Letters From Readers, August 1959

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N.B.—Opinions Expressed are those of our Correspondents and Motor Sport does not neccessarily associate itself with them. — Ed.

The Triumph Herald

There is one fault in the design of this which is not mentioned in your excellent review of this vehicle.

The design of the bonnet is such that if this had to be lifted at night for some kind of roadside adjustment (e.g. plug changing, or even checking water level) the car is left without any front lights, a situation both illegal and unsafe.

I raised this matter in a letter to the manufacturers and their reply was to the effect that “the reflected illumination from the lights gives sufficient warning.”

It seems doubtful whether this would be the case in a fog, in any case such reflected illumination would not meet legal requirements for lights showing to the front of a stationary vehicle and if, as seems probable, the headlights had to be used to get any appreciable amount of “reflected illumination” this might not be desirable, in case of a prolonged stoppage, on a car that has no starting handle.

I am, Yours etc., V. Biske. Chester.

_

Sir,

Long a Volkswagen admirer, I was about to buy one when the Triumph Herald was announced. I now own a Herald in preference.

“Beetling” presented a reasonable comparison between the two cars, but was not fully objective as it missed three further Herald attributes, which turned the scales for me.

Firstly there is the large window area with screen pillars correspondingly small.

Secondly there is the large, easily loaded boot, which can be made to open into the car.

Finally, the lines are more attractive, although, per contra, the body shape must be less aerodynamic.

I am, Yours, etc., Brian Walker. London, S.E.6.

*

The Greatest — Nuvolari or Ascari?

Sir,

I cannot really let Mr. Lawrence’s letter pass unchallenged. The last race in which Nuvolari played any real part was the French Grand Prix of 1948. Despite his ill health he took over Villoresi’s Maserati for the middle third of this 64-lap race and put in several very fast laps before handing the car back; it finished seventh. Fangio, driving an outclassed Simca, retired on his 41st lap. He can have seen little of the little man’s splendid effort. In any case it will hardly be disputed that in 1948 Nuvolari was a sick man and that this had damped the flame of his genius.

This was perhaps seen at its best in the Mille Miglia, which he twice won and was twice second, but to his credit also he had two victories in the Tourist Trophy and one at Le Mans. In 1933 he scored ten wins, three second places and one third, while at the wheel of an Alfa-Romeo he not only won at the Nurburgring in 1935 but a year later defeated the German cars at Penya Rhin, Budapest, Milan and Leghorn. In both years he split the Auto Union team in the Italian Grand Prix, a magnificent feat. If he never flung an Auto Union around with quite Rosemeyer’s verve, he motored one just as fast in the last two seasons before the war. As for cool, even coldblooded thinking in the middle of the race, I doubt if even Ascari would have thought to drive for several miles in the Mille Miglia without headlights as Nuvolari did to surprise his great rival, Varzi, in 1930. It was the latter who described him as the greatest driver of all — and this in the days of Caracciola, Rosemeyer and Lang, to say nothing of Seaman and many others.

Hawthorn once described Ascari as the fastest racing driver he had ever seen, but, as Caracciola showed, it is not the fastest driver that is the best. Yet on his day Rudi was very fast, as witness his tremendous drive in the 1929 Tourist Trophy. Today in Moss we have a “regenmeister” to challenge his reputation. But he is more than that. From his epic third at Bari in 1950, his masterly performances at Genoa in 1951 and in the 1954 Italian Grand Prix, when he beat Ascari fairly and squarely, through his great drives in the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio in 1955, to his Vanwall victories, two epic sports car drives on the Nurburgring and a record shattering lap of 9 min. 9.2 sec. on this “drivers’ course” in a Vanwall last year, Moss has rarely faltered, dogged though he has been by bad luck, Fangio described him as a greater driver than himself — a magnificent tribute but one which is wholly deserved.

I still hold to my opinion that Nuvolari was the greatest and is the greatest, but it would only take a few more great races by Moss to alter that opinion. I think, however, that in any discussion of this question the names of Fangio and Caracciola must be taken into account, and would be interested to know your Continental Correspondent’s opinion on this question. May I finally thank you for the finest magazine on the market. May it long continue.

I am, Yours, etc., John Barnes. Cambridge.

*

Where are the Cooper School Team Drivers?

Sir,

As an ardent follower of motor racing I am beginning to wonder what has happened to the products of the Cooper Racing Drivers’ Training Division.

The scheme was started early in 1957 to train . . . “potential racing drivers . . . those who prove to be the most competent will be entered in works-prepared cars for selected events . . . it is expected that sufficient progress will be made to enable entries to be sponsored later in the present season . . .” That advertisement appeared in June 1958! It is now 1959, and I have yet to hear of a “Cooper Graduate” competing in a works-entered car.

Coopers charge £5 5s. registration fee and £1 per lap, with a minimum of eight laps, and a recommended twelve. Over one thousand people had been through the school this time last year, and it can be seen that entry fees alone could have financed several cars.

The school is still advertising for recruits; but I for one would like to know what they are doing about entering the existing “top ten.”

I am, Yours, etc., J. Simpson. Muxton.

*

The Rolls-Royce Twenty

Sir,

I feel a few words should be said in favour of the Rolls Twenty, in reply to Mr. Hopkins’ letter.

I owned a 1930 P. II first, and came to the Twenty after driving one of the Rolls “monsters” for a few months. During my brief ownership of the former car I heard some of the “mythology” and found the “silence” and “silver” bits that now delight Mr. Hopkins with his Ghost.

By comparison the Twenty is light and beautifully balanced. The wheelbase, which is far shorter and a little narrower, is coupled with a very good lock, to produce a very handy car. Parking and reversing does not require the skill of a lorry driver.

Maximum speed is not more than 60 m.p.h. but with acceleration that is not negligible and a cruising speed over 50 in comfort, it is possible to do a long journey in good time with no driving fatigue.

The Twenty is, of course, beautifully made, and has very nearly as much to polish and lubricate as the Ghost or P. II. Parts are of manageable size, yet so well suited to their task that wear after 32 years is too slight to matter.

The brakes are better than any other make of car I have tried, including some “moderns,” and the driving controls are light enough for my wife to drive with the same confidence that she has in our vintage Chummy Austin.

My car is blessed with pleasant saloon coachwork, but I am now looking for an open model on as good a chassis. If I find one I hope to be able to show how well a Twenty can perform in the rally-cum-driving-test type of V.S.C.C. events.

I am, Yours, etc., D. R. Firth. Portsmouth.

*

Hard to Please!

Sir,

It is indeed sad to see so excellent a magazine as Motor Sport enthusing over such a car as the Triumph Herald coupe.

I took delivery of one of these “outstanding” new cars on May 16th, and the following are my observations:

(1) It leaked like a sieve.

(2) The maximum speeds were: second, 30 m.p.h.; third, 48 m.p.h.; top, 70 m.p.h.

(3) Above 60 m.p.h. the gear lever vibrated so much that any conversation was impossible.

(4) It jumped out of reverse.

(5) If the doors were slammed with the windows wound down, these would jump out of the runners and jam.

(6) The greaseless suspension squeaked.

(7) When a passenger was carried in the occasional rear seat the hand-brake linkage fouled the prop.-shaft.

(8) With a full petrol tank the car listed to the near side.

(9) The doors dropped and consequently were diflicult to close.

(10) Now for the independent rear suspension, which I understood was supposed to give the Herald better road-holding than its counterparts.

My car oversteered and above 60 m.p.h. it was impossible to keep a straight course. Over bumps the suspension bottomed, even with only the driver aboard; indeed, so weak was the rear suspension that if when reversing the brakes were applied the back wheels would rub the underneath of the wings.

After 2,000, miles, being thoroughly fed up with “this new experience in motoring,” I sold the Herald, and, due to reading your glowing reports on the VW, I considered buying one. Having had a trial it beats me why you, as knowledgeable motorists, are so keen on this car. I consider it noisy, ugly, uncomfortable, grossly underpowered, with a vicious oversteering tendency.

I eventually bought an M.G.-A coupe, which, at the price, is in my opinion one of the best cars in this country.

I am, Yours, etc., Duncan Roach Atkinson. Swansea.

*

Sharp Practice

Sir,

I had the misfortune to be in Hastings last month and at 10.45 p.m. I was in dire need of petrol. I was directed to a garage in St. Leonards and arrived there at 10.50 p.m.

Two men were at this garage; one car was just leaving and another arrived whilst I was there. A large notice proclaimed that a surcharge of 5s. was made on all sales after 10 p.m., and the cars I saw there all paid this levy. A constable had warned us of this.

I sincerely trust that your readers will not be caught out by this unsavoury system whilst on holiday in, or visiting, Hastings and St. Leonards.

I am, Yours, etc., M. J. Glenny. Shirley.

*.

A Twin-Cam M.G. in Ireland

Sir,

I read with great interest your road-test of the M.G.-A Twin-Cam and I am wondering if any of your English owner-readers have problems similar to mine and, if so, how they were overcome.

I have never owned any car but an M.G. sports — my previous car being a TD model, which gave every satisfaction when driven through heavy town traffic with many intermittent stops, which comprises 95 per cent, of my driving, and on the occasional country trip. In fact, so pleased was I with its satisfactory performance that, quite naturally, I decided to stick to the M.G. breed and took delivery of a Twin Cam, which has only recently been introduced to this country, on May 2nd, 1959. The mileage to date is 2,163.

At the offset please let me state that I am thoroughly and completely disappointed with this model, which I feel does not live up to the fine traditions of M.G., and which has spent almost as many days of its life on the road with the Irish assemblers and garages, as it has been out of these premises.

I find that its predominant faults are extensive running-on, and detonation which became evident immediately upon receipt. Despite many return visits, the assemblers have been unable to eliminate these faults. The engine is extremely rough with a normal idling speed of 800 to 900 r.p.m., and I am expected to run this car under the above driving conditions with choke out two notches. Allowing the engine to run for some considerable time (with choke in) prior to switching off the ignition, to allow the flywheel to attain its minimum revolutions, fails to eliminate running-on, particularly after a long run, and M.G. apparently have yet no answer to this characteristic. Engine running temperature is below Nuffield’s recommended operating temperatures and stalls repeatedly when slowing down in traffic or declutching to effect a gear change. The engine is extremely noisy and almost unbearable with hood and sidescreens up, whereas its oil consumption is fantastic at one pint per 100 miles (another owner tells me that I am extremely lucky with this figure!). Plugs oil up every 300 miles, miles-per-gallon figure averages between 21/22 at average speed of 60 m.p.h.

I note with interest your comment that 100 octane fuel is necessary, despite Nuffield’s statement that car will run on 90 octane fuel for general use. Premium fuels in this country have an octane rating of 96/97 but 100 octane fuel is not available. Tests here indicate that detonation is evident even with 100 octane fuel.

Our Irish assemblers advise that they have found it impossible to find a plug that will not pre-ignite and cause running-on when the ignition is switched off. The plugs fitted are English-manufactured Champion type N3, which is recommended by Nuffield for general use and fitted as original equipment.

There are numerous other defects, including ill-fitting door, underneath paintwork coming adrift, grab-handle screw on windscreen missing, bodywork dents, ill-fitted carpets, etc. One should not expect these defects in a car costing £1,215.

It has been most embarrassing for me to answer my many friends’ queries as to how the brand new M.G.-A Twin Cam was running, and you can well imagine their comments at the sight of my having to lift the bonnet outside my yacht club, to start the three-day-old car with a piece of wire stuck in the self-starter, due to the starter cable coming adrift.

I am, Yours, etc., Sean Clune (SYI 709). Dublin.

*

Yet Another Siddeley Special

Sir,

I was most interested in the article in your June issue dealing with the above car, since I am the owner of a similar vehicle, Reg. No. FMB 175, first registered in 1938. This car has now covered 113,000 miles and is still going strong. I have had it for four years and it has never let me down. It is interesting to note that mine also has the pancake air filters missing, as had the one you examined, and I wondered if there was some reason for this. The engine number is 754, which seems to indicate that more than the 200 you mention were made.

I am, Yours, etc., James V. Telfer, A.M.I.Mun.E. Warrington.

[This puts the total of Siddeley Specials known to us up to ten — see page 626. As to engine numbers, Mr. Kensington’s 1934 car was delivered July 17th, 1934, and has engine No. 615, chassis No. 33363, while his 1936 car was delivered on November 1st, 1936, and has engine No. 599, chassis No. 3349, so the numbering of these cars is rather mysterious. — Ed.]

*

The Herald’s Steering Gear

Sir,

We would refer to page 492 of the July issue of Motor Sport and an article headed “Salient Aspects of the Herald.” In this article you ascribe the steering gear to Burman Limited.

We would advise you that this is a patented steering gear designed and manufactured by us.

Your correction of the error in your article would he much appreciated.

I am, Yours, etc., for Alford & Alder (Engineers) Ltd., J. A. Lind, Engineering Director. Hemel Hempstead.

[We gladly publish this correction. When the Herald was announced, advertisements appeared in certain journals which read “We are proud to be associated with the Triumph Herald — Burman, makers of steering gears”, this steered us into believing that the new Triumph had steering of Burman manufacture.– Ed.]