Rumblings, August 1952



152 m.p.h. Turbine

Warm congratulations to the Rover Company, who set up the first timed records with a turbine car on the Ostend-Ghent motor road on June 25th. Driven by Peter Wilks and Spencer King this pioneering Rover set up final figures of 82.391 m.p.h. for the two-way s.s. kilo., 95.568 m.p.h. for the two-way s.s. mile, 151.196 m.p.h. for the two-way f.s. mile and, fastest of all, 151.965 m.p.h. for the two-way f.s. kilo. The turbine unit was governed to 38,000 r.p.m. and pulled a single gear-ratio of about 30 to 1. Dunlop Tyres and a Burgess silencer were used.

This is a magnificent effort, which places Britain well in front in respect of turbine power unit development for road vehicles.

The B.A.R.C. endeavoured to foster interest in such cars by offering a £1,000 prize for the first turbine car to run at Goodwood and comply with a very lenient performance standard. Will the Rover collect this prize prior to the Nine Hour Sports-Car Race on August 16th, we wonder?


The sub-head refers not to records of the sort established by the gas-turbine Rover, but to the importance of preserving links with the historical past. Many old-timers read Motor Sport on account of our sympathy with the old cars and motoring history and the Editor is always pleased to hear from such gentlemen, for even if the miscellaneous memories of the past which they feel inclined to jot down are unsuitable for publication, such reminiscences are always of the greatest interest.

Indeed, we should like to compile a private list of old-timers who are still with us, not to commit to print nor to hand over to the V.C.C., but simply because it is nice to know where to go if a particular piece of information is required, and to hear of persons who were active during the heroic age of motoring and who, perhaps, preserve documents and photographs of that distant age.

To younger enthusiasts restoring old cars their elders can sometimes give valuable technical assistance and at all events fill in gaps in history the elimination of which so greatly enhances the fascination of the vintage and veteran car cult.

Every so often the Editor’s post is enlivened by letters from pioneers who drove cars or watched races before he was born. All such links with the past are valued, so if you possess general or specialised memories of the days prior, shall we say, to 1930, better still prior to 1915, do not feel shy of committing them to paper and letting your Editor enjoy them with you.

Point of View!

Recently that great motoring enthusiast, Ken W. Purdy, who is Editor of True, America’s biggest-circulating men’s magazine, published an article therein on the Rolls-Royce. This resulted in the following amusing reader’s letter from New Zealand, published with permission of True, who fearlessly published it themselves :—

“I haven’t had the misfortune to read Ken Purdy’s article on the so-called ‘best car in the world,’ which stirred up Glen Rice’s letter but I can guess that it was the usual childish gibberish on this subject . . .

“One intelligent statement K.W.P. did make—that a dust-up between a modern Rolls and a modern Cadillac would be a ‘sad overmatch.’ I quite agree. The Silver Wraith is a much over-rated piece of ironmongery. Its genuine top gear maximum, according to Laurence Pomeroy, technical editor of The Motor, is about 85 m.p.h. and acceleration is obviously of the same mediocrity . . . “

“K.W.P. would be crying ‘Uncle’ in the first 100 yards, since the Cadillac offers real acceleration (without change of gear) and a genuine 100 m.p.h. . . .Don’t you think it strange, if Rolls-Royce have such a monopoly of engineering brains, that they pay royalties to General Motors for using a synchronizing device in the gearbox, copy G.M. independent front suspension, buy a Buick every year for study, and fit an American carburetter and clutch?

“As for suggesting that Cadillac go out and get a reputation, it did that years ago . . . Won the Dewar Trophy twice and earned for itself the title of ‘Standard of the World ‘ . . . Won the Dewar Trophy twice and earned for itself the title of ‘Standard of the World’ . . . And why should 250,000 miles be a strenuous test for a Cadillac? Newman Brothers has one here that has gone 1,260,000 miles in the last 17 years and hasn’t cried ‘Uncle’ yet . . . parading around town stuffed with senile royalty and jibbering dowagers. Yes, the Rolls-Royce is in ‘a class of its own.’ No other manufacturer has the cheek to ask four times the price of a Cadillac for the ‘best’ car that cannot outrun, a Ford, Chevrolet or Plymouth.”

Cars at Spa

While sipping Dubonnet outside the Hotel de Portugal in Spa, in which fashionable, expensive but charming town horse-drawn fiacres still mingle with the four-wheeled “Emmett” trams, we noticed that motor traffic was increasing in volume, for it was the eve of the G.P. d’Europe. So we decided to take a census of the cosmopolitan vehicles streaming through the town, before going across the road to watch our photographer pit himself against Raymond Baxter of the B.B.C. and John Cooper of The Autocar on the excellent putting green in the gardens. The result is interesting: out of 332 cars representing the fashionable transport of Europe, the score was: Citroen, 30; Ford, 28; Chevrolet, 26; Volkswagen, 20; Peugeots, 16; Opel, 15; Morris and Buick, 14 each; Fiat, 13; Hillman and Austin, 12 each; Renault, 11; Vauxhall, 8; Standard and M.G., 7 each; Skoda and Pontiac, 6 each; Oldsmobile, Mercedes-Benz, Plymouth and Studebaker, 5 each ; De Soto, Triumph, Borgward, Cadillac, Dodge, Jaguar, Humber, 4 each; Alfa-Romeo, Dyna-Panhard, Lancia and Mercury, 3 each; Porsche, Chrysler, Riley, Volvo, Packard, Kaiser-Frazer, B.M.W., Sunbeam-Talbot, Simca and Rover, 2 each; D.K.W., Jowett, Singer, Nash, Aston-Martin, Salmson and Wolseley, 1 each.

Incidentally, true vintage cars are almost entirely absent in this part of Belgium, although later, a rather aged Mathis saloon was seen in Liege. The Aston-Martin was a DB2 and later, two more DB2s were encountered. A white Jupiter with the modified radiator cowl was parked in Spa, several open and coupe XK 120 Jaguars were present, where the little Porsche coupes rushing rapidly about created a great impression. General Motors had a free car park near the Francorchamps circuit for owners of their products.