Letters, April 1992

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Speed

Sir,
The Edwardian motorist had to contend with Bobbies with whistles and stopwatches jumping out of hedges. Judging by a police “cameo” I recently witnessed nothing has changed. I was travelling east on the A303 in Somerset just to the east of Sparkford early after lunch when traffic was very light and conditions were ideal for speed with safety.

I saw, in reverse order, amongst landscaping trees a hatless policeman operating a radar handgun, about a mile further on in a layby two or three patrol cars and crews, and a mile further west another patrol car appearing to be chasing some “criminal” speeder. In short, three or four cars and between five and 10 officers were engaged in trying to convict motorists when there was no likelihood of speed being a danger.

I respect sensible speed limits to protect pedestrians in built-up areas, but what I saw confirms my belief that police only attempt to enforce speed limits when and where the speed is not a real danger. If such costly resources as I saw are deployed in this way it is hardly surprising the crime rate rises and rises.
John Stickland,
Dorset.

What is it?

Sir,
Could it be that we now see the ultimate “marketing men’s car” in the new Rover? From its front, we have Jaguar, from the rear BMW, internals basically Honda and from the side it could pass off as anything! One can only wonder how the poor Viking Ship must feel with such a loss of direction on the part of the marque!

I’m sure it goes well and I do hope, for the sake of all at Rover, that it is more reliable than the Rover SD I we bought in the early ’80s as our new company car. The gearbox failed, we had new cams in the engine and, to add insult to injury, all the door windows lammed open one summer’s evening on approaching the Point of no return when entering a car-wash! My wife, who was driving at the time was not over impressed!
Rod Perrin,
Warwickshire.

Monte Query

Sir,
I have an original 1956 Rallye Monte Carlo competitors badge for car No 155. The badge has been in my possession for many years and only recently came to light after moving house again.

I would appreciate any information as to is former owner, driver, what vehicle it was on etc.
RMJ Laws,
Gloucestershire

History sought

Sir,
I am currently in the final stages of compiling an illustrated history of Bond cars which is to be published in the near future and I am having some difficulty in obtaining certain illustrative material, particularly any photographs of Lawrence ‘Laurie’ Bond himself and the various racing cars that he built over the years. Laurie Bond was a well known figure in the motor racing world of the late ’40s and the ’50s and competed at many well known events in 500cc racing cars of his own design. I was wondering if any of your readers may have attended such events and perhaps taken photographs of Laurie Bond ‘in action’ or of any of these vehicles. Laurie Bond also offered to build such racing cars for sale and I would be interested to hear from anyone who has any literature relating to either the ‘Type C’ Bond or the ‘Formula Junior’ Bond or perhaps someone may even know of the whereabouts of one of these cars!

The scope of this book will be quite wide ranging, covering the life and work of Laurie Bond himself as well as the firm that built the well known Minicars, Sharps Commercials Ltd of Preston in Lancashire. Vehicles covered will include the aforementioned racing cars, the famous Bond Minicars and later Equipe sportscars as well as other Bond designs such as the Berkeley, Opperman Unicar, Bond and B A C motorcycles and scooters.

I would be grateful for any help your readers may be able to give with this project and I would, of course, undertake to copy and return any material if required.
C N Wotherspoon,
Lancs.

Lagonda History

Sir,
I am finishing a mechanical overhaul on a 1934 Lagonda M45 T7 bodied four-seater tourer prior to returning the old girl to regular use after a 20 year lay-up.

My reason for writing is to see if any reader may be able to throw any light on the car’s pre-war history as the old log book only goes back to 1946 when the car was owned by Thomas Ashworth Hoyle, Holdsworth House, Holmfield, Halifax. Subsequent post-war owners were John Gordon Mackintosh also of Halifax, John Benn of Leeds, Denis Hudson of Yeovil, Somerset, Geoffrey Kerr of Dorchester and Norman Ball on the Isle of Wight.

The car, chassis number Z 11095, was registered BGO 481 on February 27 1934, being sold by Gaffekin Wilkinson in London whose plaque is still on the dashboard. Also on the dash is a square ivory-coloured plaque with RAC in the bottom left hand corner. This has the words Automobile, No Motor, No Chassis and weight in kgs with the Lagonda details engraved in.

If anyone does know anything about the car or the reason for the RAC plaque I would be pleased to hear from them.
M J Ridley,
Shropshire.

Lotus Eleven Register

Sir,
The Historic Lotus Register has been in existence for nearly 20 years and during that time has built up a large quantity of information concerning Lotus cars constructed up to around 1960. The majority of Lotus sports racing and racing cars had small production numbers which has allowed the Register to track almost all of the surviving cars.

However the Eleven Register has the task of tracing around 300 cars and so far has details of 240 of these. Perhaps I could appeal to any of your readers who may have or know of an Eleven. Not only is HLR anxious to trace outstanding cars, but serious problems are now arising with owners of replicas or cars without documentation claiming “vacant chassis numbers”. It is therefore in the interest of all owners of original cars to contact me in order to check the entry in the Eleven Register.
Victor Thomas,
Founder of HLR and Eleven Registrar,
Norfolk.

Chester History

Sir,
I have been following the correspondence relating to Chester Motor Club, RIIB and the Queensferry Sprint, and it occurred to me that your readers may be able to assist me in my researches into the history of Chester Motor Club, its members and events, from the inception in 1921 as Chester & District Motorcycle and Light Car Club to the present day. If any of your readers has anything which might add to the Club archives I would appreciate the opportunity to see, and if possible copy such information.
Martin Pratt,
Hon Archivist,
Chester Motor Club,
Chester.

Invicta Book and Register

Sir,
Derek Green of the Invicta Car Club is in the final stages of research in preparing a book on the Invicta Motor Car. He would welcome new material and original photographs from any new source and would appeal particularly to employees of the Invicta Car Company or their families, residents of Cobham who might remember the factory or enthusiasts in general who might harbour memories or archive material. Any original photographs will be treated with great care and returned after publication. Please contact:
Derek Green,
Hatch House,
Hartley Wintney,
Hants RG27 8HL.

Homologation Forms

We are attempting to obtain FIA Homologation forms for those we are missing due to their destruction during the early ’60s. With the increase in Historic Motor Sport we are receiving requests for the early forms. I would therefore be most grateful if you could publish the enclosed list with the hope that some of your readers may have some of those listed. Many thanks for your help.
Neil Eason-Gibson,
Technical & Historical Executive, RAC MSA.

FIA Homologation forms required by RAC Motor Sports Association, with homologation date:

12. XK 150 (3.8 litre. open. 21.3.60.
13. XK 150 ‘S’ (3.8 litre) Fixed Head Coupe. 11.9.61.
14. XK 150 ‘S’ (3.8 litre) Drop Head Coupe
15. XK 150 ‘S’ (3.8 litre) Open Two Seater
17. Austin Healey 3000 1959/60. 5.5.60
19. Jaguar XK 150 Auto. 5.5.60.
20. Daimler SP250. 16.6.60.
23. Aston Martin DB2GT. 16.6.60
44. MG Midget 948. 14.9.61.
46. Warwick GT. 13.10.61.
70. Triumph Vitesse Convertible. 5.10.62.
84. MG Midget 1098. 10.11.62.
92. Speedwell GT2A 1080. 29.1.63.
161. Austin Healey Sprite Mk 11.1
184. Jaguar E 4.2 196. Triumph TR4A 1991
197. Triumph Spitfire Mk 11
1007. Triumph Herald 1200 Estate (1147)
1013. Ford Popular 100 E (1172)
1014. Ford Anglia 105E (996)
1015. Ford Zephyr 206E (2553)
1016. Ford Zodiac 206E (2553)
1018. Sunbeam Rapier Mk III (1494)
1019. Humber Super Snipe series 111
1038. Ford Zephyr Mk 1 I mod. 1960
1043. Ford Consul Mark 11 204E (1703)
1044. Ford New Prefect 107E (996)
1045. Austin A 99(2912)
1046. Austin A 40 (948)
1049. Wolseley 6/99 (2912)
1051. Austin Taxi (2199)
1052. Vanden Plas 3 litre (29912)
1054. Austin A 55 Mk 11(1489)
1055. Singer Gazelle series III A
1056. Singer Gazelle series III
1057. Hillman Minx series III B
1058. Morris Oxford series V
1069. Ford Consul 315 Classic (1390)
1070. Hillman Husky series I 1 (1390)
1080. Hillman Minx series IIIC
1111. Rover 80 (2286)
1115. Triumph Herald 1200 Saloon Model 1962
1130. Wolseley Hornet (848)
1134. MG 1100(1098)
1136. Ford Anglia Super (1198)
1193. Triumph Herald 12/50 Saloon (1147)
1273. Rover P6 2000 (1980)
1274. Triumph 2000 (1998)
1314. Hillman Minx Series III A.

Sleeping policemen awake

Sir,
Over the past 35 years a lot of common sense has been offered within the pages of Motor Sport, the latest in your March issue, being the article on ‘Sleeping Policemen’.

Let us all rise with concerted effort against ‘Do-Gooding’ of this nature, instituting a Ban-the-Bump Campaign.

We must all ensure that such a crusade has, as its positive aim, improved driving instruction and awareness coupled with effective traffic engineering. This would minimise danger rather than attempt to solve aspects of the problem piecemeal. I could continue, but any real motorist will know what I mean.
David Rolfe,
The Oval.

Pooling information

Sir,
Following Jeremy Broad’s letter: for a short period in 1947/48 I was the owner of ERA R11B and can make a small contribution to its history. I believe R11B was first purchased by Reggie Tongue prior to the war. I bought it from Robert(a) Cowell and Gordon Watson through Happy Jack Bartlett during 1947. At this time a Riley gearbox had been substituted for the preselector.

I entered the car for The British Empire Trophy in The Isle of Man, to be driven by Sheila Darbishire with me as reserve. Unfortunately in practice we ran the big end bearings, the oilways in the crankshaft not having been properly cleaned after treatment by a specialist. Leslie Brooke generously loaned some spare con rods and helped my mechanic and I to rebuild the engine overnight but there was insufficient oil pressure and we withdrew the car. Later I sold the car to Reg Parnell as it was very difficult for me to drive in comfort I am six foot three and needed more room to operate the clutch with my then wooden artificial leg. The cross member behind the seat prevented a simple modification.
Edward Pool,
London.

Lotus in the ascendant

Sir,
What a pleasure it was to see Johnny Herbert’s efforts in South Africa rewarded with a World Championship point.

While not wishing to detract from Nigel Mansell’s superb drive, the eventual winner clearly enjoyed a significant performance advantage. I hope that he makes best use of it while McLaren seeks to redress the balance.

For me, Herbert’s performance was the talking point of the race. To see him sticking so closely to Berger’s McLaren and CapeIli’s Ferrari in the venerable old Lotus was vindication of Peter Collins’s decision to employ a driver for his ability in the cockpit rather than his wealth.

If only there were more team managers with Collins’s guts, there might be place in Grand Prix racing for other young drivers of Herbert’s calibre. It is criminal to see the likes of Alessandro Zanardi, Eric Bernard and Damon Hill on the sidelines when there is room in F1 for several drivers without much more than a couple of F3000 points to their name.
Carlton Price,
Leatherhead.

The Bugaires

Sir,
The letter from Jeremy Broad in your March issue has renewed memories of what it referred to as “a bygone age” or should it be ERA. For me it seems just yesterday that one autumn evening we turned up on John Broad’s doorstep — to beg to borrow or steal the trailer he once used for Remus.

A year or so before we had formed a team called “The Bugaires” and in addition to the T35 and T37 Bugattis we had been dedicatingly thrashing around circuits and up hills, we had recently purchased the ex-Stirling Moss 1100cc Twin Jap Cooper, hence the need for another trailer. John met us at the door bent double and obviously in pain after the Shelseley incident.

“Come in lads, we will play poker for it,” he said, showing us into a room. It became apparent this was to be no ordinary evening, for on the table was a side of smoked salmon, on the floor a case of champagne and Guinness. Many pints of black velvet later we drove away in triumph with the “Remus Trailer” as it was always referred to thereafter, waved away by John Broad with a ‘broad’ grin.

I think on reflection the evening “took his mind off things”; he had of course always intended us to have the trailer, a fact that only occurred to me while writing this letter — perhaps as well as bygone days, they were The Good Old Days.
Peter Gaskell,
Moreton-in-Marsh.

(Also for the other “Bugaires”, Michael Halton, David Vickers-Jones.)

Chapparals

Sir,
Arriving hot foot from Midland, Texas, I note R E Allen’s queries about Chaparrals and would like to make the following comments.

The 2J went down to Midland from Chevrolet’s R&D fitted with McCulloch chainsaw engines in the spaces forward of the rear wheels. However, in tests it was found the motors were too vulnerable and the suction area insufficient. Subsequently the twin cylinder JLO 274cc 2-stroke snow-mobile engine was fitted at the back and the twin tank cooling fans driven by belts. Because the belts proved vulnerable to being snagged by debris, a layshaft was adopted and the belts mounted externally. No generator was fitted to the 494cu in Chevy, the battery being charged from the little motor. The suction flow used to cool the rear brakes as well as the inboard oil cooler.

It is interesting that the Chaparral gearbox is always spoken of as an automatic and that this terminology is regularly used by Jim Hall and his associates. In fact, it was composed of a torque converter with dog-clutch engagement for the gears. For its first appearance at Laguna Seca on May 3 1964, the gearbox ran as a single-speed. Later it was developed to have three speeds. Although Jim Hall is still reticent in talking about this box, some of his drivers like Vic Elford and Phil Hill have been very forthcoming. Phil Hill perhaps unfairly described its characteristics as “coming off the line like a ’41 Dodge fluid drive.. .”

Chaparral may not have won any races after the 1967 BOAC 500, but they were way ahead of everyone else in technical innovation.
Richard Falconer,
Glos.

Bravo James!

Sir,
Thank goodness for James Hunt. Formula One needs people who are not afraid to speak their mind, and who do not think in platitudes all the time like Murray Walker seems to.

His Kyalami commentary for the Beeb hit the nail on the head. I can’t understand why his views have been so widely criticised in the weekly motoring press.

With the superiority of the Williams FW14B in South Africa Patrese should have been miles ahead of Senna, and he could have achieved this without trying to challenge Mansell.

James is right; it’s about time young lions like Damon Hill and Mark Blundell were given their chance.
Frank Lee,
Durham.

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