered on the Midget and Triumph Herald in the early 60s. At the time I knew the owner of this particular car, based in Somerset, the engine was in more or less identical specification to that fitted in the Lotus Elite “Super 95” except for the addition of an Iskendarian high lift cam. It probably gave a very genuine 100 bhp, and as the car was externally unaltered it was an excellent “Q” car, quite capable of holding an E type up to 60 away from the lights. The Climax engine was lighter than the original, which considerably improved the handling as well.

My recollection is that part of the Brabham Conversion was a change from the series one Midget front drum brakes to Girling discs, which were considerably more powerful than the Lockheed equipment fitted to the later Midgets from Abingdon. I only ever drove the car once, very briefly and the outstanding memory is the turbine smooth engine, which wanted to go on well above 7000 rpm and the handling. Sir jack did a lot of work on the suspension as part of the package!

Barwell BRIAN HALL

Lotus History

Sir,

I write with a request for information concerning the early history of my Lotus 23 Sports / Racing car, which carries a small plate on the chassis showing Mk 23 / 23. From this I assume it is Chassis No. 23 of the Lotus 23 series. The history has been traced back to 1967 when it was brought to Australia. It had been bought in England in 1967 from a Fiat dealer who had a business “just off the M.1 .” — unfortunately the purchaser cannot remember the name or exact location of this Fiat dealer. At the time of purchase the car was fitted with a Fiat engine. It was bought as a result of a classified advertisement in an unknown magazine or newspaper.

I wonder if any of your readers may have any knowledge or information such as:-

1. Any knowledge of Lotus 23 chassis, No. 23;

2. Any idea who the “Fiat dealer’ may have been;

3. Offer any suggestion as to who may be able to assist me?.

26 Thorngate Drive, Belair, 5052. Australia. JOHN BLANDEN

Twin-cam Elites

Sir,

Stephen Goss’ interest in a prototype twin cam-engined Elite (letters, March ’84) may interest be satisfied by Chris Harvey’s book, Lotus: The Elite, Elan and Europa, wherein Harvey recalls how David Lazenby, then head of Lotus components, planned to utilize 30 or so Elite bodyshells (left (over after the Elan went into production) as a special components winter project complete with the twin-cam engine. However, whilst producing the necessary drawings to instal the heavier engine and gearbox. Lazenby was pre-empted by Colin Chapman who had, team Lotus fit a unit in “double-quick time. The result was a nose heavy car and Chapman lost interest on the spot. Only later (1967) did Lazenby resurrect the idea for his company car. I remember buying Car magazine as a schoolboy when they tested the car. The result was much more successful than the earlier effort and I remember wishing I could have one like it

Yeovil . N. H. LANCASTER

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