Letters from readers

Sir,

When, in my recent article "Cars I have Owned," I expressed my own views on the always-controversial subject of British versus Continental cars, I half expected that someone would quickly write a spirited reply in defence of British productions. It would, I suppose, be a bad thing if this was not so; but it was never my intention or wish to embark on any sort of lengthy discussion through the medium of your correspondence columns, as obviously the whole subject is one of personal opinion and experience. It is, moreover, a subject which at the present time offends some people since we are all fighting for Britain and its future and the majority of Continentals can (and probably will) go hang – and that means 100% of the Hun race. But, nationalities apart, as far as motor cars are concerned, I have very definite views – which no one will alter, and I don't care two hoots if the majority disagree. Just as Mr. A. F. Brookes, as per his interesting letter on page 122 of the June issue of Motor Sport, and countless others no doubt, somehow or other see in British cars everything that is good and preferable to foreign productions, so, conversely, I cannot conceive how anyone can, apart from purely patriotic motives, buy British cars on their merit in preference to their Continental counterpart. But since Mr. Brookes has asked me specific questions, I am willing though rather diffident (Irish!) to reply: diffident because my reply will doubtless disappoint him and quite probably, bring forth a crescendo of scorn and disapproval from other readers. More especially, since at the present moment British engineering in the shape of aircraft and aero engines is undisputably supreme in a crazy world of fierce and vital competition. Being in a mechanised cavalry regiment, I have been able to gain a pretty good idea of British engineering in so far as it concerns wheeled and tracked vehicles, engines and components; but in this instance will refrain from comparing them with their Continental, and particularly their American counterparts until after the war. I have, however, always maintained that Messrs. Rolls-Royce (and they alone) could produce sports and racing cars that would beat all comers, including Mercs. and Auto-Unions, if provided with the incentive and necessary funds.

Now, regarding Mr. Brookes's first, question, viz.: "Do I think that the French, or any other Continental firm, have ever produced,or could have produced a small, cheap, reliable sports car which could possibly compare with our own galaxy of suchlike cars – M.G, Singer, Riley, Morgan, Rapier, Alta, H.R.G., Austin, and many others, in any respect, particularly performance?" My answer is most emphatically "Yes, I do; and they have." I consider that the small Amilcar and Salmson and Brescia Bugatti, in the later "twenties," were vastly superior to anything we then produced – I would go so far as to say that even to-day I would sooner have a good tenth-hand example of any of the above, particularly Brescia or Type 40 Bugatti, than a new edition of any of the cars he names, even though the former be nearly 15 years old. Since about 1930, however, when the three French light, cheap sports cars mentioned above were admitted to be the tops not only in France, but also in this country, the French have produced very few small, cheap sports models, presumably because the demand in France for this type of car is insufficient. Even so, in immediate pre-war years, there were some excellent small high performance Continental cars. In the middle "thirties" the Balilla Fiat sports 2-seater took a lot of beating; while more recently, the 1100 Fiat was even better, the sports edition as raced by Gordini was definitely streets ahead of all comers in its class. Remember the astonishing performance put up by the streamlined coupé? Perhaps the most oustanding foreigner is the Lancia "Aprilia." The Mille Miglia edition would do over 90 m.p.h. in saloon form which, together with its superb suspension, handling and running economy, places it far ahead of any of the so-called sports cars mentioned by Mr. Brookes. For reliability and long-wearing qualities, in my view, it is also on top. Only the H.R.G. and Alta would approach its performance (even the standard Aprilia), and then only in light 2-seater form accompanied by considerable discomfort, and more noise. The Type 55 B.M.W. is surely superior to these latter cars on all scores, let alone "in any respect"? Just as the Type 328 B.M.W. is vastly superior on all scores to our equivalent 2-litres, such as S.S. 100 and Aston-Martin, etc. The Le Mans 2-litre Peugeot was an over-90 m.p.h. low-priced car, again with independent suspension I believe. The Georges Irat would compare more than favourably with the other, cheaper marques mentioned and possessing better suspension and roadholding, possibly excepting the Morgan which, however, would lose points on speed. But, summing up, I would far rather have a standard Lancia "Aprilia" – even second or third-hand – than any of the cars Mr. Brookes mentions and back it to beat them all on a cross country run, excluding the Alta. And if I wanted to indulge in that sort of motoring, then I would get a 15 years old Type 37 or 37A Bugatti, and "really go to town."

Regarding "the racing, successes of M.G., E.R.A., and Alta," I freely admit that the two former makes have a most imposing list of successes to their credit, and are extremely good in their respective racing categories, particularly E.R.A. which marque and sponsors I have never ceased to admire. But, without in any way trying to derate their obvious merit, the E.R.A. did not come out on top as compared with the 10 years old Seaman Delage, or 1938 and 1939 1500 c.c. Mercedes and Alfas. It was, admittedly, far superior to the 1 1/2-litre Bugatti and pre-1939 Maserati; but then the Bugatti was a far older and heavier design which was, itself, unbeatable in its own heyday of the late "twenties" and early "thirties." I should be interested to learn of any success the Alta achieved abroad in competition with Continental 1 1/2-litre racers? And, likewise, most of the M.G. successes were scored in this country where effective foreign competition was virtually nil. The Magnettes did well in the Mille Miglia several years ago; but, in spite of being specially prepared, driven and managed, I seem to remember that the leading M.G. was conclusively beaten by a very large margin by an 1100 c.c. Maserati. Count Lurani's successes with Maseratis in Italy are almost as numerous as M.G. successes in this country.

Mr. Brookes then goes on to say: “Salmson, Ratier and B.N.C. were poor in comparison with their British counterparts and scored negligible successes as compared with M.G., Singer, Riley, etc." Once again, I am afraid I cannot even begin to agree, as facts dictate the opposite. Singer's successes have, almost entirely, been "local." M.G. and Riley have scored brilliant successes in the 500, T.T., Le Mans, and elsewhere. But what effective foreign opposition has there been? Virtually none; it has been a case of success of one of these marques over the other, and not British success over Continental. The Gordini Fiat has scored every time it has met these marques in its class. Ratier and B.N.C. are, in my view, very poor examples of French sports cars and, apart from moderate successes in the Bol d'Or, have nothing to recommend them. But Salmsons were most excellent little cars in their day; likewise the Amilcar. In the late "twenties," the blown 6-cylinder 1100 Amilcar swept all before it and probably scored more successes (certainly not "negligible") than the Magnettes of a decade later. And even after 10 years, the Amilcar is more than a match for the M.G.

I am sorry, Mr. Brookes, but even "in my heart," I do not think that Britain is incomparably supreme in the production of small sports cars, even though for the last 10 years or so she has catered for this class of car (and, admittedly, they are admirable as far as they go) far more than the foreigners. Nor do I think she is supreme in any class of car (except Rolls-Royce), as I consider the Citroen, Renault and Fiat score heavily on every count, save interior furnishings, over their British mass-production, cheap family counterparts. Certainly in wearing qualitites, handling, suspension, and performance. In the middle priced class, I vastly prefer Lancia, B.M.W., Fiat, Hotchkiss to the Jaguar, larger M.G., Aston-Martin, Triumph brethren – again due to superior handling, comfort, suspension, wearing qualities and performance. I have previously expressed my views regarding the larger and more expensive sports cars, and I would sooner have an American (much as I dislike them) if I wanted a large, low-priced family saloon of any quality below, say, £700-800, in preference to the less comfortable and inferior performing British car of this type. In this class of car, I regret to say that a similar view is widely held throughout the Dominions and Colonies, and "neutral" foreign countries, to the detriment of our export trade. Our rotten system of taxation by h.p. has very little to do with it.

So much for all that. I would now like to say how interesting I found the article by Cecil Clutton, in the same issue, on the Type 51 Bugatti "Royale." I think I can solve the "mystery" of the engine capacity of this impressive automobile. I imagine Clutton refers to the article that appeared in The Autocar around 1926-27, in continuation of an article describing the then-new Type 43 2-3 Bugatti? Therein it was stated that the capacity of the "Royale" was 14,726 c.c. This I believe to be incorrect, though it may well have been the original intention to give it a stroke of 150 mm. Details of the Type 51 in my Bugatti catalogue, however, describe it as having a bore and stroke of 125 mm. x 130 mm., capacity of 12,760 c.c. R.A.C. rating 77.4 hp. and 200 b.h.p., as opposed to 300 as mentioned in The Autocar article. The wheelbase, also, is 14 ft. 2 in. and not 15 ft. 4 in.; chassis weight 32 cwt. (price £5,250 in England in 1933!) and tyres of 36 x 6.75. Capt. C. W. Foster purchased a chassis several years ago and had a large but well-proportioned 7-seater enclosed drive limousine body fitted by Park Ward, the complete car costing over £6,000. It measured nearly 7 ft. from radiator cap to windscreen. The ceremony of collecting this monumental car from the coachbuilders was, I believe, impressive, Jean Bugatti coming over specially from Molsheim to start the engine and initiate the proud owner in the joys of this most costly and unique form of luxury motoring. I often used to see this car in the West End of London, and at the Bugatti depot, 1, Brixton Road, when newer type bearings, con. rods and pistons were fitted free of any charge, purely as a modification. An unique, and I should imagine, necessary feature about the purchase of a "Royale" was that it was guaranteed and repaired free of charge, anywhere in the world for as long as the original owner possessed the car. The last I heard of it was just before the war, when Capt. Foster tried to sell it and could not get an offer better than £90!

Although Bugatti produced only very few completed cars of this type, the engines were being produced in fairly large numbers when I visited the factory in 1936, to propel the Bugatti railcars as used on the P.L.M. and Alsace and Lorraine railways. Some details of the performance of these luxury railcars may be of interest. The single coach models had two Type 51 engines, and the trailer models (two or more coaches) had four similar engines. They were introduced in 1933 (shortly before the last "Royale" was made) and in that year established a rail record of 173 k.p.h.; and a stopping record of from 150 k.p.h. to zero in 600 metres; and an average of 170 k.p.h. round a 750 metre radius curve. They reduced the previous fastest schedule for the 374 km. from Paris to Cherbourg by more than an hour. Up to mid-1937 they had exceeded 1,000,000 km. with no accidents, and established a new world record of 123 m.p.h. over 10 km. They ran a normal schedule for the 315 miles from Paris to Strasbourg in 3 1/2 hours, an average speed of 90 m.p.h.! It was on this route that Jean Bugatti once told me he piloted a railcar in a race with a friend of his who was driving a supercharged 4.9 Bugatti. The railcar won it, but not by a very large margin, so presumably the 4.9's average speed must have been pretty meteoric! I reckon that most members of the Forces now serving in this country many miles from home would bless the name Bugatti if such transportation were now available here, especially when going on leave. 315 miles is a full day's most uncomfortable journey on our existing railway systems.

I am, Yours etc.,

C. W. P. Hampton.

Bolney, Sussex.

[While we refrain from passing comments on what we believe to be Mr. Hampton's sincere personal views expressed only after full consideration of the subject, we must recall M.G.'s grand Mille Miglia showing with the Magnettes in 1933, when George Eyston and Count Lurani won the 1,100 c.c. class at 56.89 m.p.h. with Earl Howe and Hamilton second, beating two Maseratis and four Fiats, and winning the Team Prize on the first appearance of these cars. In that race Birkin's Magnette averaged 87 m.p.h. for 129 miles in breaking up the Maserati opposition. So the British cars were not vanquished by a Maserati as Hampton suggests. There are also Major Gardner's 200 m.p.h. M.G. record to consider and Tazio Nuvolari's remarkable lap speeds in the 1933 TT. with the M.G. Magnette. – Ed.]

 

Sir,

I am writing to seek your assistance in the identification of a car which I have just purchased from a man whom I am afraid was a vandal. When I tell you that this man was about to sell the car for the alloy it is largely composed of, I am sure you will endorse my description of him. However, the car is an Alvis "12/50" and it has many features which defeat any attempt to classify it with any degree of accuracy. I have scanned all my copies of Motor Sport and taken careful note of all points which have been mentioned about Alvises. As this has apparently confused the issue more than ever it seems that I must have resort to your columns to obtain a solution. Possibly Mr. Powys-Lybbe, Mr. Cooper or Mr. May can solve the problem?

The engine number is 3699/68/L171. The 68, I take it, refers to the bore, while L171 is the type number, apparently some relation of L201. The chassis number is SC or G 12/50/8621. Now I can find no mention of either L171 or SC or G in your list of Alvis types published some little time ago.

The car was originally fitted with a duck-back 2-seater body of polished aluminium. Wire wheels of Alvis bolt-on type are fitted and the dashboard was covered with some type of heavy celluloid. Unfortunately, the body had been torn to pieces by the previous owner, who had attempted to build a D.H.C. of sorts. However, he got tired of that and abandoned the car, leaving it for four to six years in a paddock.

Now here are the points of the car which puzzle everybody more than some-what:–

(i) The wheelbase is 9 ft. and not 9 ft. 4 in., which is the only figure that I can find published.

(ii) The tyre size is 5.00 in. x 23 in., whereas the largest tyre size published is 21 in. The "dastardly form of split-rim" is fitted.

(iii) The clutch and gearbox are separate but the clutch is a cone type with a clutch body of aluminium. The whole clutch and flywheel assembly can be picked up very easily in one hand. No clutch stop is fitted and none appears to be necessary. The only mention of a cone clutch in your columns appeared in the description of a car belonging to Fenn-Wiggin and Swain, and incidentally, my car conforms to that description in numerous aspects.

(iv) The port size, both inlet and exhaust (except centre branch) is not 30 mm. (standard) or 40 mm. (big port), but 35 mm. Here again I can find no mention of this size.

(v) The exhaust system is of the outside type with three exhaust ports in the block. The centre take off surrounds the inlet manifold, forming a hot spot.

(vi) The inlet manifold is of cast brass fitted with a Solex up-draught carburetter with barrel throttle.

(vii) The pistons are of alloy with a solid skirt and at t.d.c. protrude above the top surface of the block about 3/16 in.

(viii) The combustion chamber depth is not 16 mm. or 14 mm., which according to Mr. Cooper were the usual dimensions, but the unholy one of 10 mm. This in conjunction with the high top pistons must give something a little unusual in the way of C.R. Fortunately, our "Pool" petrol now carries an octane rating of 80! (That should make you writhe!)

(ix) The connecting rods are polished H section steel with a thickness of 1/8 in. They are slotted at the top and carry the usual high tensile steel bolt and nut.

(x) The generator is mounted on the offside and is driven by belt from an extension of the magneto drive. The magneto is a B.T.H. polar inductor.

(xi) The timing wheels are steel-bronze steel.

(xii) The starting handle is a fixture.

(xiii) The crankshaft is three-bearing, counter-balanced, machined all over and stamped "Ambrosia."

(xiv) The camshaft is marked E.N.V., as is the contents of the gearbox and the differential. By the way, the back axle ratio is 4.55 to 1 (41 x 9).

(xv) The valve timing does not appear to be standard, but as I have very carefully hidden the figures from myself I regret I cannot quote, but it appears to be phenomenal and the exhaust note is correspondingly active. The amount of lift on the cams is positively mountainous.

Wishful thinking would indicate that this car may be something out of the ordinary, but as I cannot believe that I would be fortunate enough to strike lucky I quite expect that it will turn out to be a 1924 model or something of the sort. Still, there is the evidence – what do the expert Alvisti make of it?

When I took delivery of the car some two months or so ago I dismantled it completely, and set out to make it as new. In spite of its age the only work found necessary was to have the big-ends remetalled with Hoyt's No. 11 (the other metal had cracked), the rocker fingers stellited, the magneto checked over, and two new bearings in the front wheels, which is not bad. Apparently a new block had been fitted as the bore was 68 mm. and no wear could be found with a micrometer. The valves are original and the seats have never been cut. Everything else about the whole chassis appears to be perfect – at any rate I can't find anything wrong.

I wonder if it is still possible to obtain tubular connecting rods? After all the remarks I have read re 1/4 in. B.S.F. pinch bolts I am positively afraid to use high r.p.m. at all. If you could persuade any of the Alvis experts to drop me a note I should be truly grateful. Tuning and general advice would be most welcome. Motor Sport still turns up punctually.

I am, Yours etc.,

A. E. Ansell.

12, Victoria Street,

Carterton, New Zealand.

[This is certainly a problem and one we will leave to the experts. The cone-clutch is found on early "12/40" and "12/80" cars, and the wheelbase of some early chassis was about 8 ft. 6 in., both these features applying to my own "12/50" ducks-back 2-seater, which was originally a "12/40" s.v. car – a 9 ft. wheelbase is rare. The Ambrosia crankshaft smacks of a 200-mile race engine; the belt-drive dynamo and fixed starting handle were standard on early "12/50s." – Ed.]

 

Sir,

Whilst in the interests of the sport one is willing to part with information gained in the hard school of experience, it is regrettable to note that seekers after this knowledge seem to fall into two classes. The first would appear to think that their informant, having gained this knowledge, possesses such wealth as to be insulted by the receipt of the humble postage stamps to cover the return of the information required. The second, that he himself is of such importance that the honour of being able to supply the requested details is such recompense to the sender as to over-balance his out-of-pocket expenses.

This outburst is occasioned by the fact that, over the past three years, less than 5% of the queries that I have received have been accompanied by the courteous S.A.E.

I am,Yours, etc.,

Harold Biggs.

Enfield.

[We should never have been brave enough to say this ourselves. But will wayward readers please read, learn and inwardly digest. – Ed.]

 

Sir,

As a reader of your journal of many years' standing, may I first of all offer my congratulations to yourself and your staff on continuing to publish regularly and still maintain the very high standard of Motor Sport.

I thought that perhaps readers would be interested to learn of what I believe to be a unique collection of button-hole badges of well-known makes of cars, of which I have over 120, comprising British and foreign makes, including motorcycles.

I should very much like to obtain a Bentley button-hole badge and a B.R.D.C. coat badge, and if any reader can oblige I am willing to pay a reasonable price for them. I require these urgently as my collection is very near completion.

Keep up publication at all costs as Motor Sport is eagerly awaited each month.

I am, Yours etc.,

F. Boardman.

59, Milton Street,

Fleetwood, Lancashire.

[Please write direct if help is forthcoming. We recall a Bentley winged-B tie-pin, but was there a button-hole badge? That 120 button-hole badges have been collected is surely an achievement, as such are far rarer than radiator badges. – Ed.]

 

Sir,

Judging from several of the letters that have been written by my fellow-readers to your most excellent journal, I imagine that few people in this country are familiar with the recent trend of American engine design. Don't get me wrong; I am a vintage enthusiast first and foremost, yet in my work I have to deal with a lot of American vehicles and the design of some of them shows great promise from a sporting point of view.

Look at this specification:– 6-cylinder o.h.v. engine, bore 3 23/32 in., stroke 3 13/16 in., compression ratio 6.15 to 1. Hemispherical cylinder heads with inclined push rod operated valves. Die-cast pistons with domed semi-deflector heads to give a good combustion chamber shape. Short stiff con. rods with very large big-end bearings and fully floating pressure lubricated gudgeon pins.

Camshaft machined all over, pressure lubricated bearings, drive by large fibre helical spur gear, also pressure lubricated. Inserted valve seats, and exhaust valve with a head of different metal from the stem, the joint being fused just below the valve head. Valve timing: Inlet opens 2.8° before t.d.c.; closes 68° after b.d.c. Exhaust opens 78° before b.d.c.; closes 45° after t.d.c. 72° of overlap.

Crankshaft a beautifully clean forging carried on very large main bearings. The clutch is a cunning device without springs or withdrawal arms, both of these being replaced by a heavy diaphragm which does both jobs.

When one considers that this is a trade engine and that the finish on it is really very good, and that the cooling system and porting are both excellent, it would seem to be an engine possessing great possibilities as a post-war power plant.

After the war a supercharged version is going into a four-wheel drive trials job of my own design, and we shall see what happens.

I am, Yours etc.,

K. H. Miles, S/Sgt.

Home Forces.

 

Sir,

With reference to the paragraph headed "Forgotten Episodes" in "Rumblings" in the June issue, I can perhaps supply you with a little additional information regarding "Eddie" Rickenbacker. He drove for Duesenberg in 1914, finishing tenth at Indianapolis and first in the 300-mile Sioux City race, and for Maxwell during 1915 and 1916.

I attach a list of his successes. From this you will see that the statement in Skyways that he never won a major race is nonsense. It is true, however, that he did not win any of the three big races of the year, i.e., the Vanderbilt Cup, the American Grand Prize (both road races), or the 500-mile race at Indianapolis.

Regarding his connection with Sunbeams. In an interview on the 14th February, 1913, on his return to the U.S.A. from England, he stated that two 300-mm, i.e., 4.9-litre Sunbeam racing cars, equipped with aviation engines and aluminium bodies, would run in America during 1913 if war was not declared. If war was declared they would remain in England. He further stated that speeds of 119 m.p.h. had been obtained at Brooklands during tests.

When war was declared Rickenbacker formed an air squadron from amongst the drivers and mechanics and offered his own and their services to the U.S. Government.

If it is of interest to you, I can give you particulars of the records of the two 6-cylinder 294 cu. in. (4.8-litre) Sunbeams raced during the 1916 Season by Christaens and the American driver Galvin. I can also give you details of the racing record of De Palma's 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes during the three years that he raced it in the U.S.A.

1914, Duesenberg.

1st, 300-mile race Sioux City, 2-mile dirt track, at 78.6 m.p.h., won $10,000. Also ran in the following events:– 500mile race, Indianapolis; Chicago Automobile Club road race, Elgin, Ill.; Elgin National Trophy road race. Elgin, Ill.; Corona road race, Corona, Cal.; Beach races, Galveston, Texas. The beach races were short events, the longest being 50 miles, and I think he won one of these. Including his tenth place at Indianapolis, his ''winnings," apart from appearance money, salary, bonuses, etc., would have been in the neighbourhood of $13,000.

1915, Maxwell.

3rd, 500-mile race, Maywood 2-mile board speedway, Chicago, won $5,000; 1st, 300-mile race, Sioux City 2-mile dirt track, at 74.7 m.p.h., won $7.000; 1st, 300-mile race, Omaha 1 1/4-mile board speedway, at 91.74 m.p.h., won $6,000; 1st, 100-mile race, Narragansett 1-mile asphalt track at 67.11 m.p.h., won $4,000; 3rd. 100-mile Harkness Trophy race, 2-mile Sheepshead Bay board speedway, Long Island, won $500; Total $22,500.

Also ran in the following events:– Point Lana road race, San Diego; Cal, (drove a Peugeot); Grand Prize of America, San Francisco; Vanderbilt Cup, San Francisco; Grand Prix of California (road race); 100-mile dirt track race, Columbus, Ohio; 500-mile race, Indianapolis; Astor Cup race, Sheepshead Bay speedway. At the end of the season he had won $24,000, the $1,500 extra, no doubt, in consolation prizes. This, of course, excludes appearance money, salary, bonuses, etc.

Only three other drivers won more, i.e., Rista, G. Anderson, A. E. Cooper. Rista won $37,750, but strangely enough, Cooper was the champion driver.

1916, Maxwell.

1st, Metropolitan Trophy race, Sheepshead Bay speedway, at 96.23 m.p.h., won $6,000; 3rd, 150-mile race, Des Moines 1-mile board speedway, won $750; 1st, Montamarathon Trophy race, Tacoma 2-mile board speedway, at 89.3 m.p.h., won $4,000; 2nd, Astor Cup race, Sheepshead Bay speedway, won $5,000; 3rd, 250-mile Grand American race, Marywood speedway, Chicago, won $1,500 ; *1st, 150-mile race, Ascot dirt track, Los Angeles, at 62 m.p.h., won $3,000; Total $20,250.

*He drove a Duesenberg in this race.

Also ran in the following events:– 500-mile race, Indianapolis, 6th; 300-mile race. Marywood speedway, Chicago (drove a Peugeot); 150-mile race, Fort Snelling 2-mile concrete speedway, Minneapolis; 150-mile race, Omaha speedway; 300-mile race, Cincinnati 2-mile board speedway, Sharon, Ohio; 100-mile race Indianapolis; Harkness Gold Trophy race, Sheepshead Bay speedway; Vanderbilt Cup, Santa Monica, Cal.; Grand Prize of America, Santa Monica, Cal.

At the end of the season he was the third highest money winner, having collected $20,250, as opposed to Rista, the champion, with $44,400, and J. Aitkin, $30,206. Incidentally, both Rista and Aitkin drove 1914 4 1/2-litre G.P. Peugeots. Between them they won every big race.

With best wishes to Motor Sport.

I am, Yours etc.,

T. A. S. 0. Mathieson.

East Grinstead.

[Further historical notes would be most welcome. – Ed.]

 

Sir,

Thank Heaven that, in these troublous times, we can still preserve our sense of humour, and now along comes Mr. B. FitzPatrick who, although he is getting upset because large numbers of people still consider the Bentley to be the world's finest sports car, provides a few moments of unconscious delight for we vintage wallahs.

I personally am one of those happy people who find everything that they have been looking for in a Bentley. (Mine is a McKenzie-tuned unblown 4 1/2,) My car will give me all I want: a holding speed of 95 m.p.h., absolute reliability, safety at speed, and sheer economy of running. There is a Bentley for every type of sports car enthusiast. First, the 3-litre "Blue Label," with the single Smith carburetter, that will make a burble-burble noise, and do 70 m.p.h. Secondly, the 3-litre "Red Label" short chassis with the 2 S.U. carburetter, that will do its most happy 85 m.p.h. Thirdly is the unblown 4 1/2-litre "Black Label" that was obviously built to prepare would-be owners for the blown 4 1/2-litre; this a most potent form of 100 m.p.h. and over motoring. Then, of course, for the more wealthy enthusiast come the 6 1/2-litre, the Speed Six and the 8-litre.

Incidentally, Mr. FitzPatrick, where will your 328 B.M.W. and Fiat. "1,100" be in, say, 15 years? No. sir, you will never convince me that your Continental mechanised pressed beef tins can give one joy of motoring as can be attained behind the wheel of a good Bentley, "30/98," or 3-litre Sunbeam, etc. Furthermore, when I go for a long trip on my Bentley I know that I shall get back, and although I cannot corner or throw the car around with the ease that Mr. FitzPatrick can his Continental job, at least I do not have to renew my front suspension every 5-6,000 miles! It would, of course, be unfair on my part to make the very obvious remark that it is impossible to compare the Continental sports car with the purely vintage sports car of which the Bentley is representative, for the former is a spot-welded contraption built to give performance for a short time, and the latter is a highly efficient piece of hand-assembled machinery built for performance plus wear.

I would, by the way, beg leave to remind Mr. FitzPatrick that The Motor, in passing the opinion that sports cars "as such" will die out when the war is over, is quite out of touch with the question of present day supply and demand. I myself have a sports and racing car emporium, and I would say that 90% of my customers are members of the various Services, who are acquiring their cars from all sources to lay up for the present. And afterwards all these cars will be on the road.

In conclusion, when Mr. FitzPatrick, in advocating the closed type of sports car, mentions the Alfas and B.M.W’s at Le Mans, he is surely not suggesting that we use that type of body on our English roads?

I am, Yours, etc.,

Ian Metcalfe.

Shepperton, Middlesex.